'Boardwalk Empire': Three burning questions for the Season 3 premiere

HBO-BoardwalkEmp-3.jpg"Boardwalk Empire" returns to HBO on Sunday evening, and after the shocking twists and kill offs that took place in the final few episodes of Season 2, there are plenty of scattered pieces left to pick up.

The teasers and trailers leading up to the premiere have been loaded with indications of Nucky Thompson's ( Steve Buscemi) dark side and continued struggle for control. And with a promotional mantra like "You can't be half a gangster," Season 3 is promising audiences that Nucky will be handling any fallout from last year decisively.

With only two days left until "Boardwalk Empire" returns for Season 3, there's big anticipation for how the show will address some enormous changes, including three major cliffhangers that left audiences reeling:

1. Nucky's land: Nucky transferred his land deed of nearly 160,000 acres to his wife Margaret ( Kelly Macdonald), elated with the prospect of making a huge earning from the highway construction. But Margaret -- in her ongoing quest to cling to some sort of traditional morality and absolve both her own sins and Nucky's -- signed the deed over to St. Francis Church. Nucky has grown increasingly callous as "Boardwalk Empire" has progressed, so when he discovers what she's done, it's guaranteed to be explosive (and scary).

2. A Jimmy-less world: Without Jimmy ( Michael Pitt) or the Commodore in the picture, it will be interesting to watch the manipulative Gillian ( Gretchen Mol) hold steady as the primary Darmody family adversary to Nucky. Richard Harrow ( Jack Huston) also developed into one of the most interesting characters in Season 2 -- thanks to his captivating sadness and sensitivity, along with his deformed and violent exterior. But will his loyalty to Jimmy and his affection for Angela transfer over to Gillian and Tommy?

3. Van Alden on the run: Nelson Van Alden's ( Michael Shannon) inner turmoil, anger and hypocrisy resulted in an epic fall from grace last season. The feds know he murdered Agent Sebso, and he's divorced and living as a fugitive while he raises his baby with a hired nanny. But will he finally get what's coming to him? Will the punishment be doled out by the law? Or will he have an unfortunate encounter with the Chicago gangsters who are ominously close to his hiding place of Cicero, Ill.?

The premiere is  set more than a year ahead in time after last season's finale, so hopefully some answers will present themselves quickly.

"Boardwalk Empire" Season 3 begins on Sunday, September 16 at 9 pm.
Photo/Video credit: HBO