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'Boardwalk Empire' Season 5 Episode 7 Recap: "Friendless Child"

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The roof is closing in on Nucky

 

As a crime wave violently spreads its way across the country, nobody is feeling it more than Nucky and Salvatore Maranzano. Between the two of them, there’s been $1 million in lost revenue, 19 dead bodies and several firebombed trucks.

 

We’ve known this for a while, but Nucky’s empire is all but dead. Needless to say, Nucky he’s feeling the heat and wants Lucky Luciano strung up. Maranzano doesn’t flinch. However, he promises Nucky he will send the proper muscle to protect the trucks and will handle Luciano if necessary.Photo: vulture.com

 

This isn’t good enough for lucky, who arranges for a kidnapping of Ben “Bugsy” Siegel. In turn, the gang of Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Johnny Torrio, kidnap Willie Thompson, which Eli witnesses after coming home from his near death experience in Chicago. In order to keep Willie alive, Nucky and Lucky agree to an exchange out near some barren land (where all the late night deals, shootings, etc. go down on Boardwalk Empire)

 

 

The empire crumbles

 

As Siegel is being sent over to Lucky’s side, Willie is sent over to Nucky’s side. However, Siegel clocks Willie and he is taken back over to Lucky’s side. What was supposed to be a fair trade between hostages ends up in a violent, double crossing, free for all, with Mickey and Archie winding up dead. Lucky and Meyer make Nucky get on his knees. Nucky escapes execution by agreeing to surrender all of Atlantic City to Luciano and his crew, while promising to finish off Maranzano. Only then will Luciano return Willie. Shortly after, Maranzano is executed, Willie is then released, and with that, Nucky Thompson’s run in Atlantic City unofficially comes to an end.

 

Later on, Nucky is back at the club licking his wounds when young Joe Harper comes in his room. With Nucky’s life officially coming full circle that evening, and his awareness of notoriously leading several young men down very bad paths, Nucky gives Joe a large amount of money, and tells him to get away as far as he can from the type of life he has lived.

 

 

Flashbacks

 

Having nowhere to take her after apprehending her under the boardwalk, Nucky brings Gillian back to his house. While Nucky’s wife Mabel takes a liking to her, Nucky is adamant about taking her back to the orphanage where she came from in Trenton. Gillian, scared to death of returning to the locked room she is placed in while staying at the orphanage, wants to help by working and begs Nucky to let her stay. Gillian also tells Nucky that she detects that something is troubling Mabel and that she’s afraid of something. Sheriff Lindsay then stops by and tells Nucky that he’s needed.

 

When Lindsay and Nucky arrive at their destination, Lindsay tells Nucky he can’t deal with what the Commodore is making him do anymore. He then gives Nucky his badge and leaves Nucky to handle the mess. Nucky isn’t quite sure what Lindsay meant prior to leaving, but after Nucky walks upstairs to the house, the Commodore walks out of a room with a young girl in it. When Nucky returns, Mabel informs him that Gillian has run away. However, we all know what happens next with Gillian and the Commodore, so she won’t be away for too long.

 

 

Gillian’s last ditch attempt at freedom

 

Although it was pretty obvious to many, it was confirmed that Nellie Bly is indeed Gillian when Nucky read the letter. Gillian is at her wits end. For seven years she has been locked up in the institution. While it was widely assumed that Gillian was always crazy, some of the company she keeps in the institution would lead you to believe she is completely sane. Nonetheless, she remembers Nucky helping her as a child, and is now asking for his help again. He truly is her last hope. What will Nucky do?

 

 

Notables:

 

-Luciano, Lansky and Siegel are a bunch of punks who respect nobody, not even Johnny Torrio.

 

-A guy like Mickey Doyle almost made it through the entire run without getting clipped. Close, but no cigar.

-Archie was as tough as they come, but no human can stop a speeding bullet.

-At first, I thought that young Joe Harper could possibly be a young Tommy. Not the case.

-I originally thought there was no other storyline for Gillian after a few weeks back. I was wrong.

-This episode really seems to have been the culmination of a slow, decade-long decline for Nucky. He really hasn’t been the same since Billie died.

 

-It really shows how much Luciano and Lansky think of Atlantic City when they decide to give it to Pinky Rabinowitz

 

 

Final thoughts:

 

Even though Nucky is Boardwalk Empire’s protagonist, it was pure karma for him to get on his knees at the request of Luciano and Lansky. Nucky always underestimated Lucky, and Meyer didn’t forget that Nucky almost blew his brains out last season. The protagonist losing in the end was the kind of what I hoped would happen in The Sopranos. That being said, isn’t there a part of you who wanted Nucky to reach back and find another way to take down Luciano and his gang like he did so many times before?  Unfortunately, since neither Luciano, Lansky, or Siegel die for several years after 1931, you had to know that simply wouldn’t happen.

 

There’s only a few loose ends to tie up before next week’s series finale, but questions still remain. Will Nucky rescue Gillian? Will he get back together with Margaret? Will Dr. Narcisse make a final appearance? Will Al Capone go out with a bang before he goes to jail?

 

And perhaps the most burning question of them all…...does Nucky Thompson live?

 

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

 

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Photo: vulture.com