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Boardwalk Empire Episode 12 Season Finale Recap: Nucky's Biggest Enemy Is Not Who He Thinks


Last week on Episode 11 of Boardwalk Empire, there wasn't too much action as it set the stage for this week's season finale. There weren't too many surprises in Episode 12 of Boardwalk Empire entitled, "A Return to Normalcy." In fact, it's understandable why some such as Vanity Fair's Jim Windolf would say Boardwalk Empire's season finale was disappointing.

I for one won't dismiss the finale as a disappointing one. It was realistic. When you understand the history behind the characters in the show, there simply couldn't be any major deaths. At this point of the show we are in the year 1920. Arnold Rothstein didn't die until 1928. And, Lucky Luciano won't die in this series unless they do an epilogue; he died in 1962. For those who want Agent Van Alden brought to justice - perhaps that was a disappointment, but the series needs a character for us to really root against and Van Alden is that guy. Now, onto the recap.

Van Alden Calls It Quits on His Law Enforcement Career

Feeling guilty about murdering Sebso last week, Van Alden decides to hang up the holster and make a new life for himself. His wife could care less and likes being married to a federal agent. The cold and distant relationship between Van Alden and his wife is similar to Chris Cooper's character Col. Frank Fitts in American Beauty. Fitts and his wife were stoic around each other and there wasn't an ounce of romance. Moving along - the one surprise of the show occurred towards the end when Lucy walked into Van Alden's office and told him that she's pregnant with his child. The stage had been set for Van Alden to become a sort of religious presence next season. Now that Lucy is in his life, that may be a tad difficult. Judging the passion Van Alden has for Lucy, it's safe to say that these two will be an item in Season 2.

Nucky and Rothstein Make a Truce...and Nucky Puts the Fix in on Rothstein's Black Sox Scandal Case

Torio gets involved with the ongoing fued between Nucky and Rothstein and they decide to come to a compromise. Rothstein needs Nucky's political connections with jailtime looming over his head. And, Nucky wants Rothstein to stop meddling in Atlantic City. For the low price of $1 million clams Nucky agrees to put the fix in on Rothstein's Blacksox Scandal trial.  Nucky also wanted access to the remaining D'Allessio Brothers and Rothstein acquiesced.

Margaret and Nucky Are On Again

Margaret and Nucky are the epitome of the on-again-off-again romance. So far they broke up twice this season. Margaret paid Nucky a visit and wanted to know about his son who died. Nucky clearly carries a lot of pain, which says something about the life-ending and altering decisions he makes at the expense of other people. He is conflicted yet passionate in many ways. The story of his newborn son who died just a few days after being born is heartbreaking. What's even more heartbreaking was the story involving his wife who went into a state of deep depression and killed herself. After Nucky divulges this, Margaret cannot fathom why Nucky does the horrible things he does. Suffice it to say, they get back together shortly afterwards. Margaret provides Nucky with that void in his life. He was never happier or more frightened when she and her children had dinner with him. While Nucky does "horrible" things, Margaret is willing to put up with it to nuture him and to advance her agenda in AC.

The Bloodletting Wasn't That Surprising

As I stated above, there weren't too many surprises. Once Rothstein gave the go-ahead for Nucky to take out the remaining D'Alessio Brothers, it made for quite the montage. This was the climax of the Season Finale. During Nucky's speech to his peers about the violence in Atlantic City, we bear witness to some spectacular executions of the remaining D'Alessio Brothers. Jimmy's kill is the most spectacular when he slits one of their throats while he's at the barber. Richard Harrow makes a quick apperance and knocks off two of them. The comic relief occurred when Al shot his target in the head, then he promptly picks an apple out of the bag and starts to eat it. Al, still has that sickly humurous side to him.

Nucky's Real Enemy Is Not Who He Thinks

Now that Rothstein and Nucky are on "better" terms, there is another enemy looming and Nucky is completely oblivious to him; The Commodore. He's not happy with Nucky at all and still steamed over a grudge that goes back years. He was the one who went to jail, but Nucky was the chosen one. It still burns his arse to this day and he won't live it down. Now that he has been given a second lease on life the Commodore begins plotting against Nucky in league with his brother Eli and Jimmy.

While Sunday Night's Season Finale of Boardwalk Empire wasn't as explosive as many had hoped, it did tie up some loose ends. Furthermore, it sets the stage for some interesting developments and confrontations next season. With the Commodore waving his wand behind Nucky's back it will provide a solid backbone for the drama in Season 2. Let's not discount the evolution between Van Alden and Lucy. Mark it down - their relationship will be an X-factor next season.

If you missed Boardwalk Empire this season, it's never too late to sign up for HBO and check out all 12 episodes on On Demand.

Contact Dennis Bakay at dbakay@philly2philly.com