The Best Episodes of Boardwalk Empire
Last Updated: May 24, 2019
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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#11 - 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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#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.
#22 - 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.
#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.
#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.
#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.