Can’t get enough Jersey Shore? Shame on you.
Boardwalk Empire, HBO’s own Jersey Shore show, is back to help.
Fresh off eight Emmy wins, including one for producer and last season’s guest director, Martin Scorsese, the series’ second season premiere opened last Sunday right in the middle of last season’s action.
Set in the 1920’s at the advent of Prohibition, the show follows the reign of corrupt Atlantic County treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Emmy-nominated Steve Buscemi) in his dealings with all kinds of politicians, racketeers and combinations thereof in the so-called “Sodom by the Sea,” Atlantic City. The cast features a wide variety of talents, including film actress Kelly Macdonald as Nucky’s mistress, actor Michael Pitt as Nucky’s former protégé Jimmy Darmody and The Wire’s Michael K. Williams as one of Nucky’s “associates.”
Season one concluded with Nucky having resolved his war with New York gangster Arnold Rothstein. As things began to look up in the finale, it was revealed that things may not be so secure as Jimmy begins to plot his takeover of Atlantic City.
That said, if the season premiere is any indication, season two will certainly turn Nucky’s conflict further inward; having lost enemies in his rival gangsters, he has gained one in Jimmy. It is an expected but smart choice for series creator Terence Winter, who, as a former writer for The Sopranos, is no stranger to constructing powerful yet tormented characters like Nucky Thompson. While season one explored concepts like power and greed, season two will add betrayal and paranoia to the list.
Also interesting is the changed role of tireless Prohibition agent Nelson Van Alden (Revolutionary Road’s Michael Shannon). A definite antagonist in season one, Van Alden’s surprising actions (Van Alden drowns his partner and impregnates Nucky’s ex-girlfriend, Lucy Danziger) at the end of the season have put him in the position of an alternate protagonist.
The episode does, however, feel at times like a continuation of the previous season. Certain subplots that were ignored through most of the first season reappear in the very first scenes (one of which involves Klansmen and a machine gun) of the premiere. If anything, season two’s premiere could have made a convincing finale to season one, especially given the episode’s stunning conclusion.
Still, season two promises to deliver the same intense drama as season one in new and shocking ways. Nearly every character has changed greatly since last season, leaving the unexpected extremely possible.
Boardwalk Empire airs on Sundays at 9 on HBO. The show offers the perfect balance of suspense, action and even history (Nucky Thompson, Arnold Rothstein, Al Capone and many other characters are closely based on real Prohibition-era figures). That is to say, even if drama doesn’t suit you, the only fist pumps Boardwalk offers are the ones that break noses.