Written in Ink

Boardwalk Empire

Who would have thought four years ago that as this show progressed Gillian would become the most interesting and complex character on the show? I never saw it coming it just sort of creeped up that way.

And who would have thought this show could completely redeem itself after two really lackluster seasons. But, it has.

It's also interesting to think why it's so much better. The first season was great because it was about how these guys who were mostly gamblers and politicians managed to set up the booze distribution business after prohibition started. They had no idea what they were doing at first but by the end of the season the national distribution system was in place - in effect creating a nationally organized crime syndicate for the first time in America.

The problem with Seasons Two and Three is the writers didn't know what to do once they had that set up. So we had two seasons in a row of people trying to take over Nucky's business and Nucky then killing them in the season finale. Which isn't interesting because the lead character in the show isn't going to die.

But actual American history solves this problem for the writers in Season Four. Now that enough time has passed the smart people can see that prohibition won't last forever and when it goes away it's going to be hard to make big money selling booze.

There are two ways out of this:

1. Nucky's way. Expand sales as much as possible now and grab the money while you can so you won't need to worry about generating big money down the line.

2. The other way. Realize that the system that helps you distribute bootleg alcohol will also help you distribute other things and start using it to move heroin and other drugs - a business that will still bring in big money when alcohol becomes legal.

Chalky and Nucky hate option two which puts them in collision - because they think drugs are bad and will bring down a lot of ill will from the cops. Everybody, to their mind, likes to drink and most cops don't really give a shit about people drinking. But heroin is bad news, so Nucky and Chalky don't want a part of it.

But there is so much money to be made from it that the other factions are going to try as hard as they can to make it happen.

And that's an interesting story - because now that we've seen the start of organized crime we are seeing a fight for it's future. And while we know Nucky wont' get killed, we can wonder if he'll get sucked into option two and compromised by it, which gives us a good deal of suspense.

Add in the damage we see done by heroin on the show (and the complete inability of the gangsters to keep their word and not sell to respectable people) and you get some drama that's as good as The Sopranos.

It's almost enough to make you forget the two seasons that sucked.

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