As the great Eric Clapton, himself not a stranger to the addictive powers of alcoholic drinks, so wonderfully sang once: “Nobody knows you when you’re down and out.”. That is a more than fitting metaphor for the third season of Boardwalk Empire. Interrupted by a few days where I was so exhausted that I went to bed at 6 P.M. and fell asleep literally 1.5 hours later, I finished the last episode of this season only yesterday after a two-week run instead of the usual one week I had breezed through with the previous seasons.
Thankfully my hopes after the rather confusing second season were realized and this one is much more relatable. Of course in the cruel and terrible sense that you can better understand the motivations of the gangsters and why they shoot someone or blow shit up, but nonetheless more enjoyable for the simple reason that it feels dirty and simplistic, doing away with the all too heady plot twists of the previous series. A lot of that just came across as pretentious and more serving the writers’ vanity in proving that they could do a Hitchcock on you rather than really serving the story.
The body count is growing as exponentially as ever. In an odd way the heavily choreographed, over-the top shootings are much better to swallow than some of the more gruesome bashing and skull smashing, though. I really wish they had left out some of this stuff. It’s also nice to see that Nucky‘s criminal past is resurfacing and he isn’t as innocent as he had everyone believe. Still, one can’t help but be enthralled by his understanding of loyalty and protecting his “assets” (which includes the people closest to him) even when he’s down in the dumps, twisted as it may be.
The women in the series remain to be a source of frustration and aggravation. Somehow I always find myself thinking “If this were real, I’d slap her in the face” (and worse). Worst of the lot is of course Gillian, trying to manipulate everyone while barely being able to hide her obsession about her dead son and projecting everything on Thommy as a substitute. She’s a total basket case ready for the asylum. Margaret doesn’t fare much better, though for completely different reasons. She just doesn’t seem to be able or willing to settle on what she has and always changes her mind as it suits her whims.
Richard is my hero in this season. Not only is the sequence where he singlehandedly storms the brothel pure cheesy screen gold, but at last he gets a little bit of much-deserved luck and love. It will turn sour again, of course, and he’ll end up with a bullet in his head just like many of his victims, but for the time it’s a nice uplifting touch after his almost suicide last season. It shall be interesting to see where season four will take us…