This picked up the thread from an earlier episode, in which Atlantic City kingpin Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) was seen reading from one of the “Oz” books by L. Frank Baum. Is he, like the Wizard, a sham ruler of a glittering city built on lies? Has he fooled everyone with his illusions and promises? Will the curtain be pulled aside at a crucial moment to reveal a little man pulling the levers behind a fanciful kingdom?
This wasn’t the first fantasy story used as a dark mirror on “Boardwalk Empire.” The silent-screen version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was referenced at a point when viewers were being asked to question the struggle between good and evil motives in Nucky and other characters.