In the outstanding pilot episode of HBO's Prohibition-era crime drama Boardwalk Empire, director Martin Scorsese and writer Terence Winter gave audiences a whole lot of questions to chew on (not to mention a whole lot of bloody gangland action).
Will Enoch "Nucky" Thompson be able to keep control of his rapidly-expanding bootlegging empire as criminal threats from Chicago and New York butt in? What will happen to Jimmy Darmody now that he's made his aggressive play for power? How will Margaret and Nucky's relationship develop since her husband was found, quite literally, "sleeping with the fishes"?
While we can't answer all of these questions for you, we can offer some insight into how the rest of the first season's episodes will play out over the month of October (episodes three through seven). Read on for HBO's official (and extremely limited) descriptions of the upcoming episodes.
And don't worry there are only MILD SPOILERS at best - these descriptions raise more questions than answers, really:
Episode #3: “Broadway Limited”
Debut: SUNDAY, OCT. 3 (9:00-10:00 p.m. ET/PT)
Jimmy’s (Michael Pitt) future is clouded by an unlikely witness to the woods massacre; Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) takes a new job; Chalky’s (Michael Kenneth Williams) team pays a big price for his success.
Written by Margaret Nagle; directed by Tim Van Patten.
Episode #4: “Anastasia”
Debut: SUNDAY, OCT. 10 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Jimmy forges new relationships in Chicago; Nucky (Steve Buscemi) fetes a U.S. Senator; Chalky fingers a lynching suspect; Margaret and Lucy (Paz de la Huerta) clash.
Written by Lawrence Konner & Margaret Nagle; directed by Jeremy Podeswa.
Episode #5: “Nights in Ballygran”
Debut: SUNDAY, OCT. 17 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Nucky’s attempts to usher in a joyous St. Patrick’s Day are undermined by Eli (Shea Whigham), Margaret and Van Alden (Michael Shannon).
Written by Lawrence Konner; directed by Alan Taylor.
Episode #6: “Family Limitation”
Debut: SUNDAY, OCT. 24 (9:00-10:00 p.m.)
Nucky investigates a boardwalk theft; Jimmy scores points with Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci) in Chicago; Margaret stands up to Lucy.
Written by Howard Korder; directed by Tim Van Patten.
Episode #7: “Home”
Nucky purges some bad childhood memories; Jimmy forges a new alliance with a fellow veteran; Luciano (Vincent Piazza) and a friend cut a deal with the D’Alessio brothers.
Written by Tim Van Patten & Paul Simms; directed by Allen Coulter.
A few things jump out when reading these episode descriptions: Jimmy isn't going to give up on his ambitions, things are going to get a lot harder for Nucky before he can really enjoy the fruits of Prohibition, and Margaret is going to come out of her shell as Nucky's girl. Sounds like more than enough plot threads to keep my interest over the next month, what do you think?
Another nice thing I noticed is Tim Van Patten's involvement in several of these episodes. Van Patten is one of HBO's most prolific writers and directors, having contributed to several of the network's top shows, including The Wire, Rome, The Pacific, and most notably The Sopranos, of which he directed 20 episodes.
Boardwalk Empire has already been given a second season on the strength of its excellent pilot. I'm sure that Terence Winter and the rest of his team will prove that HBO made a wise decision throughout the rest of the first season.