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'Boardwalk Empire' recap: With 2 episodes remaining, no one's safe

'Boardwalk Empire' recap: With 2 episodes remaining, no one's safe
Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) must decide whether to kill or join forces with his diabolical nemesis on "Boardwalk Empire." (Macall B. Polay / HBO)

Two major characters fall victim to mob violence as HBO's "Boardwalk Empire" nears the conclusion of its fifth and final season with Episode 54, "Devil You Know."

Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) is killed after making a deal with his nemesis, Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright). Chalky initially planned to murder Valentin at his brothel. But Chalky reconsiders after unexpectedly encountering his former lover, Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham).

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Stymied by Valentin from pursuing her singing career, Daughter begs him to stop interfering. Valentin promises to leave her alone on one condition: Chalky must join his crew in battling rival mobster Charles "Lucky" Luciano (Vincent Piazza).

"I'll make a place for you," Valentin promises. "I'll pay you well."

"Me help you?" Chalky asks incredulously.

"You help yourself," Valentin replies. "Every soul in this room yearns to be free."

Valentin certainly yearns to be free of Luciano, who demands a hefty cut of the gambling, prostitution and heroin rackets in Harlem.

"I am being dictated terms," Valentin bristles. "I will be allowed to conduct my business but only under his control. In exchange, I will be protected from others of his kind."

When Chalky agrees to take the job and surrender his pistol, Daughter rushes to change his mind.

"You can't trust him," she says of devilish Valentin. "Don't you know that?"
Daughter's warning is prophetic, for Chalky is quickly gunned down in an alley by Valentin's thugs.

The other major character to die is Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), a disgraced U.S. Treasury agent turned bagman for Chicago gangster Al Capone (Stephen Graham).

Mike D'Angelo (Louis Cancelmi), a fed working undercover as a mob enforcer, threatens Nelson and his partner Eli Thompson (Shea Whigham) with the gas chamber unless they steal Capone's ledgers. Those closely guarded books could send Capone to prison for income tax evasion.

When the would-be thieves get caught, Mike maintains his cover by shooting Nelson in the head. A grateful Capone then entrusts Mike with the ledgers and with disposing of Eli.

"What happens to me?" Eli asks when they're away from Capone.

"Buy yourself a bus ticket," Mike says, tossing Eli some money.

As for Eli's bootlegging brother, Nucky (Steve Buscemi), he's devastated after learning that business partner/lover Sally Wheet (Patricia Arquette) was recently shot dead at a military roadblock in Cuba.

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"Someone I was close to just died because of me," Nucky laments. "She's gone and I'm still here. What kind of world is that?"

When Nucky leaves unannounced for a dive bar, he winds up beaten, robbed and humiliated.

Fearing the worst during Nucky's disappearance, second-in-charge Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) sounds the alarm and rounds up a small army of gunmen.

"Nobody knew where you were so I did a Paul Revere," Mickey says when Nucky returns. "We saddling up for a showdown or not?"

"We are," Nucky grimly announces.

The targets of this showdown? They're Luciano and his associate Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef), who already made two attempts on Nucky's life: once in Havana and later in New York City.

Finally, in a flashback to 1897, young adult Nucky (Marc Pickering) is an ambitious deputy sheriff in Atlantic City. He vents his frustration to wife Mabel (Maya Kazan) about the lack of respect shown by his boss, Louis "The Commodore" Kaestner (John Ellison Conlee).

"Thirteen years I've worked for him, never even says my name," Nucky gripes. But it doesn't matter, Nucky says, because he's deeply in love with Mabel and they're expecting a child.

"I'll make my way," he assures Mabel, patting her round stomach. "I know what I'm doing it for."

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