So I noticed there wasn't a thread for this, and I'd seen some people talking about it here and there, so I wanted to go ahead and do a thing (man why you even gotta do a thing) because it's a great show!
Boardwalk Empire takes place in Atlantic City, New Jersey, beginning immediately after the passage of the Volstead Act, which introduced that delightful period of American history known as Prohibition. It focuses on a lively cast of characters caught up in various groups' attempts to control the bootlegging and other illegal trades in the region, and generally is about the rise of the organized crime syndicates that have become so famous in history and pop culture.
It's also got a hell of a cast!
Enoch "Nucky" Thompson
Treasurer of Atlantic City and the main character of the show, played by Steve Buscemi. Based on the real-life Nucky Johnson.
While ostensibly in control of the city and its liquor trade, there are some recent developments that have made things a lot more complicated for him and a lot of people are scheming to take over or divide up his empire for themselves.
Played by Michael Pitt, who's doing a pretty good Leonardo DiCaprio impression, Jimmy is Nucky's protege and enforcer at the start of the show. He's also a World War I vet, so he's seen some shit, man. He goes from being a fairly thuggish dude to hanging out with Al Capone and wearing really nice suits. He's also really smart and just ambitious enough to start chafing under Nucky, which is gonna be problematic. He also has a super-hot (and maybe kinda crazy) mom, played by Gretchen Mol.
Nucky's mistress, played by Kelly MacDonald. A working-class Irishwoman who's smarter than she sometimes lets on, Margaret is slowly taking a bigger role in helping Nucky run the city and fend off those who are trying to muscle in on his territory. Pretty quick with a snappy comeback when the situation calls for it, too.
Nelson Van Alden
Played by the awesome Michael Shannon, he's a Prohibition Agent for the Department of Internal Revenue leading a crusade against booze and, more specifically, Nucky Thompson. He's also batshit crazy
. Strictly religious and staunchly anti-liquor, the dude is pretty single-minded in his pursuit of justice, but lately he's been having some conflicting feelings and has done some things that are starting to look less and less like appropriate behavior for a federal agent. Also? No sense of humor.
Louis Kaestner, a.k.a "The Commodore"
Dabney Coleman! The Commodore is Nucky's mentor and the former crime boss of Atlantic City, and is also
Jimmy's biological father.
Though he was deathly ill for much of season one, he's back on the mend now and has decided he'd like to get back in the city-runnin' game, and is assembling a gang of other rich old dudes to do so.
Richard is another WWI vet who had half of his face blown off, which hasn't stopped him from being a total badass
. He meets Jimmy in an army hospital and accompanies him back to Atlantic City, joining him as an enforcer. The dude has some pretty serious psychological issues in addition to the actual scars, though lately he's been trying to fit into Jimmy's messed-up little family. We'll see how that works out. Still a crack shot with a rifle, and probably my favorite character on the show right now, with the possible exception of...
Albert "Chalky" White
Omar comin' yo! Chalky (Michael Kenneth Williams) is sort of Nucky's counterpart in Atlantic City's black community, and has recently gotten involved more directly in the bootlegging business. Relations have been a little strained lately because Chalky feels that Nucky isn't giving enough thought to the needs of the black community, especially with increased KKK activity against them. I don't know what else to tell you about him except that Williams is a fantastic actor and every scene with Chalky is just phenomenal. "These here my daddy's tools."
Arnold Rothstein! Al Capone! Lucky Luciano!
You know these guys. They're real guys. You ain't know? Look 'em up.
Anyway, this is a great show, but I feel like it's always just a step away from whatever it needs to do to really explode and become the hit that so many other HBO shows have been, especially with this kind of creative talent involved. So, let's rap. About some booze.