Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Gillian found a Jimmy replacement, Two Face found a crush, Margaret’s son got kinda creepy, and she got it on with Sleater again.
It feels slightly strange writing and watching this, knowing that AC is currently mostly under water. To everyone in NY, NJ, and all the other states that just got slapped around by Sandy, best of luck—my thoughts are with you. Those are my old stomping grounds and I still have lots of friends and family there.
On with the show. We open with Eli creeping around outside in his bathrobe in the early morning hours, clutching a large cardboard box. He bends down beside a bush, glances around, and eventually we see that he’s hiding Easter eggs. Aww, I remember childhood Easter egg hunts! They were fun! Of course, I didn’t have siblings to compete with, so I had it pretty easy on those.
Gillian lies in bed, looking fragile. TF knocks on the door and reports that everyone’s been sent out of the house for the day. She asks about some event he’s going to that day—a dinner with some other vets—and she tells him Tommy’s not to be subjected to rough language. At the first sign of any roughness, he’s to take the boy elsewhere. TF asks how she’s feeling and she says it’s awful. Her woman’s complaint, you know. She just wants to be left alone for a while. Easter’s lousy for business anyway. I’ll bet the day after’s great, though, what with Lent ending and all. TF quietly leaves. Once he’s gone, she gets out of bed and tosses her sleep mask aside.
Chez Thompson, little Emily’s reeling off the names of all of Eli’s offspring, and considering he has about 892 kids, that says a lot about her memory. Nucky compliments her and says she could make a hell of a politician someday. Teddy scoffs at the idea that a girl could be a politician but Nucky reminds him that England (and other European countries, historically) has queens.
Gillian’s got her Replacement Jimmy in for the day. He’s nervous and can’t believe she lives in this place. She says her late husband left it to her. He figures she’s rich but she chuckles that she can barely keep the lights on. They flirt a bit and he suggests they work their way through the house, if you know what I mean. I must say, this guy’s either a terrible actor or he’s supposed to be completely charmless and is doing a great job. He’s flat as a pancake. Gillian proposes food first. You need to keep up your strength, after all.
The Thompsons arrive at Eli’s for Easter dinner and wait patiently as Emily navigates the stairs on her crutches. Eli and his entire family wait at the top, staring down at the kid. Mrs. Eli—June—asks if they should help but Margaret says no, not unless Ems asks. She seems to be doing pretty well—she’s a plucky little thing. But she does ask for a hand with the last couple of steps, and Eli’s eldest comes running to lend a hand. She identifies him as Will. Gold star, Emily! June bids the kids say hello to their aunt and uncle and Nucky introduces Margaret. Seems a little strange that Margaret hasn’t had any interaction with Eli’s family over the past year and a half, despite the bad blood between Nucky and Eli, but I guess she really didn’t feel obligated to, since their relationship’s just for show and all. The kids come one by one to be introduced.
Two Face and Tommy, meanwhile, are arriving at their own dinner destination: the home of Sagorsky, the vet with the pretty daughter. Richard’s toting a big bouquet of flowers. Aww. Tommy wonders if they’re seeing TF’s sister, and TF is surprised to hear he even mentioned her to the kid. He knocks on the door and asks the boy how he looks. Tommy suggests he straighten his glasses. Julia opens the door and accepts the flowers and there’s a bit of a cute moment before her dad interrupts to sarcastically ask Richard if he brought the flowers for him.
Eli and Nucky sit alone together on the porch. Eli asks if things are going well but Nucky’s reluctant to talk business with him. Things are still pretty tense, especially when Nucky finds out he can’t have a drink before sundown. Eli says he just wants them to have a nice dinner.
At dinner, Ems says the prayer, with some coaching from Margaret. Once she’s done, June starts to talk about how grateful she is for all Nucky’s done. She gets a bit weepy, so happy is she that they’re all together for the holiday. Eli sweetly dries her tears, kisses her, and compliments her beautiful words. Aww. Look at that—a fairly functional relationship on this show!
At the Sagorsky house, grace is also being said and Sagorsky takes offense at how another vet prays. Oh, he’s a peach, this one. He next turns on Tommy, because nothing says “this guy’s a complete asshole” like coming down like a ton of bricks on a six-year-old. He demands to know who the hell the kid is and why he’s at his table and his daughter wearily reminds him that Richard takes care of him. Another vet/neighbour jokes that it’s the same as how Julia takes care of him, but without the diaper changes. Yeah, that’ll calm this guy down. This is going to be a long, miserable dinner. Sagorsky complains about Easter and a fellow guest reminds him there’s a kid there and maybe he should tone it down, but he’s soon on a roll, wondering where Jesus was when he was out waiting to get killed. He asks TF what good Jesus ever did him and Julia tries to calm her dad down. TF tells him that, just because he doesn’t believe in something doesn’t mean it isn’t true. Sagorsky calls him a disappointment and calls for dinner to commence. Everyone digs in except for TF, but Julia’s thought about this and asks for his help in the kitchen. There, she sarcastically observes that this is going well, and it’s only going to get worse. Great! Christmas in this house must be awesome! She tells Richard that her father likes him. He has a funny way of showing it. Before she returns to the dining room, she shows him the TF-friendly plate of soft foods she’s made up for him and set out on the kitchen table, saying she figured he didn’t want to make a fuss. Awww, she understands! She even remembered to put a straw in the glass of water. Richard’s clearly touched and thanks her. She departs and leaves him to his meal, inviting him to come back out when he’s ready. He sits, prays, and begins to eat.
NYC. One of Gyp’s minions is building him up by reminding him how much territory he still controls, despite the Tabor Heights debacle. They’re called down to dinner but Gyp continues methodically brushing his suit. Minion admits they did lose quite a bit of turf and have virtually no manpower. Well, no, not since several of his guys got slaughtered in Jersey. This is all to explain why minion’s envelope is light that week. Gyp’s mother or wife or whatever hammers on the door and yells at him to come down, but Gyp continues to ignore her. Minon asks him what he wants to do about all this, but before Gyp can answer Female Relative hammers on the door and he shouts at her to start without him. She keeps yelling until he finally opens the door and obediently comes out and takes a seat at the table. Wife (I guess) gives him shit about wearing an undershirt to the table and accuses him of being in love with his suit. Minion comes out and tries to excuse himself, but Female Relative and Gyp’s glare make him stay. Prayers commence, in Italian, naturally. And Gyp, being the man of the house, gets to start. Naturally.
Replacement Jimmy is settling down to his own meal and his own prayer, which is less religious and more fun: Father, son, and Holy Ghost, whoever eats the fastest gets the most. Heh. Gillian asks if he made that up himself but he says he picked it up somewhere. He’s been all over the place and just picks things up along the way. She calls him an adventurer and he asks what’s keeping her there. Memories, mostly, she says. He suggests she put those behind her, sell the house, and go cross country with him. They flirt and he tells her to hike up her dress and spread her legs. Sexy. They have sex right on the dinner table.
Eli lays out the rules of the Easter egg hunt before sending the kids off for their scramble. Whoever finds the most eggs gets ten cents, but whoever finds a red egg gets a quarter, and that’ll get you quite a bit of penny candy. Off the kids go, with Will offering to help Ems out. Aww. Eli gets nostalgic, remembering their mother putting out three red eggs. Nucky, of course, remembers their dad keeping the money. Does he have any good memories of his father? Surely there must have been one? Then again, maybe not. Eli invites Nucky for that drink he asked for earlier and Nucky agrees.
Margaret watches the kids from inside and compliments June on being able to manage such a giant family. June compliments her right back and they bond over kids and the difficulty raising them. Margaret sincerely tells June she’s sorry for what she had to go through the last two years. June breezily says it’s all in the past. She’s surprised they came for Easter, though, since they’d never met before despite being in-laws. June thinks it’s because of Nucky and his falling out with Eli, but she admits that Eli worships him, despite their differences. Margaret’s surprised to hear that. June reminds her of the nightmare house the boys grew up in and how Nucky held them all together. Margaret admits Nucky doesn’t talk to her about that, and then goes on to tell June that Nucky’s unfaithful and their marriage is essentially a sham. Oh, says June, because what can you really say to that? She focuses on the dessert Margaret brought—pineapple upside-down cake. Ick. June goes to find a cake dish for it but takes a moment to pat Margaret kindly on the shoulder as she passes her. Outside, one of the kids crows over finding a red egg.
Sagorsky’s in fine form, complaining about a politician who’s crooked (aren’t they all?). Richard returns and Sagorsky declares him back from the dead. TF foolishly asks what he missed and Julia essentially says there aren’t enough hours left in the day for a recap. Sagorsky complains about Eugene Debs and one of the vets incorrectly ids Debs as a Bolshevik. Richard corrects that he’s actually a Socialist, but the vet doesn’t know the difference. Tommy gets up and tells Sagorsky he needs to go to the bathroom. Sagorsky asks why he should care and Julia tells him to just tell the kid where the bathroom is. He asks Harrow if the kid’s housebroken. “Mostly,” Richard answers. Heh. Sagorsky gives the kid directions and off he goes, but on the way upstairs he stumbles across Sagorsky’s dead son’s room and the enticing array of toy soldiers spread out on a table there.
Eli and Nucky pour their drinks out in the garage and sit there making rather awkward small talk for a bit before Eli’s Dutch courage kicks in and he tells Nucky he can’t keep going this way—taking crap from Doyle and loading trucks. You’d really think Nucky would have reconsidered having Mickey in charge of everything after he got a whole damn convoy slaughtered, but no, apparently not. Nucky accuses Eli of using this whole holiday as a means to get a better job. Hey, if it works… Nucky reminds Eli that he did sort of conspire to have Nucky killed that one time, and that’s a wound that’s pretty damn slow to heal. Eli fetches a pistol and hands it to his brother, urging him to take it and shoot him, if that’s what he wants. He’s sure Nucky’s going to do it at some point and he’s tired of waiting for it. Nucky takes the gun, unloads it, and asks Eli why he has to be so melodramatic.
Post-sex, Replacement Jimmy asks Gillian about the rich guy she married. She says they knew each other since they were children, and she was older than him, but somehow they put that aside for a little while. Yeesh. And then he walked out one night and she never saw him. RJ figures this means she doesn’t know if he’s dead or not. Gillian changes the subject to all the places they can explore if they take off together. He suggests Cuba, where they can get big pitchers of rum punch and kick back. She likes the sound of all the freedom. He likes the sound of having sex with her again. First, though, there’s something she wants to do: take a bath.
Sagorsky finds Tommy playing with the soldiers and freaks out, dragging him roughly out of the room as Tommy yells in fear and pain. Julia comes running, followed closely by Richard, and Sagorsky angrily tells them the boy snuck into his son’s room. Julia reminds him that Tommy’s just a kid and none of this matters, but her father tells her they matter more than she does. Richard steps in and tells Sagorsky to let go of the kid or he’ll kill him. Sagorsky wisely complies and tells everyone to get out immediately. He then shuts himself into the room to cry.
Julia sees the guests out, and the other vets are really sweet with her. Richard’s the last to leave, and he awkwardly asks her out by basically commanding her to leave with him and Tommy. After ascertaining that he’s trying to be nice and not a controlling jerk, she agrees.
Ahh, we’ve come to the talent show portion of the evening. One of Eli’s daughters plays Beautiful Dreamer on a saw and is politely applauded for her efforts. June suggests Eli go next and suggests he do his pirate impression. He’s not interested, so the kids call on Nucky (one of them hilariously suggests he show some leg), who briefly demurs before obliging them with a funny story and juggling exhibition. It’s cute and everyone loves it. June calls on Margaret next, and though she’s reluctant, Nucky pointedly says he’d like to see what’s up her sleeve. So she gets up and starts to sing a little ditty. Nucky smiles a bit wistfully.
Julia and TF are on the Boardwalk, she berating herself for even trying to have a nice Easter dinner. TF tells her he had a great time and she tries to figure out if he’s teasing her or not. She wonders if one of the freaks is real and Richard suggests they find out, but she says she can’t bear to look. And then she feels guilty for saying that to him and admits she doesn’t really know what to say and what not to say to him. He tells her to say whatever she wants, so she asks him not to threaten to kill her dad again, because while he’s a jerk, she doesn’t like that. She next turns her attention to the kid, who’s wandered a bit too close to a camel and is yanked away by TF. Julia suggests Tommy go home, but before they can get a move on, a Boardwalk photographer grabs them, assuming they’re a family, and forces them into a fake family portrait. That seemed a little forced.
Gyp’s gone to church to accuse Jesus of tempting him with wonderful things and then taking them away. He’s seriously pissed off, yelling at the painted crucifix and demanding an explanation. A priest overhears and comes in to ask if he’s ok. Gyp claims he’s praying but the priest corrects that he’s yelling. So, Gyp punches him and robs the church of all the offering plate takings. Charming. I have to say, this character is doing nothing for me. As a villain, I find him incredibly dull and an uninspiring foil for Nucky. He feels flat—some mindless thug who kills for no reason and is berated at home by all his female relatives? Way to sidestep all those Italian mobster stereotypes, show. With the others, I at least get the sense of some depth—yes, they do horrible things but are also capable of great kindness and gentility (witness Al’s interactions with his son). This guy’s just boring. I see that he’s opposite Nucky in the sense that Nucky’s all brains and this guy’s all brawn, but it seems so back-and-white and I really expect more from this show. Could Nucky really have not had this guy taken out by this point, seeing as how he’s got some pretty good brawn on his side—Sleater? Speaking of, where is Sleater? Having a quiet Easter with Katie and the Kewpie Dolls, I guess.
Gillian, another character I don’t really care about, leads RJ blindfolded into a fantasy fake marble bathhouse for some fun time. She directs him into the bath and begins to wash him, urging him to close his eyes and relax, because she’s going to make him feel very good. She muses that he’s a good person, and he tells her he’s just trying to get along, because this isn’t the easiest life. She reassures him that it’ll be easier now, and then she jams a needle full of heroin in his arm. He protests as long as he can, and then slumps back into the bath. She pushes him under and drowns him. Farwell, RJ. Once he’s dead, she puts Jimmy’s dogtags on him, places the needle next to the bath, and smokes contemplatively.
Gyp goes to see Masseria, who scolds him for avoiding him all day and yells at him for starting a war in New Jersey and neglecting his business in New York. Neglecting business seems to be a theme for this season. Gyp promises he has it all under control, but Masseria says he can’t control Gyp, and he also can’t rely on him. Gyp’s a liability to everyone these days. Gyp desperately tells him that Nucky’s in bed with Rothstein and Lucky and soon they’re going to come for Masseria’s business. He warns Joe that there’s going to be a war soon and asks for Masseria’s blessing to kill Nucky, Rothstein, Lucky, and everyone else they work with. Once he does that, Masseria will be king. Masseria, who’d been on his way out the door, sits down to hear more.
Margaret finishes putting the kids to bed and comes downstairs, where Nucky observes that they seemed to have fun that day. Margaret agrees and adds that June seems sweet. Nucky tells her she and Eli got together super young—at 17 and 20. Woah. I’d be more shocked by that, but my own grandmother was only in her late teens when she got married. It amazed me, when I was 18, to think my grandmother was married at that age.
Margaret tells Nucky June’s grateful to him for all he’s done. She’s also surprised to learn he knows how to juggle, and to be charming and generous. For once, there doesn’t appear to be an rancour in her voice. He says he can say the same about her but she tells him she can’t juggle. He smiles and offers to teach her, but she gently says it’s too late. She goes back upstairs as his face falls.
June’s sitting at the kitchen table, looking exhausted. Eli comes in and snuggles her adorably. He urges her to go to bed and tells her she did a great job. She whispers that the kids love seeing Nucky, and she likes Margaret, though she knows she’s unhappy. Eli tells her that’s their problem. True. The phone rings and Eli goes to pick up, telling her again, more firmly, to go get some sleep.
It’s Nucky on the phone, finally admitting that he should have given Eli more credit for flagging the whole Tabor Heights massacre. He tells Eli he’ll be running the warehouse along with Mickey, starting the following day. Eil’s shocked but recovers enough to say thank you. Nucky finishes by telling him the whole family had a good time.
TF takes out his fake family picture and pastes it into his sorrowful scrapbook. It’s nice that this one doesn’t have to be a composite of magazine images. Gillian knocks on the door and, at his invitation, comes in. She quietly asks how the afternoon was and he tells her there were some ups and downs, but in the end it was ok. She asks if Tommy behaved and TF says he did. She seems sad and distracted, and when he hesitantly asks if she’s feeling better, she almost dissolves into tears before telling him her son is dead and nothing will ever bring him back. From downstairs, one of the girls starts screaming, having presumably found RJ in the bath. TF takes off to investigate, while Gillian cries in his room.