Boardwalk Empire Finale: Ready, Set, React!

boardwalk-empire-season-4-finale recapIf you have yet to watch Sunday’s Season 4 finale of Boardwalk Empire, hit the nearest exit. Everyone else, read on…

How very bait-and-switchy of you, Boardwalk Empire.

Much of the HBO drama’s fourth season — Sunday’s finale included — seemed to be building to one inevitable conclusion: the death of Eli at the hands of brother Nucky.

But in a twist that ranks among this show’s most heartbreaking, it was beloved sharpshooter Richard Harrow who perished — a victim, ironically, of gun violence.

RELATED | Cable Renewal Scorecard: What’s Cancelled? What’s Returning? What’s on the Bubble?

A full post mortem with series creator Terence Winter — in which he reveals why Richard had to go and teases who will and won’t be returning for Season 5 — can be found here.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. WTactualF says:

    I have absolutely no clue where the story arc will lead next season. I can’t believe they killed off Richard, although the farewell to Tommy sort of gave it away early on in the episode.

    All in all, it was kind of a strange finale. I have more questions than answers and there just wasn’t enough Margaret! I give this season a C+

    • Rydiddy says:

      RIP Dick Harrow

      • Gary says:

        I was hoping Richard would have killed Narcisse. I am very saddened. Bravo Eli ! Agent knox was awesome that guy got what he deserved. I hope this is not the end of Richard.

    • lesane says:

      I still key thinking about baby girl and how chaka is sitting on the porch just like author…a tormented soul

    • D. E. Denman says:

      I find it the usual stuff American men come up with, for the women, handicapped and black men end up dead, in jail, berated saying “Yassuh,” and/or looking pitiful. While the white men walk off cool and scrappy enough to survive! Same Oh, Same Oh. Nevertheless, I love watching the show each time it shows, because of the psychology of the sociopaths. Every single one of the main characters are anti-social and sociopaths, who lie to and kill one another. All are very good actors. I hope to see J. Edgar Hoover in his cross-dressing mode. Thanks for an excellent show, with realistic ethnic dialog. Best line of the show to is by Chalky: “What that mean? WHAT THAT MEAN??” Best line by Enoch in season 4, ” I don’t ever want to see that spook coming at me in he dark again!!” Love it.

  2. Diana F says:

    Maybelle……Richard………nnoooooo! I can’t take it!!!!! And to make matters worse, NARCISSE is still alive!!! I guess Im gonna have to grab a gat and kill him myself!!!!

    • lesane says:

      i know..omg i woke up this morning and was like i cant believe maybelle dead…my husband was like who…i just keep seeing her face as she looked at her dad. It broke my heart….I HOPE DAUGTHER WAS WORTH IT CHAKA

  3. Jessicalexis says:

    Yeah, extremely uneven season with an unsatisfying resolution and a devastating loss in Richard.

  4. Mickey Braciole says:

    This is a major loss for “Team Jimmy”. Richard, was the only hope for young Tommy to have a father figure and someone to look up to; as long as he is with Julie and her family and out of Gillian’s hands than I am okay. Richard went out like a champ; he left the world being loved by his family. Other than that, amazing finale; possibly the best one. I love how things didn’t come to an end(last season) and that now next season can go off this finale instead of having to build a whole new story line like they did this season. I’m very excited for season 5, just can’t believe Richard is dead. He was amazing and IMO had the 2nd best story(Jimmy was #1).

  5. DanielleZ says:

    My heart is broken. Richard Harrow was one of the best, most unique characters on television. The end was sad, heartbreaking, bittersweet. But he never could have lived with what happened. I’m still trying to digest the finale.

  6. Barbarah says:

    Absolutely done with this show now that my favorite character has died. RIP Richard and Boardwalk Empire

    • HL says:

      alot of people said similar things when jimmy died in season 2

      • karen says:

        And have you seen the ratings since the finale of season 2…. lets say it was the last highest ratings so pretty sure people stuck to their word. and now that Richard is dead its going to lose even more viewers this show is digging itself into a hole…. In my opinion Game of Thrones is the only show that can kill off main characters and get away with it!

    • Joshua says:

      I’ll continue watching the show, but I’m definitely not as invested in it as I was. Richard Harrow was Boardwalk empire.

    • Daisy says:

      I hung in after Jimmy died. I held on after Owen was killed. I remained even after Eddie jumped. NOW I’m done. Not just because Richard is gone but because there’s really no one left to root for. And also this entire season was uninspired. I like Nucky but he isn’t enough to carry this show. Too bad. It started off great.

    • j walker says:

      He’s one of the best characters in the series!!! Big mistake. HUGE.

  7. DanielleZ says:

    I should have seen Richard’s death coming but there were too many other things going on this season. He wanted away from the life of the assassin but found himself back in it at the end. This is always how it turns out. RIP Richard Harrow.

  8. Randy Z says:

    Loved it.. Eli murdering Agent Knox was crazy.. Richard dying was sad as well..I found it ironic that Van Elden picked up Eli and will be in chicago..great season..

  9. DonnaR says:

    So sad to see Richard go. I loved his character! Glad that Gillian got hers, evil woman! Eli needs to get his now. What a loser!

  10. Thrifty B says:

    I loved Eli’s face when the car with van Alden drove up. Classic. I loved it. I love how this show is willing to kill off fan favorites. Richard’s story was amazing and we all knew he wouldn’t have gone on knowing he killed an innocent girl. I hope chalky returns to AC, Omar is coming Omar is coming. Capone finally with great power, Hoover taking charge and Willy getting used to gangster life, next season will be awesome.

  11. Dave says:

    Are we really sure that poor Richard is dead? It looked like a flesh wound to me.

  12. Wesley says:

    It is crazy to think but they show Richard just setting and all most dead who is to say he can’t come back and William is set like nuckey said he is in charge now.Just hope next season is a lil more gangster .

  13. Aleksa says:

    I won’t lie, I’m kind of devastated by that death. Richard was my absolute favorite thing about the show.

    • j walker says:

      The writers could bring him back. Could they be teasing the fans? Probably not. They underutilized him this season. People on the internet should complain and very loudly.

      • The Bar Chaplain says:

        No one should be surprised. Terence Winter’s already on record that this world (organized crime) doesn’t tolerate goodness and beauty. Evil always prevails. And when it passes, more evil steps in to take over. BWE is the origin tale of the broad story arc involving greed, power-jockeying, and destroyed lives. We saw the end of the tale in Sopranos. We’ll get 1 or 2 more BWE seasons before it wraps. I’d like to think we’ll get an interim tale, but I think the Godfather trilogy has already covered the 50s/60s/70s.

  14. Michael says:

    Richard Harrow was such a perfect, instrumental character in the series. I could literally write a book about his character and not even begins to scratch the surface. It pains me to believe that he is dead, and I almost refuse to. The way he died, the way the season ended wasn’t proper for such an important character. They lost so much depth when Dormody died, and its almost impossible to believe that they will even have a show next season with most of the structural character void from the show. I really hope the writers know they can easily allow the harrow to be alive. I mean there is confusion if he is even dead. The last sight may have been him just seeing his life flash before his eyes, or shock. Maybe I’m I denial, but if I find he really is dead, and Huston is no longer part of the show, ill be devastated, and will not watch next season.

    • Joshua says:

      I’m at the bargaining stage right now, still hoping that maybe he’ll be able to be rescued somehow. I know the narrative is more important than any one character, but still. I’ll continue to watch the show, but I won’t be as interested. They killed off a lot of central characters this season and had too many different subplots going and left poor Richard how in the wind the entire time, only to bring him back and have him killed. I also liked Richard’s family, especially the Sagorsky’s. But I thought the very end with him being whole in front of his loved ones was very clever, showing that he had made it home, and was whole. But still, dang.

  15. Ugh.

    Richards demise was so blatantly telegraphed. It was amateur.

    On top of that, he suddenly grows a conscience a second before pulling the trigger? On a notorious gangster? Puh-lease. How contrived. Expressed just a few episodes ago how he buries the guilt and will do it again for his family…but suddenly, seconds before pulling the trigger on an awful thug, he questions it?! I’m calling bs.

    Rest of episode was great. But they only killed off Richard for shock. Not because it served any purpose. They just know that killing off fan faves gives them controversy, buzz, and attention. It was obvious it was coming, and for no reason other than to get a reaction from fans.

  16. mountain view says:

    logical or not…they killed off my fav character….i liked Jimmy… your comparison to viewer reaction to him not the same…i loved the Harrow character and he is why i watched for real…..only if he is not dead(the writers listen to the fans)will i watch next year…really….great 4 years but that was the storyline that mattered

  17. Dave says:

    You mean no Richard Harrow spin-off?

  18. BillR says:

    I also didn’t like that Richard Harrow was killed off. But I find it strange and a bit disturbing that no one so far has mentioned felling bad about the death of Chalky’s daughter. She was a true innocent in all this and she gets shot in the head. That event pissed me off more than killing off Richard did. I’m glad that weasel Knox was killed off. But really, I don’t know if I can watch more of this show after the poor girl was taken out. I stopped watching for two seasons after they killed off Jimmy. Watched most of this season. Will probably stop watching again. Enough grief in the world to deal with… would like some escapism that isn’t intended to depress me for a change.

    • Joshua says:

      Then boardwalk empire might not be the show for you to watch. It’s a dark, complex drama, and like how The wire investigated the after effects of Stringer Bell dying, I’d really like to see what happens to Richard’s clan. But at the same time. It may have been a big mistake taking out such a cherished character.

    • What?! says:

      Yes, I feel for Chalky but some of us were more invested in Harrows character. His inner struggle for loyalty, love and family. It was a classic story, Jack Huston was great!

    • lesane says:

      YES i am disturbed by her death….i keep seeing her face in my head over and over again….then chaka’s screams

      • deblicious says:

        i was also was disturbed by maybell’s tragic demise. i kept thinking into the wee hours of the morning “not poor maybell.” when i heard chalky go crazy with grief, i have to admit, i cried. my husband was asking who is poor maybell? i saw a poster say that this was all chalky’s fault, since this was the life he chose, but he let his blind hatred of dr. narcisse get the better of him. and as people say, “the best laid plans…….” and now chalky’s family is destroyed. i am curious for next season to see how it all plays out and if chalky can work his way back from grief.

        richard’s death was poignant and sad, but that’s one of the reason’s you love “be.” the show is always evolving.

  19. Joshua says:

    Rest in peace, Richard. If the basis of fiction truly is the ability to relate to the characters, there was never better. You were a symbol to all the people in this world that have been through something and kept going. I loved you, man. It’s not often a man can be as damaged on the inside as he is on the outside. But as Oscar said, “Sooner or later, we all run outta road.”

  20. The Bar Chaplain says:

    Harrow had an end-of-life vision of happiness/perfection as he hoped (at that moment) he could have. It surely looks final. And the big arcs in his story for the season point toward it. I’m a “Tony’s dead” realist. So Harrow’s probably gone. However, if he’s not, I could see Winter making us wait ’til episode 2 of next season before he reveals it.

  21. What?! says:

    Excellent finale! Some got what they wanted and some didn’t. But why Harrow! Out of all the manipulators and murderers, Richard dies! Ok,so he was no angel but still, he tried. I would of been happy to see Gillian get shanked in the cell (I couldn’t get any sympathy for her) or if Knox would of killed Will. Eli deserved to die too! But noooo! Farewell Harrow Blues, farewell.

  22. Chris says:

    I respect everyone’s comments, but if you really look at the whole season Richard wanted out of the killing game, as scared as he was inside he found peace with-in. Look at what he and Jimmy talked about ” we won its ours you get anything you want fix up your mask meet a girl and a family”. He found that, the love he had for his family and Tommy it filled the whole on the inside! Jimmy was his real friend and showed him respect. I think he gave his life 1. For jimmy to get a proper burial. 2.Jimmy’s mother gets what she had coming. Of corse Tommy will never be abused by her, In his mind I think he owed that to Jimmy to make sure he’s son never went threw what he did. And there is no way Richard could live killing Chalky’s daughter. Would we really want to see Chalky kill Richard next season I would, he completed his mission and it was time to go!!!!!! I’m glad the good Doctor didn’t die I want Chalky to do it.

  23. SB@805 says:

    I knew my favorite character Richard Harrow would be killed off last summer because Jack Houston’s aunt Anjelica is my next door neighbor here in Montecito and he was staying over at her house and we had dinner and he told me that his contract was not extended,he said Richard was a goner!!! my uncle was Yul Brynner so I knew his grandpa the great director John Huston very well,in fact he’d always come to our home in france when we vacationed there for summers. I was very fortunate in this life to be around extra ordinary people who set their goals high and made statements about their careers and were very humble to know 90% of life is just showing up. The old stars loved the fame and attention,but they didn’t take it for granted and they realized the fans were the reason they were successful? so they appreciated the fans.

  24. SR says:

    It was so sad to see him go but it was beautifully done. This season has been brilliant and the finale was great as well. He wanted out but for the love of his family he came back in and it killed him in the end. It’s so sad but he found some peace at the end and I’m glad that his last thoughts or his dream was a happy one. It was kinda beautiful like that to. Well written though.

  25. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Ugh, I hated it!!!!! Okay, that’s not fair. I am devastated by Richard’s death. Maybelle’s was sad too, but I just wasn’t that invested in her character the way I was Richard’s. The episode was good though. I particularly liked the fight between Eli and Knox. Incredibly well shot. That scene is a very good example of how well Boardwalk Empire does with staging and directing very chaotic, violent scenes. Last year’s finale with Richard cleaning out the whorehouse of gangsters is another good example of how well they do those things.

  26. Carol Diehl says:

    I’m sad about Richard too. What a character Jack Houston played . I do hope he is nominated for an Emmy he deserves to win. Richard was one of the most complex character’s ever in a series . Well done Jack Houston !

  27. The Bar Chaplain says:

    Chalky will unleash hell next season. And with his depth of guilt & pain, his relief from such is inevitable. My guess is either last or next to last episode of whatever is the final season.

  28. Connie says:

    RIP Harrow. He was a tru gangsta with a heart. Nuckie is too soft. He needs to grow a pair. Next season Chalkie & Capone are gonna wreck some havoc. Looking forward to SAMCRO finale next.

  29. mnpace says:

    Last night, I dreamed about the last episode of the show. I dreamed that Richard did not die, its kinda like loosing a close friend, that has been through so much, and finally when your friend’s life get better, when your friend is happy, and is starting a new chapter, he dies. Richard was one of the most memorable, complex, and sensitive charaters on television. Even in the beginning, when I was first introduced to Richard, my heart just went out to him, even as a killer. I don’t know how to put it in words, because even though he was an assasin, he wasn’t a sociopath. He seemed to have still been in a soldier’s mindset, in the previous seasons. I believe he was always a geniunely good person. I believe his love for Tommy, and his love for his wife, helped him heal from the war. I will miss Richard. I want him to be alive too, I figured the scene of him going home, with his face being back to normal, was him entering into heaven and He was happy and at peace. Now, I’m a big Tony Soprano fan, and he was a lot more ruthless character than Richard, and when the blackout scene occurred during the Sopranos finale, it took me a long time, a really long time, to accept the blackout screen was Tony death. I would love for Richard not to die, but I think he’s dead, we saw him get shot, we saw his last bit of life on the beach. With Tony Soprano, we never saw who killed him, the screen just went to black, which I was mad at that ending, it felt like u didn’t have closure. The writers for Richard, did not leave much room, for this type of speculation. Another reason, I think he died, was because of the significance of his goodbyes to Tommy and his wife. Especially, when he told his wife he would meet them in Wisconsin, and she told him to promise, and that passionate kiss he gave her. When that happens you kinda know that its a strong possibility that its the end of the road. But Jimmy knew, he would die too, when he left the house, to meet nucky, and I believe jimmy told richard not to come with him, but jimmy also knew that he had ran out of luck. I was shocked by Jimmy’s death, but I guess since Richard was apart of the cast longer, I’m just really in shock and devistated about his death.
    These writers have left us with heartbreak. The actor who played Richard definitely deserves an Emmy for that role, because his character just touched so many. I’m glad I found this website, to express my heartache, and I will still continue watching the show, but I can’t imagine them having another character who will touch us like Richard did.

  30. Dave says:

    Feel bad about Richard? Would you invite him to your home for Christmas dinner? Nuff said. (But it was tough losing him and “Red John” in the same week).

  31. Maria says:

    I, too, am heartbroken over the demise of my beloved Richard. He was such a tortured soul and yet there was something so noble about him. He could be a ruthless killer, but the people he did away with were always “bad guys.” He was fiercely loyal to those he cared about, and in his quiet moments we saw how much he longed for the peace and comfort of a family to love. And when we were given a glimpse of the unscarred portion of his face, his former physical beauty was breath-taking. I wanted him to be happy and rejoiced (albeit, but briefly) when he finally found the romance he had all but given up on. I will miss him so very much. Goodnight, sweet prince. You had the heart of a warrior but the soul of a poet!