In last night's Season 2 finale of Boardwalk Empire, Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) finally put paid to the paradox Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) laid out in way, way back in the pilot: "You can't be half a gangster." He did this in two ways, one big, one small, both with devestating consequences.
1. Nucky married Margaret (Kelly MacDonald). When the season opened, Emily and I wondered why Nucky and Margaret weren't already married, given that there's nothing really standing in their way. The season tried to build up a credible reason in that Margaret just isn't that happy with Nucky but smashed it all to bits by having Margaret regress (or worse, develop a new personality) to a superstitious simp when faced with her daughter's illness. (And did anyone else get shades of Margaret's conversation with the Temperance League lady re: Nucky when Margaret had a private chat with Esther Randolph)? But this isn't a post about Margaret, so I digress. Nucky wanted to marry Margaret, yes, but the specific timing of their nuptials was designed to keep her off the witness stand, and they both knew it.
2. Nucky kills Jimmy. A ballsy move for the show to kill off a main character, especially one seemingly central to nearly every plot. Sure, Jimmy spends the episode acting like a man who knows he's going to his grave (his desire to put everything to rights didn't read so much as turning over a new leaf as it did "one last thing before I go"), but it's still a shock to have him show up unarmed for Nucky, Nucky of all the people assembled, to put two bullets in Jimmy's head. It's a "holy fuck" moment that stands to paid off rich dramatic dividends now that Nucky has put down his last tie to, and hope for, a non (or half) gangster life.