Headscratchers / Boardwalk Empire

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    Thompsons in the Artemis Club 
  • So in the season 3 finale Eli and Nucky show up armed at Rosetti's headquarters, seemingly alone (Chalky and Capone are elsewhere)... what were they bloody thinking, two intelligent guys -but not exactly elite killers- come up with that half-assed plan? One guy with a small revolver and the other with a shotgun... If Richard didn't happen to clean the house on his own initiative and by coincidence, the Thompsons would be facing about a dozen of professional muscle and Rosetti himself, who is not a slouch either, even if they are baffled by the retreat of Masseria's men. The odds are terrible.
    • This one only makes sense as an error in the transition between script and direction (another one in the same episode is the discrepancy in the number of Gyp's men). Maybe we are supposed to assume that they brought more men but left them all in the ground floor when they found all the bodies, with only Nucky and Eli going upstairs.
    • It could be conservation of detail. Presumably, the Thompsons brothers brought some men to the Artemis Club, were fairly confused by the lack of surprise, sent a couple of redshirts to investigate and when they came back and told them what was inside, decided to go in by themselves.

    Why does Nucky feel the need to kill Joe Masseria? 
  • He's having enough trouble at the beginning of the season with Gyp Rosetti, who doesn't have an army. Why he decides to risk the ire of the most powerful boss in New York if his hit fails (which it did and he does) to deal with the comparative nuisance that is Gyp Rosetti is beyond mind-boggling. Why not just try to form an alliance (the way he does this is odd in and of itself considering he had to have known the odds of getting all those that he called to help him, most of whom he has no regular interaction with, was a long shot) and take Gyp head on?
    • Because killing a boss would be the quickest way to end a war or make sure one never started. It's a Game Changer, and the only viable option for Nucky who is at a big disadvantage taking on Masseria's army. The death of the boss would have caused the remaining factions within the Masseria family to sit down and choose a new boss. Meaning, the Masseria soldiers who were sent to Gyp would have gone back to Manhattan with their respective crews, and Rossetti would have been left on his own with whatever was left of his crew.
    • Also, Nucky's plan is a nod to what happened to Joe Masseria in real life and would happen in season 5: Masseria was killed by his own men to end the Castelemare War in 1931. Furthermore, Luciano and company had another boss Salvatore Maranzano killed to prevent a new war from breaking out between the Americanized Mafia and the traditional Mafia groups.
    • The decision to assassinate Masseria came after Gyp's reoccupation of Tabor Heights and the bombing on Babbette's. There is no ire to risk, as Joe Masseria and his troops were backing Gyp's takeover of Atlantic City and have been since Easter Sunday. Nucky's decision to have Masseria killed is not mind boggling, but the correct move in order to break up the Masseria-Rossetti alliance.
    • Additionally the bootlegger's alliance would be a backup plan in case the Masseria hit failed, as well as a deterrent for future groups wanting to muscle in on a territory.
    • I might add there was nothing particularly odd about how Nucky formed the alliance either. He called together the successful bootlegging operations, precisely the guys who would be interested in an alliance. The lack of regular interaction would have applied only to Peg Leg Lonergan and Bill Lovett. The rest of the bootleggers called to that meeting were guys he had worked with before. It was Rothstein's meddling that ensured the alliance proposal failed. By the way, this alliance Nucky proposed is practically the same one that is formed in Atlantic City during the infamous Bootlegger's Conference of 1929. That conference laid the groundwork for a national alliance of organized crime groups made up of Italian, Jewish, and Irish crews. It was the birth of what we know as The Syndicate.

    Gillian and the house 
  • So, Gillian says she is selling the Commodore's house, which she describes as "hers", to provide for Tommy. The house was inherited by Jimmy after destroying the document willing it to the maid, and since Jimmy didn't make a will it passed down to Tommy (or so was his intention in the episode he was killed in). So, how come does Gillian own and live in that house, which should be owned by Tommy, but is not Tommy's guardian right now? Shouldn't the two "items" go together?
    • Considering Tommy is still just a kid, it would probably be very easy for Gillian to hold the house in "stewardship" until he comes of age.
    • Plus he's most likely in hiding now after Harrow rescued him.
    • Later episodes explain this. She is currently in a legal battle over custody of Tommy.
    That ending 
  • Alright, I understand that the ending—with Tommy Darmody being the one to take Nucky out as the ultimate consequence of his Startof Darkness—was intended to be poetic, but it really doesn't make any sense to me. Wouldn't he have been far too young the last time he saw Gillian to remember her? He barely remembered her the last time we saw her and chose Julia over her. Even if he did have some memories of her, would he really care enough to dedicate that much time to avenging her? How did he discover the full story (I'm presuming she didn't really tell him everything as a child, though I'd be surprised if he remembered that much, either)? What happened to Julia, anyway? She seemed to be a very sensible and kind person, so it's hard to see her either abandoning him or raising him in such a way that he would be capable of anything like this. Finally, if his endgame was to kill Nucky, why didn't he take any of his other opportunities? The one on the boardwalk was literally his worst chance, as he had at least one chance to kill Nucky without any witnesses whatsoever. I certainly don't mind seeing Nucky face justice at the end of the series, but there are so many questions here that the landing didn't stick for me at all.
    • My take is this: Tommy was mentally and emotionally troubled, on probably quite a few levels. After the hellish, turbulent childhood he endured, this is not entirely shocking. That would certainly explain his reckless willfulness in gunning down a pillar of the community in broad daylight. And Tommy undoubtedly had some continued contact with grandmother Gillian, as he kills Nucky right after Nucky refuses to free Gillian from the asylum.
    • Gillian had probably been sneaking letters to Tommy letting him know she was trapped in the asylum and wanted out.