Boardwalk entered its fourth season off the back of a superb third series as one of the most consistently entertaining shows around at the moment. Things were going to be different this time round though with Nucky (Steve Buscemi) and Margaret Schroeder’s (Kelly Macdoanld) relationship a thing of the past and his tyrannical reign of the criminal underworld not as secure as it once was.
Nucky’s storyline is no longer the main attraction come this fourth series and the stand-out plot this time round comes with the arrival of Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) causing Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) numerous problems. Also Al Capone (Stephen Graham) continues his usual bully tactics this time becoming involved with Michael Shannon’s Nelson Van Alden character who seems a lot less crazy than he has in previous seasons. Season four saw the usual slow burn and tension building that we’ve come to expect of the show, with impending explosions constantly bubbling just below the surface ready to blow by the final few episodes and it doesn’t disappoint. In this series despite Nucky perhaps not being as central a character as he originally was his empire is under more threat than it has ever been and although the character will never show it it’s clear that soon things will come crumbling down around him. The strongest point as always with Boardwalk is its writing and that’s no different in season four but there is not a single element of the show that isn’t done superbly well.
It’s pleasing that a programme of this cost and intelligence can manage to keep going in a climate of television where studios want to make cheap, accessible shows but Boardwalk is one of a small flurry of shows marking a revolution that exemplifies how the format can be the best way to tell great stories. With Breaking Bad over it’s time Boardwalk deserves a place as the best running TV show on our screens and in my opinion, it is.
***Spoiler Alert – If you’re yet to finish season three it may be best to save reading this post till you have***
Following on from massive finale of season two this time we properly hit the ground running. The introduction of new villain Gyp Rossetti, played by Bobby Cannavale, gives even the first few episodes flourishes of brutal violence something that in the two previous seasons took a lot longer in between outbursts. I found a shame that Rossetti turned out to be only a season-long obstacle in Nucky’s path as it did feel as though he could have really fucked some shit up, despite this his final scene is one of the shows best moments yet.
With Rossetti leading the way all the consistent characters head even further in psychopathic madness. Nucky, yet again portrayed marvellously by Steve Buscemi, continues on his journey of becoming more and more ruthless and cold. Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) also reaches new levels of insanity, which is hard to believe considering how much of nut job he already was. And Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) commits some horrific acts while facing the grief of her son’s death. It really speaks to the shows quality that these characters can all spiral out of control but everything in the story remains so tight, it was obviously planned from the beginning that this is the kind of direction they would all go in, you’d be hard done by to find a single character that hasn’t got at least one screw loose.
The ending of season three couldn’t have been different from that of it’s predecessor, though. Rather than leaving us on a massive cliffhanger things here seemed rather well tied-up, they clearly must have some ideas of how things are going to get out of hand again in season four. But overall, season three ups the ante to a whole new level bringing a lot more craziness than the two before it, if the show keeps going in this direction by the time it reaches its end things are literally going to get insane.