Boardwalk Empire EP Terence Winter weighs in on the shocking events in Sunday’s season 2 finale.
Season 2 finale spoilers follow..
Recap: The season finale saw Nucky shoot and kill his former protégé after a long and bitter struggle for control of the Atlantic City booze trade.
Boardwalk Empire executive producer and showrunner Terence Winter says the plan to kill Jimmy was hatched at the beginning of Season 2:
Probably at the very beginning of season 2. The idea was to try and push things to their absolute limit, even if it makes it difficult for yourself and your writing team. If you take things to their logical extreme with the situation we created, Jimmy has betrayed Nucky, he tried to have him killed. You want to be honest about the storytelling. In the pilot, Jimmy told Nucky: “You can’t be half a gangster anymore.” We wanted with the first two seasons to follow that trajectory, where he goes full season from being the guy who doesn’t want to get his hands dirty to actually pulling the trigger himself. And what’s the strongest version of that? To pull the trigger on the very guy who told him, “You can’t be half a gangster anymore.” It’s like, “Guess what? You’re right. I can’t. And here’s me now fully becoming a gangster.” Anything short of Nucky doing it himself wouldn’t feel real, it wouldn’t be real. And it would be a cheat for us to say, “We want to keep our beloved character Jimmy Darmody alive.”
One of the things I wanted to do by design in the finale is make the audience pissed off [at the start of the episode]. I wanted people to say [when it seemed like Nucky and Jimmy would reconcile], “Oh great, after all that, it’s all going to be forgotten and Jimmy is going to be back in Nucky’s good graces.” I wanted them to think right up to the very end that Nucky is going to forgive him and take him back. It was a really hard decision. You’re sort of blowing up your own show, in some ways. Now we’re back in the writers room trying to figure out where we go from here without Jimmy Darmody.
Meanwhile, the actor who portrayed Jimmy, Michael Pitts, says he respects the producers’ decision to off his character:
“I like it. As much as I will miss working with everyone on this incredible project, I thought that it would be very shocking, and I’m always drawn to that.”
As for Season 3, Winter confirms plans for a new up and coming character called Bud Matheson, described as a young James Cagney type:
Yeah. As the ’20s progressed and became the Roaring ’20s, it was very youth-oriented culture. Young people really came into their own, with access to automobiles. They had influence on popular music and fashion trends. We really wanted to infuse the show with some exciting young sexy energy and this guy is the sort of embodiment of that new sort of go-getter who wants to grasp things with both hands. Cagney was a great prototype — the fast-talking brash young guy who wants it all and wants it now.