Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Nucky got both Margaret and new badass Sleater on his side, which should bode well for him. Margaret found her family in Brooklyn, but discovered they still consider her dead to them. Lucy started to lose it, being stuck inside day after day, but just when she’d reached the end of her rope, Van Alden unexpectedly showed his softer side.
Old timey music plays as the camera pans over what I think is a storehouse/distillery. It’s packed with crates, Jimmy notes, navigating his way through accompanied by Mickey Doyle. Mickey asks what the beef is between Jimmy and Nucky and Jimmy tells him to mind his own business. He tells Mickey to find more space, because soon they’re going to be the biggest distributers in the northeast.
Oh God. Ew. OK, Gillian’s at the Commodore’s and she’s performing for him. By performing, I mean dancing around in a sheer little nightie. I recoil in horror at the thought of this woman actually sexually entertaining the man who impregnated her when she was 13 years old. The Commodore whines about not knowing what’s going on, and she distracts him by showing some boob and dancing around. She asks why he never came to any of her performances and he says he never liked the idea of her dancing around for other men. She playfully tells him he could have married her and he excuses himself by saying he had a city to run. She accepts this easily enough and tells him she had to dance to feed their kid, but all is well now, because they’re all in this together. The Commodore calls her over, and she stays away just long enough to tell him the story of how the goddess Diana punished a hunter who spied on her bathing by turning him into a stag, so his own hounds tore him apart. Pointed story? I’d say so. He calls her over again, ready for some sexing, so she strips, but then he starts having a seizure or heart attack or something.
Over breakfast, one of Margaret’s kids is reciting some little poem. Nucky joins them just in time for the end and reminds Margaret it’s Bader’s birthday, so he won’t be home for dinner. She warmly warns him not to overindulge, just as Sleater comes in. Nucky tells Margaret Sleater’s going to be his new driver. Sleater eyes the maid, which pisses Margaret off, as usual. After he leaves, she sends the maid away with the kids, then comments that Sleater’s a bit cheeky. Nucky tells her Sleater’s serving a purpose, but he won’t elaborate. He hands over some cash for the household expenses, including a little something extra for the staff. Margaret sullenly says nobody ever gave her a bonus when she was a servant. Nucky kisses her on the head and takes off.
Chalky’s finally back in the bosom of his loving family, which includes the son we saw last time, a little girl, and a teenage daughter. There’s a little tension between Chalky and his son, but that’s shoved aside when Chalky learns his elder daughter’s boyfriend will be coming over for dinner. Man, Chalky is not the type of dad I’d want to be facing down. The daughter explains that her man’s planning to study medicine, so Chalky tells her it’s ok for him to come over.
In a less warm household, Angela’s hanging some pictures when TF arrives to pick up Jimmy for the day. She’s surprised, because she thought Jimmy was with TF. He got a call from his mother the night before and took off, and that’s all she knows, since Jimmy doesn’t tell her anything. She knows things are seriously tense between Jimmy and Nucky, though, because Nucky saw her on the boardwalk and wouldn’t even look at her. Richard watches her hang one of her paintings and compliments it as being “very bold”. He tells her about an artist he knew in Paris who did cityscapes. She guesses who the artist is and further notes he used to paint figures who looked like mannequins. Geez, Ange, a bit tactless, don’t you think? She suddenly asks TF if he’s ever posed for an artist. No. She apologizes for embarrassing him. Smiling, he remembers drawing when he was a kid, and enjoying it. She agrees that it can be relaxing, but it can also be frustrating. It took her years to be able to draw hands.
The Commodore’s in bed with Eli, Jimmy, and Gillian gathered nearby. The doctor tells him he had a stroke and his whole right side is paralyzed. Gillian chimes in to say he can eat but hasn’t been able to speak. Well, that’s a shame. And what a neat way to wrap this whole thing up, isn’t it? Except this is HBO, so we all know it probably won’t be that simple. Then again, HBO did allow quite a few plotlines get resolved by a very timely death, so who knows? The doctor asks if the Commodore was agitated or overexcited in any way and Gillian tells him she just found him like that.
The Commodore calls Eli over to his bedside and tries to tell him something, but he can’t make himself understood. This man is actually living one of my worst nightmares. The doctor tells them to let the Commodore rest.
Eli and Jimmy go into another room to fully freak out until Gillian calls a halt and tells them to relax. She certainly has no intention of ending up in a poorhouse. She reassures Eli Jimmy will handle this situation. Eli reminds them that they’re all in $70,000 to the Commodore’s cronies. Wow, did I miss that? Where did these three get $70K from? In 1921? That was a hell of a lot of money back then. Jimmy tells Eli they’ll recover that money when they unload the booze. Uh oh. Putting all your eggs in one boozy basket, Jimmy? Not smart. Eli tells him to get rid of it fast, even if he has to sell it out of town, but Jimmy doesn’t have connections in New York or Philly, so that’s not going to help. Eli stomps out, pissed, and Jimmy wonders if it was a bad idea letting Eli see the Commodore in this condition. Gillian apologizes for being edgy, because this is a difficult time.
Nucky strides down the boardwalk with Eddie, Fleming, and one of the other guys telling them it’ll just be booze and cake at the party. Hell, yeah! Oh, and some dancing girls too. Not a party without them! They all head up to the office and Nucky orders Eggs Florentine and a call to Rothstein.
Nucky reaches Rothstein at home, and we finally get to see Mrs. Rothstein, who asks her husband about some stomach complaint. Talk moves on to his bowel movements, and for all of our sakes, I’m not going to recap that. She finally leaves so Rothstein can take his call. Nucky informs Rothstein that there’s been a change in his circumstances and he now needs a port in which to land his cargo, since the coast guard’s shut AC down. Rothstein offers a spot in Long Island, but that’s too far, so Nucky asks if there’s a some place in Philly they can use. There is, but they’ll have to cut in the local guy, Waxy. It’ll be 20% for Rothstein and 20% for Waxy. Ouch. But Rothstein’s percentage includes Luciano to ensure the smooth movement of goods. Nucky accepts the deal and they hang up.
Chalky’s meeting with, I guess, a group of community leaders to hear about their problems. One lady rises and tells him her neighbors keep having noisy parties. Chalky tells her not to sweat it, it’ll be taken care of. A man gets up next and tells him the working conditions over at the Ritz suck and Chalky promises to look into it. I’m starting to think these aren’t community leaders so much as just a few random people with grievances. Meeting over, Chalky invites them to help themselves to refreshments, but one woman jumps up and asks what he’s going to do about her husband, who got his throat cut loading one of Chalky’s trucks. Chalky promises she’ll be looked after. A bunch of other ladies get up and say they’ve all lost people too. Chalky repeats that this’ll be taken care of. The first woman scoffs at his promises, saying they all get nothing except a summer clambake and a Christmas turkey. Well, don’t knock a good clambake, lady, those are hard to come by. Chalky looks around the suddenly less friendly crowd, clearly a bit nervous over how tenuous his grip is on his own community.
Van Alden and his boys are marking down the cash they collected from raids. One of the boys goes to mark the money, but Van Alden takes it instead. That’ll be destined for the Lucy Danziger Silence Fund, I’m guessing. He stashes the cash in a safe, then goes to use the facilities. Once he’s gone, one of the boys observes that there’s clearly something going on with him. The other guy doesn’t want to get involved, but Guy 1 tells a story of how he followed Van Alden one day and tracked him to a bootlegging operation. Presumably this is a reference to Van Alden’s visit to Doyle’s place in the last episode. That was over a month ago now, so he’s not biding his time, as Guy 2 suggests. Van Alden returns and the boys hurry back to their work. Van Alden slams a book shut and informs them he found the words “Van Asshole” scrawled on the wall in the toilet. Heh. Not the best taunt, but not too bad for someone presumably doing it on the fly. He figures it was one of them.
Margaret’s having a meeting with the servants, informing them that they’ve got to scale back household expenses, so she’s going to be cutting their wages. The cook and the nanny argue hardships, and Margaret tells them she knows they have expenses, so they’re all getting two whole extra dollars this week! That’s not met with cheers, which confuses her, so Katie the maid explains that they were actually expecting a raise, because Nucky had promised them one. The nanny suggests he may have been drinking at the time. Margaret takes the excuse and tells them to get back to work.
Doyle, Jimmy, and TF arrive at a butcher’s shop in Philadelphia. Doyle evidently knows the butcher, Mr. Horowitz, and he introduces Jimmy. Jimmy impresses him by greeting him in Yiddish. Horowitz notices TF and asks what happened to him. TF responds that he put his nose where it didn’t belong. Everyone laughs. The meeting seems to be going well so far. Horowitz introduces his associate, Herman Kauffman, and offers them something to eat. Jimmy asks what he can do for Horowitz. Horowitz wants Jimmy’s liquor, because he hates dealing with Waxy. Herman adds that they’re willing to start at 100 cases a week and build up from there. Jimmy asks for money up front, and after a bit of wheeling and dealing, Horowitz agrees. He does, however, warn Jimmy that his icebox is filled with the bits of men who tried to screw him over.
The entrance to the Ritz Carlton is mobbed with people trying to get some guy’s autograph. The name Jack’s mentioned, and he comments that it’s worse than being in the ring, so I’m guessing this is Jack Dempsey? I don’t know my boxers, sorry. Upstairs, the Bader party’s in full swing. The booze is flowing and the tits are on full show. Eddie’s providing the entertainment, singing in German while the girls put on some S&M shows. What kind of weird stuff is Bader into? This is turning into a fairly disturbing episode. The cake’s brought out and Bader blows out his candles. In comes Jack, and holy crap, I can’t believe I was right, it is Jack Dempsey. Nucky greets him and introduces him to Bader, who’s got no pants on, because until recently he was being spanked with a riding crop. Seriously. Disturbing. Dempsey complains about having to train in Jersey City, so Nucky invites him to train in AC. Dempsey notes the girls and says the city has a lot to recommend it, but one of the girls drawls that they’re not homegrown, they’re from Philly. Oh? Nucky’s lawyer sobers up fast and tells Nucky they’d better have a chat. Confused, Nucky follows him into another room and is told there might be a way to have his case dismissed: moving prostitutes across state lines is a federal charge. And, I guess, Nucky could use his connections in Washington to make that case go away?
Nelson answers the phone in his office and finds his anxious wife on the other end. Apparently she’d been trying to call his boarding house, but she was told he no longer lived there. Nelson lies that that’s not true. Why didn’t he just tell her he moved because the noise level was bad or something? And then he can tell Lucy not to answer the phone, and if she does, lie that it’s the cleaning lady or somesuch. Oh, maybe because he’s staying at the other place under an assumed name. Ok, sorry for the nitpick. She asks when he’ll be home again and he promises to return soon. She admits she’s lonely and tells him he doesn’t sound good. He promises to take care of himself and hangs up. How long before the stress makes him well and truly crazy?
Nucky and Chalky are meeting at Chalky’s house, and now that he’s getting outside pressure, Chalky’s putting the screws to Nucky over what’s to be done about the four dead young men. Nucky nonchalantly tells him the families will be compensated, because he hasn’t been confronted by a bevy of angry black ladies recently like Chalky has, and therefore doesn’t have the fear of God in him. Chalky doesn’t want money, he wants revenge on the Klan. Nucky tells him he has to sit tight. That does not sit well with Chalky, because, like I said, he’s under serious pressure. As he leaves, Nucky tells him that he’s not the only one with scores to settle.
Three of the girls from the party (who, it was mentioned, were also brought to AC to sway votes during the last election) are in a lawyer’s office to sign affidavits that they were brought to AC by Nucky to, well, sway votes. Fleming’s hovering on the side, sort of coaching the girls. The lawyer—a DA, I’m guessing, or a Federal Prosecutor—notes that the charges keep piling up. Fleming plays his part by commenting that Nucky has it coming.
TF’s posing for Angela, who sketches away as TF notes Angela’s and Jimmy’s wedding photo. It’s kind of funny looking—it looks like Jimmy’s head was Photoshopped onto another body. TF suddenly tells her that Jimmy loves her. She asks if TF was ever in love. He says no, but he was very close to his twin sister when they were growing up because there weren’t any other kids their age nearby. Angela asks if he visits her often, and TF explains that she nursed him when he came back from the war, and she didn’t treat him any differently from how it was before the war. He, however, felt differently towards her. He’d gone cold—he felt nothing when he saw her. So, once his wounds healed, he moved to Chicago and he hasn’t spoken to her since. Angela looks…strangely turned on by this. She’s got heaving breasts and everything. As she takes this in, TF removes his mask and shows her the extent of his injuries. She doesn’t recoil, just picks up a new piece of paper and gets back to drawing.
Sleater’s at work in some cellar-like area, building a primitive bomb and telling Fleming and Nucky that he was good at sending serious messages back in Ireland. He calmly explains that it was their mission to execute a bombing per week. Fleming looks a bit freaked out at the sight of the bomb, and even Nucky takes a pull from a flask. Sleater’s clearly done this many, many times, however, and he’s totally cool. Nucky tells him to go after Mickey Doyle.
Up in New York, Luciano and Meyer are talking business when Benny the Wierdo comes in to tell them Rothstein’s waiting to see them. They bring him into their office, a bit nervous to have him there, and Rothstein tells them about his deal with Nucky, which, as we know, includes having Meyer and Luciano as the muscle. Luciano’s reluctant, since they have some things going on just now, but Meyer tells him they’re honored, and further honored he came all the way down there to tell them personally. Rothestein informs them he was in the neighborhood to have tripe with Masseria. Ick, tripe. I’ve tried it once; probably never again. Rothstein feels the same way, but he ate it anyway, to keep the peace. There are some things, he tells Luciano, you just have to swallow. Rothstein leaves and Lucky throws some things around in frustration.
Dinnertime at the White household. Chalky’s wife welcomes Samuel the pre-doctoral beau and asks him to lead them in grace. He happily agrees and gets two whole words in before Chalky, who’s brooding and drinking whiskey, asks if this is a duck he sees before him? It is, and he’s annoyed, because he asked for hoppin’ John. His wife tries to smooth the waters, but Chalky’s clearly spoiling for a fight, and he jumps down poor Samuel’s throat the first chance he gets, purposely taking offense when Samuel says he likes country food like hoppin’ John. Chalky starts to yell that this is his house and he puts the food on the table. His wife shouts at him to shut up, because he’s drunk. The poor daughter’s in tears. Samuel, who seems like a good guy, apologizes and offers to leave, but Chalky tells him to sit tight and then leaves in a snit. I bet he missed a really good duck, that thing looked delicious. And see if you get your hoppin’ John now, Chalky.
At the Darmody Manse, Angela finishes up her drawing of TF and shows it to him. He asks her what she wants for it and she gives it to him. Jimmy returns home with the kid and asks her what she was up to. She tells him she was sketching TF, and Jimmy thinks nothing at all of that. As Angela puts her paints and brushes away, Jimmy tells TF that they’re going to have to go to Philly the next day. TF departs and Jimmy asks if he really sat for her. She asks him if that’s really so surprising and Jimmy admits he’s never sure what’s going on in TF’s head.
The story that Nucky provided prostitutes for voters is front-page news, which I’m sure Margaret will love. Nucky’s delighted, however, calling it a great idea, because the whole thing’s a setup. Margaret’s the one reading the newspaper with the splashy headline, and as I predicted, she’s pissed. She asks if this is really something to be proud of, and Nucky tells her it’s not pride, it’s happiness because, as I thought, the Attorney General can now exercise his influence to help. And what if he doesn’t want to help? What then, Nucky? Nucky reassures Margaret he was never involved with any of these women, and she tells him she believes him. She suddenly asks him for $100 to get clothes for the kids, and he readily hands it over. Once she’s got the cash in hand, she goes upstairs to bed. And to stash that money under a loose floorboard, I’m guessing.
Van Alden’s boys pull up to Mickey Doyle’s warehouse and note the smell of alcohol in the air. Oh, God, they’re totally dead. Guy 1 is all gung ho to make some arrests and tells Guy 2 to check around back. As they’re approaching the warehouse, it blows up, sending one of the officers flying, on fire. Guy 2 puts him out, but he’s basically another Two Face now.
Chez Thompson/Schroeder, Margaret stashes the cash with several other bills in a secret slot under her jewelry case. Meanwhile, at Chalky’s, the White family and their guest gather around the piano for some good, wholesome fun while Chalky sulks and whittles out in the garage.
Gillian’s feeding the Commodore, who isn’t cooperating. She takes a drink, frustrated, and calms down enough to ask him if he remembers when they first met. She remembers his smile, which is just like Jimmy’s. Or was. She takes another swig of her drink and starts to talk about their first night, how he plied her with wine until she passed out, then carried her upstairs before going back downstairs to say goodnight to his guests. Oh, God, this is getting more uncomfortable and horrible by the minute. She remembers being happy, but then the crushing feeling of him being on top of her, clamping her mouth shut with one hand. Tearfully, she asks him if he remembers that. He tries to answer, but he’s incomprehensible. She tells him that, even to this day, when she sleeps, the memory sometimes wakes her with a start. She asks again if he remembers that night, and he tries to answer, but can’t, so she starts beating the crap out of him. Ok. Wow, that was a hell of a disturbing and sad episode. Not that I’m on the Commodore’s side or anything, but there’s something so awful about watching someone beat a person who can’t defend or speak for themselves. On that pleasant note, I guess I’ll go to bed.