Boardwalk Empire recap: Winners and Losers of season finale ‘Margate Sands’

Chris Spags Founder and Editor

hbo screenshot Boardwalk Empire recap: Winners and Losers of season finale Margate Sands

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Can Gyp Rosetti take Atlantic City? Will Nucky survive? Can Margaret get the Poochie treatment? Let’s find out in the recap of Boardwalk Empire season finale “Margate Sands”.

WINNER: Gratuitous violence

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Nucky’s war with Gyp Rosetti and crew leads to Al Capone, Chalky White, and other Thompson associates killing a whole lot of people (including the opening GIF above that also vaguely resembles Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance).

WINNER: Needlessly aggressive interrogation tactics

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Lucky Luciano is still under police custody for his botched heroin sale from last week’s episode. And his interrogation gets pretty aggressive pretty fast. But it’s all part of another swerve by Arnold Rothstein as the cops are on his payroll and the heroin was just a tool to get Masseria in on the heroin trade with him in order to convince him to withdraw support for Gyp Rosetti. Naturally, Luciano isn’t happy, leading to an emotional flare-up that leads to some classic smug Arnold Rothstein banter.

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LOSER: The Overholt distillery

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Mickey Doyle is patiently waiting for work at the Andrew Mellon gifted Overholt distillery when he finds out about the world falling apart for Nucky. But the bigger loser turns out to be Arnold Rothstein when he thinks he’s getting 99% of the distillery’s profits in exchange for getting Masseria to pull his support for Gyp, as seen above. It turns out to have been a con by Nucky and Doyle — using Andrew Mellon — to drop the dime on Rothstein, leaving him with nothing to show for his efforts with Masseria. A small measure of revenge for Rothstein not being Team Nucky.

But the bigger point is that we’re all losers for not getting the fine brews that would have come out of Mellon’s distillery.

LOSER: Gyp Rosetti’s pickup lines

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Gyp Rosetti proposes a romantic/business/S&M partnership with Gillian Darmody to rule over “his” Atlantic City. Somehow, he thinks telling Gillian that he’s “like a little bug, crawling between your toes” will win her affections. And, seemingly, it does. Up until the part where Gillian tries to kill him with a heroin overdose just like surrogate Jimmy Darmody got earlier this season. Unfortunately, even with a belt around his neck, Gyp is too strong for Gillian, turning the needle on her instead. It’s unclear if the heroin led to Gillian’s demise. It seems like it should have but, usually, ambiguity means survival. We’ll have to see.

WINNER: WWE Presents: Boardwalk Empire’s Royal Rumble

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Tensions — both racial and general dick measuring — between Al Capone’s crew and Chalky White’s black guys lead to an all-out battle royal during some downtime. The screenshot above is the most classic and ridiculous shot ever featured on the show. If you ever wondered what a sitcom would be like featuring Al Capone and Chalky White as rambunctious siblings, there you have it.

One last salvo against Masseria’s men then leads Capone and Chalky to have a mutual showing of respect as they’re both glad to “get that out of their systems.” Oh you boys and your murder!

WINNER: Richard Harrow, angel of death

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That is not the face you want to see right before you die.

Richard comes back to the brothel to kill what’s remaining of Rosetti’s forces and save Tommy Darmody from all of the awfulness he’s been suggested to. The way he takes out everyone in the mansions is straight out of the Xbox 360, including head shots, fighting off multiple guys at once, and even shooting a guy holding Tommy hostage while putting his rifle down on the floor.

Richard then drops Tommy off at Julia Sagorsky’s house. The Sagorsky father — sober for once — is completely understanding of Richard showing up covered in blood with a kid for him and his daughter to look after. He even offers to help get Julia back for Richard. But Richard doesn’t care…all he cares about is that Tommy is safe. This makes me sad. I just want Richard to be happy, you guys.

LOSER: Gyp Rosetti’s dreams of getting into a champagne glass hot tub

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Gyp has completely lost it by the end of this episode. He’s had a girl attempt to murder him, he’s had a guy in a mask come and kill all of his men. And he’s coping with his problems by suggesting they flee to the Poconos after he does a little impression of Nucky Thompson — whom Gyp calls “Barney Google with the goo goo googley eyes. But one of Gyp’s men, turned by Nucky after being found in the closet of the Darmody brothel, stabs him in the back as he pees on a beach. Is that the same guy whose cousin got killed with a shovel a couple episodes back? I think so. Fittingly poetic.

WINNER: Margaret’s sense of female empowerment

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It’s pretty much been a theme of this season in these recaps — Margaret sucks and drags down every episode. But she gets used fairly well here, seemingly aborting her lovechild from Owen Sleater and deciding to live a more modest life away from Nucky. But Nucky comes to her new crappy Brooklyn apartment to seek reconciliation, including a wad of cash so she doesn’t have to live this way. Margaret says no because she’s empowered and blah blah blah and this was not the most interesting way to close the year because they probably should have killed her off instead of Billie Kent.

Boardwalk Empire is an interesting show when you actually look back on the season as a whole. Week to week, sometimes the episodes drag or seem meandering. And it’s easy to lament the lack of time given to the more interesting characters, particularly as we’re forced to spend more time with their less beloved counterparts. But by the end of the season, there’s a full character arc that has actual repercussions on the ensuing season. As we leave season 3, Nucky has reclaimed what’s his but he seems to want nothing to do with the life he’s built for himself.

Even though he’s finally learning that he does need the people in his life like Chalky and Eli and Margaret, Nucky’s still a man on an island. Billie’s dead, his partnership with Rothstein should be as well. A hardened Nucky should make for more interesting fodder come season 4.

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