If this season of “Boardwalk” set out to prove anything, it is that nothing is sacred and no one is safe. A brief synopsis of where we stand now: Gillian (Gretchen Mol) finally gets what’s been coming to her for who knows how long, but she, of course, swallows her just desserts with indignant self-righteousness. We are led to assume that she not only loses the custody case for her grandchild, but is also found guilty of the murder of Jimmy look-alike, Roger, following Nucky’s disclosure of the location of Jimmy’s body.
The angel of death seemed to be sitting on Eli Thompson’s (Shea Whigham) shoulder all season. He turns on his brother and begins conspiring with FBI agent Knox (Brian Geraghty) to bring the whole operation down in exchange for the safety of his son, Will Thompson. However, all-knowing Nucky figures it out and confronts Eli, putting a gun to his head.
But in the least likely turn of events, Nucky forgives his brother for the betrayal and to me, it was clear he was going to put the gun down long before Eli’s son entered the room. “I’m not the person you think I am,” says Thompson later from the cab.
After Nucky lets him walk away with his head, Eli is confronted by Agent Knox, whom he had just stiffed, and in the tradition of the show, a bloody brawl ensues and Eli, scrappy survivor that he is, murders Knox with a glass vase.
Mercy from Nucky seems to have Eli transferred into the hands of Capone’s gang in Chicago as he is picked up, looking a little battered by the ever stoic Van Alden.
Also the guy with the annoying voice and the million-dollar life insurance policy is still breathing … Really? After all of that, Nucky claims he is going on a Cuban vacation. He deserves it; it seems like that guy needs a break.
And Richard Harrow (Jack Huston). There are no words for how amazing his character arc has been. In season one he had absolutely nothing; he was a lonely monster, who couldn’t even look another human being in the eye because he felt so ashamed from losing half his face in the war. By the conclusion of this episode, he had everything: a wife, a son and a family. But unable to pull away from the criminal world, he accidentally murders Chalky White’s daughter right in front of him in an attempt to assassinate Dr. Narcisse and is shot trying to escape.
Speaking of people I can’t believe are still breathing: Dr. Narcisse? Why won’t you die? And now he’s enlisted with Hoover, so it looks like we’re in for another roller coaster with this murderous psychopath next season.
Back to Harrow though. I can’t say I agree with the writer’s choice to off this fan-favorite, but at the same time, his character had come full circle. His wish came true, and we know if he hadn’t suffered a fatal gunshot, the guilt of having killed Chalky’s daughter would have destroyed him anyway. In the last shot, Harrow dies dreaming of his family, knowing that he was loved, which is all he ever really wanted.
While no one wanted to see him go, it would have been all too easy for the writers to make him the untouchable go-to assassin. This way, the Jimmy storyline is finally tied up once and for all, and while it may take time to dry the tears, we can be at ease knowing his final moments recognized all that he had achieved in the last four seasons.
Sometimes a show shocks you because the writing is so bad, it’s gut-wrenchingly painful to watch (see “Dexter”). Other times the gut-wrenching pain comes from the fact that it’s just so good. You scream at your TV and want to hit the pause button every five seconds because you have no idea how to process what is happening. Hats off to you, “Boardwalk,” for delivering us that sweet kind of suffering. Rest in one whole piece, Richard Harrow.