Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Chalky figured out that Dunn was allied with Narcisse and dealing H, and during their tussle Daughter Maitland killed Dunn. Rothstein started showing signs of a serious gambling problem, and Richard returned to town.
Van Alden’s under the sink in his kitchen, trying to fix something, unsuccessfully. His wife is not pleased. Van Alden is not pleased with his crying son and bleeding hand. The missus complains about the house and mocks Van Alden’s job, making it clear she knows he’s no florist. She basically tells him to step up and get more cash.
Daughter’s rehearsing at the Onyx while Chalky fills Nucky in on the Narcisse-Dunn connection. Chalky wants Narcisse taken out, but Nucky’s reluctant to do so without firm proof he was really connected to Dunn and the attempt on Chalky’s life. Nucky tells Chalky that, if he moves against Narcisse, he’ll be inviting a whole rain of shit down on himself. Furthermore, Nucky warns Chalky that he needs to keep his head in his business, when it’s serious stuff like this, and not let him get distracted by things like sexy singers and pride. Chalky reminds Nucky that he saved his ass the year before, and Nucky counters by pointing out that he evened the score by getting Chalky a nightclub on the Boardwalk. Nucky tries to remind Chalky of all the good things he has in life, but Chalky just wants to know what he’s going to do about Narcisse. Nucky agrees to feel him out and see where things stand.
At the flower shop, O’Banion’s chattering about the Leopold and Loeb case. He mentions the truck that VA helped the Capones boost a few episodes back, and the driver, who was essentially turned into human Swiss cheese. VA plays dumb, but O’Banion’s clearly got his suspicions. VA warns him about taking an accusatory tone, and he’s scary enough that O’Banion claps him on the shoulder and sends him off with a delivery. A man with a nasty burn mark on his face—the jackass VA ironed out last season—spots him through the shop window and hurries away.
It’s high season in AC, and even Gillian’s out enjoying the sun with Roy. She tells him she got her first kiss under the Boardwalk, with a boy named James. They were supposed to meet up again, but that night wound up being the one she was picked to be one of Neptune’s consorts, which led directly to her being raped and impregnated by the Commodore. Roy looks rightly shocked and horrified, even more so when we learn she was just shy of her 13th birthday. Eeeek! And she named the baby James, after the last pure thing she could remember. God, that’s awful. I mean, we know this story already, but it’s still horrible. Roy asks what happened to her son, and she says he struggled to find his place after the war and overdosed on heroin. There’s not much one can say to a story like that.
Madden’s paying a visit to Narcisse in Harlem to tell him that Masseria’s squeezed Rothstein out of the heroin business. Really? When did that happen? Masseria’s not quite as comfortable selling to African Americans as Rothstein, but Narcisse wants to meet him anyway. Madden suggests he come along to the Cotton Club.
VA delivers the wreath and is hauled into the apartment by Ralph Capone. Al’s already waiting, having ordered the wreath as a sort of joke (it’s a funeral wreath for O’Banion). They force him to sit down and start asking for dirt on O’Banion. When Van Alden has nothing to say, Ralph smacks him in the head. ‘Hit me again, you’ll regret it,’ VA warns him. Something appears to have finally fully snapped in him, because he’s completely badass at this point, refusing to be intimidated by the Capones and calmly reminding them that they can’t really kill him, because then they’ll never find out the best way to kill O’Banion. Al pulls a gun and puts it to VA’s head, and VA demands $1000 to kill O’Banion the next day.
Maybelle and Leonore White are discussing wedding plans—they worry about having an odd number of guests on the guest list. Leonore’s also annoyed at her husband’s beaten-up appearance, because Maybelle’s future in-laws, the Crawfords, are coming to dinner that night. Maybelle shows him the guest list and he tells her to take Dunn off. Leonore pauses in her silver polishing just long enough to indicate she knows what that means.
Rothstein’s contemplatively chalking a pool cue. One of his flunkies asks if he needs the car again, and then asks if Rothstein’s ok. He says he’s fine, but asks the man why he doesn’t gamble. The man says he doesn’t have the stomach for it. Rothstein remembers his first time playing craps at nine years old, and winning. He used to be lucky, but now, not so much.
Nucky has summoned Eli for a talk about the Chalky situation. He’s worried Chalky’s getting out of hand and wonders how he can really sanction Narcisse’s murder. Eli asks exactly why that’s a problem and Nucky tells him that Narcisse has a lot of business contacts, so offing him could make things difficult. He’s mostly worried about pissing off Madden. They both agree that he can’t agree to the hit. Nucky changes the subject and asks how Will’s doing. Just fine, apparently.
Van Alden arms himself and gets snippy with his wife, who just wants their house to have functional doors. He teaches her the subtle art of sarcasm before departing for the day.
Gillian’s up in front of the judge, explaining herself. Richard arrives and takes a seat, throwing her briefly, but she recovers and does a fairly decent job of making her case. Next, it’s Julia’s turn. She explains that Tommy thinks of her home as home now, and that she and her father have been the ones raising and comforting and nurturing this child. The judge confirms that Julia is unmarried and asks Sagorsky what he does. He says he lives off a pension. The judge says they tend to prefer giving kids to blood relatives, but he promises to review the case and render a decision the next day.
VA arrives at work, but while he’s in the back alley, he’s set upon by Ironface and two other former co-workers, who beat the crap out of him, until he pulls out his pistol. They tell him to relax, and he coldly tells him he’s perfectly relaxed, before shooting all three of them dead. Woah.
Rothstein goes to Nucky with an offer to sell him a $500K life insurance policy Rothstein took out on Mickey Doyle sometime back. Nucky’s cool with just having Mickey killed, but Rothstein’s in the mood for a less messy resolution. Nucky asks him if he’s got money troubles and Rothstein admits he was the victim of an unscrupulous broker. Nucky offers $100K for the policy.
Chez White, the flowers and good china are out, and Chalky looks for confirmation his suit looks good. Leonore refuses to give it, and things are super tense. Thankfully, the Crawfords show up and Maybelle and her brother go to answer the door.
Richard watches Sagorsky and Tommy playing in the yard while Julia sighs that her father’s drinking has ramped up again. She asks what Richard and her father talk about all the time. ‘Things we’ve been through,’ he answers, adding that Sagorsky worries about her. She wonders why he’s worried about her, in a tone that suggests she already knows what’s up. She asks Richard if her father’s dying from the drinking and he refuses to confirm it, telling her Sagorsky will tell her when he’s ready. Julia sits with Richard and tells him the judge clearly thinks she’d have a better shot at keeping Tommy if she were married. Richard’s clearly a bit thrown, but after a minute, he steps up and agrees. Awww!
Narcisse is in Daughter’s rooms, quizzing her about the night Dunn died. She claims he never showed up. Narcisse muses that he always meant to keep her out of his business muck and she bigs him up a bit, because that’s essentially her job. He kneels beside her and reminds her of what they pledged to each other, years ago: that he would protect her and not interfere in her personal life, and her heart would always belong to him. He angrily notes that there are shards of glass in her rug and that she’s now crushed him. He backhands her, hard.
VA’s back home, telling his wife he was set about by strangers. He fights a little more with his wife, but his shouting’s interrupted by the Capones hammering on the door. He lets them in and they are seriously pissed off that O’Banion’s still alive. VA promises to get the job done that night. Al threatens to put VA in a grave himself if he screws this up again.
Lester White’s entertaining his family and the Crawfords with some ragtime-y music, which everyone’s enjoying. They clap politely. Mrs C jokes that they won’t even need a band by the time the wedding comes around. The ladies go to discuss seating arrangements and the phone rings. A summons for Chalky, from the piano player at the club. Apparently, there’s an emergency. Chalky apologises and excuses himself.
Julia and Richard are at the courthouse, waiting for a late judge to marry them. He finally appears and she asks if Richard’s sure about this. He is.
Chalky gets to Daughter’s room and finds her in bed, reluctant to even look at him. He gently pulls the blankets away from her face and we see she’s beaten to a bloody pulp. Holy shit that’s bad. He asks if Narcisse did this and she confirms it. Chalky, trying to contain his rage, tells the pianist to keep looking after her until he gets back.
Narcisse arrives at the Onyx, where he scopes the room, then purposely goes and sits down at Nucky’s table. The other patrons stare and Nucky advises him to stand up. Narcisse refuses and tells Nucky that Chalky’s days are numbered, as his political power is abating. And speak of the devil, in comes Chalky, with a serious head of steam on him, telling Narcisse to get his ass up and go fist-to-fist with a man for a bit. Nucky warns Chalky to back off now, before he starts a war that he’ll have to fight on his own. Chalky impotently flips over the table, as the dancers come out to perform a pretty racist bit that must have been galling to do.
O’Banion finds VA sweeping up the shop and asks what happened the night his truck got stolen and Stewie got gunned down. He holds a gun to VA’s head and demands the truth. VA, who apparently now has ice in his veins, says he didn’t kill Stew, but he did kill lots of other men. Also, he use to be a Prohie, his name isn’t Mueller, he’s not legally married to his wife, and he believes in absolutely nothing nowadays. Unsure how to respond to that, O’Banion tells him to finish sweeping up and goes to attend to a customer out front. Another man comes in, and while he’s distracting O’Banion, the two other men poking around shoot him dead. Well, saved VA the trouble, at least. VA helps himself to the cash from the till before taking off, passing by the rotting bodies of the men he killed that morning. It’s just been one of those days, you know?
Upon returning to the Albatross, Nucky tells his new Eddie to get a few extra men around for protection. While they’re discussing it, Richard comes out of the mist to announce he got married that day and would like a job. Awww, yeah, I’ve been waiting for this since…well, since even before Owen died, to be honest.
VA gets home, wakes his wife, and asks her to say who built their house and who pays their bills. That’s right, it’s time for him to assert his manliness, aided by a fistful of cash. He tells her his real name (for the first time? Not sure.), throws the money in the air, and orders her to take off her nightgown while he starts unbuttoning his shirt. She obeys and they start getting down to some pretty hot sex. What is it with this show and aggression=turn on?
Back in AC, Roy’s on the phone, reassuring someone that it won’t be much longer. When Gillian comes in, his tone lightens considerably and he tells her it’s just business. She admits that she’s having a rough night, but she knows she needs to be strong, for Tommy. He warns her to prepare for the decision, whatever it is. She stresses about it a little, and he holds her.
Chalky’s back with Daughter, soothing her. She urges him to go home, telling him she’ll be fine in a few days. He’s staying. She tries to persuade him not to kill Narcisse, but he can’t promise that. Someone knocks on the door, and it turns out it’s Maybelle, who knows exactly what’s going on between her father and Daughter. Man, that’s a creepy sentence when you read it like that, right? She angrily stomps out.
Sally’s woken down in Tampa by the ringing phone. It’s Nucky, looking for a chat. They talk about the weather in their respective necks of the woods, and then he offers to come down to Florida, you know, to check on things. She’s like, whatever, and invites him to call her again the next day. They hang up and Nucky closes his porch doors against the fog coming in, as It Had to be You kicks up on the soundtrack. Sally settles down to bed, with her shotgun, which seems both dangerous and uncomfortable.