Boardwalk Empire: Season 5 (2014)


Season 5
Boardwalk Empire

Critics Consensus

The final season of Boardwalk Empire is as visually dazzling and well-acted as ever, but it's the emphasis on Nucky Thompson's history that's particularly rewarding this time out.



Critic Ratings: 39


Audience Score

User Ratings: 501

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Air date: Sep 7, 2014
Air date: Sep 14, 2014
Air date: Sep 21, 2014
Air date: Sep 28, 2014
Air date: Oct 5, 2014
Air date: Oct 12, 2014
Air date: Oct 19, 2014
Air date: Oct 26, 2014

Boardwalk Empire: Season 5 Videos

Boardwalk Empire: Season 5 Photos

Tv Season Info

Series 5 begins with Nucky in Cuba trying to expand his business before the Volstead act is lifted. However, after an attempt on his life he returns to New York to find out who tried to kill him. Later, Chalky returns looking for information on Narcisse in an effort to set Daughter free.


Steve Buscemi
as Enoch 'Nucky' Thompson
Shea Whigham
as Elias Thompson
Kelly Macdonald
as Margaret Schroeder
Michael Shannon
as Nelson Van Alden
Vincent Piazza
as Lucky Luciano
Stephen Graham
as Al Capone
Michael Stuhlbarg
as Arnold Rothstein
Jeffrey Wright
as Valentin Narcisse
Paul Sparks
as Mickey Doyle
John Ellison Conlee
as Louis "The Commodore" Kaestner
Ben Rosenfield (II)
as Willie Thompson
Anthony Laciura
as Eddie Kessler
Jack Huston
as Richard Harrow
Paul Calderon
as Arquimedes
Charlie Cox
as Owen Sleater
Michael Zegen
as Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel
Anatol Yusef
as Meyer Lansky
Louis Cancelmi
as Mike D'Angelo
Bobby Cannavale
as Gyp Rosetti
Marc Pickering
as Young Nucky
Giampiero Judica
as Salvatore Maranzano
Matt Letscher
as Joseph Kennedy
Maya Kazan
as Mabel Jeffries
Nolan Lyons
as Young Nucky
Madeleine Rose Yen
as Young Gillian
Oakes Fegley
as Young Eli
Ian Hart
as Ethan Thompson
John C. Vennema
as Lawrence Conors
Lee Godart
as Maxim Ronis
Joe Caniano
as Jake Guzik
Erin Dilly
as Eleanor Thompson
Shae D'Lyn
as Carolyn Rothstein
Ryan Dinning
as Young Eli
Chris Caldovino
as Tonino Sandrelli
Greg Antonacci
as Johnny Torrio
Margot Bingham
as Daughter Maitland
Nisi Sturgis
as June Thompson
Reg Rogers
as Robert Hodge
Scott Francis Moreau
as Young Jim Neary
Danny McCarthy
as Pat Halligan
Ivo Nandi
as Joe Masseria
Burke Moses
as Daniel Jeffries
Ethan Herschenfeld
as Pinky Rabinowitz
Jim True-Frost
as Eliot Ness
Michael Siberry
as Sen. Wendell Lloyd
Matt Bailey
as George Raft
Matt Bailey
as George Raft
Max Von Essen
as Paul Muni
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for Boardwalk Empire: Season 5

Critic Reviews for Boardwalk Empire Season 5

All Critics (39) | Top Critics (15)

The end begins -- evocatively, dramatically.

Sep 3, 2014 | Rating: A | Full Review…
Top Critic

Boardwalk Empire is ruthlessly, irredeemably brilliant.

Sep 10, 2014 | Full Review…
Top Critic

In general, the 1920s and 30s are such an underexplored period in television that all of the historical and cultural touches scattered throughout give the show a patina of freshness

Sep 8, 2014 | Rating: B | Full Review…

Sorting out the sins and sinners in the final eight episodes of Boardwalk Empire promises to be as intriguing as it will be intense.

Sep 5, 2014 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…

It makes sense that this still-brilliant show feels a bit haunted now by characters lost and memories forgotten in the final days of a closing empire.

Sep 4, 2014 | Full Review…

These great clunking scenes are not only dull and unnecessary, they also draw unwanted attention to Boardwalk's greatest weakness. Empathy can't be retconned. It has to be earned.

Sep 3, 2014 | Full Review…

Despite the show's relative longevity, this final season still feels like a perfunctory jump to the end, as if Winter expected Boardwalk Empire to last as long as Prohibition itself.

Oct 19, 2018 | Full Review…

Boardwalk Empire was an academic criticism that --emerges as a powerful return to the social commentary roots of the gangster film, and as a telling political manifesto on the dangers of the patriarchy.

Jul 26, 2018 | Full Review…

The show's air of a dynastic saga unfolding down the generations is acquiring ever more Coppola-esque overtones...

Jul 24, 2018 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

I'm not entirely sure that the flashback sequences in the premiere work -- by now, we know so much of Nucky's history that these feel as redundant as the return of the ocean tide.

Jun 18, 2018 | Full Review…

Boardwalk Empire's final bow is a brilliant conclusion to the series. [Full Review in Spanish]

Jun 18, 2018 | Full Review…

The current season had some missteps, but the bootlegging drama's finale packed a satisfying emotional punch, not to mention a few surprises.

Jun 18, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Boardwalk Empire: Season 5

  • Sep 18, 2015
    Season 5 sings eulogy to every beloved characters with an emphasis on Nucky' childhood and rise to power.
    Sylvester K Super Reviewer
  • Apr 09, 2015
    A return to the promise and potential of its early season, the final season of Boardwalk Empire is a redemptive one. Mired in muddled storytelling and a loss of focus in its fourth season, the final season is more succinct, poignant, powerful, and simply compelling. The series ends major character arcs without pretense or fanfare, but in cold, brutal, and sudden fashion--a hallmark of the setting and real-life personalities the show embodies. An especially effective finale cements the show as a mature and uniquely conceived effort, despite some missteps on the way. 4.5/5 Stars
    Jeffrey M Super Reviewer
  • Jun 17, 2018
    The epic conclusion to what has established itself as my favorite tv series of all time. Sad to see it go, but happy to re watch it all over again
  • Jan 16, 2018
    One thing i love about boardwalk empire is how it shows you the background on so many historical mob figures like capone, luciano, lansky, bugsy Siegel, masseria and maranzano. And other historical figures as well. The main story of nucky Johnson is rather embellished but the story of all these other side characters is pretty accurate as you can watch them rise to the throne. Very good tv series. Especially this last season where they jump way ahead and capone is goin down for tax evasion, luciano is on his way up as the man who established the commission, and lansky and bugay are right behind him. As fpr nucky, well they embellished his story quite a bit. Still though awesome show!
  • Aug 07, 2016
    I regret to say I have finally finished watching "epic" television in the five seasons (56 hours) of BOARDWALK EMPIRE. The scope of history - from the adoption of the 18th Amendment's prohibiting the making, transporting, and selling of alcoholic beverages passed in 1919 through its repeal in 1933, and how it generated an industry run by criminals - names of gangster's that are still familiar to us, their brutality romanticized over time in film and television; Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, etc. set against the backdrop of Atlantic City with satellite locations in NYC, Chicago and Miami. The history of race relations, women's rights, workers rights, corrupt public servants and rigged elections are woven through the plot as broken, disillusioned soldiers return home from fighting in WW I; Presidential elections come and go as the nation slides into dissolution and the chaos of financial ruin. Names that are familiar to us such as J. Edgar Hoover, Eddie Cantor, Joe Kennedy (father of Jack) are characterized but not caricatured by a wonderful cast. When one great actor gets written out of the series, and I feel a deep disappointment, another one appears and gives an equally compelling performance. Ambition, greed, sex, love and marriage - the range of uniquely varied personal interactions propels the plot into new directions as we witness the ebb and flow of time on a character's persona.There is an authenticity to the sense of place - from the shacks in the "negro" part of town to the lavishly decorated mansions of the power-brokers - each set design has intricate details that help delineate an accurate, sociological study of southern NJ coastal towns. The cinematography is often exquisitely breathtaking, such as choreographed scenes of violence in the darkened light of night; the infinite expanse of water touching the Atlantic City shoreline with bursts of gunfire spawning fireworks of sharp white flashes, a resounding thunder of sound and visual effects, and then the quiet of death, red blood slowly puddling on the ground. BOARDWALK EMPIRE has a superb cast: doe-eyed Steve Buscemi in the role of his life portraying Nucky Thompson - the "overlord" of Atlantic City - a man who “tried to be good” but reached for more and more money to maintain the lifestyle that he envied as a child, and eventually achieves at a terrible cost; Bobby Cannavale - great as the clinically insane gangster Gyp Rosetti whose id is let loose in horrific acts of violence; Michael K. Williams is heartbreaking - hard and pragmatic in business with a poetic, “romantic” side as “Chalky White” the son of a carpenter who was lynched by the very white men he was building cabinets for - Chalky runs the black part of town and teams up with Nucky in the bootlegging business; Jeffrey Wright as Dr. Valentin Narcisse, a disciple of Marcus Garvey whose actions belie his philosophical beliefs; the always terrific Michael Shannon as a fanatically religious federal Agent who loses his way; Stephen Graham as the explosive, vicious mobster, Al Capone; Kelly Macdonald as Margaret Thompson married to Nucky whose beauty blossoms while her innocence fades away; Gretchen Mol- a tragic figure as Gillian Darmody mother and lover of her son Jimmy played by Michael Pitt - a tragic tale of a woman who had to face life alone as a child battling sexual abuse among other acts that vulnerable children with no protectors are forced to endure; and a personal favorite Jack Huston-grandson of great director John Huston who comes home from the War with half his face blown off - hidden behind a mask - a complicated person whose sharp-shooting skills are put to use by the mob, but whose goodness prevails - if anyone takes the time to “look” at him. I encourage you to take the time to view this series - it is true to the historical figures which are intertwined into this grand tale of the Prohibition era - post WWI up to pre WWII where money and power contaminated those who were supposed to be the guardians of the populace. Relationships between family members, husbands and wives, fathers and sons, sisters and brothers are all impacted by the vicissitudes of an age that tried to stamp down profligate behavior and ironically encouraged a much deeper amorality.
  • Feb 10, 2016
    Fiction meets gangster history. Masterpiece! First time I described anything as such :)
  • Jul 26, 2015
    Seasons 1 through 4 kept me coming back just enough to be absolutely floored by the fifth and final season. It was one of the most brutal, magnificent things I've seen on television. Gillian, a seemingly uninteresting character that I found myself despising in the first three seasons, became one of the most heart-breaking and pivotal characters to the foundation of the entire series. Van Alden, who was unbearable as a pretentious, self-righteous prohibition agent, brings the show some much needed comic relief as one of Al Capone's hired thugs. Kudos to the writers on some of the best character development I've witnessed in any series. Wrapping up what I'd almost written off as a directionless, gangster flick with a few promising sub plots, Season Five delivers, in 8 episodes, what 4 seasons combined simply could not. In the end, we have a gangster movie, meets Oedipus Rex, meets Requiem for a Dream and Vanilla Sky's love child. Gillian's story broke my heart, it left me feeling genuine sadness, which is a very, very good thing.
  • Jul 14, 2015
    There is no debating HBO’s preeminent position in the Second-Golden-Age of Television. Shows like “The Wire”, “The Sopranos”, and “Six Feet Under” are in the upper echelon of the annals of television history. Notwithstanding this fact, not every HBO show is worthy of high praise. “Boardwalk Empire” is worthy of praise as a good, solid, and well-acted show – but, it is not a great show. Empire is mostly good, with a fair amount of bad, and some ugly. The Good: The acting, writing, directing, and story in Empire are all good. The acting is particularly good. Most of us know actor Stephen Graham from his performance as Tommy in the 2000 Guy Ritchie film “Snatch”. In Empire, Graham plays Al Capone enigmatically in a tight, gripping performance. It’s hard to breathe life into the same historical figure played so memorably by Robert DeNiro in Brian DePalm’s 1987 classic film “The Untouchables”. Graham pulls it off with stunning brilliance. His performance is so great, in fact, I was left waiting for the show move from the beachy boardwalk to the gritty streets of Capone’s Chicago. The moments that the story travels to the Mid-west (or when Capone comes east) are brilliant. It does, however, highlight the flaws in the lead Atlantic City story – particularly the performance of Steve Buscemi in the lead role of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. Other performances are also particularly noteworthy. Michael Shannon continues to impress me with his acting chops. I enjoyed his supporting role performances in “Mud” and “Revolutionary Road”, as well as his lead turns in “Shotgun Stories” and “The Iceman”. Shannon ups his game in Empire by playing Nelson Van Alden, a fascinating character caught up on both sides of the law during the Prohibition Era. The best decision made by show creator, writer-director Terrance Winter was to keep Shannon around past his initial story arc as a “Prohee” (what the mobsters call Federal Agents) and through all five seasons. Shannon’s performance is as complex and thought-provoking as the moral ambiguity of the character he plays. Michael Kenneth Williams as “Chalky White” – an ironically named black leader and gangster, as well as Jack Huston, a World War I vet with a horrible combat wound, round the cast of excellent acting. Season Three also shines with the entrance and exit of Gyp Rosetti, played by Bobby Cannavale (“The Station Agent”). The acting alone is worth labeling Empire as good, worth watching, and enjoyable. The writing and snappy 1920s dialogue is also very good (like the moment where Nucky says “what is motherfucker?” – a word presumably not as ubiquitous in 1920 as it is now). The direction is spot on – particularly Tim Van Patten’s in the Season Two finale. Quite simply, the show believably brings you to an authentic period of American history and explores the peculiar chapter with smart, compelling plotlines and excellent character development. Laid out over five seasons, the first three are resoundingly good. The Bad: Buscemi received laudatory praise for his acting as Nucky Thompson. I was underwhelmed. Busecemi is a great actor, director, and writer – don’t get me wrong. Yet, he is an odd and gangly guy. So much so that in the Coen brother’s 1996 hit “Fargo” the running joke that Buscemi’s character is “kinda funny looking” is dead on and never gets old. Unfortunately for Empire, that same fact detracts from his lead role as Nucky – a mob boss who is supposed to be as powerful as he is feared. Even though Buscemi’s performance is certainly good, he just can’t pull it off. Ordinarily, I don’t mind mis-casted actors, but given Nucky’s central place in Empire, Buscemi’s role detracts and brings down the overall quality of the show and makes me wish he had taken a seat in the director’s chair or a quirky side-character, which the show graciously provides in spades. My main problem with the show, however, is not Buscemi. It’s because I’ve already seen it on HBO. A mob show set in New Jersey. Brutal organized crime violence. Wealthy next-generation immigrants. Federal agents using morally questionably tactics to flip criminals into informants. Corrupt local officials facilitating mob activity. Betrayal by close family members or life-long friends. Writing and directing by Terrance Winter. That show was “The Sopranos” – and I really liked watching it the first time. Not so much the second time around. Winter is good at what he does. Doing the same thing over and over, however, is bad. The Ugly: The only thing I truly disliked about Empire was the use of historical figures in a quasi-docudrama fashion. The killing of Chicago Irish gang leader Dean O’Banion, for instance, was chillingly accurate historically. But, Winter throws in the fictional twist of Shannon’s character standing just out view to add dimension to the plotline. I found such things distracting. My view is always this: be inspired by actual events and run with it in an inventive direction (think Coppola’s “The Godfather” saga or Gus Van Sant’s “To Die For”, both derived from novels inspired by real stories) or track the truth with such accuracy that the screen overtakes reality (like David Fincher’s “Zodiac” or Paul Greengrass’ “United 93”). Winter walks the middle road and comes up with a mish-mash of historical documentary and fictional could-have-happends. For example, Nucky Thompson holds a gun to Meyer Lansky’s head in a heated and edge-of-your-seat scene – yet (as Winter candidly admits) most of the audience knows Lansky died an old man – not in a cold New Jersey field. The drama is lost and so was I. Later, fictional Nucky Thompson dies in the final scene of the show, even though the real Nucky Johnson lived to a ripe old age like Lansky. Again, tell the real story or a different one. Doing both is ugly. Three-and-a-half stars.
  • Jul 03, 2015
    Absolutely Classic Series! 10/10
  • Jun 11, 2015
    Brilliant, slightly sudden ending

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