Is Joe Harper Really Tommy Darmody?
Speculation that Joe Harper is really Tommy Darmody has been running rampant ever since the kid played by Travis Tope showed up in Atlantic City and managed to get himself hired by Mickey Doyle.
There are only two episodes left in the final season of Boardwalk Empire and so far here’s what we know about him: he’s told Doyle he was strong as an ox, grew up on a farm and was about to turn 16. He told Nucky Thompson that he comes from Indiana and is just trying to get ahead. And a lot of people think he is saying his name is “Joel Harper” while others believe “Joe Harper” is an alias he picked out of “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”.
If he is Tommy Darmody, why would he come back to Atlantic City and seek out a job near Nucky Thompson? Some believe that he is there to avenge his father, who died at Nucky’s hand. But who would have told Tommy that and just how much would Tommy remember about his parents, Jimmy and Angela, anyway? They both died in 1921 when Tommy was about 4 (which would really make him about 14 in 1931, but if he lied about his name…)
Then there is the theory that his grandmother, Gillian, has been writing to him. After the shootout at Gillian’s house of ill repute, Richard Harrow took Tommy to safety at the Sagorskys. Gillian tried to get custody but gave up. Tommy was sent to Wisconsin to live with Richard Harrow’s sister, Emma, on the family farm. Richard Harrow’s new wife, Julia, and her father, Paul Sagorsky took him there. Paul had cirrhosis and not long to live. Emma Harrow was considering marrying Hugh McCready when we last saw her. The idea that any of these people would give Tommy any information about or letters from Gillian is just as odd as it is to think that Tommy would have any reason to trust any information from Gillian, if he even has any fond memories of her.
It is more believable that he would want to find out what happened to his beloved Richard Harrow. But there are only two episodes left and there are still a lot of people who need to run out of road, like Chalky White and Nelson Van Alden did in Episode 6. There’s Salvatore Maranzano and Mickey Doyle. Maranzano really did die in 1931 and the real life person Doyle is based upon did too. There’s Eli Thompson and Dr. Valentin Narcisse. Al Capone has to get convicted of tax evasion but maybe they won’t show anything more in Chicago, since we saw D’Angelo get the ledgers and know that is going to happen. Still, Nucky has to read Gillian’s letter and there will be flashbacks in the last two episodes.
So where does that leave time to bring in a satisfactory reason to have Tommy Darmody come back to Atlantic City? Who knows — but they sure did go to a lot of trouble to cast an actor with a chin like Jimmy Darmody for there NOT to be a reason.