Sunday, November 13, 2011

 

Boardwalk Empire No. 20: Two Boats and a Lifeguard

BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.



By Edward Copeland
Before delving into this week's episode overall, I feel that we should first take time out to say our final farewell to the great actor Tom Aldredge who died after a long struggle with cancer July 22 at 83. Tonight's episode contains Aldredge's last appearance on Boardwalk Empire as Ethan Thompson, father of Nucky and Eli, as well as the last performance he gave anywhere. He appeared as Ethan in four episodes, twice this season and twice last year. He played Hugh DeAngelis, father of Carmela Soprano, in 23 episodes of The Sopranos and, beyond the ethnic and era differences, the gulf between these elder paternal characters couldn't have been more stark. It's a shame we couldn't have explored Ethan Thompson more, to gain insight into Nucky and Eli's psychological traumas, but cancer is an unforgiving bitch, just as it robbed us too soon of Nancy Marchand's remarkable Livia Soprano. A man of the theater with frequent television and film work, many recognized Aldredge from his roles easier than they could name him. His prognosis wasn't good, so wisely his final episode involves Ethan's death. I said it when I wrote my long appreciation at the time of his death, but I'll say it again: Rest in peace, Mr. Aldredge. You were a very talented man.

As for this week's episode, it is quite a step up from last week's mess — though I have discovered the series committing its first anachronism, though people involved with the series beg to differ. It doesn't reach the glorious highs of some of this season's best episodes such as "Gimcrack & Bunkum." In fact, that episode's director and one of the show's many executive producers, Tim Van Patten, directs this episode as well while series creator and executive producer Terence Winter writes his first episode since the season premiere. Both men received much of their pre-Boardwalk TV training on The Sopranos and though I didn't compare it in my criticisms of "Peg of Old" last week, I read many commenters who complained that the Owen-Margaret hookup seemed too similar to Furio and Carmela. (I wouldn't go there simply because Furio and Carmela went unrequited and never admitted their attraction to each other, only to third parties.) This week though, I almost got worried that they were falling into Sopranos tricks — and not the great stuff — out of some sudden desperation when tonight's episode opened with Nucky having an odd dream sequence, which always were the worst parts on The Sopranos. I can happily report it's a very brief part of an otherwise fine episode and neither talking fish nor Annette Bening wash up on the Atlantic City beach in 1921. Steve Buscemi saves this outing though I have to admit that it didn't play as well on a second viewing. Its big twist turns out to be a great one, though I question the need for a new storylines popping up with four episodes left in the season. It's also disappointing to see Michael Shannon follow such a breakthrough week for Van Alden (in an admittedly mediocre episode) seem to lose ground this week.


It's obvious almost immediately that we're in a dream since we start with Nucky looking healthy in the Ritz's elevator while its operator (Andrew MacAlarty) whistles a nondescript tune. Thompson may have only been shot in the hand last week, but we would have had to have made a huge leap in time for him to seem that OK that fast. Besides, faintly in the background we can hear a baby's crying echo as well. Then the elevator operator says, "Some fight, huh?" Nucky asks, "Which fight?" The young man replies, "Dempsey-Carpentier." Nucky looks puzzled. "That fight hasn't happened yet," Nucky tells him. The baby can still be heard crying as the elevator man opens the door and Nucky exits removing his hat. The scene he stumbles upon almost resembles a tableaux or a painting with many people standing or sitting, some men remove their hats, the one wearing a sheriff's uniform similar to Eli's nods. I used the zoom function on my DVD player but as near as I can tell, no one in the dream was anyone we've met. I can't recall if there has ever been a mention of what Ethan Thompson did for a living, but the man closest to the camera and the left of the frame wears a blue uniform of some sort with a woman seated in a chair next to him and another standing behind him. If I were to play amateur dream interpreter, I wonder if the uniformed man is a younger version of Ethan, with Nucky's mother in the chair (holding an envelope — what does it mean?) and his late wife Mabel behind them. Nucky glances at a chair that holds a worn baseball glove. You know, he could have been in the big leagues if he really applied himself — excuse me, that's what Uncle Junior always taunted Tony about. Got my shows confused for a minute. Nucky walks into his office to find a boy sitting in his chair. He holds up his right hand to show a wound just like Nucky's. Now, in case the symbolism of the boy being Jimmy isn't strong enough, let's lay it on a bit thicker so there's no misunderstanding. "Daddy eats first," Nucky tells the boy. Suddenly, we hear what sounds like a cow mooing, but on the floor in front of the desk lies a wounded deer making those noises. Then comes the unmistakable click of the cocking of a weapon and Nucky looks up to see the boy has aim a shotgun at him. The shot goes off, Nucky snaps back to reality and we get to watch the rest of a mostly fine, well-paced episode. I've had many unusual and fascinating dreams in my life but I always try to remind myself what I learned a long time ago: Dreams bore everyone except the person who is having them.

When Nucky does become alert again, he finds his hand being treated by Dr. Surran in his bedroom. Surran notices Thompson's jerk between conscious and unconscious worlds and asks if he's OK. "Sorry. Been having trouble sleeping," Nucky tells him. "That's not surprising," Surran says as he continues to remove the old bandage from Nucky's hand. Nucky gazes at his wound once Surran completes the removal of the wrapping and comments with a chuckle, "Stigmata." Surran emphasizes to Nucky the need to keep the wounded hand protected. "Not many people shaking it these days," he tells the doctor. "Slow all over I suppose," Surran replies. "Seems you're busy though," Thompson notes with a face indicating that he's been stewing about something for awhile. "How's the Commodore doing?" Surran shakes his head and says quietly, "Nucky." His patient's reply comes at a higher volume. "Nucky my ass! When were you planning to tell me about the stroke?" he demands to know. Surran tries to offer the doctor-patient confidentiality privilege as the reason for his silence, but Nucky isn't going to accept ethical rules as an excuse. "You know what's another privilege — the ability to sell medicinal alcohol. That license I got you, the one that puts an extra grand in your pocket every month, that's a privilege too, Carl — one that I could very easily take away," Nucky threatens. Surran apologizes and Nucky starts to continue when Margaret interrupts to ask the doctor if he can look in on Emily when he's done. The little girl is warm and has no appetite. "Don't forget who your friends are, Carl," Thompson reminds him.

As always, it is nonstop bustle at Eli's house with kids running up and down the stairs, through the halls and around the dining table where June calmly tells one young son that he's "trying my patience." She's trying to corral them to the table for a meal — and having little luck so Eli, his father and some of the children already have started, Another interruption proves a bit more jarring when slightly older son Michael (Charlie Plummer) comes in and announces, "Dad, there's someone who needs to see you." Eli asks what he wants but the visitor steps into the room to answer that question. "Sheriff Thompson," says Halsey, the clerk from Esther Randolph's office. "Who the hell are you?" Eli's father Ethan asks. "My name is Dick Halsey. I'm a clerk with Esther Randolph's office," Halsey replies. Eli acts as if he doesn't know who Randolph is and maybe he doesn't, but Halsey explains that she's the assistant U.S. attorney. "Right. Sure," Eli responds. "What's the matter?" an increasingly curious and agitated Ethan wants to know. "It's alright, Pop," Eli assures his dad. "I left several messages with your office," Halsey tells Eli. "Of course you did. It's tourist season. We've got crowds of people at conventions," Eli offers as an explanation. Halsey removes a document from his suit pocket. "Sheriff Thompson, this is a subpoena calling for your testimony pursuant to an ongoing investigation," Halsey informs Eli. "That's a subpoena," Ethan says with alarm. "What kind of horse shit is this? You come to my goddamn house," Eli declares, rising from the table. "You son of a bitch," Ethan adds. "I could have arrested you. A subpoena is a professional courtesy," Halsey tells Eli. "Get the hell out of here," Eli shouts, grabbing the clerk by his suit jacket and forcing him out the door. At the same time, Ethan starts grabbing at his chest. "Grandpa!" Michael yells. Eli runs back to the room and takes Ethan's face in his hands. Farewell Ethan and, more importantly, Tom Aldredge.

An unseen Jimmy yells to Angela to pick up the ringing phone. Since the ringing continues unabated, he steps out of the bathroom with a towel wrapped around his waist and answers it. "Princeton, it's me," Capone says on the other end of the line. Jimmy expresses relief that Al finally has called and asks why he's been ducking him. "I don't owe you money and I sure as shit ain't scared of ya, so why the hell would I be duckin' you?" Capone laughs. "Four messages until you ring me back — what do you call that?" Darmody inquires. Al claims he's been busy and asks what Jimmy wants. "An explanation. Your friend from Chicago is in the fuckin' morgue," Jimmy responds. "God rest his soul," Al says about the late hit man. "That's all you got to say?" Jimmy replies with surprise and annoyance. "I ain't much on eulogies, pal," Capone admits. "Knock off the jokes, Al. He was supposed to do a job," Jimmy proclaims. "Which is something you should've done months ago like I told ya," Al reminds him. "That's not the point. You vouch for this fella and now Nucky's still alive," Jimmy tells Capone, who doesn't appreciate being blamed, even on the phone. However, Jimmy finds himself suddenly distracted because he just noticed Angela and Tommy standing a few feet away. "Jimmy," Angela speaks up. "How long have you been standin' there?" he asks his wife. "Long enough. We're going to the beach," Angela informs him. Jimmy attempts to go after him, but he's still hanging on to the phone. Jimmy gets back on the phone and Capone inquires about what's going on, but Darmody tells Al he has to go. Jimmy covers his mouth, as if in horror, and punches the wall. In Chicago, as Capone ends his half of the conversation, his boss Johnny Torrio comes up to him at the Deuces bar and wants to know who was on the phone. "Darmody. Atlantic City," Capone tells him truthfully. "What did he want?" Torrio asks. "Nothin' — I don't know. It's pandemonium over here," Al struggles to reply. "I got a meeting with Remus. He's got a shipment comin' in. Romulus couldn't make it," Torrio jokes. Capone, not up on humor stemming from Roman mythology, asks Torrio if Romulus is Remus' partner. "Look — let me give you some advice. I don't know what's goin' on with you and Darmody…" Capone interrupts his boss to object to the idea but Torrio interrupts the interruption and continues. "And I don't really give a shit. But whatever it is you're doin', I'll tell ya one thing: Keep me out of it. And don't be fuckin' stupid," Torrio finishes.

"Ninety-nine point eight," Surran announces as little Emily Schroeder's temperature as mother Margaret watches closely as does Owen from the doorway to the room. At the very back of the shot, you can see her brother Teddy eating at the table. It is a supremely composed shot by Van Patten. "Call me if it spikes, but I highly doubt that it will," the doctor tells Margaret. "Something she ate perhaps," her mother suggests as a cause as Katy enters the room. "She ran herself ragged at the lake on Sunday," the maid shares. "There's a bug going around. Nothing to worry about," Surran assures them as he puts his medical gear away and departs. Nucky enters the room suddenly from the right side of the frame and walks past Sleater, who's drinking a cup of coffee, and tells him to get the car. Owen hands his cup to the maid he was sleeping with and says, "Ma'am" to the lady of the house he had sex with last week before leaving. When Katy goes to pick up another coffee cup left on an endtable, Margaret asks, "Is he taking his meals here now?" Katy responds that it's only coffee and turns to leave but Margaret calls her back and orders her to take the children to Lillian. Margaret walks to the dining table where Nucky struggles with dressing himself. "Where are you going?" she inquires. "I'm meeting with my attorney," he tells her as she finishes adjusting his tie. She wonders why Ginsburg can't come to the house, but Nucky explains the two of them are meeting with Esther Randolph. "I don't like you going out," Margaret admits. "Owen won't leave my side," Nucky assures her, adding, "If you're worried, I'll call Eddie and Owen can stay here." Margaret's look doesn't betray an ounce of guilt as she replies, "That won't be necessary." She offers to make him some breakfast, but Nucky says he'll eat at the office when the phone rings. "Hello. Yes. I'm very sorry," Margaret relays to the person on the other end of the line as her face goes blank. "That was June, your brother's wife. Your father has died," she informs Nucky. For a moment, Nucky's face betrays some shock, then he simply says, "OK." He lets Margaret help him put his jacket on and declares quickly, "I'll eat something at the office" before rushing out of the room. Buscemi delivers at just about everything he does as Nucky, particularly when a situation calls for him to be big, but here we see Buscemi at his most subtle and many of his best moments as Nucky are his subtle ones. Unfortunately, subtle acting always gets undervalued. (I always repeat the line about the Oscars, though I forget who said it, that acting prizes usually don't go to the person who acts the best but the person who acts the most.)

Van Alden gazes at baby Abigail in her wicker crib then looka at his watch. Someone knocks on the door. "Come in. Ingrid, is it?" Nelson says to the woman (Christiane Seidel). "Sigrid," the Swedish lady corrects him. Nelson takes her suitcase and shows her in which bedroom both she and Abigail will sleep. He also gives Sigrid a quick tour of the apartment, including the Victrola, pointing out that it's a VV-80 — "the latest model." "Very nice. I love to sing songs," Sigrid says. "Do you have any questions?" Nelson asks. "What is to be the salary?" Sigrid inquires. "Room and board, meals provided, and an additional 18 dollars a month," he answers. She says that's suitable. "You do understand that it is seven days a week," Nelson emphasizes. "I must require some time to myself," Sigrid insists. Van Alden ponders for a moment then says, "Sundays once a month, but all the child's meals must be prepared in advance." She accepts that ridiculous work schedule. As Nelson prepares to leave, Sigrid asks if he doesn't wish to kiss the baby goodbye. The sweetness that was so touching last week seems to have evaporated, even when Nelson removes his hat and gives Abigail a little peck on the forehead.

Arnold Rothstein examines a horse in a racing stable. "We maintain those odds and he's a late entry — it's a little unorthodox, but there's nothing illegal about it," Rothstein tells the trainer he's talking to who dressers very similarly, down to the bowtie. "Says the spider to the fly," the trainer (Robert Dorfman) replies. "You've been known to spin webs yourself, my friend," Rothstein smiles. Lansky and Luciano come striding into the stables. "Charlie, Meyer, say hello to Max Hirsch," Rothstein says as introduction. "Max trains Sidereal. He's running at Aqueduct on the Fourth of July," A.R. informs his underlings. "Not yet he ain't," Hirsch laughs. "We'll continue to talk. Can we agree on that?" Rothstein asks. "You'll talk. I'll listen," Hirsch replies. Rothstein and his minions make some small talk then Rothstein asks what's the word from Philadelphia. "Business as usual as far as I can tell," Luciano replies. "There's a shipment on Thursday from Bill McCoy," Lansky adds. "Nucky Thompson's still alive so until we hear otherwise," Rothstein comments. The three walk away from Sidereal with Rothstein in the lead and the young men behind him as he probes further. "Any idea what happened there?" he asks. "With Thompson? Who knows?" Lucky says. "Word is he's got a beef with his brother," Lansky tells A.R. "I would have thought James Darmody myself," Rothstein comments. "Nah. Darmody ain't got it in him," Lucky insists. Rothstein turns to face Luciano. "Pillow talk, Charlie?" A.R. asks. "With the mother? I'm through with that," he laughs. Rothstein starts noticeably sniffling. "What's the matter?" Meyer inquires. "Manure — but what can you expect when you conduct your business in a stable?" Rothstein declares. Put Michael Stuhlbarg in the center of a scene as Rothstein, you can seldom go wrong. As much as I love Buscemi, the more I wish there had just been a limited run series about Rothstein starring Stuhlbarg. The character may be the most fascinating one on Boardwalk Empire and Stuhlbarg is simply superb.

"Tax evasion, bid rigging, embezzlement of county funds, graft, gambling, prostitution, various and sundry Volstead Act violations," Ginsburg reads the list of federal complaints Esther Randolph has brought against Nucky. "What? No fare beating?" Nucky asks sarcastically. "We can amend the complaint further," Chief Investigator Lathrop informs him. "You're like an onion, Mr. Thompson, the more layers we peel…" Miss Randolph comments. "I prefer to think of myself as an artichoke and for the record those charges are baseless," Nucky interjects. This situation puts the viewer in an interesting quandary, which I've thought about most of this season. We know that Boardwalk Empire will be coming back for a third season. We know that Nucky is the show's main character, so it's unlikely to turn into a prison drama. At the same time, viewers realize Thompson committed most of the crimes that he has been accused of by the prosecutor, though our feelings are mixed because we know this all started with the Commodore's scheme and we dislike him. Are we complicit if we want Nucky to get away with his deeds? Randolph tells Nucky that the meeting has no record because it's an informal conversation. "If you're nudging this chat in the direction of a plea deal — " Ginsburg begins to say before Nucky finishes it for his lawyer. "You can save your breath. I'm innocent, counselor. Completely and unequivocally," Nucky declares. "Shall we discuss your shooting?" Randolph asks. "I can think of more pleasant topics," Thompson answers. "You're not curious who'd want you dead?" Lathrop inquires. "I'm curious who shot me. Listing who'd want me dead would take too long," Nucky tells them. Randolph questions Thompson as to whether he knows "a John Torrio of Chicago." Nucky can't hide his surprised look, but he still manages to lie and say, "No." Randolph immediately responds, "Yes, you do" prompting Nucky to reply, "Then why did you ask?" Lathrop looks over papers in his hands. "The shooter's name was Vito Scalercio. He lived in a building leased by Torrio's associate, an Alphonse Capone," Lathrop informs him. "Those closest to you — your so-called friends — apparently, they're trying to kill you, Mr. Thompson," Randolph tells Nucky. "So go after them," Nucky suggests. "I intend to — the sheriff, your various aldermen," Randolph reveals. "Some of whom we've already subpoenaed for questioning," Lathrop adds. "I'm entitled to see those transcripts," Ginsburg speaks up. "Of course you are. Some fascinating reading," Randolph comments. While I've expressed concerns about the ever-increasing population of characters on the Boardwalk Empire canvas, I do have to say that I quite enjoy Julianne Nicholson in her role as Esther Randolph. Nicholson could play Randolph as the conventional by-the-book bust-the-bad guys-type that she is, but she puts such a sardonic twist on so much of what she says and does that she prevents Randolph from being a stereotype or a caricature. "Mrs. Schroeder, your — " Randolph doesn't know what word to use here, so Nucky supplies it. "Companion," he says. "How did you two come to meet?" she asks. "There you go again — asking questions you already know the answers to," Nucky replies. "I might not know as much as you think," Randolph tells him. "You want me to do your job for you?" he responds. With that, Randolph and Lathrop close their files and prepare to end the meeting. "I do have ways of showing gratitude. Speaking of which, it was Mr. Lathrop here who saved your life," Randolph informs Nucky. "I believe a 'thank you' would have been in order."

Angela sits on the beach with Tommy and she doesn't look happy, given what she overheard Jimmy saying on the telephone. A beach matron (Moira Driscoll), actually referred to as "copettes" and who tended to dress as beachgoers not as a prim and proper lady as this woman does, says to the woman relaxing near Angela to "pull it down, sister." The young woman (Kristen Sieh) wearing a one-piece maroon bathing suit doesn't know what the stern woman in the hat means. "Your skirt's too short," the matron tells her. "Too short for what?" the sunbather asks. "It's the law, lady. The bottom of the skirt shall be no higher than seven inches above the knee," the Beach Patrol's enforcer informs her. "They actually measure," Angela tells her beach neighbor. "What kind of town is this?" the one-piece wearing woman inquires. "I'll write you a summons and you can find out," the matron says as she starts filling one out. "Well, make it out to Molly Fletcher," she tells her. Angela guesses correctly that the woman isn't from around there and she tells her that she hails from San Francisco. "Ten dollars," the matron requests as he hands Molly the summons. She tells her that she doesn't have that kind of money. "Fine — then you can spend the night in jail," the copette declares as she blows her whistle. Molly stands and some men start hooting and gazing. "Nice — you're attracting the beach lizards now," the matron complains. "Let 'em gawk. They're called knees, fellas," Molly taunts. A beach cop arrives and the matron briefs him on the situation. "You really want to go to jail?" the cop (Cliff Moylan) asks. "Sure, I'm a public menace," Molly says. Angela steps up and claims Molly as her joker of a cousin and offers to pay the fine and keep her out of trouble. The matron gets paid, the cop leaves and Angela wraps a towel around Molly. "What did you do that for?" Molly inquires. "Angela," she introduces herself. "Louise," the woman answers while shaking Angela's hand. "Not Molly?" Louise tells Angela that Molly Fletcher is a character in a novel she's writing. "Applecheeks belong to you?" Louise asks, referring to Tommy. "My son," Angela replies. "What do you do — when you're not squeezing out cherubs?" Louise inquires. "Still trying to decide." While this week's episode most definitely improves on last week's, it really seems as if the show's team felt they'd run out of story and needed to add a slew of new ones for the second half of the season — there are more coming — when they haven't finished playing out the ones they started with in the first half. I think they made a mistake by having the Commodore go on the sidelines so quickly. Both seasons have sent Dabney Coleman's character to the bench with illnesses for sizable chunks of time when he's such a great asset.

"Now it's my fault," Jimmy says to his mother. "Success has many fathers, dear. Failure is an orphan," Gillian tells him. This is something I found odd about tonight's episode. What I've always loved above everything else on Boardwalk Empire is its love of language and its way with words. This episode practically bursts at the seams with the use of well-worn clichés, so much so that after I watched it the first time, I decided that in the recap, I would keep a running tally accompanied (when possible) with a link to the phrase's origin. CLICHÈ TALLY: 1. The total didn't add up as high as I thought it would but I think it felt that way because two come in the same scene later. The Commodore's butler Langston shows in Manny and Mickey. Jimmy greets his Philadelphia acquaintance who gives him a big bear hug in front of the big dead bear. "There's the boychick," Horvitz says, pinching Jimmy's cheek. He spots Gillian and leaps to the natural but incorrect conclusion. "The lovely wife?" For neither the first nor the last time in his life, the close age difference and relationship between Jimmy and Gillian gets explained. "His mother actually, but thanks though," Gillian responds. "Such a maiden," Manny comments, then kisses her hand. "James is right — you're quite the charmer," Gillian compliments him. "He's a good boy," Manny tells her. "I'll leave you two gentlemen to your business," she says and exits. I guess she doesn't count Mickey as a gentleman, but who would? Not Jimmy — who hits Doyle hard on the arm when he catches him eyeballing his mom's ass as she sashays away. "Lechaim," Manny raises his glass in a toast. "To the lost," Jimmy adds. All three take seats. "So Nucky Thompson — such news I should read in the paper," Manny declares. "That's where I read it," Jimmy claims, prompting a different sort of laugh from Mickey than we're used to and one from Horvitz as well, but definitely not a boisterous one. "Must we pretend with each other like children?" Manny asks. "Why not? You don't miss a chance to refer to me as a boy," Jimmy replies. "Because a man honors his commitments. I paid you five thousand dollars for alcohol that I never received," Horvitz reminds him. "I don't have it yet," Jimmy tells him. Horvitz smiles and cocks his head to look at the trappings of the grand living room. "With a house such as this?" Jimmy informs Horvitz that the house belongs to his father, not him. Manny gets up and walks around the room, stopping at the bear which really might as well be in the opening credits. I think the bear has appeared in more episodes this season than Stephen Graham has as Al Capone. and begins to tell a story directed toward the slain animal. "A man hunts. He comes to my shop with a deer, wants me to cut off the head for seven dollars. I offer to butcher the animal — venison steak, sausage, rump roast," Horvitz shares with the bear, "Is deer meat kosher?" Mickey asks, getting Manny to face him and Jimmy again. "I'm asking on account of Santie Claus — for the reindeers," Doyle smiles, making antlers with his hands. "This man — this farshtinkener piece of shit — he's not interested in the meat, so I ask him how he come to kill this deer. And he tells me his friend does the shootin' so that he can have the trophy — a head to hang on his wall," Manny points to the many stuffed game in the room while the always present bear watches over his shoulder. "For this alone you kill? To brag to your friends how you slain this beautiful animal?" Horvitz sums up. "I've eaten venison if that's what you're wondering," Jimmy tells him, missing Manny's point entirely. Daddy eats first — weren't you watching that dream sequence at the beginning? "I can see that boychick — and that you hid behind papa when he pulled the trigger," Manny proclaims, crossing his arms in a satisfied way. The camera zooms in on Jimmy who doesn't take Horvitz's assessment of him well.

Looking quite contemplative, Nucky sits drinking at home listening to Alma Gluck's famous 1915 recording of James Bland's "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny." In case you don't read the complete biography of Alma Gluck I've linked to above, one interesting fact: Her son is the actor Efrem Zimbalist Jr., best known as star of the TV series The F.B.I. that aired 1965-1974 and who will turn 93 on Nov. 30. Margaret comes in and tells Nucky that Emily finally has fallen asleep, then sits in the chair next to him and takes his unwounded hand. "I'm sorry about your father," she tells him. "People die," Nucky says rather matter-of-factly. "Is that all you'll say?" she asks. "What would you prefer?" Nucky responds with a quizzical look. "It's not that just," Margaret begins to say more but Nucky speaks first. "I pretend all day, Margaret. Must I pretend with you too?" he inquires. "No," she replies. They continue to hold hands in silence for a few moments until Margaret asks, "So what's to become of us? Your meeting with the prosecutor." Nucky sighs. "She knows about you, about us, my various other dealings," he tells her. Their handclasp breaks as he moves a newspaper from his lap to the table between them and retrieves his drink. "Will you be goin' to jail then?" Margaret asks. "I don't know," he admits. "Will I?" Nucky puts the glass back down and reaches over to grasp Margaret's hand once again. Honestly, this scene of pure conversation plays so much more romantically than that drawn-out seduction scene between Owen and Margaret last week. "Of course not. Don't be silly. You've done nothing wrong, Margaret. I'll let nothing happen to you," Nucky pledges. "Those are two different things," she remarks. "Is it worth it, all this? How long can you push your luck before you're killed?" she puts the big question before him and their hands part again. "So I should bow down to these greedy bastards just because they want what I have?" Thompson answers, his voice rising in volume and indignation. "At the cost of your life, is it not greed to fight to keep it?" Margaret's probing words likely have never been spoken to Nucky before and it's doubtful he's thought them himself. "You're alive. We have each other. Don't you ever feel as though God is giving us a sign?" The sinning but practicing Catholic makes her case to the sinner who only plays Catholic for show. "There's a joke. A man's drowning, prays to God for help. Lifeguard swims out, drowning man says, 'No thanks, God will save me.' A few minute later, a rowboat comes by. 'No thanks, God will save me.' A steamship. 'No thanks, God will save me.' Finally, the fellow drowns, goes to Heaven. says. 'God, why didn't you save me?' God says, 'For cryin' out loud, I sent you two boats and a lifeguard, what the hell did you expect?' Not even a smile?" Nucky says to Margaret when he finishes the joke and she doesn't laugh. "I'd be more amused if I knew you weren't worried," she replies. Nucky takes her hand again and leans in and kisses her. "I'll get through this, Margaret, you'll see. We both will." This truly was a great scene on so many levels and though it's a joke and not technically a cliché, it's a joke told so often that it might as well be one and I'm counting it. There are countless variations of it littered across the Web (and many movies and TV shows have used it) but I had no luck dating its first appearance. (They even took the title of the episode from it for crying out loud.) CLICHÈ TALLY: 2. Putting that aside, what a marvelous scene for Buscemi and Macdonald.

Jimmy walks into his bedroom at the beachhouse to find Tommy napping. Through the open window, he sees Angela sitting outside, smoking a cigarette. He limps outside to join her. "You smokin' now?" he asks. "Now?" she replies. "I mean you didn't smoke before," Jimmy says. "Why'd you marry me, Jimmy?" Angela wants to know. "Because I love you," he tells her. "Is that what you tell yourself?" Angela probes. Jimmy turns and looks annoyed. "That's what I just told you." Angela has yet to look at Jimmy, keeping her gaze on the water. "It isn't true," she says, causing Jimmy to turn and stare with that mixture of annoyance and bafflement again. "I could ask you the same question," Jimmy tells her. She looks as if she's thinking about it for a moment. "Because we have a child together, it's what society expected from me. Because you kept pushing it," Angela offers as an answer. "That's romantic," he responds as he sits in the chair next to her, his head bowed. "It's honest, Jimmy. All I'm asking is the same of you," she tells him. "I haven't lied to you, Angela," Jimmy insists. "You haven't told me anything. You go out — I don't know where. You come home all hours, sometimes days later with blood on your clothes. God knows where you've been, what you're doing," Angela speaks up, probably for the first time. "Selling booze. So what?" Jimmy answers. This section of this episode, especially upon second viewing, proves its strongest by contrasting back-to-back the relationships of Nucky and Margaret and Jimmy and Angela. this season Nucky and Jimmy have engaged in an Ingmar Bergman's Persona-like personality transfer. The two couples haven't quite done that, but the Darmodys transformed from common-law status to legally married. While Margaret may be Nucky's common-law wife, but with her ability to counsel him and run the new household, they might as well be wed. Even with Margaret having strayed and Nucky's wandering eye, the intimacy and strength of the bond between the older couple holds together much more strongly than that of the younger married one, where at least Jimmy tends to stay faithful. It's curious how Jimmy and Angela got together long enough to conceive Tommy in the first place. Michael Pitt truly gets better and better, but Aleksa Palladino gets so little to do as Angela, her work is harder to judge. This may be the best scene they've given her in the entire run of the series so far. "Did you try to have Nucky Thompson killed?" Angela finally frees that elephant from its room inside both her and Jimmy's heads where it lurked ever since she overheard that call. "Yes. I didn't want to but I did," Jimmy admits. "Why would you do such a thing?" she asks. "The plan was for him to go to jail. My father and Eli approached me last fall. Nucky would go away, we would take over," he explains. "But you still love him," Angela says. "He's not what he seems. Ange. It wasn't supposed to be like this. I kept drawing lines for myself in the sand, got further and further involved and then…" Jimmy trails off, but Angela picks up the story. "You didn't want him killed, yet you went along with it anyway? What changed your mind?" she questions. "My mother," he answers ominously. Angela stands up and puts out her cigarette. "Thank you for talking."

Nucky's distinctive blue Rolls pulls into the building housing the Atlantic City Armory, Soldiers march in drills while two others look over boxes of weapons. One of the Guardsmen (Clark Carmichael) tells Nucky that his guests are waiting inside. "I need a favor. In a few minutes or so, the Feds are going to show up here looking for me. I'm being tailed, You tell them I was here but then I left with Eddie," Nucky instructs the Guardsman and hands him a tip. "Sure thing," he replies. "You expecting an attack?" Nucky comments, seeing all the weapons, including machine guns, in the open crates. "Surplus made for the war. I've got three thousand of them down in the cellar," the Guardsman informs Nucky, then turns to Eddie. "Who knew your Kaiser would chicken out so soon?" No — 3,000 extra Tommy guns lying around, Don't imagine that's going to be a plot point, especially with an Irish revolutionary working for Nucky and still seeking out traitors? That's just a coincidence that it's being mentioned I'm sure. winkwinknudgenudgeknowwhatimean Nucky heads to his meeting and Eddie returns to the Rolls muttering "asshole" under his breath. When Nucky gets inside, he finds Johnny Torrio and Arnold Rothstein. He thanks them for coming and apologizes for the surroundings. "Better we do this in private," Rothstein observes. "How can we help, Nuck?" Torrio asks. "You can start by getting the pissants who work for you in line," Nucky suggests. Torrio looks puzzled. "Vito Scalercio," Nucky says. "Never heard of him," Johnny replies. "Well, he shot me John and before the Feds shot him he was living in a building leased by your boy," Nucky informs him. "What?" Torrio asks. "Al Capone," Thompson tells him. "I knew something was up. The little prick's been talkin' to your Jimmy Darmody," Torrio lets Nucky know. "He came to see me months ago," Rothstein interjects. "Al did," Torrio assumes he means. "Mr. Darmody. Offering to sell me liquor," Rothstein clarifies. "Now you're telling me this?" Nucky says with annoyance. "The day after you were arrested. In any case, I turned him down," Rothstein tells him. "Luciano, Lansky — can you vouch for them?" Nucky asks. "That they're not in cahoots with Darmody? No, I can't, but I can tell you one of Waxey Gordon's delivery men was killed making your delivery last month. A failed hijacking I was told," Rothstein replies. "The pups have grown fangs, gentlemen," Nucky tells his colleagues from New York and Chicago. "What are you gonna do?" Torrio asks. "What would you do, John?" Nucky inquires. "Kill the prick," Torrio suggests. "I'm under indictment. The Feds are up my ass," Nucky reminds him. The Brain turns from the other two and walks a few paces away to ponder. "Then take it with you. Retire somewhere," Torrio proposes. "Take what? All my money's tied up in a land deal," Thompson informs him. Rothstein looks as if he's calculated the odds and computed the course of action with the best payoff. "Nothing," Rothstein declares. "I beg your pardon," Nucky says. Rothstein turns and explains. "You have no move, Mr. Thompson. You do nothing," he states. "He's under attack, Arnold," Torrio interjects. "All the more reason for patience. I've made my living, Mr. Thompson, in large part as a gambler. Some days I make 20 bets. Some days I make none. Weeks, sometimes months in fact, when I make no bets at all because there simply is no play. So I wait, plan, marshal my resources and when I finally see an opportunity and there is a bet to make, I bet it all," Rothstein elaborates.

Van Alden and Sawicki grab a standing lunch at a vendor on the Boardwalk. Nelson asks for the check, but the waiter (Happy Anderson) tells him it's on the Armory. "Beg your pardon," Van Alden says. "Policemen eat free," the waiter tells him. "We're federal agents and that's against regulations," Van Alden informs him then looks at Sawicki as if he's waiting for a response. "That's right," Sawicki agrees. "Just being neighborly," the waiter tells them as he writes up the bill. "Malum in se," Nelson intones, looking upward. "Sir?" Sawicki says, puzzled. "It's Latin. It means evil in and of itself," Nelson explains. "Like murder," Sawicki suggests. "Precisely. Whereas malum prohibitum is a wrong prohibited by statute," Van Alden elaborates. "Us accepting a free lunch," Sawicki says. "Correct. Or people selling whiskey," Van Alden states. "You might say that," Sawicki then drinks his coffee. "I might. And what might you say?" Van Alden inquires. "May I speak freely?" Sawicki asks. Van Alden tells his fellow agent that he expects nothing less. "When I first joined the bureau, I was convinced what we were doing was right, but after awhile seeing how it's harder and harder to enforce the law," Sawicki admits without completing the thought as he's interrupted by Van Alden who says they should be going. Nelson picks up the check, looks at it and then crumples it into a ball and leaves it on his plate.

It probably had to happen at some point, but I believe I've caught Boardwalk Empire committing its first anachronism, though the behind-the-scenes folks say it was purposeful. You decide. Angela and her new friend Louise are walking into a party in a house way out on the beach as a song plays. The song is "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)," an oft-recorded tune that's been covered by artists as diverse as Judy Garland, Merle Haggard and Van Halen. It was written by the songwriting team of Jack Yellen and Milton Ager and is performed here by Spencer Moses, whom we'll run into at the party later, & Vince Giordano & The Nighthawks. As soon as they are inside, Louise pours Angela and herself a drink. "Do you know these people?" Angela asks looking around at the crowd. "They're performers mostly, locals," Louise answers. The problem with that song playing is that Yellen & Ager copyrighted it in 1924 while the series still takes place in the summer of 1921 when it's heard. Now, the people who make Boardwalk Empire say that they were aware of the year discrepancy but since Louise says the party guests are mostly performers, they assume that Ager & Yellen were present and working on the song, but didn't finish it for another three years. I have several problems with this explanation. No. 1: The song sounds pretty much as it did when sung by the many artists and it doesn't look or sound as if songwriters are tinkering when we hear it. No. 2: Yellen & Ager, like many Tin Pan Alley composers of their day, were incredibly prolific and knocked out tunes at an astounding rate, so I can't imagine if it sounded that good in summer 1921, they had much more work to do. No. 3: No one is even hinted at in the scene as being Yellen or Ager. No. 4: By 1921, both men already had songs that had appeared in Broadway revues as early as 1917 for Ager and 1913 for Yellen. No. 5: Both live in New York City, which while not that far from Atlantic City, as Margaret said last week, it is three hours by train in 1921. No. 6: Most importantly (and damning) the original recording of the song which is registered and held in The Library of Congress was made on Nov. 7, 1924 by tenor Billy Murray. No. 7: Their most famous song probably is "Happy Days Are Here Again" and Yellen was annoyed when FDR used it in his presidential campaign because he was a Republican which doesn't quite fit the Bohemian mood of that party. I'll leave it up to you viewers/readers whether you think it was intentional or a goof. "I thought you just moved here," Angela says. "I did. My friend Arthur's around here somewhere," she tells Angela as she leads her further into the decadence. sharing the story of an earlier party where someone made a sand sculpture of Jesus on the cross with two heads. "Did you dream about me last night?" a man (David L. Townsend) asks Louise and kisses her hand. "I dreamed about a purple snake. I chopped it up with a hatchet and the pieces turned into horses and I rode them away," Louise replies. What did I tell you all earlier about sharing your dreams with others? "Say hello to Angela. Arthur's a hoofer," Louise informs Angela as her way of introducing Arthur Lasch. "Shall we dance?" Arthur inquires of Angela. "No cutting in, bub," Louise declares as she takes Angela's hand, causing Jimmy's wife to look nervous. "It's OK cookie — we're invisible here," Louise assures her. As the sky turns to dusk, Louise and Angela sit on the outside desk where a ukulele player (Moses) sings "By the Light of the Silvery Moon." At least that one was year accurate: It was published in 1909. Now that they are outside, Angela takes Louise's invisibility comment to heart and initiates their first kiss.

Margaret holds and rocks a halfway dozing Emily as she, Nucky and Teddy play The World’s Globe Circler, a board game created in the late 19th century and based on Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days. Teddy lands on Southampton and asks his mother where that is. "England. It's where you make the big trip across the ocean," Margaret tells her son. "Did you go there, Mama?" Emily awakens enough to ask. "I did, dear. That's where my boat left from when I came over from Ireland," she answers. As Teddy announces to his mother and sister that he plans to do that, the camera slowly moves in on Nucky. From the expression on his face, it's clear he's circling an entirely different world and managed to get lost within it. "Your turn, Uncle Nucky," Teddy says as the Schroeders' sea voyage small talk subsides, but he doesn't seem to hear the boy who repeats his name again. The second time, Thompson's eyes move back to the family at the table with him. Nucky looks up as if he's about to say something, but hedges. Then, he does look directly at Teddy. "I'd like you to start calling me Dad," Nucky requests. "Would you like that, Teddy?" Margaret asks her son. "Yes," he answers, quickly and smiling. Nucky pokes at Emily. "You too, kiddo," he adds. "It's your move, Dad," Teddy tells Nucky. "Yes, it is." Nucky flicks the game's spinner. I think he has taken Rothstein's words to heart and whatever his move is, Nucky has found it and he is going to make it. Last week's episode, albeit the season's worst, was Michael Shannon's showcase. The week before that was Kelly Macdonald's. I think this episode belongs to Steve Buscemi, showing us the scared and subtle Nucky, but one who's finding his way toward a peace of mind.

A cross made of flowers bears a banner that reads, "BELOVED FATHER." Nearby, the late Ethan Thompson lies in his coffin. This must be the viewing hours for only Nucky is present, sitting a few rows back from the coffin. Nucky's face registers that same look that has been capturing it many times in this episode, projecting an image that no one resides within the impeccably tailored suit because Nucky Thompson has vacated his body almost as much as his father's soul has departed his. "Nucky," a voice speaks from behind him. He turns to see Eli. "What are you doin' here?" his brother asks. "I have as much right to be here as you do," he replies. "I'm surprised is all," Eli says. "That it's not me in the box," Nucky responds before turning back around and staring ahead again. "I had nothin' to do with that," Eli lies to his older brother. "You had nothing to do with stopping it either," Nucky points out. Eli takes a seat among the overflow chairs in the parlor's annex. "They came for me — the Feds — subpoena Monday — at the house," Eli tells him, breaking up the words as if they were coming by telegram. Nucky tells Eli that he didn't think he'd get to the parlor that early is why he came. "I'm surprised you'd come at all," Eli says. "I'm here for Mother — and for Susan," Nucky declares. I assume Susan must be a deceased sister but I don't recall a mention of her before. "They're all together now," Eli comments. Nucky turns to look at Eli. "Heaven? Even if it existed, do you really think that son of a bitch would be there?" Nucky says pointing at his father in his coffin. Eli starts sniffling, as if tears could be en route. Nucky, still staring straight ahead, roll his eyes as if to say, "Oh, please." Eli regains some of his composure. "Was he really that bad, Nucky?" his brother asks. "You've obviously forgotten key events from our childhood," Nucky tells him. "I turned out OK. So did you," Eli comments. Yes, Eli. Last week, you conspired to have your brother killed and a few weeks before that you accidentally struck a man in the throat with a wrench but instead of trying to help him, beat him to death and buried him on the side of a road. You are incredibly well adjusted, Eli. "Whatever he did made us the men we are today, didn't he?" Eli adds. "And what's that?" Nucky wonders. "We run this fucking town, Nucky," Eli replies. Nucky turns to face his brother again. "We don't run anything. brother and he can rot in Hell," Nucky spits. "That's you, boy — in spades. No capacity for forgiveness," Eli's crying ceases as he reverts to his usual attitude toward his older brother. "Grow up brother, please, And take some responsibility at long fucking last," Nucky tells him. Eli leaves and Nucky grabs his hat and walks up to the coffin. He looks over his father, glancing at the Rosary beads wrapped around his hands. Nucky notices the laces of Ethan's shoes aren't tied. He puts down his hat and picks up the shoelace, but finds it hard to do with one arm in a sling. That's enough to push him over and the tears come and Nucky covers his face. Even here, telling Eli off, bitching about Ethan and having his breakdown, Buscemi's performance tonight is so modulated, almost muted. It's really a great way to see Nucky — and Buscemi.

At the room in the Atlantic City Post Office that now houses both the prohibition agents and the assistant U.S. attorney and her staff, a delivery man (Jonathan Dickson) enters bearing a basket of peaches and looking for the person who is supposed to receive them. "Clifford Lathrop," he calls out. "Yes," Esther Randolph's chief investigator says. "From Enoch Thompson," the delivery man tells him as he places the basket on Esther's desk and gives Lathrop an envelope. "You're a peach. Thanks for saving my life," Lathrop reads the note aloud then gives it to Randolph.

Gillian, Jimmy, the Commodore and Leander huddle in a circle when they hear a metallic noise and look up. "Mr. Thompson," Langston announces. Nucky enters while Sleater stays a few steps behind. As always, the bear is there. I really think the bear needs a name. If you're reading this, leave suggestions for names for the Commodore's stuffed bear in comments. Anonymous votes won't count. Must leave names. "Thank you for seeing me," Nucky says. "Of course. Would you like a drink?" Gillian asks. "Thank you, no. I won't be staying," Nucky responds. "These past few months have been difficult, to say the least, I'm sure for all of us. Threats were made, accusations were hurled. We could continue on in this manner but to do so would contradict the point I'm here to make — that life is woefully short. My father passed on Monday. You gentlemen should know that," Nucky tells them. The infirmed Commodore tries to get some words out. "My condolences," Leander offers. "My father's death and my recent brush with the same got me to thinking — I don't need this and I no longer want it. I have the love of a fine woman and the joy of raising her two wonderful children. I have money enough to retire, at least I will once I sell some property, and when my legal troubles are behind me, I intend to do just that. You built this town — now you can have it back. Atlantic City and all that goes with it. I've already spoken to Mayor Bader and I've instructed him to give you his full cooperation," Nucky says directly to a stunned Jimmy. "You're stepping down as treasurer?" Leander asks. "I am — and you gentlemen have my word that I will not stand in your way. Choose whomever you like as my successor," Nucky tells them and begins to walk out. "Nucky," Jimmy calls to him. He stops and turns. "Good luck to you," Jimmy says. "And to you too, James."

Nelson comes home to find Sigrid holding Abigail and singing to her. He goes down the hall to the bedroom and closes the door. He takes a cash pouch out of his trousers and removes a lot of bills, though the denominations are unclear. He then hides the cash behind the mirror.
The sun shines brightly through a half-open window that Nucky looks out. The wind blows the curtains like mad when Eddie enters Nucky's soon-to-be former office and announces that Chalky has arrived. Nucky takes his arm out of his sling. "Chalky, what are you drinking?" Nucky asks. "It's all the same," Chalky replies. "One thing I'll say for the hand, it's cut my drinking down by half," Nucky says then raises a glass to the future. Chalky expresses doubts as to whether he has a future. Nucky tries to reassure him that he'll beat his legal case, but that isn't White's concern. "It ain't my legal case I'm talkin' about. It's my people — they losin' faith," Chalky tells him. "That's precisely what I wanted to talk to you about," Nucky says as he sits on the corner of the desk. "Your people want justice — well it's time to give it to them," Nucky declares. "You tellin' me to go out and murder some Klan boys?" Chalky smiles. "You're smarter than that. You have power, Chalky — economic power. In your house, you said your people were behind you. Thousands of black folks that make this city run — something like that," Nucky reminds him. "Yeah," Chalky confirms. "Then do it. Call a strike," Nucky suggests. "In the middle of tourist season — we'd shut the city down," Chalky replies. "It'll cost a bloody fortune and you hold all the cards," Nucky tells him. "You sure this what you want?" Chalky asks. "Doesn't matter to me. In about 30 minutes, it won't be my problem," Nucky declares before taking another drink. Eddie enters with a jacket on his arm and his driver's cap on. "It is time," he tells Nucky. "Pardon me Chalky, I have a press conference." Chalky stands and looks to shake his hand, but since his right hand isn't available, he just nods and walks away.

The band plays boisterously at Babette's where the coup plotters celebrate Nucky's surrender. Neary reads a newspaper account aloud, "The beleaguered County Treasurer Enoch Thompson stepped down today effective immediately." Ward Boss Boyd grabs the paper from Neary. "Beleaguered — that's French for completely fucked," Boyd says. In the upstairs room with the two remaining disloyal ward bosses with pulses are Richard, Leander, a morose-looking Eli and Jimmy. "Citing Thompson's recent legal troubles, Mayor Edward Bader named James Neary, alderman of the fourth ward, as Thompson's interim replacement," Boyd reads from the paper. "Congratulations, Mr. Treasurer," Jimmy salutes. "Well done," Leander adds. Paddy Ryan wanders in to the festivities and Darmody still gives the senior county clerk a dirty look. Jimmy then notices how distant Harrow looks from everyone else at the party. He walks over to Richard. "We did it, pal — it's ours," he tells Richard. "Congratulations," Richard says to him. "You're a part of this — you hearin' me?" Jimmy asks, echoing the exact words Glenmore said to Harrow in the woods, even though Jimmy wasn't there to hear them. "Anything you ever wished for is yours," Jimmy pledges to him. "If wishes were horses, beggars would ride," Richard replies. CLICHÈ TALLY: 3 Jimmy promises Richard a new suit and a better mask. Unfortunately, as Jimmy tries to be there for Richard, he gets hit with a double-barreled interruption: One from Eli, insisting they have to talk, the other from Mickey who wants to "bow, before the king" and brings Manny with him. "While you're down there, why don't you kiss my ass?" Jimmy tells Mickey. He then greets Horvitz. "Munya, what brings you here?" Jimmy asks as he shakes his hand. "Me? It's a celebration," Manny replies as Eli persists that he and Jimmy must talk. "In a minute, OK?" Jimmy says to Eli, putting him off the same way Nucky would. The minions call for a speech from their new young leader. "It wasn't all that long ago that most of us sat in this very room and listened to empty promises made by Nucky Thompson. As we learned, talk is cheap," Jimmy orates. "So is Nucky, Mickey chimes in. "Let me finish, Mickey," a peeved Jimmy speaks. "My father, the Commodore, had a vision — a kingdom on the ocean rising up from the sand. Well, I got a vision too — to share that kingdom with its court. It's a new day and the war's over. To the victors, go the spoils," Jimmy concludes. CLICHÈ TALLY: 4 "To Prince James — long may he reign," Leander leads a toast. One of the working girls beckons Jimmy and takes a seat next to her and soon another young lady joins her to pay attention to newly crowned. Manny stands and watches Jimmy who doesn't seem to like his gaze.

Nucky carries a bottle and two glasses when he sees Owen and Margaret chatting in the hall. He tells them that a bulb is out in the kitchen. Margaret says she'll have the girl do it in the morning and walks to Nucky. "I'm goin' to bed now," Margaret tells Nucky and gives him a kiss. "Not too late — it's been a busy day," she instructs Nucky before heading off. Nucky gives the glasses and bottle to Owen, who preps drinks for both of them. "There's something we need to discuss," Nucky declares before asking Owen about his whereabouts on the day of his shooting. Sleater repeats the line about running into a friend and losing track of time. "Right. Was this friend from Ireland by any chance?" Nucky inquires. Sleater doesn't seem to know what face to put on. I mean — is Nucky hinting about the Irish man he strangled to death in the bathroom or his Irish common-law wife he fucked in his bed? "Not sure what you mean, sir," Owen responds. "You know exactly what I mean," Nucky tells him. Bollocks — that didn't clear anything up. "The cause, Owen — you've never left it. That's why you're really here, isn't it?" Nucky grills him. "Aye," Sleater admits. "I want you to set up a meeting — me and John McGarrigle — in Belfast," Nucky orders. "Sir?" Owen says with confusion. "We'll set sail immediately. You tell him I have a proposition," Nucky instructs Owen. Told you those 3,000 surplus machine guns weren't a coincidence, but why in the hell is a story about Atlantic City that already tries to drag Chicago, New York and Philadelphia into its story going to try to mix in the Troubles in Ireland with four episodes left in the season? I sure hope there isn't a gorgeous female IRA leader with an elderly father in a wheelchair who is the in-name-only leader of his unit. Nucky also better not bring back another Irish strongman (named O'Furi or something) to work for him. Maybe Damian Flemming can tag along and be confused about which bathroom to use.

The partying continues at Babette's. "A week — maybe two — I'm back in business. All I need is the booze," Mickey tells Jimmy. "Right. I heard you the first time," Jimmy replies when Eli steps between the two men. "What the fuck's with you?" Jimmy asks Eli. "I don't like waiting on line when I need to talk," Eli says. "So?" Jimmy waits for Eli to speak his mind. "My brother — he's smarter than you are — and a lot more dangerous," Eli informs Jimmy. "Speak for yourself," a cocky Jimmy grins. "Tryin' to help you kid. Don't underestimate him," Eli warns him. "Fuck you Eli. Come here to piss all over my party," Jimmy responds. "Yeah, that's why I came," Eli says before walking off. Mickey resumes bugging Jimmy about his liquor plans. He tells him that Capone has a connection. Manny, down on the dance floor, waves at the pair up on the balcony. "What the fuck did you bring him for?" Jimmy asks. "He's alright," Mickey assures him. "He's a pain in my ass," Jimmy declares. "Well, you do owe him money," Mickey mentions. "Sure — he reminds me about it every five fuckin' minutes," Jimmy complains. "That's right you cocksucker, we're talkin' about you," Jimmy says, knowing that Manny can't hear him over the noise, but Horvitz holds his hand to his ear anyway. "I said you're an asshole, you fuckin' Jew bastard," Jimmy tells Manny knowing he's out of earshot. "Knock that off…the Jew stuff. He's not the type I'd play with," Mickey warns Jimmy. "Cause you're his friend," Jimmy replies. Manny motions at them. "Come down — join the party," Horvitz shouts. "Sure, we'll be right down," Jimmy answers before lifting Mickey up by his suit jacket and throwing him off the balcony, sending him crashing through a table and onto the dance floor below. Manny looks shocked — then angry — as he glares up at Jimmy.

Oh good grief, we're back in that damn dream sequence that opened the show, only all the people in the room have moved around some. (For example, the guy in the sheriff's uniform now sits in the chair where the woman we thought might be Nucky's mother was and she's standing with someone else and that other uniformed guy stands by the other chair and it has the baseball glove in it and…I DON'T GIVE A SHIT. You know, the other night I had this dream about Leland, my dog who died more than two years ago and she was sitting in the Oval Office…Bored yet? No one wants to hear someone else's dream. Stop it! Nucky wakes up to find Margaret holding Emily. "She's warm again," she tells him. As the show fades to credits, we hear "The Sheik of Araby," which was written in 1921 because of Rudolph Valentino's popularity, only this version was recorded by Leon Redbone with Vince Giordano and the Nighthawk Orchestra.

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Comments:
Arthur is a good name for a stuffed bear. It served the curious plant in Mad Magazine
 
Given the guilt that so many of the characters carry . . .
Gladly ( the Cross-Eyed Bear)

And given the stock in trade for cliches - this, a mondegreen, from the misheard lyrics of a hymn Gladly, the Cross I'd bear… Hymn is "Keep Thou My Way", words by Fanny Crosby, music by Theodore E. Perkins: written in 1894)
 
Eddie, I'm really enjoying your recaps. All in all, I think Boardwalk Empire is way ahead of most television fare. But there were two groaners which stood out last night.

1) Assuming Emily Schroeder's illness is going to be a storyline, I'm predicting that the maid's seemingly off-hand comment (a la "Chekhov's gun") about the child running "herself ragged at the lake on Sunday," might be a not so subtle foreshadowing of polio. Another thought I had (that was less of a groaner) was that Emily is showing signs of appendicitis (which was the cause of Rudolf "The Sheik" Valentino's death).

But worse...

2) That Nucky literally thinks of his next "move" while playing a "board game" is possibly the LEAST subtle thing I've ever seen I've ever seen. :)
 
Thanks Matt. I didn't think the game was as unsubtle as the extra 3,000 Tommy guns in the basement of the Armory. As soon as I heard that, I knew it would be heading to the Irish rebellion.
 
"O'Furi"... hahahaha nice. Here's to hoping Owen doesn't spend the whole trip locked in his hotel room doing heroin.

I think the lack of subtlety on display in certain parts of the episode may have distracted from some foreshadowing that was actually pretty subtle. For instance--why is Richard so despondent at the party? It was obviously highlighted, though I think a lot of viewers will just chalk it up to Richard being a general sad-sack. After all the time spent this season developing him as a character, though, I'd be surprised if his mental state didn't drive the plot in some meaningful way down the road.

One thing The Sopranos did so well was to foreshadow potential future plot points or introduce new characters who seem important to the story, only to let them fizzle or disappear altogether. It worked as both misdirection and to make the plot more realistic. I've been hoping this might happen more often on Boardwalk Empire, but so far, they've been much more traditional about tying up their loose ends. Clearly, Chekov's 3000 guns are going to play a role in the coming weeks, but I'm hoping the writers will show enough restraint to let some of these other storylines ride until next season.

Bear name... um.. Aloysius?
 
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