Time jumps are nothing new for Boardwalk Empire, but if Michael K. Williams is to be believed, the show’s upcoming fifth and final season could have its most disorienting—and dismaying—fast-forward yet. “The storyline has jumped seven years [into the future], which is why I have the beard now,” Williams said at a recent press junket attended by Den Of Geek. “The Depression has set in. The days of the shiny shoes and fancy suits are long gone.” And while a leap from the Roaring Twenties of 1924 into the downtrodden days of 1931 could be exciting for hip, heritage-obsessed Brooklynites who have been waiting to revive the wearing-barrels-with-suspenders trend, it could be a little disappointing for aficionados of gangster lore.
By 1931, for one thing, Arnold Rothstein was long dead, thus robbing Boardwalk Empire of one of its most entertaining elements: scenes of Michael Stuhlbarg barely tolerating meetings. It would also mean skipping past the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and other famous road bumps along Al Capone’s rise to power, throwing us right into the oft-dramatized year he was prosecuted for tax evasion. Most importantly, it would mean not covering the landmark Atlantic City Conference of 1929, denying viewers the one major, mob-defining event that seemingly all of Boardwalk Empire has been building toward, as well as giving us Capone throwing paintings at Nucky Thompson. That’s certainly a lot to just gloss over. Indeed, why stop there? Why not jump to Boardwalk Empire 2525, to the year that Nucky’s cloned brain is implanted inside a rather frail-looking robot to run the space-boardwalk of Saturn City, which he spends most of his days trying to get out of?
So maybe it’s possible that Williams wasn’t saying the season will begin seven years later, but that it will inevitably end up there—which would certainly make a lot more sense. Otherwise, yes, depression is definitely setting in, a lot sooner than expected.