Atlantic City's tangled web of betrayal, political scheming and murder came full circle in "Boardwalk Empire"s' shocking Season Two finale. After a season of trying to take down Nucky Thompson, Jimmy Darmody finally realized how foolish he'd been to move against his former mentor, but it was too late. Even after Darmody helped make his election fraud charges disappear, Nucky repaid him with two shots to the head, an abrupt end of the line for one of the show's most compelling characters.
To keep track of the deals, deception and death, HuffPost TV presents the final Season Two installment of our "Boardwalk Empire" gangster index, a guide to who's up and who's down among HBO's organized criminals.
Check out the index to find out how your favorite liquor-slinging sociopath fared this week ...
Stock Down: Jimmy Darmody. Rest in peace, "Boardwalk"s' prodigal son. Fans of "The Sopranos" will recognize that Darmody got the Christopher Maltisanti treatment. Each character was at one time being groomed to be their boss's successor; each struggled with drug addiction and saw his wife killed because of his criminality; each was a beloved character who tried to strive for more than his limited world allowed him to grasp; and in the end, each was killed by his pseudo-father figure.
Jimmy seemed to be preparing for his death the entire episode. He took brazen action to put an end to the black workers' strike, bringing three Klansmen to Chalky White. He told Nucky he never should have betrayed him, and atoned for his sin by forcing Ward Boss Neary to recant his testimony, then set up his murder to look like a suicide. He made sure his son would be in line to receive the Commodore's estate.
Then, astoundingly, he showed up to his final meeting with Nucky unarmed, and without Harrow backing him up. "I died in a trench years ago," he said, not mentioning that having sex with his mother was what drove him there. Darmody told Harrow it was time for him to come home from the war, but was never able to do it himself.
Stock up: Nucky Thompson. The lesson of this "Boardwalk" season is pretty simple: don't mess with Nucky. His wealth, political acumen and underworld connections proved too strong a combination for any of his adversaries to overcome. His wedding with Margaret, juxtaposed against a montage of Jimmy doing the dirty work to get his trial thrown out, was an homage to 'The Godfather,' and seemed to mark Nucky's departure from the "half-gangster" Jimmy told him he couldn't be in Season One. By pulling the trigger and ending Jimmy's life, Nucky crossed that threshold and became a full-gangster.
Stock up: Nelson Van Alden. He escaped to Illinois with his baby and mail order nanny, leaving his murder charges and failed crusade against liquor and sin behind him. Atlantic City changed Van Alden for the worse, but at least he got out alive. It's more than you can say for Agent Sebso.
Stock down: Margaret Schroeder Thompson. Although Internet chat speak would not be invented until seven decades after 'Boardwalk Empire' took place, WTF Maragaret. She married Nucky and seemed to get over her feelings of religious guilt long enough to make peace with his criminality. But to exact her own strange revenge, she just kept giving things to the church! First it was a stack of cash, and then Nucky's profitable land in South Jersey. She does realize that property was the key to keeping her wealthy and comfortable in her new married life, right? That doesn't seem to matter to Margaret, so long as she can keep telling herself she's somehow doing right by God.
Stock up: Eli Thompson. All season it seemed inevitable that Eli would be killed for betraying his brother Nucky. He hastily suggested Nucky be killed and was set to testify that he ordered Hans Schroeder's murder. But Atlantic City's former sheriff ended up getting off relatively scott-free. He didn't have to testify against his brother and the Hans Schroeder murder got pinned on his Deputy Hallerin. Nucky forgave Eli, but forced him to take the wrap for his election rigging. Still, he'll only have to do a year of jail-time. It could have been a lot worse.
Stock up: Chalky White. In the end, Chalky White got what he wanted most: justice. He got revenge against the Klan, more money than he wanted to pay the families of his men who had been killed in the attack, and an acknowledgment that the black workers made Atlantic City run. It wasn't easy, but he finally won back the respect of his community to go with his big house and fancy clothes.
Stock up: The New York Gangsters. Under Arnold Rothstein's tutelage, Luciano and Lanksy managed to play all sides of the chaos in Atlantic City and come out unscathed. The young gangsters were aligned with Darmody while Rothstein was advising Nucky behind-the-scenes. They dealt with Darmody when he was trying to run things and they'll deal with Nucky now that he's back pulling the strings. Now, with Darmody gone, they're in line for more business, and screen-time, in Season 3. On "Boardwalk Empire," it pays to be a historical gangster.
A version of this post also appeared on AOL TV.
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