Boardwalk Empire Episode 12 Season 3 Finale Recap: Nucky Wins Atlantic City Back


The moment of truth came and arrived last night for Boardwalk Empire fans.

The moment of truth came and arrived last night for Boardwalk Empire fans. Season 3’s bloody, chaotic, and dramatic conclusion commenced, following 11 episodes which were arguably the best of the series. Episode 12 of Season 3 entitled “Margate Sands” not only delivered, but it tied up many loose ends from this past season.

Boardwalk Empire Season 3 Finale

Atlantic City is under siege thanks to Gyp Rosetti and Joe Masseria. And, Nucky is running a war from a lumberyard. While Al Capone and his men have come to town, it’s far from a marriage made in heaven.

Then there’s the impending resolution between Richard Harrow and Gillian. Just what will become of Tommy?

A lot of storylines had to unfold in episode 12 and the writers, producers, cast, and director all did one hell of a job in providing an insanely exciting hour of television on Sunday night.

Nucky is Running the War From a Lumber Yard

The violence in AC is beyond out of control; it’s insane. The streets of Atlantic City are more dangerous than battlefields in third world nations. Men from both sides are being executed left and right.

Reporters jokingly ask the mayor if he has lost control of Atlantic City. When, he scoffs that Nucky Thompson isn’t running the city, he is, they just laugh in his face as he walks away.

Nucky not only has to get rid of Gyp Rosetti, but he also has to keep Chalky and Al’s guys from killing each other; a task unto itself.

Mickey Arranges For Nucky’s Problem to Be Solved

Mickey Doyle calls up Nucky from the distillery in Western PA and tells him this can make him the biggest bootlegger in the country when it’s all said and done. Right now, Nucky has bigger fish to fry.

Mickey proceeds to call up Rothstein and offers him a chance to buy the distillery, which will help Nucky’s troubles. Rothstein gets Nucky on the phone and offers to rid him of the Gyp problem in exchange for this prized distillery.

Nucky agrees to the deal in exchange for Masseria pulling his support for Gyp Rosetti. Unbeknownst to Rothstein however, this distillery belongs to one of the most powerful men in the country, Andrew Mellon.

Throughout this episode we witness a series of chess-like moves. This is just one of many. Now onto the next move….

Rothstein Screws Over Lucky and Mayer For the Heroin

The two cops who arrested Lucky are negotiating for his release.  What they want is his supplier…or his supply. Lucky obliges and offers up the 50 pounds of heroin.

Lucky informs Mayer of this unfortunate circumstance and he’s all pissed off, exclaiming that his good friend allowed $100,000 to get away from them. If you adjust for inflation, $1.3 million in today’s money was taken by the cops. Soon we learn it wasn’t the cops who take it.

Lucky and Mayer meet with Rothstein and see the fifty pounds of heroine sitting on a table. Joe Masseria is in the room and Lucky knows that the cops were in on the whole thing.

Rothstein pretty much takes a giant ‘you know what’ on Mayer and Lucky’s heads in humiliating fashion. He asks Masseria if he would like to get in the heroin business with him. Lucky flips out on Rothstein and Mayer tells him to shut his mouth for they will kill them both.

In times like this, Mayer understands the importance of knowing when to hold and when to fold. And right now they must fold, for now.  

Gillian Attempts to Make a Move on Gyp

Gillian and Gyp are engaging in some courtship, but beneath the surface we know they will make a move against one another.

When they go up to Gillian’s bedroom, Gyp pulls out the belt and asks her to tie it around his neck. She proceeds to grab a needle full of heroine, but Gyp thwarts her attempt and injects her with it.

Will she or won’t she die is the question?

Gyp senses some commotion outside and sees that Masseria’s men are fleeing. And, then gunshots erupt from downstairs….

Richard Harrow Comes To Tommy’s Rescue

Richard Harrow barges into Gillian’s compound and starts unleashing hell, fire, and brimstone on anyone standing in his way. The ensuing three minutes of carnage and nailbiting drama is about the most intense television I have ever seen.

Harrow mowes down goon after goon. When one of them races up behind him, he nearly gets to his gun, but Harrow blows the guys head off as they stand face-to-face. This is a man who survived the hell and horrows of World War I. He’s not just a soldier; he’s a one-man killing machine.

He goes from room to room in search of his beloved Tommy who is for all intents and purposes HIS son, with Jimmy dead and Gillian just plain out of her mind. Richard locates Tommy in a room with one of Rosetti’s men. He has a gun to Tommy’s head and demands that Richard put the gun down. Slowly he lowers his gun and tells Tommy to close his eyes. In true badass fashion, Richard blows the guy’s head off and saves Tommy.

Now we are left wondering if Richard will get out of the house in time before Al Capone and Chalky’s men come after Masseria’s crew. Fear not, Richard gets out of the house and makes it over to his girlfriend Juila’s house. She asks him what happened and turns the lights on and is immediately horrified. Shockingly her father is there at the doorway and is sober. We see him a rare, lucid moment. He offers to smooth things over for Richard in the morning. Richard is just glad that Tommy is safe and walks away.

Just what will become of Julia and Richard next season? We’ll have to find out next September.


Nucky Ties Up The Loose Ends Following the Victory

Al Capone and Chalky’s crew wait for Rosetti’s army to flee. What ensues is a total ambush. They never knew what hit them. After the smoke clears, Al and Chalky are happy to let go of some steam. They nod to each other and in a way make a truce. 

Time to head back to Chi-Town for Al and his crew.

As we see earlier, Rothstein “thinks” he’s going to get that distillery from Nucky. Nucky placed a call into Andrew Mellon about it being overtaken. Mellon calls Esther Randolph and tells her to arrest anyone inside of the distillery. The move Nucky made, oddly mirrors Gaston Means’ move from a few episodes back when he charged both Nucky and Harry Daughtery $40,000 to get rid of Jess Smith. In this case, Nucky traded Mellon’s distillery to get rid of Gyp and now he is screwing over Rothstein. It’s highly likely that Nucky will be running that distillery once again.

Next, Nucky arranges for Gyp’s execution. And who does the deed? Tonino of course. I suspected Tonino would do the deed to avenge for the brutal execution of his cousin Franco on the beach. Gyp has his final harrah before getting knifed to death. He does a really flamboyant, over-the-top impression of Nucky and sings on the beach while taking a whizz. It was a good way for the writers to let Gyp go out. He was one crazy bastard.

After Tonino does the deed, Nucky and Eli have a private moment. Nucky tells him when they get on their feet they really have to play things tight to the vest. Right now they are the only two who can trust each other.

Finally, Nucky has one more loose end to tend to – his marriage. He goes over to the house Margaret is staying at and pleads for her to come home. She merely listens to him as he offers to forgive her for what happened between her and Owen. It’s not as if he has a lot of room to talk (i.e. Billie and Lucy).

Margaret hardly seems excited to come racing home. It will be interesting to see what becomes of their marriage.

And, thus concludes one hell of a season 3 of Boardwalk Empire.

The Season Finale gets a “5”, for it delivered on all fronts and lived up to my expectations, which were quite lofty.

Show scale:

5 – The Macallan – 12 Year

4 – Glenmorangie

3 – The Glenlivet

2 – Laphroaig

1 – Johnny Walker Black

Contact Dennis Bakay at

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