After the second season of HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" ended last year, I wrote here about how disappointed I was in the confusing, unfocused course the series had taken and I wondered whether I would bother to watch the third season. The third season ended last night and I admit that, yes, I did watch it. But I'm not especially proud of the fact. "Boardwalk Empire" has, for me, become "Boredwalk Empire."
If anything, the third season was even more scattered than the second. There seemed to be no coherent thrust to the story. It just kind of wandered off in different directions and "Nucky" Thompson, its main character grew more enigmatic - and less lovable - as the weeks went by.
The most sympathetic character for me throughout the series has been the mutilated ex-soldier Richard Harrow. He has shown a loyalty to those who gain his respect or affection that has been mostly missing from the other characters, including Nucky, in this series. After what happened to Richard's friend Jimmy Darmody at the end of last season, I remarked to my husband before we watched last night's season-ending episode, "If they kill off Richard, they've lost me for good!"
Well, (SPOILER ALERT!) they didn't kill off Richard, but they certainly killed off a whole lot of other people both guilty and innocent. Not that anyone on this show is particularly innocent, except for little Tommy, Jimmy's child whom Richard continues to protect. In fact, a lot of the killing in the final episode was done by Richard in defense of Tommy, in order to extricate him from his grandmother's house of ill repute.
The most compelling character in this season was the over-the-top crazy gangster Gyp Rosetti as played by Bobby Cannavale. Whenever he was onscreen, he chewed up the scenery and completely dominated the action and the viewer's attention. He was thoroughly evil, the one character that one could in no way be ambivalent about. One loved to hate him! (SPOILER ALERT, AGAIN!) His demise on the beach while singing "Barney Google" was certainly one of the more satisfying moments of this season's episodes.
I had such high hopes for this series. I really wanted to like it. I guess I wanted a replacement in my affections for "The Sopranos" but this is no "Sopranos." I, like millions of fans, loved Tony Soprano in spite of the fact that he was an evil bastard. I just can't warm up to Nucky Thompson or care a great deal about what happens to him. But the series has been renewed for another season and, yes, I'll probably watch it again, if only to find out what happens to Richard. Is it too much to hope that he could settle down with Julia and Tommy and live happily ever after? Probably.