When news broke last year that the next season of Boardwalk Empire would be the show’s last, reactions were mixed. When the prohibition/gangster show first aired in 2010, it was dynamic, stylish and brutal. Over the course of four seasons the show made stars of Michael Pitt and Michael Shannon and bagged Steve Buscemi a Golden Globe.
However, storylines in seasons three and four took a slight dip, with slow-burn storylines never quite reaching boiling point and far too much time dedicated to the fast time’s Nucky’s nephew Willie was having at university.
With a final series on the cards, there’s no excuse for producers not to go all out in one final hail of gunfire in what could very well be the show’s most exciting season.
With Michael K Williams revealing that the season 5 will jump forward 7 years to 1931 and the depression, it seems that a number of empires we’ve seen slowly established are about to fall. As Nucky reveals in voiceover, “The trick’s to stay alive long enough to cash out.”
With the first teaser trailer now available to watch, here are our hopes and predictions for the final season of one of HBO’s most innovative dramas.
1 | Lucky Luciano
Long the dumb sidekick to Meyer Lansky, Vincent Piazza’s Luciano looks to be taking more of a centre stage role this time around.
In real life Luciano was earning $12m a year during prohibition. After his mentor Arnold Rothstein was shot and killed in 1928, Luciano began to work for Joe Masseria, fighting for him against a rival Sicilian family in the ‘Castellammarese War’.
With the conflict winding down in 1931, the way was free for Luciano to consider his upward trajectory, and the problem Masseria posed. Exepect a New York based power struggle, lots of blood, and perhaps the odd Italian restaurant shoot-out.
2 | Al Capone
Stephen Graham’s portrayal of Al Capone has always been a highlight of Boardwalk Empire. At the end of season 4 we saw him rise to power in Chicago, following the extremely suspicious death of Johnny Torrio.
The years between 1924 and 1931 saw this rise to power continue, including the famous St Valentine’s Day massacre in 1929. This was also the year that Prohibition agent Eliot Ness began his investigation into Capone’s organization. If you’ve seen The Untouchables, you know what to expect. While it’s a safe bet that Ness will show up, don’t expect to see Kevin Costner reprising the role.
3 | Van Nelson & Eli Thompson
Season 4 saw Michael Shannon’s former prohibition agent breaking bad and becoming the gangster he was always meant to be. Now a part of Capone’s gang, Van Nelson was last seen collecting another fallen lawman, Eli Thompson.
As great as it would be to have the two as buddy cops gone bad, their volatile characters means its unlikely their friendship lasted the 7 years we’ve been away. The future is open for these two characters, but with Van Nelson’s distain for Capone, we wouldn’t bet against him assisting Ness and regaining a footing on the right side of the law.
4 | Gillian Darmody
Heroin addict, incestuous mother and now murderer, things weren’t looking good for Gillian Darmody as season 4 came to and end. With her son Jimmy dead, her grandson taken away from her and her dream boyfriend actually an undercover detective, Gillian was sentenced to go to prison for murder.
The trailer shows a prison gang in black and white stripes, digging a hole in the woods before burying a coffin. Is Gillian in the coffin, has she put someone else in the ground or is she home free and living elsewhere and finally at peace?
5 | Nucky Thompson
They’ve plotted against him, shot him and delivered his bodyguard’s body in a crate, but throughout Nucky has stayed at the top. The trailer shows him standing alone in Chalky White’s Onyx club as well as facing a room full of lawyers, once again looking into his illicit activities and tax evasion.
Judging by his quote in the trailer, Nucky is looking to get out of the bootlegging game. The Wikipedia page of Enoch Johnson seems to support this, with Johnson going into politics after a stretch behind bars. However, Johnson’s downfall didn’t come until long after 1931, so where Nucky is concerned, all bets are off for season 5.
Boardwalk Empire will air on Sky Atlantic this autumn
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