When you're talking about the best shows on TV today, Boardwalk Empire typically is left out of the discussion. People who have time-traveled from 2009 say Mad Men, others point to Breaking Bad, idiots say Girls. Etc. But Nucky Thompson and co.? Save a Golden Globe Best Drama win its inaugural season, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone make the case that the show is on top.
It should, at least, be in the "Others Receiving Votes" category in a hypothetical TV AP poll: Boardwalk began as a cinematic gangster drama with a weirdly-cast Steve Buscemi at the lead. Its first season was entertaining as hell, even if you put no thought into it (the '20's looked like a fun time). But the show has since fleshed out some really amazing characters—the doomed Jimmy Darmody, the maybe-evil Nelson Van Alden, the funny, yet, deranged Al Capone—that keep you watching. It's also brilliantly and meticulously plotted out the compromises that allowed rival gangsters to keep the booze flowing throughout the country during the dog days of Prohibition. Similar to some of The Godfather's best scenes, the fascinating stuff doesn't always come from a shotgun battle between hired thugs. It's the backroom deals cut with tension.
Boardwalk's third season, featuring a terrifyingly unhinged Gyp Rosetti as Nucky's foil, threw a collection of many, many problems at Nucky that ruined his previously charmed life. Watching him plot and connive his way back into power rewarded your patience—it was also probably the most shockingly violent season in recent TV history.
So now we come to the fourth season, with Nucky facing down a new possible enemy, the philanthropist and "Harlem king," Valentin Narcisse. Like Rosetti, Narcisse is a fictional character, so (unlike Lucky Luciano, Capone, and Thompson) we don't really know how his path will turn out. He does deliver a goosebump-worthy line, "Only kings understand each other..." in this short teaser, though. He'll be an appropriate level of badass.