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Boardwalk Empire Season 1, Episode 10

Season 1, Episode 10

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“Boardwalk Empire” will end its first season on Dec. 5 with an episode titled “A Return to Normalcy.” The word “Normalcy” came to be associated with the Warren G. Harding administration, before it became synonymous with political corruption. I wonder if “Boardwalk Empire’s” second season will leap ahead a couple of years, “Mad Men” style, and make the Teapot Dome scandal the equivalent to this season’s Chicago White Sox subplot. The show’s not exactly shy about painting Republican political figures in the worst possible light.

When Nucky gives Margaret her lesson in realpolitik, he says, “You’re aware, of course, all that the Republican Party has done for social progress: emancipation, Prohibition — we backed the women’s vote early.” The script’s apparent note of Republican praise merely sets up a sharper critique: Nucky makes this claim, of course, while sipping champagne. Nucky was being similarly hypocritical when he told her, "I don't control anyone. I'm an overseer," when he relishes being the boss of Atlantic City. Margaret points out the Republicans’ opportunism in the cause of suffrage, which Nucky acknowledges as political necessity. "Boardwalk Empire" implies that all political parties are driven by corruption and expediency, but some are more corrupt and expedient than others.