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'Boardwalk Empire' Season Finale Recap: How Do They Get Out of This One?

By Michael Arbeiter, Hollywood.com Staff

In true season finale form, the latest episode of Boardwalk Empire delivers a handful of deaths, a few big reveals, a good portion of revenge (and due comeuppance), the dashing of some dreams and the granting of others, and a begrudging understanding waged between two antagonistic parties. Following an opening sequence highlighting the leviathan of gangster-on-gangster crime sweeping Atlantic City (delivered with an irreverence straight out of Chicago), we pick up right where we left off: Nucky holed up in a remote Jersey cabin, building an army with the men of Johnny Torrio and Chalky White; Gyp Rosetti claiming base in Gillian's brothel, waging an attack on Nucky with Joe Masseria behind him; Lucky Luciano apprehended by two undercover cops after the attempted sale of heroin. So how does all this play out for everyone?

Nucky

Where We Left Him: Hiding out in his nephew's warehouse with Eli, trying to keep peace among his troops —Torrio's men, led by Al Capone, don't take kindly to White's men, and vice versa.

What Happens: Nucky institutes a plan. Having sent Mickey Doyle off to the Pennsylvania distillery that he and Sen. Andrew Mellon have business with, Nucky tricks his gabby goon into spreading the word of the profitable location to Arnold Rothstein, who himself phones Nucky with a trade: controlling stake in the distillery's soon-to-be-prosperous brewing business in return for his convincing of Joe Masseria to call off his dogs in the fight against Nucky. The ex-treasurer agrees, arranging for his army to slaughter all of Masseria's men just the same following their order to leave base at Gillian's brothel and head back to New York.

Additionally, Nucky and Mellon have arranged the giving up of Rothstein to the law following the whole ordeal. Finally, the takedown of an unsuspecting, unarmed, unmanned, unbalanced Gyp Rosetti, which Nucky masterminds (although at this point, it isn't too much of a struggle), and the assimilation back into a life of sad, lonely, incognito prosperity.

Next: What happened to Margaret?

[Photo Credit: HBO] [PAGEBREAK]Margaret

Where We Left Her: We actually haven't seen her since she broke down in tears over the discovery of Owen's dead body. She was pregnant with his baby at the time, if you'll recall.

What Happens: A relocation to Brooklyn, a name change to Rohan, an abortion (all that work at the hospital has apparently given way to some progressive attitudes in Ms. Rohan Schroeder Thompson Rohan), and a dismissal of Nucky's affections and offerings when he comes to visit her and welcome her back into his life at the end of the episode.

Next: What happened to Gyp? [PAGEBREAK]Gyp Rosetti

Where We Left Him: Sitting high on the throne in Gillian's brothel.

What Happens: While the psychopath awaits his men's invasion on Nucky, he instills a particularly disgusting torture upon Gillian: the sick-in-the-head and self-loathing Rosetti provokes Gillian to join him in a sadomasochistic endeavor of bedroom-centric sorrow, which she attempts to use to get rid of him once and for all… unfortunately for her, this is hardly a success.

But Gyp does not have a happy ending (nor has he ever seemed to have a happy anything). After losing all of his men and doing away with Gillian, Gyp regroups on the beach with a few close consulates, waging a batty plan to retake Atlantic City. He is literally stabbed in the back (and then in the stomach) during his mad tirade by one of his men, who was apparently paid by Nucky in the wake of Gyp's fall from triumphant heights to dispose of the psychotic pest.

Next: What happened to Lucky? [PAGEBREAK]Lucky (and Meyer)

Where We Left Him: In the hands of two vicious and violent undercover agents who apprehend all of his heroin and serve him their rendition of "justice."

What Happens: Turns out those fellows aren't actually undercover cops, but convincing conmen hired by Rothstein to take over Lucky's stash. When Lucky is informed of this by Rothstein and Masseria, he throws a fit, and is duly dismissed of association with either crime boss. Meyer attempts to stifle Lucky, and is as such offered a job by Rothstein. However…

Next: What happened to Rothstein? [PAGEBREAK]Rothstein

Where We Left Him: A traitor to Nucky and, as we learn this week, a traitor to Lucky as well (he really isn't a friend to that rhyme scheme).

What Happens: Cuts a deal with Nucky — 99% control of his Pennsylvania distillery in return for peace with Masseria's tribe. Rothstein manages this by cutting Masseria in on the heroin game that Rothstein swindles from Lucky. Unfortunately for the Brain, he played right into Nucky's hand, and is given up to the law as a major participant in illicit doings involving the distillery when Sen. Mellon (Nucky's partner in crime) calls Rothstein's name into one Esther Randolph.

Next: What Happened to Gillian? [PAGEBREAK]Gillian

Where We Left Her: Resenting Gyp's control over her brothel, Tommy's fading affection for her, and Richard altogether — she gets rid of the latter, leaving her to deal with Rosetti's men all alone.

What Happens: Following her attempted murder on Rosetti using the same technique she applied to kill that poor Jimmy doppelganger, Gillian herself is stuck with the toxic needle, left alone in her bedroom to die. When she is discovered by Nucky hours later, she is still not dead, but is suffering, hallucinating, lonely, sad, and scared… remembering days of yore, the days tending to the Commodore, when her innocence was first robbed from her. Whether she survives is yet to be seen.

Next: What happened to Richard? [PAGEBREAK]Richard

Where We Left Him: Fired from the brothel, madly in love with Julie and devoted to Tommy, and in the possession of many, many guns.

What Happens: After Capone and White's army take down all of Masseria's men, Richard — alone — does the same with Rosetti's. He infiltrates the brothel and singlehandedly kills all of the occupying forces, rescuing Tommy from the deadly locale and delivering him to Julie, who is aghast by the whole situation. Julie's father, a seasonal antagonist to Richard, understands that he was merely trying to play the savior, and promises him that he'll talk to Julie. But Richard sees himself as a lone soldier, never capable of having the happy life he might have dreamed of with Julie. He delivers Tommy to the safety of Julie's home, and then disappears into the night, forever to wander alone.

Next: What happened to Masseria? [PAGEBREAK]Masseria

Where We Left Him: On the brink of war with Rosetti against Nucky Thompson.

What Happens: After striking a deal with Rothstein's heroin operation and calling his troops out of the Rosetti Vs. Nucky battle, Nucky delivers to Masseria Rosetti's dead body, telling the messenger boy that whether Masseria takes this as an ending to their rivalry or as a beginning, Nucky is on board.

Next: What happened to Eli? [PAGEBREAK]Eli

Where We Left Him: Right in the foxhole with Nucky.

What Happens: Acknowledging that he can never be sheriff again, Eli is pretty lost for glory. But he's beside his brother all the way, ready to stand as a partner in whatever incarnation of the Thompson family business is set to befall them from hereon out.

Next: What happened to Al Capone and Chalky White? [PAGEBREAK]Al and Chalky

Where We Left Them: On Nucky's payroll, and none too keen on each other.

What Happens: Killing a bunch of New Yorkers can really form a friendship. After an entire episode of racist epithets and violent outbursts, the two reach a begrudging respect for one another after they do away with all of Masseria's men.

And that's everybody. Everybody we see this week, anyway… no word on Nelson, Bugsy Siegel, or Johnny Torrio. What'd you think of the season as a whole?

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