Just in case you haven't seen Season 2 of the Prohibition-era gangster tale, spoiler ahead! Atlantic City bootleg king Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) put a couple of slugs into his surrogate son, Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt), after learning Jimmy was conspiring to steal his criminal enterprise.
"Gyp Rosetti is trouble for everyone, which makes him bad for business," Nucky says. But he's good for Nucky, and Buscemi, who puts to rest any complaints that he isn't believable as a ruthless gangster in the season premeire. He's absolutely harrowing and cold-hearted as Nucky orders the execution of a low-level employee. (I've always felt that Buscemi's quirky take gives Nucky just enough unpredictability to make him dangerous and frightening.)
The new season begins 18 months after Nucky offed Jimmy, with Nucky fighting to keep his seat as the undisputed boss of the Atlantic City rackets. He and his wife, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald), aren't getting along, but they throw a King Tut-themed party (Tut's tomb was discovered in November 1922) to ring in 1923 and, incidentally, the Jazz Age. The party scenes, like the rest of the series, glitter with period detail.
The rest of the opener is excellent, too, as it fills us in on what's happening with the show's many other characters. (If I wanted to nitpick, I'd say it's difficult to keep track of all the well-dressed gangsters.)
One new character who does stand out is Broadway showgirl Billie Kent, who charms her way into Nucky's life. In a new season that wows at every turn, Northwestern University grad Meg Chambers Steedle could steal the show and viewers' hearts.
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