0

'Boardwalk Empire' takes off like a bullet, but where is it going?

NEW YORK - "Boardwalk Empire" extends far afield of its Atlantic City location in its fourth season, which begins Sunday on HBO.

A few things are a given on "Boardwalk": The pristine clothes will disguise soiled motives. People will mistake Nucky's kindness for weakness. And the more beautiful someone is, the more imminent their death. (R.I.P. Billie.)

We wouldn't dream of giving away more, but in interviews with TheWrap during filming for this season, the show's stars did give us some broad indications of what's next - and where the show is going.

Steve Buscemi's Enoch "Nucky" Thompson has narrowly held onto his bootleg kingdom after a fending off a challenge from "Gyp" Rosetti, but he isn't in a celebrating mood. Michael K. William's Chalky White, meanwhile, is coming up in the world after helping bring Nucky back from the brink. Jack Huston's Richard Harrow is also at the height of his powers after taking down a bordello full of mobsters. And that bordello's madame, Gretchen Mol's Gillian Darmody, was last seen reverting to childhood after a very big hit of heroin.

Here are five things we know about the new episodes.

- Nucky Reins It In

Previews for the new season show Harlem crime boss Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) telling Nucky only kings understand kings. But Nucky is more interested in reining it in than reigning over all, so he passes up a business proposal from the dubiously credentialed doctor.

"He's been through a lot, and he just wants to recede a little bit," Buscemi said. "But he hasn't lost his appetite for wanting things and wanting a certain amount of power. That's still there."

You can guess how a man named Narcisse will respond to someone not appreciating his offer.

- Harrow the Hunted

You kill a dozen gangsters, and some busybody lawman will inevitably want to know who you are. This season we'll get a partial answer to the question: Who was that half-masked man, anyway?

"We're just exploring these really interesting sort of moments of before, who he was," said Huston. "It's just exploring a bit more, not quite so literally as who he was before we're delving a little deeper into this person."

- Chalky's New Digs

When we visited the "Boardwalk" set in April, HBO swore us to secrecy about a new set. We'll just say this: It's swanky, it belongs to Chalky, and it's befitting of his improved standing on the show.

- The Train's A-Rolling

One of the joys of "Boardwalk" is watching the show take its time, setting up each moment for the most exquisite possible impact. This season, with much of the setup complete, the show moves faster than before.

"All the characters are set up now, all the storylines have been set, and people are invested in the characters. So we get to come out of the train station like a silver bullet, and that's exactly how episode one takes off. I think people are really going to enjoy the ride."

- You Don't Want to Know Too Much

Mol says she's passed the point of trying to find out what will happen next, which is probably for the best: Past seasons have found her having sex with his son and killing a lookalike to impersonate his corpse. She told us in the midst of shooting the fourth episode that she puts her faith in the writers and just holds on for the next surprise.

"Each season I've sort of let go more of knowing what each character is up to. It's like such a labyrinth at this point," she said. "The hair and makeup people know the outline for the sixth episode and we're only on the fourth. It is true that it's not fun to know."