‘Boardwalk Empire’ returns with a muzzle blast

By Nick Wesdock

For fans of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire,” there was a massive question looming after the end of last season: will main character and fan favorite Jimmy Darmody rise from the dead and make a comeback in season three?

Unfortunately, the answer is no.

Jimmy is gone.

But don’t let that turn you away. The premiere episode of season three did not leave any doubt the show is back and stronger than ever, despite Darmody’s absence.

Set during New Year’s Eve in 1922, the first episode is focused around the Thompson’s New Year’s Eve party.

Overall, the segment has an upbeat feel, but one can’t help but sense the show’s typical lying, cheating undertone – something is just not quite right here.

Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) starts the season by shaking things up a bit.

Atlantic City’s corrupt treasurer is scheming as usual, and the audience finds out at the end of the episode that Nucky has a secret.

At the end of season two, Jimmy’s son, Tommy (played by twins Connor and Brady Noon), was left with no parents and in custody of his grandmother, who wants the young boy to forget about his real mother.

Now, Tommy is faced with the conflict of not knowing his real mother’s identity.

Foreshadowing suggests Margaret Schroeder (Kelly Macdonald), Nucky’s wife, may take more of a front-seat role this season.

Shortly after opening a children’s hospital in Atlantic City, Margaret finds out women, particularly pregnant ones, are not receiving adequate care and instruction. At the end of the episode, the first woman to fly across the country inspires her to better her life.

On the contrary, when Margaret’s husband is asked about the female pilot, he makes a sarcastic, degrading remark.

Margaret has always been a righteous woman, but it seems like she wants to return to her roots as a women’s rights activist this season.

As prohibition continues to fuel crime and corruption, the gangsters of “Boardwalk Empire” grow more and more violent. Episode one already gives a little taste of what’s to come in the way of action-packed fight scenes.

Part of what makes “Boardwalk Empire” such a unique and popular show is its authenticity.

Everything in the show – the filming style, colors, set, characters, props and conflicts – reflect the time period. I noticed this more than ever Sunday night as it showed the creators of this show have really stepped it up for the third season.

Sure, there have been plenty of gangster movies throughout the years that have gone down as instant classics (“The Godfather,” “Goodfellas” and “Scarface” to name a few) but for the first time, we are seeing a television show that rivals these classic films.

So far season three has not disappointed, even with these lofty expectations.

In a show like this, anything can happen at any time, and that keeps the viewer constantly on edge. Most of the marquee characters have returned, and with so many secrets and so much animosity, no one is safe. Things are definitely changing in Atlantic City, but not for the better – dark days are ahead in this chapter of the series.

Personally, I am glad the show is back on air. If you don’t watch “Boardwalk Empire,” you are missing out on one of television’s finest offerings.

The season started with a bang (literally), and there are plenty of twists and turns available to keep the show rolling smoothly for a long time to come.

Tune into HBO every Sunday night for brand new episodes.

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