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‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season Premiere: HBO Show Stays Beautiful & Bloody

Mon, September 9, 2013 11:03am EDT by 2 Comments
Boardwalk Empire Season Premiere
Courtesy of HBO

The Prohibition Era drama returned on Sept. 8 and our favorite bootlegging gangsters were back to wheeling and dealing and yes, murdering.

Season Three of Boardwalk Empire dealt with Nucky Thompson’s (Steve Buscemi) transition from seedy politician to full-blown gangster. And after vanquishing his latest enemy, Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), Season Four appears to be a wide open expanse of possibility. So what happens next? Let’s find out!

Nucky Thompson’s New Digs

“New York Sour,” the Season Four premiere of Boardwalk Empire, shows a Nucky who has clearly learned from his mistakes. He used to revel in being a public figure — the man with the red carnation — but he’s finally realizing that popularity has made him vulnerable. Instead of living at the Ritz Carlton on the Atlantic City Boardwalk, he’s retreated to a hotel on the outskirts of the city.

He also seems to have smartened up when it comes to women, which is a relief after the Billie Kent debacle from last season.

At this point though he seems like a worn down old man in a young man’s game. Every time he has to fix something you can feel the minutes ticking away from his life. Atlantic City has never looked drearier.

Al Capone, Chalky White & More: The Gang Is Back

For this reason, the characters that inhabit the gangster world with Nucky are supremely more interesting. Finally, Al Capone (Stephen Graham) is getting a little more screen time, and the show cleverly hints at the fans’ outrage that he’s been marginalized in the first three seasons in this premiere episode.

Angry that a journalist doesn’t know who he is well enough to even spell his name right, Al actually goes to the Chicago Tribune offices and spells it out for him. So great.

Another fan favorite, Chalky White (Michael K. Williams), is becoming a more primary character. Now the owner of Babette’s on the Boardwalk, Chalky finds out that being the boss requires a lot of cleanup. Like when after his sidekick Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey), in the most awkwardly violent scene of the episode, murders a booking agent after the guy catches him sleeping with his wife — and then forces Dunn to continue while he watches. Boardwalk Empire, ladies and gentlemen!

A great episode of Boardwalk wouldn’t be complete without Richard Harrow (Jack Huston). The laconic, semi-masked, ninja-stealth assassin has left Atlantic City, going on a murderous rampage across the frontier before finally arriving at his childhood home in Wisconsin. Is this the last we’ll seen of him?

‘Boardwalk Empire’ Bordering On Greatness

As always, this show is incredible to look at — the set design, the costumes, the acting — it’s all refined and helps to make up for the dry, esoteric or confusing moments. It remains to be seen whether Boardwalk will be taking the leap from a good show to a great one, but the Season Four premiere is a step in the right direction.

We’ll just have to keep watching to see where it goes from here.

WATCH: ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season Four Trailer

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— Andrew Gruttadaro

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