ByKevin Shields, writer at
Irish film reviewer and creator of Cracked-Reel ( - Avid film watcher, writer and ranter. 100% uncensored.
Kevin Shields

As some of you folks may know, the 5th and (unfortunately) final season of Boardwalk Empire is coming in September and they've gone and released a very cool poster banner for it!

Boardwalk Empire: Nucky's Last Stand
Boardwalk Empire: Nucky's Last Stand

And another cool but sort of disorientating finale poster.

Over the last 5 years this has very easily become one of my favourite shows of all time, it's essentially the mobster show I've always wanted! I think it's probably the most violent show on TV, it's absolutely no holds barred and vicious, though [Game of Thrones](movie:817617) and Hannibal are certainly catching up. This will definitely be remembered as a high point in HBO's absolutely stellar history of TV gold.

As the new season gets closer, I thought it would be a good idea to revisit what I would consider the 10 most brutal whackings the show has aired. Some of these are mafia hits, mistakes, acts of revenge, from disrespect and simply from pure boiling rage.

I warned you before and I will warn you again, this will contain graphic violence and major spoilers!!! - Unfortunately these videos are locked to YouTube so you will have to watch them through the links. But please be sure not to get stuck in an endless loop of video watching and forget about this article!!! Enjoy!

10. Johnny Torrio's Men Vs. Dean O'Banion.

The build up to this scene contains one of my favourite ever brief monologues on the show. Nelson Van Alden (Under the fake name, George Mueller) confesses everything to O'Banion in a fearless rant. He was supposed to be the one to kill O'Banion for the Chicago mob, but problems kept piling up for him.

Naturally O'Banion being an absolute dick, he made more enemies than one and it was by the hands of Johnny Torrio's hitmen that O'Banion gets what's coming to him: Shot seven times point blank in the face and chest by two men with revolvers. It's somewhat satisfying because the character is a dick, but it's definitely brutal, especially considering it's point blank! Of course the insult to injury is for one of them to drop a flower into his body. Typical mobster attitude of showing a smidgen of respect. This also of course, free's Van Alden from his obligation to take him out and even earns him a bit of money.

9. Jimmy Darmody Vs. Arnold Rothstein's Henchman.

This was the very moment I knew this show would be an absolute gore-fest. In the very first episode we see Jimmy causing problems with good ol' Al Capone. When the two try to hijack a shipment from Rothstein's men, a deer scares the shit out of Capone and he reacts in the most reasonable way he possibly can; opening fire on a bunch of unarmed men. This sends the remaining henchmen running into the woods hoping for survival.

When one of them finds himself a wee hiding spot, he feels the coast might be clear... that is until Jimmy sneaks up behind him and literally bursts his head, again point blank, but this time with a double-barrel shotgun. Once I saw this guys head get blown to shreds, I knew this wasn't the worst to come. As violent as The Sopranos was (which is VERY) it's truly nothing compared to this!

8. Jimmy Darmody Vs. Herman Kaufman.

Manny Horvitz invites Jimmy to Philadelphia to hear what a badly beaten Herman has to say about betraying them, as he hangs upside down from a butcher's hook. He made a deal with Nucky Thompson and Waxey Gordon, which the always pleasant (and fucking maniacal) Horvitz considers an unforgivable offense. But due to his religious beliefs, he cannot kill Herman himself, as he was already beaten and bruised. So he enlists the help of good ol' Jimmy.

Hesitant at first and falling for the schoolboy error of having to prove himself when Horvitz suggests he may be "feelin' squeamish" - Which turns Jimmy Darmody into Jimmy Big Bollocks as he grabs a hold of Herman and slices his throat open with a VERY sharp butcher knife, sending a torrent of blood down his face into a puddle of meaty gore on the floor. One of those truly hopeless moments for a person to be in, also extremely realistic looking; so I've come to the conclusion that the actor playing Herman was killed for real...

7. Richard Harrow & Jimmy Darmody Vs. Jackson Parkhurst.

During one of the many meetings on this show a brief incident occurred when Parkhurst whacked Jimmy in the head with his cane for showing what he believed was a lack of respect. Naturally this enraged Jimmy because he's one of the most fucking hotheaded characters on the show!... Well... next to Gyp and Eli anyway (You'll understand very soon).

As an act of revenge, himself and his disfigured war hero buddy, Harrow, pay a visit to Mr. Parkhurst, who by the way has a love for Indian culture, and decided to not only restrain him with his own cane, but to scalp him in a true native Indian fashion! A fitting end for a moody old shite like him, though it was fairly grim! So far it's the only scalping that's been on this show... which is actually surprising given what generally happens here.

6. Gyp Rosetti Vs. Sheriff Victor Sickles.

Here is prime example of the show's most psychotic and detestable character, Gyp Rosetti and how easily he is offended as well as his total disregard for anybody. After a Nucky sends Owen Sleater to deliver Gyp a shipment (Gypment? Anyone? No? I'll get my coat) of free booze and a good luck message "Buona Fortuna", which in Italian means "Good Luck", Sleater, due to his powerfully northern Irish accent, pronounces it "Bone For Tuna"; which of course eats away at the unstable Rosetti's mind.

Later he meets the likable Sheriff Victor Sickles at the last gas station before New York. Sickles politely wishes Rosetti good look, who naturally takes offense due to the fact he's a fucking mentalist and believes it was an harsh insult meaning the opposite of good luck. He decides to act rationally and burn Sickles alive with a petrol pump and a lighter. Such a charmer.

5. Dunn Purnsley Vs. Dickie Pastor.

It's rare you find such a satisfying act of revenge, or at least one that's so heinously violent. Then again, there is one coming soon that is FAR more vicious. This happened at the start of the absolutely phenomenal 4th season, which straight away gears you up for a thrill ride. When Dunn Purnsley went for a quiet night of adultery with Dickie Pastor's wife, he wasn't expecting Dickie himself to turn up, brandishing a gun. His wife starts lying saying Purnsley forced her to do it with a straight razor, to which Dickie "believes".

I use quotations because this is all a set up, Dickie and his wife have some sort of weird cuckold shit going on and after spewing horribly racist shit at Purnsley, he commands him to continue fucking wife at gun point while he gets weird, sexual gratification. THANKFULLY, Dunn won't accept any of this sexual humiliation bullshit, so he decides it would be best to smash a bottle over the head of the sexually distracted Dickie (Worst porn title ever there) and repeatedly stab him in the neck with the broken remains to the point where he's almost decapitated him. This gave me a nice big grin as it was such a glorious response to his abuse. It's also not often you see someone brutally stabbed with a bottle, unless it's The Raid 2!

4. Owen Sleater Vs. Del Grogan.

This is one of [Boardwalk Empire](series:200674)'s most intense fight scenes. Jaunty Irishman, Owen Sleater is enjoying a pint at the bar when a former IRA member turned traitor walks in. He recognises him and goes on to see if he remembers Sleater. Pushing his buttons and mentioning the Black and Tan's, a group which Grogan gave information to before fleeing to the US. He makes is way to the toilet for a piss and Sleater follows.

Once inside, Sleater jams the door with a spoon and attacks Grogan, catching him around the neck with a garrot wire which also caught his fingers and strangles him with all his energy for a full one minute and ten seconds 'til he slices his fingers off and kills him. It doesn't get more raw than that! It's especially intense when someone dying for a shit is trying to get in the toilets and there are people walking across the grating on the street above, meaning Sleater has to keep quiet. One of my personal favourite moments.

3. Eli Thompson Vs. Warren Knox.

As I said above, it's rare you find an act of revenge so violent, but here it is! Also, this is even MORE intense than Sleater's battle. When the mentally unstable and clearly corrupt FBI agent James M. Tolliver, posing under the name, Warren Knox shows up at Eli's home and forces him to give information to bring Nucky down or else he'll have his son, Willie, arrested. Eli arranges a meeting for them to eavesdrop on but nobody shows up. So the furious Knox shows up at Eli's home to arrest him and his son.

He doesn't give Eli a chance to explain and tells him that his son is going to be raped in prison. Eli understandably loses his fucking mind and begins to beat the shit out of Knox. The two exchange blows, hit each other with vases and Eli even tries to saw Knox's head off. But it's the finale that truly seals the deal as one of the most brutal killings. Eli starts strangling Knox with his own tie, adding to his own rage by screeching "My son?!?! MY FUCKING SON?!?!" until he finally starts punching Knox's face to a broken, bruised, pulp and finishing the job by slamming a heavy glass ornament into his head. The perfect mixture of wanting to throw your first in the air shouting "YES!" and wincing back saying "Fuckin' hell!". If you don't think this scene can turn your arsehole into a cigar cutter, you're a dirty fucking liar.

2. Eli Thompson Vs. George O'Neill.

Another example of Eli's anger problems is very prominent here as well as his knack for doing stupid shit and digging himself holes he'll find a lot of trouble getting out of. When George confronts Eli about the condition of the Commodore's health and discovers the rumours of his stroke are indeed true, he threatens to run and tell Nucky immediately which makes a very intoxicated Eli lash out without thinking and smash George in the throat with a wrench.

Realising what he has just done and frantically searching his brain for a plan, he decides his best course of action is follow through with his beating. He starts bashing George's head in the wrench, more aggressively each time until his head comes apart like wet, red, mulchy paper. An absolutely horrific scene that left me and my friends with our jaws on the floor. Horror movie level gore coming out in this scene! As horrifying as this is, it's not a quarter as fucked up as the number one spot.

1. Gyp Rosetti Vs. Franco.

This is the most twisted example of Rosetti's insanity and how easily he takes offense. After a chunk of Rosetti's shipment goes missing, Tonino Sandrelli's cousin Franco made a fatal attempt at explaining to Gyp how ocean currants might have sent it overboard. He definitely doesn't like his intelligence being questioned so his reaction to this is to bury him up to his neck in the sand and let the waves drown him.

Luckily for Franco, Tonino shows up and manages to convince Gyp not to let him die slowly by drowning, he plays the family card and it works! Gyp isn't going to allow that happen. As a favour to Tonino, he decides to get it over with quicker... by decapitating him with a shovel and bashing the severed head to a pulp in front of his eyes. And of course since this was technically a "favour" for Tonino, Gyp chillingly reminds him "You owe me". Without a doubt the most brutal and disturbing moment of the whole show (so far). I remember just feeling cold watching it! It's particularly difficult in the link above considering you get the whole story as one chunk rather than spread over the hour. Gyp's most psychotic moment for sure.

Bonus: Nelson Van Alden/George Mueller Vs. Phil, Ralph & Mr. Goldberg.

Originally I was going to include this video but decided against it as it's not necessarily brutal, but more so satisfying! And definitely a more cheery note to end on rather than Gyp's disgusting spade act. When Van Alden was in his George Mueller phase, he got into a bit of trouble with a colleague. The colleague was the office fuck-head, Phil, who pushed George too far to the point where he melted his face with an iron. Phil and the boys decide to confront George about it months later by beating him in an alleyway, (Conveniently on the way to try assassinate O'Banion).

After taking a few smacks off a billy club and a few punches, George decides enough is enough. He warns the gang to stop but when they fail to comply, he goes to plan B: He pulls out a pistol and blows all of their heads off. It's the definition of satisfaction and the tipping point for Van Alden's true spiral into the criminal underworld. Potentially my favourite moment of the season and legit made me and my friends cheer.

I'm extremely excited for this finale now, it'll be sad to see it go, especially with only eight episodes, but HBO usually knows when to quit while it's ahead so I can see this ending on a high and being remembered for that!


Which did you think was the most brutal whacking?


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