HBO News Blog

‘Boardwalk Empire’ S3 / E12 – ‘Margate Sands’

By David Pergolini on Dec 3, 2012 to HBO News

Thats a rap. Season 3 is in the books after Sunday’s thrilling season finale, ‘Margate Sands.’ Masseria, Rosetti, White, Capone and Thompson take they’re war to the streets, giving us our first glimpses of all-out warfare in prohibition-era America. The body count boils over as chaos spreads rampant throughout the city, leaving in its wake an episode that was fulfilling in many ways, yet surprisingly dissatisfying in some areas. Margaret is “lost,” Luciano is undone, Rothstein looks to secure his newest investment, Gillian is in a daze, Rosetti has “googly eyes,” Richard Harrow is an absolute beast, and Nucky Thompson takes back Atlantic City. It’s been quite a ride this season, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

After taking an episode off, Margaret returns to the screen. She’s relocated to Brooklyn under her maiden alias, Roan, where she looks to have her pregnancy terminated due to the lose of Owen, the child’s father. “I’m lost,” she says, and she’s right. Margaret’s disposition looks as if she’s wondering about in a dream – scared, confused and alone. She goes through with the operation, a taste of irony seeing as she fought so hard throughout the season to prevent things like this. Despite her best efforts, Nucky manages to track Margaret down. I wouldn’t necessarily declare this a conversation since Nucky is the one driving the scene, “forgiving her” of past divulgences and offering a monetary incentive for her to return home. Margaret’s silence, to me, showcases the empty shell she now is. She’s lost everything to the man who offers her everything and more. She’s not buying it anymore, she can’t. Margaret refuses the money and returns to her bed – alone.

There’s one thing you can expect when nearing the end of a ‘Boardwalk’ season – double crosses. The first taste of betrayal is felt by Charlie Luciano, whose arrest in the previous episode was merely a cover for Masseria and Rothstein to get involved in the heroin game. Charlie’s outburst nearly gets him and Meyer killed, but in the end the two are left with nothing. Rothstein once again shows why he’s in control of New York City – always one step ahead of the competition.

Micky Doyle is “lost at sea” in the Pennsylvania countryside where he’s overseeing the upbringing of the Overholt distillery – an impressive compound that would clearly distinguish it’s owner as the premiere bootlegger in the country. Mickey calls Rothstein with an offer that would grant him control of the distillery. AR uses the information to barter a deal with Nucky. In exchange for reaching a truce with Joe Masseria (thereby forfeiting his men from the war in Atlantic City), Rothstean demands 99% commission of the distillery’s profits, an arrangement that Nucky has no choice but to agree to – or so we think. Greed comes at a price after all, “big bait catches big rat.”

Gyp Rosetti and Gillian absolutely lit up the screen in the season finale, putting on a performance that constantly shifted tension and conflict. One minute Gillian is seducing Gyp, the next, Gyp has Gillian figured out, then Gillian makes her memorable “ape” remark and we think that Rosettit will kill her on the spot – not before handling business in other ways, of course. In the end, Gyp’s dominatrix fetish wins over. “Hurt me!” he squeals as Gillian pulls tighter on the belt around his neck. Gillian removes a syringe from under a pillow, a technique we’ve seen before. But Gyp is on to her game, snatching the syringe and injecting Gillian with the lethal heroin.

Masseria’s men have left the Artemis club, leaving Rosetti and a hand full of men to fight the war on they’re own. BOOM! Rifle fire crackles throughout the house. One of Gyp’s men is down, then another, and another. It’s Richard F****** Harrow! Strapped like it’s armageddon and sending the remaining footsoldiers into the clutches of panic. Gyp makes his escape as Richard lands headshot after headshot with his high powered sniper rifle, ascending the club levels. He takes care of more men with his hip-planted shotgun, another close encounter showers his face and mask with blood. Richard enters Tommy’s room where the last of Rosetti’s men stands with a pistol to the boy’s head. Yea, nice try, buddy. Richard takes Tommy to Julia’s house, where he receives surprising support from Paul, Julia’s drunkard father. “He’s safe… Thats all that matters.” Is this the end of Richard in Atlantic City? It very well may be, but he sure as Hell left his mark. What a performance.

Nucky Thompson has emerged victorious once again. Despite all the hardships, all of the doubts and skepticism – he’s reclaimed his dominance over Atlantic City. Al Capone and Chalky White, who had they’re troubles throughout the episode, find a mutual respect for one another after massacring Masseria’s men in a road side ambush. Nucky’s political problems have now fallen on Arnold Rothstein, thanks to the saving graces of Andrew Mellon and Gaston Means – apparently, the Overholt was never his to give away. All that remains is Rosetti, who was stabbed in the back by his most trusted underling. The deed is done, the war is over – for now. Now Nucky must pick up the pieces and rebuild his legacy. He’s repaired his relationship with Eli but fell woefully short with Margaret. For some reason, I thought this season would strive to rebuild this troubled marriage, but now things are left worse than when we started. It would appear that this is the end for the two. We’re left with Nucky on the ‘Boardwalk,’ receiving praise from local passerby’s, dropping the familiar carnation to the ground – “You can’t be half a gangster.”

And that’s that folks, what a season! ‘Margate Sands’ is certainly a fitting conclusion, chalked full of epic shootouts and misguided politics. The episode, however, felt rather disconnected. We never got to see what happened to Nelson Van Alden in Chicago, or Harry Daugherty, and we’re still left with an ensemble of questions surrounding characters like Richard, Gillian and Margaret. Where will they go? What will happen? The season seemed to have gotten so caught up in the war that other character’s story lines  we’re left on the cutting room floor. I also would have loved to see one final confrontation between Nucky and Gyp. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned this season, it’s this – don’t question Terence Winter. There were some moments throughout the course of this season where I questioned his grand scheme, but in the end, ‘Margate Sands,’ along with the rest of season 3, delivers.

What were some of your favorite moments this season? Stay tuned for the full season review, coming soon.

  • Marie

    SO.MANY.TYPOS. And grammatical errors, not to mention your complete lack of understanding of the episode.

    “Big bait catches big rat” wasn’t in reference to Mickey Doyle selling out Nucky. Mickey was a go-between. The bait was Overholt, the rat was Arnold Rothstein.

    Andrew Mellon very clearly tells Esther Randolph over the telephone when she asks if he wants Nucky arrested, that Nucky himself is the person who tipped him off to the distillery being taken over by someone else. Gaston Means, once again, acted as the go-between for Nucky by bringing the news and Arnold Rothstein’s name to him.

    And Nucky wears a red carnation, NOT a rose.










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