This review contains spoilers for the previous season of Boardwalk Empire.
At its core, Boardwalk Empire has always been a typical boy-meets-girl story. Boy (Nucky Thompson) meets girl (Margaret Schroeder) in season 1, episode 1. Boy saves girl, and girl's two children, from girl's abusive alcoholic husband. Boy goes through advanced moral degeneration involving murder, cheating, and Prohibition-era corruption, thus upsetting girl. Girl marries boy, anyway, by end of season 2. Boy ends up killing his ex-protégé in a fit of cool time-to-go-full-gangsta rage at end of season 2, lies about it to girl.
And with the first five episodes of season 3, Boardwalk Empire maintains its status as one of the most compulsively watchable shows on TV.
As with all great cable dramas, its flaws are few and far between, but glaring nonetheless. Thus far, the season's pacing can drag, and there are some truly rich subplots that go criminally neglected (particularly that of black gangster/Nucky ally Albert "Chalky" White, and his family). Still, there's more than enough here to make you amnestic to the weak spots.
The third season of Boardwalk Empire premieres Sunday, September 16 at 9 p.m. EDT on HBO. Here are my top-5 reasons for why you should tune in:
1) James Darmody is definitely dead and never coming back. It was a risky, admirable move for the second season finale—on par with the startling conclusion of Game of Thrones' first season. But creator Terence Winter's decision to kill off main character James "Jimmy" Darmody (played by Michael Pitt) is already starting to pay off. The death concluded a formative chapter in Nucky's career and personal life, and allowed a fitting exit for the emotionally rotting Jimmy. (Also, am I the only one who can barely stand Pitt's monotone acting, whether it's this, or Funny Games, or The Dreamers, or whatever?)
And the void left by Jimmy's absence is filled by...