It's bad enough that he has federal agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon at his scowling, scary best) — a zealous protestant prone to brutal violence — dogging his trail, and hungry hoods like Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Al Capone waiting for Nucky's position to weaken so they can muscle in.
The characterizations are uniformly fascinating, especially Buscemi's as the coldblooded yet oddly sympathetic crime lord (2011 Emmy, Best Actor in a Drama Series), and the production values, acting, writing and direction remain first-rate thanks to executive producer Martin Scorsese, who won an Emmy for directing the series pilot that set those high standards.
And the season careens to a shocking finale involving the demise of a major character that must be seen before tuning in to the third season premiere.
The '20s never roared louder.
The Blu-ray edition includes the documentaries “Living in 1921” and “Secrets of the Past: Storytelling in Episode 11 (reflections on the pivotal episode “Under God's Power She Flourishes”), a character guide, a “Back to the Boardwalk” recap of season one, audio commentaries and much more.
— Gene Triplett