One of HBO’s signature shows, this one-hour drama chronicles the life and times of Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Golden Globe winner Steve Buscemi), Atlantic City’s undisputed czar at a time when Prohibition proved to be a major catalyst in the rise of organized crime in America. Picking up 16 months after Season 2 ended, Season 3 begins on New Year’s Eve 1922-23. The Roaring ‘20s are about to start; though the economy is booming, alcohol has become scarce, competition is fierce, and gangster violence is heating up. Amidst this backdrop, Nucky, whose marriage to Margaret (Kelly Macdonald) has become a sham after she signed away his highway windfall to the church, faces new competition in the person of Gyp Rosetti (new cast member Bobby Cannavale), who builds a new strategic bulkhead between New York and Atlantic City in an effort to siphon off Nucky’s alcohol business. The conflict brings out the best and worst in Nucky, who proves his brutal mettle in a series of violent encounters – including a climatic facedown with Gyp in the Season 3 finale. New and familiar faces also undergo compelling metamorphoses as the 12 new episodes of Boardwalk Empire unfold.
After the shocking events that concluded season two, HBO's handsome and brooding Boardwalk Empire ushers in 1924 with the introduction of Bobby Cannavale's sadistic, easily offended gangster Giuseppe "Gyp" Rosetti. Though increasingly ruthless Atlantic City impresario Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) has streamlined his bootlegging operations, Gyp's rebuffed attempts to muscle in on the action leads to all-out war when he takes over the Taber Heights route to New York. Despite the complications, the money continues to roll in, though Nucky would rather live in squalor with his showgirl mistress, Billie (Meg Steedle). His wife, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald), supports him in public, but prefers personal time with his assistant, Slater (Charlie Cox), while Nucky's brother, Eli (Shea Whigham), returns from prison gaunt and desperate, leading him to move bottles of hooch for cackling, bowler-sporting Mickey (Paul Sparks).
With the death of his parents, young Tommy Darmody now lives with his opportunistic grandmother, Gillian (Gretchen Mol), who runs a gentleman's club, where Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) looks after him when he isn't putting his sharpshooting skills to use--thanks to Huston's fine work, Harrow remains surprisingly sympathetic for a man who claims to have killed 63 people (the same could be said of Stephen Graham's Al Capone, who dotes on his son). As ever, Boardwalk Empire is bursting with even more plot, but not everything works, like the Chicago misadventures of Michael Shannon's former Fed Van Alden, who segues from salesman to alcohol distiller. Shannon holds up his end of the bargain, including a spectacular office freak-out, but his storyline remains stranded from the central activity for too long, though he does finally connect with Capone toward the end, while the massacre of the finale sorts out the not-completely-bad guys from the totally irredeemable ones. --Kathleen C. Fennessy