Nucky Thompson enters a new year, with new rules on the season three premiere of Boardwalk Empire.


Boardwalk Empire, Season 3, Episode 1, “Resolution”—The new season of Boardwalk Empire finally hit the airwaves, and although it was great to see Nucky and the gangsters return in fine bootlegging form, was it really a satisfying opener? One thing that was truly missed was Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt).

Jumping 16 months ahead from last season, and the killing of Jimmy, episode one covered a lot of ground as to what everyone’s been up to, including Nucky’s inevitable progression into a full-on gangster, including the introduction of new characters, the psychotic Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Canavale) and Nucky’s new girlfriend Billie Kent.

The show opened with Nucky questioning a man who hijacked his warehouse, stealing his shipment of booze. But just when the man thinks Nucky has shown him mercy, Nucky gets his new sidekick, Manny, to put a bullet in his head. And so begins Nucky’s transformation to the dark side.

But coming down the highway from Tabor Heights, to attend Nucky’s New Year’s Eve party, is a new gangster, Gyp Rosetti, who’s already a full-fledged brute. Having road trouble en route to Atlantic City, a man stops to help with Gyp’s car only to get beaten to death after Gyp misinterprets something the man said.

Played by Bobby Canavale, Gyp is supposed to be portrayed as a volatile gangster, but because he’s so seriously overplayed and over exaggerated, instead of being horrified by his brutality, he becomes more annoying. Is this character really exciting or anything new? Not really. He’s just another hotheaded gangster who wants his share of rum.

Moving to Chicago, after getting insulted by a gangster named Dean O’Banion, Al Capone decides to take matters into his own hands despite Torrio’s instructions to leave well alone. But just when Al and his crony enter O’Banion’s flower shop to settle the score, in walks former agent Van Alden who inadvertently thwarts Al’s plans. The scene shows Al’s ascent into the powerful gangster he’s now iconically known for—which will make for a good storyline.

Now living in Cicero, Illinois, the clearly unhinged Van Alden, now selling door-to-door for an electric company, has a potentially interesting storyline. Played brilliantly by Michael Shannon, Van Alden, living under a new name, George Mueller, is trying to leave a low-key life with his new wife, new baby son and daughter. But living in Cicero, where Al Capone famously set up shop, may prove harder for Van Alden to disappear into. This is potentially one of the newest and most exciting storylines of the season.

Back in Atlantic City, Nucky throws a New Year’s Eve Egyptian-themed party. While guests drink and party, Nucky and his fellow gangsters meet in the servant’s quarter. Nucky reveals his new business plan to export to Rothstein only. The news puts Gyp in a rage and he storms out of the party. It’s way too obvious that Gyp will be a loose cannon this season. Maybe it will be entertaining, maybe it won’t.

Adding some slight interest this season are the women characters. Margaret seems to be reveling in her new role of philanthropist and board member of the hospital, but after cornering one of the Doctor’s at the party about a new women’s clinic for the hospital, he’s insulted, and tells Nucky about Margaret’s audacity which infuriates Nucky. Is Margaret in over her head? With Margaret clearly on a woman’s movement path, egged on by the news of first female aviatrix Carrie Duncan flying solo across the US, how will this effect her relationship with Nucky moving forward?

One lady who knows what she’s doing business-wise is Gillian (Gretchen Mol), Jimmy’s mom, who has set up the Artemis Club as a high-end brothel. What’s interesting is her relationship with her grandson, Tommy, whom she’s brainwashing into thinking she’s he’s real mother. Can you say weird? Let’s hope Richard, who out of revenge for the killings of Angela and Jimmy, shoots Manny Horovitz near the end, will save this boy from another crazy incestuous relationship with this unstable woman.

Throughout the episode one couldn’t help but wonder what the effects were from Margaret signing away Nucky’s 160 thousand acres of land. It’s not until after the NYE party ends that we see the animosity Nucky now feels toward Margaret. As the door closes on the last guest, Nucky turns on Margaret, furious that she embarrassed him in front of Dr. Landau about the hospital; he demands she not involve him with whatever new cause strikes her fancy. Nucky leaves Margaret to his residence at the Ritz, where he has been living since she gave his land away. He opens his bedroom door to find his new mistress, the performer, Billie Kent, waiting for him.


Boardwalk Empire airs on Sundays at 9 p.m. on HBO and HBO Canada.



—Toni-Marie Ippolito


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