TV REVIEW: Last night, HBO's superlative drama took a huge leap forward, but left behind its most compelling soldier, who was also one of TV's best characters.
By Kenny Herzog
It actually hurts to look. (Credit: HBO)
Nucky Thompson giveth, and Nucky taketh away. Last night's Boardwalk Empire finale, "To the Lost," was sad and stunning. But when Nucky (Steve Buscemi, who was incredible in "Lost") put two bullets in Jimmy Darmody's (Michael Pitt, playing an irreperably broken soul) head, it was both mercy and sacrifice. Free from the looming threat of jail and ready to clamp back down on Atlantic City, Nucky had to make a heavily witnessed statement to earn back trust and respect. After seeing Jimmy's condition, and knowing him better than anyone, he realized assasinating the man who he raised like a son was the difficult solution to everyone's problems—including Jimmy's.
I think we all felt a bit of that relief for Jimmy, and should have seen it coming sooner. Last week's "Under God's Power She Flourishes" all but spelled out his inescapable tormet. His death was brutal and pragmatic and staged in decidedly un-Hollywood fashion. No inspired speeches or crises of conscience were stopping the inevitable. But as a viewer, it lifted the angst of enduring his ordeal since Angela's death and grasping the enormity of his Shakespearian life tragedy.
Jimmy Darmody was a great character, and Michael Pitt was iconic in the part. Jimmy was also one of the show's few lead roles not largely or entirely rooted in a historical doppleganger. So maybe he had to go. Maybe Season Three goes back to the slightly exaggerated fiction of how the East was won, and how New York's criminal underground grew with the rise of opiate abuse while Atlantic City conformed itself as a mainstream resort town once the fog of Prohibition was lifted.
It will surely be awesome and fascinating to watch, but Jimmy and Michael Pitt were the human heart of Seasons One and Two, and will be missed. And there will no doubt always be a share of the audience pining for a flashback or dream sequence of Jimmy, and anticipating how his death weighs on Nucky's consicence and decision-making. Or that, as Nucky did to Eli during the final stretch of "To the Lost," Jimmy could appear in front of Nucky, a la Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, and ask, "Et tu?"
IN OTHER WORDS: To the lost.
BOARDWALK FINALE RATING: 9.5/10
MICHAEL PITT BETTER BECOME A HUGE STAR NOW RATING: 9/10
OH NO, YOU DIDN'T, NUCKY RATING: 9/10
R.I.P. JIMMY DARMODY RATING: 10/10
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