Sunday, October 17, 2010

Amazing Scene From HBO's New Show "Boardwalk Empire"

I talked about this latest big-deal original series from HBO back in August. Check out this blog entry for a refresher.

Anyway, I think we're 4 episodes in now, and HOOO-BOY! there was a doozy of a scene this time. Each new show has a scene like this . . . one that sends shivers down your spine at how awesome it is. A scene that displays, in just a few short minutes, that the people behind the series are not pulling any punches in the delivery of grade A drama. Such is the scene I'm about to show you.

To set it up: Boardwalk Empire takes place in Atlantic City during the dawn of Prohibition in 1920. Chalky White is a local gangster who's running a pretty tight moonshining crew in partnership with the city's corrupt Treasurer. In the last episode, one of Chalky's men is found lynched just outside his business. He presses his partner to get to the bottom of who did it, or else his all-black crew will cause a lot of trouble. Eventually the head of the local KKK chapter is brought in, and Chalky White is given free reign to interrogate him in private. Here's what happens next:

This scene actually came close to bringing tears to my eyes, due to the heartbreaking personal story Chalky relates. You know, in most movies and tv shows, you don't often get to see the personal tragedies in the criminal's past that shaped him into the hard and cold man he is today. Scenes like this remind me that even so-called bad guys are not all black and white, but operate in that gray zone of morality that real people and real stories are shaped from.

As a would-be writer, it's a lesson I must remember always.


  1. Ooh! That gave me the shivers.

    Good lesson for writers, too. I agree. I read a post recently that observed that even the villains are actually the heroes of their own stories, meaning that they have backgrounds and motivations for what they do that makes sense to them. That's a useful perspective for building compelling characters.

    And less of the"would-be" young David! You write. You're a writer.

  2. Kim -- As I've said before, Lars has good taste. :)

    Ian -- I agree. I read the same thing, once. And the lesson has always stuck with me. Even the vampire demon lord in the novel I'm working on once had a wife and son and wasn't always thinking of Mankind's destruction. Oh, and I'll always call myself a "would-be." I'm hyper critical of my writing -- I'm my own harshest critic!


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