As widely as it sprawls across a series, you can always rely on ‘Boardwalk Empire’ to find its focus and intensify its impact by the end. So anyone wondering where Van Alden or Margaret might be in this season four opener shouldn’t fret. Their absence grants us much more Richard (cutting a swathe through the Midwest on a mystery mission), Chalky (establishing his boardwalk club and encountering Nucky-esque difficulties) and Capone (mixing it up with his equally psychotic brothers), allowing Jack Huston, Michael K Williams and Stephen Graham to strut their stuff to mesmerising effect.
But the crowded cast-list could still do with some thinning out: Gillian, in particular, feels entirely peripheral. And what of Nucky? Adrift, in a word, with Rosetti eliminated and Masseria and Rothstein assuaged. But if previous series of ‘Boardwalk’, have taught us anything, it’s the virtue of patience. This show can feel like a long haul, but the destination is invariably worth the trip.