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Boardwalk Empire Season 1, Episode 12

Season 1, Episode 12

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  • Courtsy of HBO
  • "I WANT... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!" Steve Buscemi, Anthony Laciura and Michael Pitt

“Boardwalk Empire” takes the title of its season 1 finale, “A Return to Normalcy,” from a campaign promise by Warren G. Harding, who — spoiler! — gets elected president on this episode. (Fun bit of trivia: “normalcy,” as a synonym for “normality,” was not considered a real word at the time, so Harding drew some “misunderestimated”-style mockery, even though it’s in common use today.) For the first season’s final episode, writer/creator Terence Winter imposes a kind of normalcy on the action by restoring the status quo, rather than shake things up.

HBO renewed “Boardwalk Empire” for its second season almost immediately after the first episode premiere, but “Normalcy” almost feels like a series finale, given that it includes so many resolutions and neatly-tied loose ends, with two notable exceptions. Many season finales will end up with cliff-hangers and game-changers — regulars get killed or revealed to be robots — but “Normalcy” takes its cue from its final scene: the party’s over and it’s time to go home. Let’s sum up the show and the season through its main characters.

Nucky Thompson: At first, Nucky’s sweaty and snappish over the prospects of the Republicans losing the election, and he’s probably pretty cranky that Margaret Schroeder has left him. Margaret pays him a visit when he’s donning a Lone Ranger-style for a Halloween party, and she remarks that he looks like “A dapper villain in a Sunday serial.” But she also wants to find out the truth about his dead wife and son.