The last Sunday night with Boardwalk Empire until next year would have dampened my spirits, but Jimmy Darmody’s demise left me sadder than any TV episode has done in a very long time.
Much of what we saw was foreseeable–Nucky’s marrying Margaret as the only way to assure her silence in the face of his impending trial; her signing the deed to Nucky’s valuable property over to the Church when she senses his lies; the Commodore’s murder covered up through bribery; Van Alden, having made a clean getaway, beginning a new life with the Swedish nanny in Cicero as Mr. and Mrs. Mueller, baby Abigail in tow; Jimmy and Richard’s delivering the three Ku Kluxers to Chalky White as promised.
And then there was Jimmy’s murder, with Nucky pulling the trigger.
Jimmy’s been a dead man walking this entire season, ever since Richard Harrow asked him in the first episode: “How does it feel to have everything?” We’ve seen him lose it all, bit by bit, even while he was becoming the Man to See. First it was the liquor shipment, then allies and the respect of those around him, followed by Angela and finally his own life. The title of this episode was telling–Jimmy was very much a part of that Lost Generation that fought in the Great War, yet he never really stood a chance, what with that sociopath of a mother. Yet he did have a soul, expressed by that acknowledgment of what he had done to Nucky and his desire to “make things right.” As Nucky coldbloodedly said, before he pulled the trigger, “Unlike you, James, I don’t seek forgiveness.”
I was especially impressed by how somber this episode was. Yes, we had the gaudy touch of Richard’s blowing out the back of Acting Treasurer Neary’s head, but the general tone was quiet intensity. I enjoyed watching the Powers That Be upping the ante of The Godfather by crosscutting between Nucky and Margaret at the Church and Esther’s rehearsing her opening statement while dressing for court. And if Steve Buscemi doesn’t win an Emmy for his performance, there’s something seriously wrong with the universe. He has given life to a character that simply can not be pegged. His almost imperceptible wince when Manny acknowledged killing Angela makes you think he’s got some standards, but then we get that masterpiece of duality in his proposal to Margaret, and finally his last chilling confrontation with Jimmy.
What a brew Boardwalk Empire leaves for next season–Nucky’s murdered whom he thinks was his would-be murderer, only to let Eli, the real rat, live; Gillian and Richard are sure to seek revenge for Jimmy’s death; Manny Horvitz is now beholden to Nucky; Arnold Rothstein & Co. are about to peddle heroin; Nucky’s most valuable property is gone; and I doubt it’s a coincidence that the Powers That Be have relocated Van Alden to Cicero, home base of Al Capone. We’ll just have to wait and see, right?