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Spec Writing Roadmap for Boardwalk Empire

Boardwalk Empire

SPEC WRITING ROAD MAP

By Guy Jackson and Michael Ferris

(Click here to download a Movie Magic Screenwriter format temlate for Boardwalk Empire and a link to a sample script)

We continue our series for a show that just got picked up for a 4th season, Boardwalk Empire. This one will be around for several years, and while it’s not as close to my heart as, say, GAME OF THRONES, this show is much more spec friendly, as it’s not bogged down in the rigidness of source material like GAME OF THRONES is. It’s also widely considered a pretty solid serialized show to spec by agents and managers in the industry.

 

This article is intended as a full on instruction manual on how to write a “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” spec, along with tactics for how to write a spec.  In the course of the article, we’ll obviously reveal many details of the series, so it goes without saying that this contains dozens of spoilers. If you’ve already seen the series, however, this road map should work equally well as a consolidation of the series’ history and a freshly analytical voice regarding the series’ facets.

 

Also, this essay uses much repetition of events, not by accident but to hammer home and continually reiterate a holistic understanding of the series’ history.

 

While character and plot and series history are important for the writing of a spec (thus, why they are covered ad naseum upfront), the real meat and potatoes of this article, the “fun stuff”, is the absolutely detailed Episode Breakdown, which, like a coroner’s scalpel, reveals each layer of an episode to such a degree that you will be able to easily structure your own episode using our formula.

 

So, without further ado….

 

SERIES OVERVIEW AND CONCEIT:

 

“BOARDWALK EMPIRE” is an epic HBO series, set in Atlantic City during prohibition. It was originally adapted from a book by Nelson Johnson entitled Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, And Corruption Of Atlantic City. The central character of the show, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, is based on real-life Atlantic City kingpin Enoch L. Johnson. Of course, all this real life stuff should never stand in the way of a good story in a good spec.

 

A hot tip for writing for this show, though: do some research. Dig around the internet and find some interesting gangland tale or cultural fact of the series’ era, then alter and transpose it into your spec. The show is very much ‘of its time’, in that it loves to reference the period.

 

By far one of the most interesting characters in “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” is Richard Harrow, the wounded WWI veteran with half of a prosthetic face. So much story mileage has been gained in a dozen storylines from the simple fact of Richard Harrow’s prosthesis and shell-shocked demeanor, and all it took was for a writer to espy a picture of a grievously (and interestingly) wounded WWI vet.

 

Another thing to keep in mind is the coldness of not only the series itself, but also the people of the era. Always remember there just wasn’t as much peace, love, and understanding in the world as there is now. Blacks and whites were separate but equal. You might be married to someone in Illinois and only see them once a month because they worked in Atlantic City. There weren’t many roads on which to road trip to other places and see what was on the other side of the hill. A generation of young men had just finished dying in WWI and another generation was poised to die in WWII. Smacking around a child was fairly acceptable. Women were largely regarded as chattle. So as you read through the characters below, keep these coldnesses, this archness, this aloofness of the series in mind. Sure, we have a multitude of problems and disconnects in the society of today, but back then people really, really, really hadn’t learned to love one another much at all.

 

Which is not to say there’s no emotional center to be found in the show. Arguably the heart of the show is Margaret Schroeder, whose mercurial emotional state provides the series with a soulful, human backbone. And Family with a capital F is repeated as a theme in nearly every episode. Even the coldest, most sociopathic gangster in the show has a family or a friendship keeping him at least somewhat human and empathetic.

 

On a related note, no one in the show, save maybe Nucky Thompson, is safe. A prime example is Owen Sleater, Nucky’s bodyguard and driver, who had one-time sex with Margaret Schroeder, and so while Owen is perfectly competent and faithful he could also get gunned down at any moment. Hence the accumulated deaths, especially surprising deaths like that of Angela Darmody, not to mention the average of one death per episode, makes one jumpy for all the characters.

 

Finally, note that the show haunts itself. Almost every killing, every wrongdoing, has come back to haunt the living in some fashion or another. By way of shining example: in the show’s first episode, Nucky ordered Hans Schroeder, the abusive husband of Margaret Schroeder, bumped off. And all the way in the final episode of the second season, the murder was finally pinned on someone, and became the big issue between Nucky and his brother Eli. When writing a spec, concern yourself with ‘the sins of the past’ at least once.

 

Season One of “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” concerned Nucky’s rise to prominence as a gangster, from the first days of Prohibition to him settling up with the gangsters of New York and Chicago to create a loose trifecta. The season kicked off when Jimmy Darmody, Nucky’s right hand man, teamed up with Al Capone in what was known as The Canadian Club heist, wherein a shipment of liquor was stolen and four New York gangsters accidentally gunned down.

 

Season Two concerned Jimmy Darmody’s betrayal, he began as Nucky’s right-hand man and bodyguard but owed fealty to his own father, The Commodore (the gangster city boss in his dotage who built Atlantic City), and so attempted a coup of Nucky’s empire.

           

CHARACTER BREAKDOWNS:

 

MAJOR CHARACTERS:

 

“NUCKY” ENOCH THOMPSON (STEVE BUSCEMI):

 

Surprisingly, Nucky Thompson is the most reliable, staid, unchanging character in “BOARDWALK EMPIRE”. Though his moral code and thought process is buried deep, you can always count on Nucky to behave in a nigh-predictable fashion. When Nucky finally kills Jimmy Darmody in the end of the second series, it’s both shocking and expected; it’s also the only thing that Nucky can do in keeping with Nucky. In this way Nucky provides the show’s dark moral compass.

 

If Nucky underwent any change over the first two seasons of the show, it was only that he became a killer his own self. One of the writers for the show noted this in an interview, to paraphrase and explicate: in the first episode of “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” Prohibition is about to become law, and Nucky has set himself up as Atlantic City treasurer to receive kickbacks and graft from the pending illegal liquor trade. But after performing a heist on his behalf, Jimmy Darmody (see below, in the Dead Characters section) told Nucky “You can’t be half a gangster.” And in the end of the second season Nucky finally got blood on his hands, fulfilling Jimmy’s prophecy.

 

Nucky often mentions a wife who died of consumption, but in a candid moment with Margaret he told her the real story, that a few days after the birth of his baby, Nucky came home after being away on business to find the child had been dead for days, and that his wife had gone mad, continuing to nurse the corpse. Soon after the baby was buried, his wife committed suicide.

 

Nucky is thus obsessed with babies, haunting the window of an incubator shop on the Atlantic City boardwalk, in part helping Margaret Schroeder and then falling for her later down the line because she was at first pregnant and has two darling children. He also ordered Margaret’s husband Hans killed after a thorough beating from the husband caused her a miscarriage.

 

Children and the love of a devoted woman and family ties are Nucky’s only soft spot however; he even spared his brother Eli after Eli joined The Commodore’s attempted coup and gave his okay to an assassination attempt on Nucky, then denied it.

 

Nucky had a love/hate relationship with his own father, Ethan, of which Eli was a gray part; the father seemed to hate Nucky and love Eli, but then scoffed at Eli attempting to make a speech, and rooted for Nucky when Nucky was under indictment.

 

Eli took care of the father, Ethan, when he was dying. When they moved Ethan from his house Nucky gave the house to his most loyal associate, Damian Fleming, to renovate, but after the renovation was done Nucky came to visit and burned the house to the ground, traumatizing young Teddy Schroeder (Margaret’s son) into an interest in arson.

 

Another telltale moment regarding Nucky: when Jimmy Darmody executed and then flubbed a robbery of Arnold Rothstein (the New York kingpin) in the first episode, Nucky demanded $3000 in penance. Jimmy had to wipe out his savings and steal back a necklace he bought for his mother to get the money, and then Nucky simply dropped the money wad on a handy roulette wheel and lost it all, completing Jimmy’s life lesson.

 

Make sure Nucky only acts in self-interest, make sure he only acts to take care of his own business, and make sure 99% of his moments of warmth are reserved for his closest family, and you should be okay.  

 

MARGARET SCHROEDER (KELLY MCDONALD):

 

A fascinating, mercurial character, Margaret began the series as a meek member of the Woman’s Temperance League, itself a significant piece of the Woman’s Sufferage movement. She saw a speech by Nucky about the evils of alcohol, and came to him for help, thereby igniting their complicated relationship.

Margaret was married to raging alcoholic Hans Schroeder, with two children and another one on the way, but in the first episode she miscarried after a beating from Hans. Nucky found out about this, brought Margaret flowers in the hospital, and had her husband dumped in the ocean.

 

Nucky soon got Margaret a job in Madame Jeunet’s boutique dress shop on the boardwalk, where Margaret continued in her traumatized meekness, until bumping heads with Nucky’s clotheshorse girlfriend Lucy caused her to quit. In the process Margaret stole a slip to wear for a meeting with Nucky, and when Nucky didn’t meet her Margaret tore up the slip.

 

From that point Margaret made a beeline for picking up Nucky, going to the point of ratting out a beer garage and getting his St. Patrick’s party busted to draw his attention. Once they got together Nucky then moved Margaret and her children into a hotel, but when she found out it was a hotel loaded with concubines for city officials she wore Nucky out, broke up with him, and got him to tell her the story of the death of his child. And then came back to him.

 

By the end of the second season Margaret and her children came to live with Nucky in a mansion. After Jimmy Darmody turned on Nucky, Nucky got a new bodyguard in the person of Owen Slater, and in a torrid moment of afternoon delight, Margaret and Owen had it off.

 

Margaret ultimately came to symbolize Hidden Power, holding depths of power she’s only beginning to exercise and suspect. In one episode, Nucky goaded Margaret into making a speech during the election cycle, and she roused and riled the crowd, and secured Nucky the woman’s vote.

 

But Margaret also has a decidedly weak or easily-swayed side. In the final episodes of the second season her daughter Emily came down with polio, which distressed Margaret to the point of turning to the church. There Father Ed Brennan got her charitable spirit up, and she gave tithes and gave tithes and gave tithes to disastrous result. Nucky had to sign over a swath of valuable New Jersey land that will surround the future highway into Atlantic City, sign it over to Margaret so it wouldn’t have been lost if he’d gone to jail (he was under indictment in the second season), and Margaret wound up signing over the land to Father Brennan’s church.

 

Margaret has a shadowy family history, and keep in mind the above note in the first section about the coldness of the time. She hadn’t seen her brother or met his children, and upon finally hunting them down in the Bowery, and though she enjoyed meeting her nieces, she felt no real family ties, and found her charity reviled. Margaret tries hard, in other words, but her impulsiveness, her hidden wells of power, and her own tendencies to self-interest often get in her way.    

 

AGENT NELSON VAN ALDEN (MICHAEL SHANNON):

 

Just as ever-changing and mercurial as Margaret is Van Alden, as he’s most commonly called, the chilly, aloof, no-nonsense, firebrand Federal Agent in dogged pursuit of Nucky Thompson. Defying expectations of such a role, however, Van Alden constantly wavers in his mission, most often when his shambles of a personal life, his questionable psyche, or his blind sense of vengeance catch up with him. Van Alden is a religious zealot,as well, given to reciting Bible verses, and once even revealing himself to be a flagellant, in that late in the night he fashions a whip and lashes his scarred back.

 

He’s a divorced man as of the end of the second season, but while his marriage was on display it was a severe, austere thing characterized by a letter he wrote to his repressed, suffocated wife in an early episode, a one line letter reminding her to pour water on the pipes against freezing. They lived apart, Van Alden in Atlantic City and Rose Van Alden in an unnamed small town, and Rose would come to visit for silent dinners and dull-as-dishwater boardwalk tours. Their relationship only saw one flash of passion, when in a restaurant Rose got bothered by the waiter’s secret offer of alcohol, and Van Alden then polished off the dinner by giving Rose a brooch (“But Nelson, you don’t believe in gifts,” she said.) and then busting the restaurant with a storm of Federal Agents.

 

But severity and austerity are watchwords with Van Alden, and a favorite editing trick of the series is to cut from Nucky’s lavish, colorful, ribald, high times lifestyle to Van Alden’s icy, hardscrabble existence.

 

Van Alden has gone downhill throughout the course of the series. He revealed a psychosis of some sort when he kidnapped a dying witness to Jimmy Darmody’s Canadian Club heist, then tortured the man to death for information. His wife wanted to have an operation to help her conjure a baby, but Nelson turned her down. Then Nelson got a mysterious wild hair toward Margaret and came after her in a weird, psychosexual interrogation scene. He then got drunk, hooked up with Nucky’s ex-girlfriend Lucy, and got her pregnant.

 

Van Alden’s one-time partner, Agent Sebso, was hired by Nucky to assassinate the one remaining witness to Jimmy Darmody’s Canadian Club heist, and Van Alden gradually festered suspicion, until he accidentally drowned Agent Sebso at an African-American riverside baptism ceremony. No one reported the manslaughter until Van Alden was about to testify against Nucky, and Nucky’s manservant surprised everyone by admitting his presence at the baptism. There was an attempt to arrest Van Alden, but he made a break for it.

 

Backing up to having gotten Lucy pregnant: Van Alden cut a deal with her to stay in his apartment for nine months, hidden away, and be the surrogate for the child, who he planned to give to his wife. This resulted in a prisoner situation, in which Lucy went quite mad and once almost killed herself, and was only assuaged by the delivery of a record player. While Van Alden was away one day, Lucy had the baby, coinciding with a surprise visit from Rose Van Alden. Rose understandably didn’t understand Van Alden was trying to hatch a baby for her, and stormed off, soon after sending him divorce papers. Lucy vanished, and Van Alden was left with the baby and a Swedish maid he hired. When he went on the lamb for the manslaughter of Agent Sebso, he wound up in Cicero, Illinois with this maid.

 

One more thing about Van Alden: when Jimmy Darmody went on the run and hid out in Chicago after the Canadian Club heist, Jimmy was sending money back to his wife, Angela, and Van Alden (whose office was relegated to the Post Office) intercepted the letters, accumulating the money in a drawer. Finally, though, Van Alden broke down and sent all the money to Angela anonymously, revealing that somewhere in his dark and tortured soul Van Alden has a heart.

 

This is a lot of history, but it’s good to know everything about this character, who maintained an unmoving stone-face throughout all the above (except when he flew into fire-and-brimstone rages). The best way to write for Van Alden: come up with the worst possible position for a religious zealot to be in, and put him there.

 

Representative Dialogue: “Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain.”

“Roll down your sleeves, put on your coat, bring Mrs. Schroeder a chair, go outside, and guard the entrance.”

 

NOTE: MAJOR CHARACTERS ARE ALPHABETICAL BY FIRST NAME FROM HERE

 

AL CAPONE (STEPHEN GRAHAM):

 

Starting out as a driver and bodyguard and right hand man to Johnny Torrio, who took over the Chicago mob scene when Big Jim Colosimo died in the second episode, Capone is here presented as a man on his way up. He began as a wisecracking, hot-tempered sociopath, quick to kill, fascinated by nice clothes as such that he made Jimmy Darmody buy a new suit. He and Jimmy were friends, and they got together for the Canadian Club heist that screwed Arnold Rothstein in the first episode. Capone took in Jimmy when Jimmy had to flee to Chicago, and for a time the two worked together under Torrio. When Jimmy tried on his coup of Nucky’s empire, Al Capone worked with him to get liquor shipped into Atlantic City.

 

Capone has a deaf son, and perhaps because of the boy, and after an upbraiding from Torrio, Capine ‘grew up’, quit with being a wiseacre and a goof off who blew operations with a hasty temper, and started tending toward kingliness, making his way to a leadership position. In this manner he follows the Shakespeare version of Henry V. 

 

ARNOLD ROTHSTEIN (MICHAEL STUHLBARG):

 

Like Mickey Doyle (see below), Arnold Rothstein is another minor character whose shadow looms large. He’s the boss of the New York mob scene, a cold, vengeful, strange man. He and Nucky often come to blows but make things up to one another, forgiving slights (Jimmy’s Canadian Club heist, the D’Alessios attempt on Nucky’s life) that would get lesser men in their organizations killed.

 

Arnold is always impeccably dressed and neat as a pin. He’s spent almost two seasons fighting off an indictment in the Black Sox scandal, meaning the World Series where the White Sox were paid to throw the game. Arnold lent Nucky his lawyer, Bill Fallon, when Nucky was also under indictment.

 

CHALKY WHITE (MICHAEL KENNETH WILLIAMS):

 

The African-American boozemaker (note that African-American is a modern phrase, of course, and blacks in “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” are referred to as ‘coloreds’, ‘Negros’, and in unfriendly terms ‘coons’ and ‘darkies’) who took over Mickey Doyle’s (see Mickey Doyle below) booze-making business with Nucky’s blessing. In his second appearance, Chalky stood down a KKK Dragon, cutting off the Dragon’s fingers with a bolt cutter from Chalky’s carpenter father’s collection, Chalky’s father having been once upon a time lynched.

 

The KKK came along to shoot up the warehouse where Chalky was running the booze-making business. Four of Chalky’s workers were killed, but Chalky fired off a shot and went to jail for killing one of the KKK. During his time there, he met his new right hand man, Dunn Pernsley.

 

In addition to making liquor for Nucky, Chalky rounds up the black vote for the elections. He also ignited a short-lived strike which brought a bit of chaos to the Atlantic City boardwalk in the midst of Nucky’s indictment, and because it was subdued by Eli’s deputies in a slambang riot.

 

Chalky was unhappy that he didn’t get to bring the KKK killers to justice, as Nucky wouldn’t allow it during an election, but Jimmy Darmody and Richard Harrow, in trying to work around Nucky, rounded the killers up and brought them to Chalky.

 

Chalky is an understandly and constantly tense man, and his relationship with Nucky, though the two are loyal and compassionate with one another, seems forever on the verge of exploding.

 

Representative Dialogue: “I ain’t building no bookcase.”

 

EDDIE KESSLER (ANTHONY LACIURA):

 

Though there’s not much to be said for him, there’s nothing minor about Eddie Kessler, Nucky’s everpresent butler, who appears in most every scene with Nucky. He lurks about, takes Nucky’s abuse, and even once saved Nucky’s life. He owes Nucky everything, as Nucky saved him from deportation during World War I. An impeccable fellow, Eddie gets things done and done right, even though Nucky will yell at him pointlessly for non-mistakes.

 

ELIAS ‘ELI’ THOMPSON (SHEA WHIGHAM):

 

Nucky’s brother, resentful of Nucky’s status, he’s been shot working for Nucky, been humiliated multiple times whilst working for Nucky, including once when he tried to make a speech during St. Patrick’s day and only served to rile up the assembled Atlantic City Irishmen against one another.

 

Eli liked Ethan Thompson, he and Nucky’s father, more than Nucky did, and cared for Ethan until the man’s death.

 

When Nucky replaced Eli with Deputy Hallorann (see Deputy Hallorann below) Eli teamed up with the Commodore and Jimmy Darmody to unseat Nucky, but that coup crumbled, and Nucky spared Eli, shooting Jimmy as the coup’s scapegoat.

 

When writing for Eli keep in mind that he always takes the weakest choice, and that any move of strength will backfire on him.

 

GILLIAN DARMODY (GRETCHEN MOL):

 

Jimmy Darmody’s rambunctious, licentious, force-of-nature mother. She gave birth to Jimmy at the age of 13, and hence is still up for being a showgirl. Jimmy’s father is The Commodore, and Gillian was pimped to him by Nucky. After The Commodore had a stroke, Gillian took the opportunity to beat the man in his helplessness.

 

Speaking of Shakespeare, Gillian takes turns at being Macbeth’s wife (after a fashion), urging killings and wrongdoings, but she’s also quite Oedipal, constantly flirting with her own son, and once telling Jimmy’s wife Angela: “When he was a baby and I changed his diaper, I used to kiss his little winkie.” A bizarre quote, but at the end of the second season it was revealed Gillian and Jimmy once had sex in a drunken frenzy during Jimmy’s time at Princeton. This incestual act, coupled with the early pregnancy of Angela, drove Jimmy into enlisting for World War I.

 

Again, Gillian is a force-of-nature, and there’s no doubt she’ll be seeking vengeance for the death of Jimmy in the third season.

 

JOHNNY TORRIO (GREG ANTONACCI):

 

The leader of the Chicago mob, and Al Capone’s direct boss. Johnny is strictly a business man, and rarely gets blood on his hands, though the death of Big Jim Colissimo, the previous don in Chicago, was highly questionable.

 

Johnny mostly comes off as a stern father figure who doesn’t brook any grab-ass.

 

“LUCKY” LUCIANO (VINCENT PIAZZA):

 

Like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano has yet to rise to his legend in the course of the times “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” depicts. Though harboring a mostly minor role, Lucky came into prominence when he was sent to Atlantic City to kill Jimmy Darmody after the Canadian Club heist, and wound up in a long-running tryst with Gillian Darmody, Jimmy’s mother. The tryst did Lucky well, as he’d just gotten over gonorrhea and was having trouble getting lead in his pencil, and something in Gillian brought out the animal in him. But when Jimmy returned, Gillian sent Lucky packing back to New York at gunpoint.

 

Lucky pays fealty to Arnold Rothstein (the New York kingpin), and mostly works out of New York, with Meyer Lansky as his partner.

 

LUCY DANZIGER (PAZ DE LA HUERTA):

 

The squeaky-voiced, dim-witted, shallow, superficial paramour of Nucky, a clothes horse who taunted Margaret by trying on slips when Margaret worked in Madame Jeunet’s boutique. Nucky dumped Lucy for Margaret, and Lucy was next seen sleeping with Agent Van Alden, getting pregnant by him, having his surrogate child. Then she vanished, presumably upon being paid for the child.

 

MANNY HOROVITZ (WILLIAM FORSYTHE):

 

Introduced to Jimmy by Mickey Doyle (see Mickey Doyle below), Manny is a Philadelphia butcher and crime boss who provided Jimmy Darmody with a lot of whiskey when Jimmy was attempting to lead a coup against Nucky. After Jimmy wound up owing him money Manny pursued the point until Jimmy tossed Mickey Doyle off a balcony, in front of Manny, to prove a point. Manny then survived an attempted assassination by Waxey Gordon, another Philadelphia crime boss. Ultimately, Manny fell in with Nucky, and conspired with him to bring Jimmy to the meeting wherein Jimmy was assassinated.

 

MEYER LANSKY (ANATOL YUSEF):

 

Like Lucky Luciano and Al Capone, Meyer Lansky has also not yet risen to legendary status, and like Mickey Doyle is a character very much in the shadows. He’s notable amongst the Major Characters only due on his name and continued presence. He has a strange ‘whippersnapper’ voice very cliché of old gangster movies. “What’re you, a wise guy?” wouldn’t sound strange coming out of his mouth.

 

MICKEY DOYLE (PAUL SPARKS):

 

Another extremely liquid character who remains forever in the shadows, and forever escapes doom. The fact he’s still alive is a miracle, as he’s changed sides almost as much as he’s been seen in the series. Though he’s almost faceless in the background, you can tell Mickey Doyle in an instant by his nervous, high-pitched giggle. His slipperiness is denoted literally by him changing his name to Mickey Doyle (from Mieczyslaw Kuzik, meaning he’s also changed ethnicities) before the series even began.

At first Mickey worked for Nucky as a brewer of cobbled liquor, bathtub gins and whiskeys and so on, but he was fired after Nelson Van Alden raided his warehouse. His job then fell to Chalky White. Fuming, Mickey went to help out Arnold Rothstein in New York, bringing the gang of D’Alessio Brothers (see below), who were meant to assassinate Nucky, but failed utterly, and went into hiding before being wiped out at the end of the second season. Mickey came back to Nucky before being sucked into that massacre, but then went off again with the Commodore, Jimmy Darmody, and Eli, as they attempted to take the city from Nucky. Then as that coup started to fall apart Mickey went right back to Nucky. When Nucky was being prosecuted and seemed up for indictment, however, Mickey tried to become a snitch for Nelson Van Alden, who brushed him off. Then Mickey buddied up with Manny Horovitz (see below), and went back into Nucky’s corner at the end of the second season. Obviously, Mickey is most loyal to himself. Perhaps that’s what Nucky appreciates about him.

 

OWEN SLEATER (CHARLIE COX):

 

A radical member of the Irish Republican Army and a former assistant to John McGarrigle, Owen became Nucky’s driver and bodyguard, once Jimmy’s position.

 

Owen is so radical in Irish politics he once brutally strangled a man who’d somehow spoken against the I.R.A. in a bar. Despite his smile, Owen’s as good a sociopath as all the rest.

 

When Nucky went to Ireland to trade weapons for whiskey, Owen saw to it that his former boss, John McGarrigle, died at the hands of the I.R.A., so that the trade could go as planned.

 

Owen is also a loverboy, having gotten together with Katy, Nucky’s housemaid, but juicier still he got together for a one afternoon stand with Margaret. This caused him to miss being with Nucky when an assassination attempt was made, and Nucky’s forever since suspected Owen and Margaret.

 

RICHARD HARROW (JACK HUSTON):

 

Grotesquely wounded in WWI, with half a prosthetic face, and befriended by Jimmy when the pair visited a VA hospital for psychiatric evaluations, Richard is a tortured soul with no trouble being an assassin. In one episode he contemplated suicide during the Memorial Day ceremonies, but was curtailed when he met fellow veterans doing some hardscrabble camping in the woods.

 

When he came to Atlantic City with Jimmy, Richard bummed around, staying at first with Nucky and Margaret, where he befriended Margaret after some initial friction with his face startling her children. A key revelation of Richard’s inner beauty came when, during a reading of The Wizard Of Oz, Margaret’s daughter Emily noted Richard was just like the Tin Woodsman, with his half-tin face.

 

After Richard moved in with Jimmy Darmody and his wife Angela, he had another revelation of inner beauty when Angela had him sit for a portrait. Angela was a painter (see Dead Characters below), and Richard much fell for her kindnesses, and due on his loyalty to both Jimmy and Angela, he’ll likely be hard-pressed for vengeance in the third season.

 

Sometimes, however, everyone’s charity and soft focus looks upon him seem to wear on Richard, and there are moments where we can wonder if he’s much loyal to anything or anyone. He certainly doesn’t seem to care what happens to his own self. 

 

MINOR CHARACTERS (ALPHABETICAL BY FIRST NAME OR TITLE):

 

AGENT SAWICKI:

 

Faithful and dopey, with Agent Clarkson he co-replaced Agent Sebso after Van Alden manslaughtered Sebso. In one episode Agent Sawicki went with Agent Clarkson to a still that exploded and so was party to Agent Clarkson’s suffering burns that killed him.

 

BABBETTE (TRACY MIDDENDORF):

 

The platinum blonde hostess of Babette’s, a Moulin Rouge-esque saloon in the Ritz Carlton on the Atlantic City boardwalk. Babette’s often seen, and sometimes sings, but she is ornamental, and hasn’t had a hand in any of the plotting.

 

BILL FALLON (DAVID AARON BAKER):

 

Based on a real person and Nucky’s lawyer, recommended by Arnold Rothstein after he helped Rothstein avoid jail over the Black Sox Scandal. Fallon worked Nucky out of his indictment, bringing evidence of Agent Sebso’s manslaughter against Van Alden, and rounding the question of Hans Schroeder’s murder so that it was pinned on Deputy Halloran.

 

BOSS FRANK HAGUE (CHRIS MULKEY):

 

A Democrat and political operative, he helped engineer the highway deal which will bring a highway into Atlantic City.

 

CARL HEELY (NIC NOVICKI):

A midget performer seen now and then dressed as a leprechaun or wrestling, he once negotiated better pay for him and his fellow midgets before they were to appear as leprechauns for a St. Patrick’s Day bash.

 

DAMIAN FLEMING (VICTOR VERHAEGE):

 

An Atlantic City alderman and politician fiercely loyal to Nucky, Damian stuck by Nucky when all the aldermans fell in with Jimmy and the Commodore’s attempted coup. This is probably partially because Damian was given a house by Nucky. In the episode that returned to Nucky’s childhood, Nucky’s father had to be moved from the family home for caretaking with Eli, and Nucky gave Damian the house ‘so a real family could live in it’. After a total renovation, however, bad memories loomed too large for Nucky and he burned the house to the ground, and gave the shocked Damian money to buy a new one.

 

DEPUTY HALLORAN (ADAM MUCCI):

 

A lout who began the series as Eli Thompson’s right hand man, but then remained loyal to Nucky and became sheriff when Eli joined Jimmy and The Commodore’s coup. This loyalty was hardly rewarded, though, as Eli got his sheriff badge back and Halloran took the whole rap for the murder of Hans Schroeder (Margaret’s abusive husband).

 

DUNN PURNSLEY (ERIC LARAY HARVEY):

 

A bold, empowered African-American who tried it on with Chalky White when the two shared a jail cell together, all over Chalky’s copy of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. Dunn was badly beaten up, for the cell was full of men who owed Chalky one favor or another, but upon his release Dunn came to Chalky with hat in hand, and became Chalky’s right hand man.

 

Dunn then led the Atlantic City strike of the African-Americans, starting a riot in the kitchen of the Ritz Carlton.

 

EDWARD BADER (KEVIN O’ROURKE):

 

Nucky’s puppet choice for Mayor, a non-presence of man who only takes orders from Nucky.

 

EDDIE CANTOR (STEPHEN DEROSA):

 

A vaudeville dandy seen sporadically entertaining the crowd at Babette’s. A friend of Lucy Danziger’s, he brought her a script for a play she could appear in when she was pregnant and under lock and key with Van Alden.

 

ESTHER RANDOLPH (JULIANNE NICHOLSON):

 

A U.S. Attorney who came after Nucky Thompson when he was charged with election rigging, an indictment try which she juiced up with an attempt to pin the murder of Hans Schroeder on him. She was over the moon to get Van Alden’s file on Nucky, and was on the verge of getting Van Alden to testify when Van Alden’s manslaughter of Agent Sebso was found out. Her case further fell apart when Margaret Schroeder married Nucky and therefore couldn’t be called to testify against him.

 

FATHER ED BRENNAN (MICHAEL CUMPSTY):

 

The opportunistic, creepy priest who went right to work on Margaret’s sense of charity when Margaret told him of her daughter Emily’s polio.

 

He worked Margaret in a religious fervor until she was donating jewels his way, and in the final episode his brainwashing cued her to sign over a land deed to his church. The land, again, is the swath of land surrounding the new highway into Atlantic City, and it was of course highly valuable to Nucky.

 

GEORGE REMUS (GLENN FLESHLER):

 

The mob boss from Cinncinnati, a former lawyer, and a fleshy, obnoxious man, George Remus strangely speaks of himself only in the third person, much to the chagrin of Al Capone, who’s particularly wound up by this habit.

 

Al Capone and Jimmy Darmody tried to work with George Remus to bring liquor into Atlantic City, but Jimmy’s coup of Nucky’s empire fell apart soon after the deal was made.

 

HARRY DOHERTY (CHRISTOPHER MCDONALD):

 

With Nucky’s help, Doherty hid President Walter Harding’s mistress with Nucky, then became attorney general for this trick. Nucky brought Doherty delegates and helped get Harding elected, but Doherty didn’t return the favor when the Federal Government got involved in Nucky’s election rigging case.

 

JACK DEMPSEY (DEVIN HARJES):

 

Briefly seen when he fought a bout in Atlantic City, this is the famous boxer of the era, putting in a cameo.

 

KATY (HEATHER LIND):

 

The nosy maid of Nucky Thompson and Margaret Schroeder, Katy had an affair with Owen Sleater, then was angered to find out he’d spent an afternoon in Margaret’s company. She has a contentious relationship with Margaret.

 

LENORE WHITE (NATALIE WACHEN):

 

Chalky’s wife, a goodly, patient woman who seems to come from a more refined background.

 

LESTER WHITE (JUSTIIN DAVIS):

 

Chalky’s son, an aspiring doctor on his way to Morehouse. 

 

MADAME ISABELLE JEUNET (ANNA KATARINA):

 

The stern French employer of Margaret, after Nucky got Margaret a job on the boardwalk. Madame Jeunet sold women’s lingerie, mostly it seemed to Lucy Danziger, when Lucy was the paramour of Nucky. Unfriendly and snooty with Margaret, Madame Jeunet received Margaret’s help at the end, when Margaret had quit and moved up into Nucky’s arms and Madame Jeunet’s shop was in trouble.

 

MRS. MCGARRY (DANA IVEY):

 

The strict, elder, no-nonsense leader of the temperance union, had a couple appearances as a mother figure to Margaret.  

 

ROSE VAN ALDEN (ENID GRAHAM):

 

The dutiful, repressed, bitter, suffocated, crying-jag-prone wife of Nelson Van Alden; she’s barren and desperately wanted a baby, obviously to quash her loneliness for a husband who was never home. It’s uncertain whether she’s gone forever from the show, but as said above she did serve Nelson divorce papers after discovering he’d sired a baby with Lucy.

 

SENATOR WALTER EDGE (GEOFF PIERSON):

 

The embodiment of the Atlantic City land deal, he’s working with Nucky and City Boss Hague to build a highway into Atlantic City.

 

WAXEY GORDON (NICK SANDOW):

 

A Philadelphia crime boss who had a falling out with Manny Horvitz, and tried to have Manny killed at Jimmy Darmody’s behest.  

 

KIDS:

 

TOMMY DARMODY (BRADY & CONOR NOON):

 

Jimmy’s young son, who’s been strictly ornamental, and is now under the charge of Gillian Darmody. He’s been much doted on by Jimmy, Angela, and Gillian.

 

EMILY SCHROEDER (LUCIE & JOSIE GALLINA):

 

Margaret’s daughter, stricken with polio in the second season.

 

TEDDY SCHROEDER (DECLAN & RORY MCTEAGUE):

 

Margaret’s son, who acquired a penchant for fire when he saw Nucky burn down the Thompson home. This possible arson tendency was inflated when he watched all of Emily’s possessions burned after she acquired polio. He was caught playing with matches in school, and then severely reprimanded, but his misbehavior continued when he pretended to have polio, per his jealousy over the fussing over his sister.

 

DEAD CHARACTERS:

 

“JIMMY” JAMES DARMODY (MICHAEL PITT):

 

Although he’s dead, Jimmy begs a synopsis, because there’s no doubt he’ll be haunting the third season of “BOARDWALK EMPIRE”, as he was one of four major characters for the first two seasons, and if a teeny tiny little character like Hans Schroeder can ghost back after two seasons…

 

A decorated WWI veteran with a black cloud always overhanging him, a stomach problem, and half-a-degree from Princeton college, Jimmy let his ambitious nature get the better of him, or maybe it was just that he was doomed from the get go. His mother, Gillian, was prostituted to The Commodore at the age of 13. When Jimmy was at Princeton he met Angela, and impregnated her, then after drunkenly defending his mother’s honor by beating up a teacher (revealing a violent side) Jimmy had sex with his equally drunken mother. Later, Jimmy would kill The Commodore, completing his Oedipal cycle. (Gillian also exhibited a bit of Lady Macbeth, pushing and goading Jimmy to both kill The Commodore and never mind about the death of Angela.)

 

In the first season Jimmy had amounted to Nucky’s bodyguard, Nucky having been a party to Jimmy’s raising, and upon meeting Al Capone, Jimmy and Al hatched a plan to rob a shipment of Canadian Club whiskey on its way to Arnold Rothstein. The robbery went awry, with Jimmy and Al gunning four of Rothstein’s men down. The fallout caused Jimmy to flee to Chicago, where he helped Al Capone with the rise of Johnny Torrio. When the witnesses to the Canadian Club massacre were also bumped off, and the heat had passed, Jimmy returned to Nucky’s side.

 

But The Commodore recruited Jimmy and Nucky’s brother Eli for a coup, and the second season was about that coup failing, as one thing and then another went wrong for the usurpers. Jimmy made an especial mistake when he fell into debt with Manny Horvitz, who murdered his wife, Angela, and then Jimmy’s attempt to forgive and forget with Nucky also failed. He was assassinated on the beach, after he told Richard Harrow and Gillian he was going out to settle with Manny.

 

ANGELA DARMODY (ALEKSA PALLADINO):

 

The loving wife of Jimmy Darmody, and while he was away in the trenches of World War I she had his child and then fell for a woman, the wife of a boardwalk photographer, a couple that barely appeared and then disappeared. Angela almost ran away with this woman to Paris, but her reluctance to leave Jimmy made her late for the boat. Even after Jimmy fled to Chicago and came home months later, Angela loved him dearly, and welcomed his new friend, Richard Harrow.

 

Angela was a painter often compared to Mary Cassatt, and she once sat Richard Harrow for a portrait, winning his love.

 

Angela’s relationship with Gillian, Jimmy’s mother, was contentious and tense, as she could always sense Gillian’s huge hold on Jimmy.

 

She met another lover, Leslie, and when Manny Horvitz came to kill Jimmy toward the very end of the second season, he instead wound up gunning down both Angela and Leslie, whilst Jimmy was away on business.

 

HANS SCHROEDER (JOSEPH SIKORA):

 

Margaret Schroeder’s abusive drunk of a husband. After beating his wife into a miscarriage, Nucky had Hans picked up by Eli and Deputy Hallorann, and they took Hans out to sea, beat him to death, and dumped him in the ocean. His death was almost prosecuted upon Nucky, then Eli, then wound up being blamed on Deputy Hallorann, who went to jail for it in the end of the second season.

 

JOHN MCGARRIGLE (TED ROONEY):

 

A representative of Sinn Fein who sought pacifism and peace. He came to Atlantic City for a donation to Ireland, but when Nucky came to Ireland bearing an offer of guns for whiskey, McGarriggle turned up his nose, and was promptly killed by his own men.

 

COMMODORE LOUISE KAESTNER (DABNEY COLEMAN):

 

Once the town founder of Atlantic City, The Commodore began as a wise old guru to Nucky. But after recovering from a long arsenic poisoning at the hands of his maid, The Commodore attempted to use his son Jimmy to take over Atlantic City once more. The Commodore’s returned health was short-lived, and he had a stroke and fell under the questionable nursing abilities of Gillian Darmody. Finally, when Jimmy attacked Gillian after the death of Angela, The Commodore fought with Jimmy, and was stabbed to death.

 

AGENT SEBSO (ERIK WEINER):

 

A turncoat agent. While the partner of Van Alden he was paid off to kill a witness against Jimmy Darmody and Al Capone’s Canadian Club heist. He fell under the suspicion of Van Alden and eventually was accidentally drowned in a river by Van Alden during a baptism ceremony.

 

BIG JIM COLOSIMO: 

 

Barely glimpsed in the first episode, Big Jim was promptly shot and killed in a cafe, but his crime boss shadow looms large over Chicago, Johnny Torrio, and Al Capone, and his name constantly pops up.

 

CHARLIE SHERIDAN:

 

A gangster killed by Jimmy Darmody and Al Capone when they were helping Johnny Torrio rise to power in Chicago, after the death of Big Jim Colosimo.

 

THE D’ALESSIO BROTHERS:

 

A passel of seven or eight brothers, interchangeable and unknowable, all of whom tried and failed to help Mickey Doyle gain control of Nucky’s operation, and they also tried and failed to help out Arnold Rothstein, but they were just too dumb a bunch. Mickey Doyle turned on them, then Arnold gave them up, and every one of them was assassinated in the end of the first season.

 

AGENT CLARKSON (JOEL BRADY):

 

Along with Agent Sawicki replaced Agent Sebso as Van Alden’s assistant. But Clarkson saw Van Alden’s funny behavior (while Van Alden was keeping the pregnant Lucy under lock and key) and thought Van Alden had become a liquor buy-off. So in investigating a still run by Jimmy Darmody, during Jimmy’s attempted coup, Agent Sawicki ran afoul of Owen Sleater’s bomb planting skills, and was savagely burned in the resulting conflagration. After giving Van Alden a scare (Van Alden thought a demon from Hell had come to haunt him for his sins of killing Sebso, drinking, getting Lucy pregnant, etc.) Sawicki died of his injuries.

 

WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

 

As the third season is breached, Nucky and his political empire are about to open the highway into Atlantic City. But Nucky’s deed to the land surrounding the potential road has been donated to Father Ed Brennan’s church by Margaret Schroeder.

 

Agent Van Alden has fled the charge of killing Agent Sebso, and is tucked away in Cicero, Illinois, but will be back somehow for the third season.

 

Jimmy Darmody has just been killed and Richard Harrow and Gillian Darmody will no doubt be on a path of vengeance. Part of Margaret signing away the land deed, as well, came from her realizing Nucky had gotten rid of Jimmy. Al Capone was also a great friend of Jimmy’s, and may be hot for payback as well.

 

PLOTTING AND PLOT SKELETON

 

What’s difficult about writing a “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” spec, of course, is that one doesn’t know what the writers of the show have already decided about the arcs or trajectories of certain characters, and one is obliged to do guesswork as to whether certain characters will even be alive to use in a spec. Thus it’s advisable to simply self-contain your spec, and not worry too terribly much as to whether a plot will come from the past or continue into the future. Meaning you can use the history, but don’t try to finish something you saw started in an episode. And don’t do too much toward leaving your plots open-ended.

 

For example, one episode of Boardwalk Empire depicted Chalky White’s time in jail, where he was confronted by Dunn Pernsley over a copy of The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer. Though Chalky White was in jail for a crime that happened in a prior episode, and though Chalky White and Dunn Pernsley’s story continued in following episodes, their jailhouse confrontation was self-contained, with an inciting incident, conflict, climax, and resolution, and could’ve been removed from the series and put onstage as a one-act play.

 

That said, what’s easy about writing a “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” episode is the series’ simple, episodic structure. One can actually fast forward through an episode and watch the plots go by beat-by-beat, unlike other shows where plots are much more intrinsic and meshed with one another. More on this in a moment.

 

Certainly it’s fine to use visual and thematic ties, and probably even wise, with a visual from one plot remarking upon a visual from the next plot. In the episode of the show we’re going to break down below, Nucky was shown to be shipping guns in a coffin, and then the next scene was of a detective investigating a funeral (albeit the funeral where the coffin Nucky was using supposedly belonged), and so the scenes were a good match with their visual tie of coffins, and so were placed alongside one another. Or the theme of one plot can match the theme of the next plot. Or another good trick used often is to have a voiceover from one plot reflect on another plot, with the voiceover illustrating that other plot or making that other plot ironic. Nucky Thompson might be giving a speech to the Woman’s Temperance League about the evils of alcohol, say, while his men are seen loading a truck with booze.

 

There are typically 5 simultaneous plots to an episode, one A plot, two B plots, and two C plots. In the ‘average’ episode (we’ll break down a great ‘average’ episode below) the A plot gets 7 scene beats (including beginning and ending the show) the B plots get five scene beats apiece, and the C plots get three scene beats apiece. The scene beats are, again, insular and episodic. Again, this is only ‘average’, and you’ll find episodes that of course differ.

 

But you can therefore safely and literally use the following template to outline your spec, this template still being a great ‘average’ of  “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” shows. (The two B plots have been noted as B1 and B2, as with the two C plots.) Then you can mix the template as necessary, if you want to match themes or visual ties or place one scene’s voiceover over another scene’s events. But of course be careful about not putting a C1 plot scene beat beside another C1 plot scene beat, for example. You’re hopping from plot to plot and back again.

 

And of course a C plot (for example) would weigh in with one beat for an inciting incident, one beat for a reversal (or turning point), and one beat for a climax (or resolution), whereas the A and B plots, with more middle beats, simply have that many more reversals.

 

Let’s also be extra clear by what we mean about B1, B2, C1, C2 plots. We’re simply counting the number of scene beats in each plot to decide which plot is which. This is particularly easy to do with “BOARDWALK EMPIRE”, because the episodes are usually internally episodic. Every time there’s a scene change, that likely means you’re switching plots. If you want to try counting scene beats at home, simply turn off the sound for a “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” episode you’ve just finished watching, make a list of the different plots for that episode, and then rewatch the episode. Each time you see a new scene appear, make a hash mark beside the relevant plot. You’ll wind up with a list that looks like:

 

Nucky makes liquor connection 1111

Margaret’s daughter has polio 111

Jimmy makes connections 11

 

And from the number of hash marks we know that the plot with the most hash marks is the A plot, the second-most hash marks denotes the B plot, etc. In “BOARDWALK EMPIRE”s case, however, you’ll normally wind up with two B plots (B1, B2) because they have the same number of beats, and you’ll find you have two C plots (C1, C2) with the same number of beats. That’s where we’re getting the notation of C1, C2. Two C plots, same number of scene beats.

 

The following skeleton (or template, as we said above) is also broken up with line breaks by each beat of the A plot, another good way to keep yourself on track when outlining. But otherwise the line breaks don’t mean a thing. There are no commercial breaks in a “BOARDWALK EMPIRE” episode.

 

OPENING TITLES

 

Scene 1: 1st beat of A plot:

Scene 2: 1st beat of B1 plot:

Scene 3: 1st beat of B2 plot:

 

Scene 4: 2nd beat of A plot:

Scene 5: 1st beat of C1 plot:

Scene 6: 2nd beat of B1 plot:

Scene 7: 1st beat of C2 plot:

Scene 8: 3rd beat of B1 plot:

Scene 9: 2nd beat of C1 plot:

 

Scene 10: 3rd beat of A plot:

Scene 11: 2nd beat of B2 plot:

Scene 12: 4th beat of B1 plot:

 

Scene 13: 4th beat of A plot:

Scene 14: 3rd beat of C1 plot:

Scene 15: 2nd beat of C2 plot:

 

Scene 16: 5th beat of A plot:

Scene 17: 3rd beat of B2 plot:

Scene 18: 3rd beat of C2 plot:

 

Scene 19: 6th beat of A plot:

Scene 20: 4th beat of B2 plot:

Scene 21: 5th beat of B1 plot:

Scene 22: 5th beat of B2 plot:

 

Scene 23: 7th beat of A plot:

 

CLOSING CREDITS

 

So let’s look at this skeleton/template again, now, overlaying it with actual scene descriptions from an actual episode. In this case we’re using a particularly rigidly structured example: Season 2, Episode 8, an episode entitled “BATTLE OF THE CENTURY”.

 

For our purposes we can give titles to the plots in this episode like so:

 

A plot: Nucky goes to Ireland, makes a guns for whiskey deal.

B1 plot: Emily gets polio.

B2 plot: Jimmy’s power becomes greater and more dangerous.

C1 plot: The U.S. Attorney investigates Nucky.

C2 plot: Dunn Pernsley kicks off an African-American strike.

 

OPENING TITLES

 

Scene 1: 1st beat of A plot: Nucky and Owen arrive in Ireland with a coffin purportedly containing Nucky’s deceased father.

Scene 2: 1st beat of B1 plot: Margaret finds Emily is ill when her daughter can’t get out of bed.

Scene 3: 1st beat of B2 plot: Jimmy meets with the strange George Remus, a potential liquor supplier from Ohio, and Jimmy and George make a deal. (This scene also contains a beat from a continuing spinal plot, a discussion of Jimmy owing money to Manny Horvitz)

 

Scene 4: 2nd beat of A plot: Nucky meets with John McGarrigle, offering him machine guns for the Irish war of independence in exchange for whiskey.

Scene 5: 1st beat of C1 plot: The assistant D.A. investigating Nucky notices Nucky’s not at his father’s funeral, though he’s just taken his father’s casket to Ireland.

Scene 6: 2nd beat of B1 plot: The doctor speculates that Emily has polio and must be put into quarantine.

Scene 7: 1st beat of C2 plot: Yelled at in the kitchen of the Ritz and fed ‘dog food’ for lunch, Dunn Pernsley begins to get grumpy with his African-American lot in life, then has a slight exchange of words with the Ritz’ manager.

Scene 8: 3rd beat of B1 plot:  Margaret watches Emily get a horrifying spinal tap.

Scene 9: 2nd beat of C1 plot: In bed together, after some ideas on the Nucky case are kicked around, U.S. attorney Esther Randolph finds out from her assistant that Nucky wasn’t at his father’s funeral.

 

Scene 10: 3rd beat of A plot: Nucky shows off the Thompson machine guns (not named after him) to leaders of the I.R.A., but John McGarrigle shows up with news of a truce from England, and says he wants no more blood (meaning no more guns).

Scene 11: 2nd beat of B2 plot: Jimmy meets with Waxy Gordon, puts him onto the idea of attempting to assassinate Manny Horvitz.

Scene 12: 4th beat of B1 plot: Margaret disinfects the home by burning all Emily’s bedclothes and toys. (This also strikes a beat for a continuing minor spinal plot in the series, as her son Teddy watches the burning, and gets another little note of traumatic fire to contribute to his budding pyromania).

 

Scene 13: 4th beat of A plot: Nucky meets with a whiskey maker who can’t sell his whiskey because of the war with England, a whiskey maker who says he won’t go against the word of John McGarrigle, who wants a truce.

Scene 14: 3rd beat of C1 plot: Attorney Esther calls in Deputy Hallorann for questioning, asking him about the whereabouts of Nucky, and grilling him about his dealings with Nucky. (The scene also hits a beat in a major continuing spinal plot, the authorities discovering the whys and wherefores of the murder of Hans Schroeder, hoping to pin the murder on Nucky eventually).

Scene 15: 2nd beat of C2 plot: Dunn Pernsley meets with Chalky, hat in hand, making truce. Chalky, who’s cooking up an African-American strike, encourages Dunn’s rebellion at his Ritz job.

 

Scene 16: 5th beat of A plot: Nucky has dinner with John McGarrigle, and presses John on how the war with England is far from over, how he needs the machine guns. John turns Nucky down cold, basically calling him a warmonger. (This scene also hits a note on Owen’s character, when we find out Owen is thoroughly on Nucky’s team, and has decided against loyalty to John, his former boss).

Scene 17: 3rd beat of B2 plot: Jimmy’s cue to assassinate Manny fails, when Manny in turn kills the assassin. 

Scene 18: 3rd beat of C2 plot: Dunn starts a strike in the kitchen of the Ritz, in the form of rousing all the workers to throw their lunches at the boss.

 

Scene 19: 6th beat of A plot: Nucky departs the company of John McGarrigle, just prior to John being gunned down by his own men. In the car on the way to his boat, Nucky’s told by the whiskey maker he met earlier that the whiskey- for-guns deal is on.

Scene 20: 4th beat of B2 plot: Jimmy, at a radio broadcast of a Jack Dempsey boxing match, finds he’s gaining fame and fortune in Atlantic City when people in the audience begin eyeing him.

Scene 21: 5th beat of B1 plot: Margaret mourns in the hospital over Emily as the nurses and doctors listen to the same boxing match. Unobserved, Margaret slips into the quarantine to stroke her daughter’s cheek. (Note that Margaret here gives hints of a continuing plot to come, her succumbing to a religious fervor over guilt over her Emily’s polio).

Scene 22: 5th beat of B2 plot: Jimmy and Richard find themselves indulged by a pair of loose women, again due on Jimmy’s growing fame.

 

Scene 23: 7th beat of A plot: About to board the ship back to America, Nucky and Owen put the McGarrigle shooting to rest, Nucky confirming Owen’s loyalty. Then Owen reads a telegram alerting Nucky to Emily’s polio, a great example of how to wind up an episode by tying a pair of plotlines together.

 

CLOSING CREDITS

 

WORLD & SETTING (or God Is In The Details):

 

It’s Atlantic City in the 1920s. That means everyone always has a cigarette in their mouth and a drink in their hand. Chesterfield cigarettes, most often. There’s just been incubators invented for babies. People say ‘a hundred clams’ or ‘Geez Louise!’

 

Fatty Arbuckle, John Barrymore, Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, and Douglas Fairbanks are stars of the silent cinema. But vaudeville is still in existence. People get their fortunes told at the local Palmistry. The Knights Of The Ku Klux Klan are on the rise and out in the open (if you call wearing sheets in the open).

 

People say ‘doll’ and ‘big cheese’ and they buy Vacuum Sweepers to clean their houses and they talk about oral sex as ‘The French Way’. They slander gays with insults like ‘he’s a powder puff’. They threaten people by saying ‘I’ll give you a haircut you’ll never forget.’ They make soda bread. They call kids ‘boychick’. Ponzi has just released his big scheme. People with Tourette’s Syndrome are simply lumped in with the rest of the ‘simpletons’.

 

Fascinatingly, it’s always noted that Prohibition and election rigging played a huge part in getting unions going, and getting women and blacks the right to vote. After all, if you could get women and blacks the right the vote, you can get them to vote for you, and due on their repression their votes are more easily bought.

 

White and black race relations are tense and terrible and ethnic relations amongst Irish and Italians and Jews are equally unstable.

 

There’s midget wrestling, Dale Carnegie is a household name, opium is about to be circumvented by heroin, cocaine is still used at the dentist, and gin is mixed in bathtubs. If you’re a woman you’re not meant to bare your shoulder, and you can get a ticket for wearing a swimsuit exposing your legs.

 

Meetings always happen amongst the gangsters with the right hand man present, and in your spec you never want to set a meeting in a boring old restaurant.

 

People sit in chairs, adjust their suit coats, and light a cigarette and pour a drink.

 

Everyone has only one good outfit unless they are as rich as Nucky.

 

 


Movie Magic® Screenwriter Template for Parks and Recreation

To download a Movie Magic Screenwriter template file for Boardwalk Empire, right click here: http://support.screenplay.com/filestore/templates/mmsw6/New/TV/Boardwalk%20Empire.def

For a list of available Movie Magic Screenwriter format templates for download, go to http://support.screenplay.com/downloads/MMScreenwriter/Templates/index.php

SCRIPT SAMPLE: Here is a link to a Boardwalk Empire script online: http://www.pages.drexel.edu/~ina22/splaylib/Screenplay-Boardwalk_Empire-Pilot.PDF


A former Hollywood Lit Manager, Michael started ScriptAWish.com as a way to help other writers get their foot in the door and has helped several writers sell their scripts (like Travis Beacham of PACIFIC RIM) and set up projects with producers like Academy Award Winner Arnold Kopelson. The mission of ScriptAWish.com is to help aspiring writers get their scripts into shape and then get their foot in the door. His new venture is a collaboration with several professional screenwriters called StudioGhostwriters.com and is intended to help producers get their movie ideas on paper or their drafts polished for production.