Did you notice? It’s been three weeks now since I finished season three of Boardwalk Empire and only yesterday I managed to put a lid on season four. How’d that happen? Aside from me getting caught up un other things and then not feeling like it, this time I also found myself way too often consciously putting off watching episodes for another day or two. So instead of being a binge watch this ended up being more of a drizzle watch. The reasons for this are manifold.
First, I think the series totally lost it in this season. It’s always been a complicated narrative with many threads, but this time around stuff simply gets too convoluted and confusing. I’ll never understand the American system where even great series are produced on an “as needed” basis and each week’s script is written as they go, but it shows here. I’m no longer surprised that it was faltering with dwindling viewer numbers and ultimately collapsed in on itself. It’s like they thought “Let’s make it even grander.” with every new season, but all they did is lose focus.
It’s telling that in some episodes you barely get to see Nucky because everything happens elsewhere and involves other people and most of those are either just throwaway characters that get “clipped” at the earliest convenience (if you get my meaning) or unsympathetic dickheads like Narcisse. In doing so the series also managed to finally squeeze out every bit of humour and optimism, which makes for a very dreary experience. Isn’t it weird that you get more of a smile out of van Alden/ Mueller‘s dark turn than something else?
I know this is going to sound racist, but generally I also didn’t care much for the “colored” storyline. Seeing and hearing those negroes mumble in their slang is just extremely frustrating and as it is this particular strand of the story doesn’t do much to progress events. It’s like watching an episode of The Wire where at the end you’re wondering what actually happened and if you didn’t miss some secret keyword that explains the story.
With regards to concrete storylines only Richard‘s tragic ending sticks out. I so would have wished he’d live happily ever after and contrary to what they claim in the special features, that would have just as perfect an ending like letting him die. You know the whole family together on his sister’s farm, a fade and then he’s simply out of the story. Gillian getting her due is not unwelcome, though in a way it’s tragic how she gets played. Still, bitch deserves a spanking. ;-)
The rest is, as already hinted, barely of any consequence and doesn’t really tie in with the greater story arc, which makes you wonder why they even bothered. It feels all so made up just to fill the time, be that Will‘s murderous accident, Knox/ Tolliver‘s scheme unraveling and getting him killed or even the Onyx Club. So from where I’m sitting there isn’t really much motivation going into the hastily thrown together fifth season, as it will no doubt end up being a similarly frustrating exercise…