Boardwalk Empire—Season 2

boardwalk empire season 2 poster
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Another strong season

Slower paced than some of the other HBO series

boardwalk empire season 2 title card episode guide

Take a trip to the boardwalk for another season!

Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) has problems.  His list of enemies is growing and they mean to take him down.  When a rift forms between Nucky and Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), everyone begins to pick sides…including Jimmy’s brother Elias (Shea Whigham).  While Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) wonders if her relationship with Nucky has pitted her against God, Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) finds his world collapsing as a new prosecutor named Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson) seeks to stop Nucky once and for all.

Boardwalk Empire—Season 2 aired from September 25, 2011 to December 11, 2011 on HBO.  The season continued to received critical acclaim and won Primetime Emmys for Outstanding Directing in a Drama Series (“To the Lost”), Outstanding Art Direction for a Single-Camera Series (“Peg of Old”, Battle of the Century”, “To the Lost and tied with Game of Thrones), Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (“21”), Outstanding Special Visual Effects in a Supporting Role (“Georgia Peaches”) with nominations for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama (Buscemi), Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series, Outstanding Costumes for a Series (“21”), Outstanding Hairstyling for a  Single-Camera Series (“Two Boats and a Lifeguard”), Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) (“Georgia Peaches”), Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Miniseries, Movie or a Special (“The Age of Reason”), Outstanding Drama Series, and Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series (“Grimcrack and Bunkum”).

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 5 gimcrack and bunkum jimmy nucky steve buscemi michael pitt

It’s on like Donkey Kong…’20s style

Boardwalk Empire continues to be strong.  I really enjoyed the first season, and as a non-cable owner, I always have to wait for the new seasons to be available…which leads to huge gaps between watching as I move onto other things.  Despite this, it is always good when I finally get back to Boardwalk Empire.

While the whole series is basically Nucky vs. the World, this really is amplified this season.  Nucky is facing attacks from rival but also attacks from legal sides.  While doing this, the Michael Pitt character is explored to greater depth and fleshed out before leading to a great final episode.  The series dives into race relations, the IRA, and continues the weird Nelson Van Alden storyline which I don’t know that I love (but keeps you surprised).  The storytelling isn’t always the fastest, but it does still move.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 3 a dangerous maid nucky margaret kelly macdonald steve buscemi

Enjoy it now…it is going to get bad…

Steve Buscemi alone makes the show watchable as Nucky, but that is added to the great supporting cast he works with.  Michael Pitt is a great secondary lead with his storyline and Shea Whigham now gets completely caught in the middle.  Kelly Macdonald threatens to fall into typical compliant “moll” territory in this season but the end of the season shows she still has her own tricks.  I also like the introduction of Michael Kenneth William as Chalky White to help show that Atlantic City was pretty diverse at the time.  Charlie Cox is introduced this season as Buscemi’s new right hand man and Dabney Coleman makes a dramatic exit from the cast.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 3 a dangerous maid owen sleater charlie cox

Daredevil doesn’t need guns!!!

Boardwalk Empire also looks great.  It is rich and vibrant while still having that bleak tone that seems to rule gangster and ’20s themed pictures.  It also constantly reminds us that at points the boardwalk and New Jersey can be pretty with trips up the beach and other locations occasionally being used to tell the story.

Boardwalk Empire is good.  Unlike something like Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire however is a much slower paced series (though not quite a slow burn).  It is bolstered by great acting and visuals and continues to surprise while feeling historically (somewhat) accurate and informative.  I like to visit the Boardwalk.

Boardwalk Empire—Season 2 Complete Episode Guide:

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 1 21 nucky arrested steve buscemi


2.1       21 Airdate:  09/25/11

When the Ku Klux Klan attack Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) and his workers, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Steve Buscemi) finds himself trying to keep riots from breaking out by playing both sides of the racial barriers.  Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) has a visit from his wife (Enid Graham) and hides that he is carrying for the now pregnant Lucy (Paz de la Huerta).  Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) marries Angela (Aleksa Palladino) and secretly continues to work against Nucky with his father  Commodore Louis Kaestner (Dabney Coleman) and Nucky’s brother Elias (Shea Whigham).  Changes are brewing in Chicago as Al Capone (Stephen Graham) is ordered by Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci) to cut Nucky out of the bootlegging equation.  Nucky’s problems mount when he’s targets by agents for the election.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 2 ourselves alone nucky chalky jail steve buscemi michael kenneth williams

“Ourselves Alone”

2.2       Ourselves Alone Airdate:  10/02/11

Nucky has been arrested for voter fraud and now is trying to determine who has turned against him.  The Commodore rallies his men as Jimmy heads to New York City to meet with Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) about becoming the new supplier for New Jersey.  Chalky faces an out of town challenger named Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay) in jail that could test his power.  Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) finds herself hosting an envoy from Ireland including a young maned named Owen Sleater (Charlie Cox) as she tries to protect Nucky from government investigators.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 3 a dangerous maid nucky vs jimmy michael pitt steve buscemi

“A Dangerous Maid”

2.3       A Dangerous Maid Airdate:  10/09/11

Nucky finds that his contacts are drying up and that he might be cut off from his alcohol supply.  Al Capone arrives back in Atlantic City to sever ties with Nucky and meets up again with Jimmy.  Lucy finds herself trapped by Van Alden and contemplates ending her life and the life of the baby.  Margaret befriends her maid Katy (Heather Lind) but finds she might have to separate herself from her past life.  Jimmy debates where his loyalties should lie.

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“What Does the Bee Do?”

2.4       What Does the Bee Do? Airdate:  10/16/11

A sudden turn in the Commodore’s health leads to problems for Jimmy, Eli, and Jimmy’s mother Gillian (Gretchen Mol) plans for taking down Nucky.  With agents trying to block the transport of Nucky’s supply, Nucky must turn to different means to get the alcohol to Atlantic City.  Nucky and his attorneys realize a way to change the course of his election rigging case while bringing in Owen Sleater to help fight back against the competition.  Van Alden’s agents and wife begin to suspect Van Alden is hiding something.  Chalky White gets out of jail and is pressured by his constituents for revenge against the Klan’s attacks.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 5 grimcrack and bunkum richard harrow face jack huston

“Gimcrack and Bunkum”

2.5       Gimcrack and Bunkum Airdate:  10/30/11

It is Memorial Day, and Nucky and Jimmy butt heads at the dedication of a new memorial to the soldiers.  Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) contemplates suicide and tries to find his direction.  With the Commodore sick, Jimmy finds himself trying to hold his deals together and Elias questions whose side he should be on…and things are about to get bloody.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 6 the age of reason van alden wife michael shannon

“The Age of Reason”

2.6       The Age of Reason Airdate:  10/30/11

Margaret worries about the growing relationship between Sleater and Katy while she finds herself having feelings for Sleater.  Nucky’s good fortune in his case becoming federal hits a roadblock when Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald) finds himself pressured to push the federal case.  Jimmy is faced with his old ally “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) while Luciano works for Nucky…forcing a showdown.  Van Alden deals with his dying agent and realizes he might have to confess his sins…as Lucy goes into labor alone.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 7 peg of od margaret kelly macdonald brooklyn

“Peg of Old”

2.7       Peg of Old Airdate:  11/06/11

Van Alden finds himself now trying to take care of Lucy and the baby while prosecutor Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson) moves in to handle the Nucky case.  Margaret tries to reestablish her relationship with her family in Brooklyn.  Nucky puts pressure on Van Alden when he learns about Van Alden’s relationship with Lucy with negative results.  Jimmy decides Nucky has become a problem but learns that his supporters including Capone and Luciano want a more permanent solution to Nucky.  Owen Sleater finds himself in a dangerous new relationship.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 8 two boats and a life guard nucky margaret kelly macdonald steve buscemi

“Two Boats and a Life Guard”

2.8       Two Boats and a Lifeguard Airdate:  11/13/11

Nucky’s survival of the assassination attempt puts him at a crossroads as he tries to determine where he is going.  Eli is served a subpoena causing a tragic reaction.  Van Alden hires new help to deal with Lucy but finds the nanny expecting more of a relationship between him and Lucy.  Angela learns what Jimmy has been up to which causes a rift between them but leads to a chance encounter at the beach.  Nucky’s got a new plan, and Eli tries to warn Jimmy that Nucky can still be dangerous.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 9 battle of the century nucky owen ireland charlie cox steve buscemi

“Battle of the Century”

2.9       Battle of the Century Airdate:  11/20/11

Nucky and Owen travel to Ireland under the disguise of burying his father while trying to trade guns to the IRA in exchange for alcohol.  Jimmy flexes his new found power in Atlantic City and buts heads with Manny Horvitz (William Forsythe).  Esther Randolph questions Deputy Ray Halloran (Adam Mucci) about his bosses.  With Nucky gone, Margaret receives bad news about the health of her daughter Emily (Lucy and Josie Gallina).

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 10 georgia peaches angela killed aleksa palladino

“Georgia Peaches”

2.10     Georgia Peaches Airdate:  11/27/11

Nucky’s whiskey from Ireland is cutting into Jimmy’s take and forcing the men to get creative.  A workers strike encouraged by Nucky and Chalky cripples the tourist industry in Atlantic City.  Eli learns Halloran has been talking, but his attempts to silent him lead to more problems.  Randolph learns about Van Alden’s suspicions involving Nucky’s handling of Margaret’s husband.  Margaret questions her faith while she awaits her daughter’s prognosis.  Manny seeks revenge on Jimmy for the attempted hit.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 11 under gods power she flourishes jimmy kills commodore dabney coleman michael pitt

“Under God’s Power She Flourishes”

2.11     Under God’s Power She Flourishes Airdate:  12/04/11

Manny has killed Angela and her lover in his search for Jimmy as Jimmy recalls his mother’s visit to him in college.  Nucky and Margaret find themselves at odds over Margaret’s religion and the charges against Nucky.  Van Alden’s past comes back to haunt him and forces him to make a rash decision.  Jimmy has a confrontation with his mother which leads to a shocking result.

boardwalk empire season 2 episode 12 to the lost nucky kills jimmy steve buscemi michael pitt

“To the Lost”

2.12     To the Lost Airdate:  12/11/11

Nucky’s court date is coming, but it turns out Margaret could be a bigger danger to him than any of his enemies.  Jimmy’s murder of his father is covered up, and Jimmy decides he must reconsider his war with Nucky.  Van Alden is on the run and seeks a place to hide.  Nucky must mend his differences in his hopes to survive but who will take the fall?  Margaret debates her relationship with Nucky, but still has her own surprises for him.

Related Links:

Boardwalk Empire—Season 1 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Boardwalk Empire—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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