Finished Boardwalk Empire. Last season was a mixed bag. The timeskip was great. Moving from the Roaring 20s into the Depression was amazing. The flashbacks to Nucky's childhood was amazing. The buildup to Nucky selling his soul to the devil in those flashbacks was amazing too. Seeing Nucky deal with the ideas of family and legacy was amazing. Literally every second Al Capone was on screen was amazing (like always). Most of the side stories were awful. All of the empowered black characters stories ending in tragedy was appropriate and amazing. Every second Michael K. Williams does anything in this show is a delight. Michael Shannon is a legend. The way it ended was fitting but fucking stupid. Get your poetic justice and lame story threads out of here. Just like every season, Gillian Darmody's storyline is actually the worst shit ever. Still a lot of solid stuff. But mostly, it made me wish I was watching a different show. Namely:
A Boardwalk Empire that had a much more deliberate pace a la Mad Men, so we could see a more nuanced progression of time and culture through the Prohibition Era, rather than this show that frontloaded most of the series to the beginning of the 20s, then massive timeskip to a short season in '32.
We would get to see a full show following the young Nucky Thompson. Stretch his backstory out into a full show. The Guilded Age was a fascinating time in American History, and is rarely discussed or explored, and the transition from then to the 20th Century would have been just as fascinating, if not more so.
A show just following this show's version of Al Capone. I thought it was problematic for this show that the sideshow of Al Capone managed to pretty much steal the show and be the best part of it. It puts AMC's pathetic Al Capone show to shame. The moment where Al talks to his kid and comes clean with him, and then composes himself before walking into court was probably the single most affecting thing in the entire show, right next to Michael K. William's final scenes.
On the whole, I really liked this show, even though it had a lot of problems. I think this show is the career defining moment of Steve Buscemi's career, even if his character was inherently limited and incapable of carrying the show. I think it also sets a gold standard for historical dramas too, with regards to always bringing it, day in and day out with regards to the thought and accuracy put into every little background detail in the setting, clothing, culture, etc. It's also a fascinating lens to look back at an era of American extravagance and expose the public to the truth of the Good Ole Days mouth-breathing idiots yearn for. I think the show could have been improved with a lot of tweaks, removal of B-plots, and depicting some stuff that never got much time or exposure (which probably couldn't due to funding) like prison life back then, or the back-breaking labor industry of the time required. Mostly though, this show ending makes me want more of it, or more high quality historical dramas like it, but I know there's very little out there, or at least very little that would live up to my expectations. Maybe I'll just watch a bunch of Ken Burns documentaries, or rewatch John Adams again. Man, HBO is the best.