The Best Episodes of Boardwalk Empire

Last Updated: Dec 8, 2018

Boardwalk Empire is a period drama focusing on Enoch "Nucky" Thompson (based on the historical Enoch L. Johnson), a political figure who rose to prominence and controlled Atlantic City, New Jersey, during the Prohibition period of the 1920s and 1930s. Nucky acts with historical characters in both his personal and political life, including mobsters, politicians, government agents, and the common folk who look up to him. The federal government also takes an interest in the bootlegging and other illegal activities in the area, sending agents to investigate possible mob connections but also looking at Nucky's lifestyle—expensive and lavish for a county political figure. The final season jumps ahead seven years, to 1931, as Prohibition nears its end.

Margate Sands

#1 - Margate Sands

Season 3 - Episode 12

A gang war erupts in Atlantic City, with Gyp and nine men of his own and 40 of Joe Masseria's against Nucky, Eli, Capone's Chicago crew, and Chalky's men. Gyp's holed up at Gillian's; Nucky at a lumber yard. It's a war of attrition, with Nucky having to keep Capone and Chalky's men from killing each other while he negotiates with Rothstein by phone. Rothstein runs his own game with Luciano, Lansky, and heroin, Margaret calls on an older couple, and Richard is out there somewhere focused on protecting Tommy.

star 8.55
746 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Terence Winter
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Two Imposters

#2 - Two Imposters

Season 3 - Episode 11

Gyp makes his move in Atlantic City, forcing Nucky and Eddie to seek refuge with Chalky. With the Artemis Club overrun by Rosetti thugs, Gillian contemplates a business future that includes an unwelcome partner. Luciano makes a deal he’ll come to regret. Harrow loses his house privileges.

star 8.54
740 votes
Directors: Allen Coulter
Writers: Howard Korder
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Eldorado

#3 - Eldorado

Season 5 - Episode 8

Nucky plans to relocate to Manhattan. Margaret impresses Nucky and a grain company stockholder.

star 8.51
959 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Howard Korder, Terence Winter
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Farewell Daddy Blues

#4 - Farewell Daddy Blues

Season 4 - Episode 12

Eli braces for the worst as Agent Knox launches his plan to bring Nucky down. Capone and Torrio reach an agreement in Cicero. Chalky looks to settle scores. Richard steps forward to save Tommy, at Gillian's expense.

star 8.50
963 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Terence Winter, Howard Korder
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To the Lost

#5 - To the Lost

Season 2 - Episode 12

Esther Randolph's case is weakened by the sudden death of one witness and the sudden marriage of another. Jimmy turns away from the influence of others, including his mother. Nucky, acting the family man to Margaret, faces a difficult, bottom-line business decision.

star 8.45
722 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Terence Winter
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White Horse Pike

#6 - White Horse Pike

Season 4 - Episode 10

Tipped off by Sally Wheet, Nucky enlists Eli and Agent Knox to check out the extra cargo in Florida shipments. Margaret ponders a deal with Rothstein to improve her family’s living conditions. Capone grows suspicious of Torrio; Nucky faces a dilemma; Eli makes peace with Willie.

star 8.24
909 votes
Directors: Jake Paltrow
Writers: Dave Flebotte
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Georgia Peaches

#7 - Georgia Peaches

Season 2 - Episode 10

Undercut by Nucky, who has a new source for alcohol, Jimmy and his partners look to cultivate a new revenue stream in Atlantic City. With the peak tourist season approaching, the Commodore’s crew faces a choice in dealing with the city’s striking workers; either negotiate or fight back. Fearing that sin has led to misfortune, Margaret approaches Father Brennan with an “act of devotion.” Nucky gets a new lawyer. Van Alden faces an uncertain future. Manny Horvitz takes exception to a debt payment.

star 8.24
696 votes
Directors: Jeremy Podeswa
Writers: Dave Flebotte
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Under God's Power She Flourishes

#8 - Under God's Power She Flourishes

Season 2 - Episode 11

With Margaret pondering the consequences of sin, Nucky prepares her for a worst-case scenario as Esther Randolph plays out her trump cards. Jimmy revisits his college days with Angela and Gillian. Mickey Doyle chafes at sharing his liquor profits. Eli refuses to cop a plea. Nelson's past comes back to haunt him, tipping the scale in Nucky's favor.

star 8.23
709 votes
Directors: Allen Coulter
Writers: Howard Korder
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Friendless Child

#9 - Friendless Child

Season 5 - Episode 7

Nucky tries to hold onto his assets in Atlantic City. Willie and Eli become involved in Nucky's war.

star 8.22
899 votes
Directors: Allen Coulter
Writers: Riccardo DiLoreto, Cristine Chambers, Howard Korder
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Erlkönig

#10 - Erlkönig

Season 4 - Episode 5

Nucky heads to Philadelphia to deal with the fallout from Willie’s liquor fiasco. Eddie Kessler is detained by Agent Knox, who uses physical and psychological tactics to elicit information about Nucky’s organization. A desperate Gillian turns to an unexpected source to score a fix, and is rebuffed in her attempt to reunite with Tommy. In Cicero, Van Alden is recruited by the Capones to pay an election-day visit to local factory workers opposed to the Capones’ candidate of choice.

star 8.19
960 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Howard Korder
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Devil You Know

#11 - Devil You Know

Season 5 - Episode 6

Federal agents enlist the help of Eli and Van Alden to take down the Capone organization.

star 8.17
882 votes
Directors: Jeremy Podeswa
Writers: Howard Korder
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A Return to Normalcy

#12 - A Return to Normalcy

Season 1 - Episode 12

Nucky faces Election Day in Atlantic City and pulls out all the stops to keep power in Republican hands. Torrio brokers a discussion between Nucky and Rothstein to resolve their growing gang war, as well as Rothstein's looming federal indictment over the World Series. Both Jimmy and Eli voice their growing resentment towards Nucky, and find they have an ally in the Commodore. Van Alden seeks a sign on whether or not to leave Atlantic City, but receives unexpected news from Lucy. Margaret weighs new information about Nucky's first marriage and her uncertain future to make a final decision on her role in his life.

star 8.17
722 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Terence Winter
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A Man, a Plan...

#13 - A Man, a Plan...

Season 3 - Episode 10

Nucky tries to keep Jess Smith quiet and neutralize Gyp's alliance with Joe Masseria. Margaret considers an alternate future. Van Alden's side business backfires. Gyp's shipment is short. Chalky sees an opportunity.

star 8.15
675 votes
Directors: Jeremy Podeswa
Writers: Dave Flebotte
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The Pony

#14 - The Pony

Season 3 - Episode 8

Gillian makes her peace with Jimmy's death. Van Alden attends a meeting with Capone and Torrio. Nucky makes an offer to Andrew Mellon. Margaret makes a stand on birth control. Nucky and Owen shop for a pony. Billie considers a future in film.

star 8.15
689 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Terence Winter, Howard Korder
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Ourselves Alone

#15 - Ourselves Alone

Season 2 - Episode 2

Despite being publicly embarrassed by legal trouble, Nucky's biggest concern may be holding on to his private army in a battle for control of Atlantic City. Meanwhile, Jimmy pitches a business deal to Arnold Rothstein in New York, but may have more in common with Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano. Margaret draws on past experience to retrieve some valuable information, Chalky clashes with a fellow inmate, and an Irish nationalist comes to town looking for support.

star 8.12
746 votes
Directors: David Petrarca
Writers: Howard Korder
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Gimcrack & Bunkum

#16 - Gimcrack & Bunkum

Season 2 - Episode 5

After a dispute with his enemies, Nucky brings in a surprise guest speaker at a Memorial Day dedication for war veterans. Running out of options, Eli questions his allegiances, but it ends up sending him deeper into the hole. Nucky hires a new lawyer. Jimmy is taught a lesson by one of the Commodore's men that he won't soon forget. Richard decides to go hunting in the forest.

star 8.11
722 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Howard Korder
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Belle Femme

#17 - Belle Femme

Season 1 - Episode 9

Nucky is forced to readjust his political alliances with a Democratic mayoral candidate promising to wipe out corruption. Jimmy returns from Chicago to deal with the D'Alessio gang, which has allied with Rothstein to import European scotch through Atlantic City, but is arrested by Agent Van Alden for the massacre in the woods. Margaret intercedes with Nucky on Madame Jeunet's behalf, while Angela finds her romantic and artistic ambitions halted by Jimmy's return.

star 8.08
782 votes
Directors: Brad Anderson
Writers: Steve Kornacki
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Havre de Grace

#18 - Havre de Grace

Season 4 - Episode 11

Nucky takes inventory after being warned of a skunk in his cellar. On the lam following a close call, Chalky and Daughter take refuge outside Wilmington with Oscar Boneau, his mentor from years ago. Gillian considers selling her mansion and starting a new life with Roy Phillips.

star 8.06
932 votes
Directors: Allen Coulter
Writers: Howard Korder
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The Old Ship of Zion

#19 - The Old Ship of Zion

Season 4 - Episode 8

Nucky’s shipment from Florida arrives with some unexpected cargo. Eli is backed into a corner after Agent Knox uncovers some new dirt on the Thompsons. After talking things over with Nucky, Willie reconsiders his recent life choices. Chalky throws down the gauntlet toward Valentin Narcisse, upholding his leadership on the Northside.

star 8.06
915 votes
Directors: Tim Van Patten
Writers: Cristine Chambers, Howard Korder
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Marriage and Hunting

#20 - Marriage and Hunting

Season 4 - Episode 9

Nucky refuses to back Chalky in his conflict with Narcisse. Julia considers her options after Gillian makes her custody case in court. In Cicero, Van Alden stands up to Capone and comes clean to O’Banion. Rothstein looks to trade an insurance benefit for a cash infusion.

star 8.06
909 votes
Directors: Ed Bianchi
Writers: David Matthews, Jennifer Ames, Steve Turner, Cristine Chambers
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All In

#21 - All In

Season 4 - Episode 4

Nucky gets to know Arnold Rothstein over a card game, and sizes up an unexpected partner for his Tampa land deal. A newly promoted Eddie Kessler gets detoured after making a train-station delivery. When one of their collectors is incapacitated, Al and Frank Capone decide to finish his route, enlisting a reluctant Van Alden to tag along. Agent Knox fills Hoover in on the Thompson operation, vowing to exploit Nucky's weakest link. Chalky is intrigued by Daughter Maitland’s presence. Dunn Purnsley goes to Harlem, and is courted by Valentin Narcisse. Willie and his college roommate, Clayton, carry a practical joke too far.

star 8.03
957 votes
Directors: Ed Bianchi
Writers: David Matthews, Cristine Chambers
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Blue Bell Boy

#22 - Blue Bell Boy

Season 3 - Episode 4

Nucky and Owen hide out. Mickey makes a critical decision in Nucky's absence. Tensions rise in the feud between Capone and O'Banion.

star 8.03
718 votes
Directors: Kari Skogland
Writers: David Stenn
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The Milkmaid's Lot

#23 - The Milkmaid's Lot

Season 3 - Episode 9

Nucky vows to eliminate his nemesis. A high-profile bootlegger is arrested. Emily's birthday party is scaled down. Gillian blames Harrow for Tommy's trouble. Gyp decides to buy a town's silence.

star 8.03
668 votes
Directors: Ed Bianchi
Writers: Rolin Jones
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The Emerald City

#24 - The Emerald City

Season 1 - Episode 10

Nucky asks for Margaret's assistance in backing his mayoral candidate with the passage of women's right to vote, leaving her conflicted about her role. Doyle switches sides back from Rothstein, which leads Nucky to conspire with Chalky against Lansky and the D'Alessios. Angela witnesses Jimmy's violent side against her photographer friend, and considers leaving Atlantic City for good in the aftermath. Van Alden grapples with his emotions, and has encounters with both Margaret and Lucy.

star 8.02
767 votes
Writers: Lawrence Konner
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A Dangerous Maid

#25 - A Dangerous Maid

Season 2 - Episode 3

The Commodore throws his weight around with the Coast Guard to disrupt the delivery of alcohol, which creates an opportunity for Owen to demonstrate his value to Nucky and a struggling casino. Meanwhile, a letter dredges up painful memories for Margaret, Nucky calls in a favor with the U.S. attorney general, Meyer and Lucky learn the price of power, and Lucy searches for ways to cure her loneliness.

star 8.01
731 votes
Directors: Susanna White
Writers: Itamar Moses
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