Boardwalk Empire has always been one of the few series on television that approaches the element of surprise from an artistic standpoint. The Emmy winning show played this hand very strongly throughout it’s five-season run, taking it from just a super stylish, superbly curated gangster period drama to something much, much more and memorable than many people initially perceived the show to be. A focus on the drama and politics of gangster life as lead character Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi; one of the best and most diverse actors in the world) evolves as a gangster, a politician, and a family man.
Being that the show is based on real life events, with each character molded from actual notorious gangsters, there’s always this predictability in the sense that you know who eventually dies at some point in time; but despite this Boardwalk Empire manages to keep you on the edge of your toes for so damn long that it’s actually quite dangerous to the psyche.
Season 5 was no exception, and was perhaps the most surprising of all. While the quiet brilliance of Richard Harrow (Jack Huston), and the frightful Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) from Season 3, were both still sorely missed, and could have made Season 5 (and 4 in Gyp’s case) all the more exciting, Season 5 gave us familiar and terrifying antagonists in the form of Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza), Myer Lansky (Anatol Yusef), and Bugsy Siegal (Michael Zegen), all three of which have been built up enough since the show’s first season to help keep the story above a certain standard.
Things really came full circle for Nucky – who as enlivened by a series of interesting flashbacks – and many other characters in Season 5, winding through the masterfully crafted slow-burn and building up to something worth the wait. Our particular favourite was the memorable “Devil You Know”, the season sixth episode in which we got not one but two very big scenes that made us stop and really take in the fact that Boardwalk Empire was coming to an end.
The writers did a commendable job wrapping up the gangster epic in just 8 episodes, and even though the show deserved a longer season, Boardwalk Empire’s end was satisfying and honoured the last five years we’ve spent immersed in this flawlessly produced show.
And with a stylish show must come a stylish bunch of special features for the Home Release. With the DVD, rather than focus on the usual deleted scenes and brief interviews, each dish contains a feature called “Scouting the Boardwalk”, which follows the Location Managers of Boardwalk Empire as they make full use of the unique architecture and neighbourhoods which have given the show one of the most well-built atmospheres in all of television.
Review Score: FOUR STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Boardwalk Empire Season 5 is available on Blu-Ray and DVD now for a RRP of $44.98.