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‘Boardwalk Empire’ Boss Terence Winter Thinking About When to End the Series

Plus: Understanding a beloved gangster’s final moments

(Spoiler alert: This story has details about the “Boardwalk Empire” Season 4 finale)

“Boardwalk Empire” creator Terence Winter says he’s starting to think about when to close the boardwalk down.

If you thought the death of Richard Harrow was hard (you didn’t think we’d say harrowing, did you?), prepare yourself for something even harder. Winter tells TheWrap that when the show’s writers regroup next month, one thing they’ll try discuss is how much longer the Prohibition saga should go on. It has already been renewed for Season 5, but the question is how long it will go beyond that.

Also read: ‘Boardwalk Empire': Could Terence Winter Lure Leonardo DiCaprio to the Boardwalk?

“We are starting to have that conversation. Creatively I just want to have the show be as strong as possible,” Winter said. “It’s really a question of how much story do we have left to tell. … We’re going to get together at the end of December and start batting things around and based on that answer, we’ll know how much longer we’re gonna go.”

Winter says he’s getting no pressure from HBO, either to stretch the series our or wrap it up.

“There’s no incentive to keep it on the air – there’s such a different model now, it’s not like, ‘Oh, we need to hit a certain number to get syndicated,'” he said. “There’s no gun to your head to keep something on more than the natural life it should have.”

Also read: ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Kills Its Best Character

We talked to Winter about Harrow’s final moments, the return as Dr. Valentine Narcisse, and why a prison sentence won’t be the end of Gillian Darmody. And yes: We also pleaded with him not to end things too soon.

TheWrap: Why did Harrow have to die?

Terence Winter: We just felt we took him as far as we could as a character. I didn’t want him to start turning into the secret weapon of “Boardwalk Empire” that we trotted out every time someone needs to be killed. Not that that was his only function.

Once he decided to give up killing and put that behind him, we knew and we talked about it in the writer’s room, maybe before we knew what the ending was going to be, that if he ever did pick up a gun again, it would probably be for the last time.

Also read: Emmys: ‘Boardwalk Empire’ Gets Those Gorgeous Costumes Bloody

Psychologically, once we turned his back on that life, coupled with his hand injury, and the fact that he did say he wasn’t going to do that anymore, it just all added up to: This is going to be a disaster. Once he not only missed his target but also killed an innocent girl, even had he not been shot himself, I think he would commit suicide.

To have him retire to the farm just wouldn’t have been ‘Boardwalk Empire.’
Exactly. Very few people who live lives like that get to die in bed and get the happy ending. We sort of gave him the happy ending at least in his moment of death. The fantasy came full circle where he was able to get that scrapbook moment. He did get it in that fleeting moment. Of course that was either in his mind or in his actual death. That’ll be up for debate. Even for us, we aren’t entirely sure what that was. … I kind of go back and forth, having never died myself.

Will Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright) be back?
We will see him again, yes.

Chalky (Michael K. Williams) seems to have more reason to hate him than ever. And maybe Nucky (Steve Buscemi), too.
Chalky’s got a lot to think about sitting on that porch, that’s for sure. There’s gonna be a lot of whiskey downed while thinking about the future. I’m looking forward to getting back in the writer’s room and figuring out what that is.

People on your show have a way of fading into the woodwork and then popping out. Anyone we should look out for next season?
None of those storylines that concluded last night were meant to be goodbyes to anybody – except, of course, the ones who died. So I wouldn’t write off anyone just because they went to jail, for example, or went to Chicago.