Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Nucky pretended to retire, while simultaneously working quietly with Chalky to create chaos in AC and with Sleater to get something going inIreland. Jimmy stupidly believed Nucky was going to go quietly and let his full psychopath flag fly, possibly killing Mickey Doyle for no reason at all.
We start off inBelfast, where Nucky and Sleater are hitting immigration. Nucky claims his trip is to bury his father, and he’s got the casket with him and everything. The immigration officer stamps his passport and welcomes them to theKingdomofGreat Britain, which clearly irks Sleater, though he manages to fakely give a God Save the King.
Back home, Margaret gets a telegram notifying her that Nucky arrived safely. Katie annoyingly rhapsodizes about how amazing it is that someone can cross the whole ocean in only six days. Margaret dismissively tells her they have these things called steamships now, as the nanny comes down to tell her Emily won’t get out of bed. Margaret goes up to check on her and Emily tells her she can’t move. Oh, God, it’s polio, isn’t it? Margaret starts pinching her legs gently, asking if she can feel it. She can’t, nor can she wiggle her toes. Margaret yells for Katie to call the doctor, then goes back to her daughter.
Jimmy, Lucky, Al (man, doesn’t Al have any responsibilities to see to back in Chicago? Seems like he spends a lot of time in AC these days), and Meyer meet with George Remus at Jimmy’s house. Jimmy asks about Remus’s supply of medicinal alcohol and Remus confirms he has it. And then we get to see Mickey Doyle, who is, miraculously, not dead, and is also hanging around in the house of the man who threw him off a balcony. Jesus! Is he suicidal, or just that desperate for cash? He’s wearing a neck brace that looks both comical and incredibly uncomfortable. Remus tells them that he’s only allowed to sell the booze to licensed buyers, but once it’s bought, he has no say in what happens to the shipment, if you get his meaning. Jimmy does. Info about the shipments will cost them, though. They’re willing to pay, and even to provide the cash up front, all $300K of it. Hoo boy. Where’re they getting that kind of money?
Remus leaves and most of the boys start celebrating a bit early, with Mickey predicting the alcohol will be worth $3 million once they move it. Meyer, as usual, is the smartest man there and takes a moment to remember Manny the Butcher in Philly. Jimmy, of course, just says screw him, but Meyer suggests they pay him so they can avoid the headache of having a major enemy down the road. When did Jimmy get so stupid and cavalier? Jimmy says he’ll take care of this. The boys talk a bit about the upcoming Dempsey fight before departing.
Nucky’s at an undertaker’s, and even over inIreland, all they can talk about is this fight. The undertaker asks Nucky who he thinks’ll win, and Nucky puts his money on Dempsy, metaphorically speaking. Sleater shows up with Mcgarrigle, so the meeting can get started. Nucky opens the casket and we see that, of course, it doesn’t contain his father’s body. It’s full of those surplus machine guns we saw at the armory last week. Sleater, with a creepy gleam in his eye, says these can finish off an entire battalion in under a minute. Lovely. Nucky says they’re his contribution to the glorious rebellion. And there are more where these came from. Mcgarrigle asks what he wants in return for the rest and Nucky tells him he’s after Irish whiskey. Mcgarrigle’s disgusted by the request, which naturally gets Nucky’s hackles up. Mcgarrigle says he has to talk to the leadership, and he’ll be in touch.
Stateside, Nucky’s father is actually being buried, and there’s a pretty good crowd there, for such a nasty old geezer. They’re watched by Randolph’s right-hand man, who eventually drives away.
At Margaret’s, the doctor tries to get Emily to move her foot, which she still can’t do. He manages to remain upbeat, even as he tells Margaret to get her son out of there, fast. Margaret dispatches him with the nanny, and once he’s gone, she asks the doctor if it’s polio. He admits she has all the symptoms and she’ll have to be quarantined at the children’s hospital.
In some hotel kitchen, a white manager comes in and yells at the black dishwasher, insultingly referring to the man as “boy” even though he’s nothing of the kind. The workers, all of whom are black, are served up lunch, which they get a whole 10 minutes to enjoy. They sit down and the dishwasher takes the opportunity to start stirring shit up. Oh, God, it’s that obnoxious Pernsley jackass. Of course he’s stirring shit up. He complains about the food, like the cook has any control over the quality of what he’s permitted to serve. He starts insulting the others for putting up with all the crap they do, and they start to respond. The manager returns and asks what the problem is. Pernsley says they’re just discussing the food. The manager offers to fire him if he says another word.
At the children’s hospital, Margaret watches from outside Emily’s room as her daughter prepares for a spinal tap. Yikes! In 1921? Emily starts crying for her mother, then screams and sobs horribly as the needle goes in. That little girl’s doing a hell of a job here. Margaret starts to cry. I start to cry. Thank God for vaccines, and if any anti-vaccine parents are out there watching this, take note. There’s a reason we came up with these vaccines in the first place. Jonas Salk was not just some bored guy looking to make a buck, these diseases routinely killed and devastated children’s lives, and yes, they could now make a comeback thanks to you. Just last week I heard about an outbreak of whooping cough in New York state. Whooping cough!
Ok, back to the show. Prosecutor Randolph is enjoying a post-coital cigarette with her associate, Lathrop, the same guy who was spying on the funeral earlier. She starts talking shop, asking him if he thinks Nucky’s a murderer. He doesn’t really want to talk about this, but he does volunteer that he thinks a lot of Van Alden’s accusations are fictional. He tells her about the funeral, which surprises her, because she was under the impression Mr. Thompson was being buried in Belfast. She gave Nucky permission to take him over and anything. Ohh, Nucky’s going to be so on her shit list when he gets back. Like he needed to be on there again. She’s pissed, so she tells Lathrop to bring in Eli’s deputy so they can get some answers, since Eli’s not going to talk.
Across the pond, Nucky demonstrates one of the guns for an appreciative group of rebels. Mcgarrigle shows up and announces the British are offering a truce, so it’s time to get over toLondonto talk it over. Some of the others figure they’ll still get screwed in the deal, but Mcgarrigle’s ready to stop fighting. He gets back in his car and drives away and one of the other guys tells Nucky that Mcgarrigle’s youngest was killed just a month before. Eh, I’ll bet that stick was up Mcgarrigle’s ass long before that.
In AC, Jimmy’s having a powwow with Two Face. Oh, good, it’s about time they gave him something to do. He’s basically been scenery the past two weeks. Two Face brings up Jimmy’s assault on Mickey and Jimmy dismisses it as just a gag. Wow, I’d hate to live on his block on Mischief Night. Or April Fool’s Day. Two Face changes the subject to romance, wondering if he’ll ever find that nice girl Jimmy mentioned in last week’s episode. Jimmy promises he will someday. Two Face reminds Jimmy that they’re friends and asks him why he made fun of him. Jimmy says he wasn’t. I don’t think he was, he was just being an insensitive jerk.
Waxy Gordon and his sidekick, the two men Jimmy and TF were waiting for, arrive just then and Jimmy gets down to business. Jimmy tells Waxy that Manny the Butcher was the man who killed the two guys Waxy lost in the past few months, one of whom, as we know, actually had his throat slit by Jimmy, but only because Manny wouldn’t do it. They sit down for a drink and Jimmy proposes they go into business together. Waxy seems game, but first, he wants Manny dead. He tells his sidekick to get it done and Jimmy raises a drink to it. I really hate Jimmy these days.
Chez Schroeder, Margaret and Katie are going around the house, collecting all the toys and bed linens for an anti-polio bonfire in the backyard. Teddy watches it through the window with Margaret and solemnly asks if they’re going to die like his dad did. Margaret fiercely tells him they won’t, and he’s not to say that ever again. She’s momentarily distracted by the sight of the cook walking out. The woman apologizes, but she has her own kids to think about. Teddy turns back to the window and watches as his sister’s doll creepily burns up.
Nucky, presumably unaware of all this tragic domestic drama he’s missing out on, is enjoying a nip of whiskey at a distillery with that one friendly rebel, a cheery older man whose name, I think, is Sean. Sean remembers the days when they were distilling millions of barrels a year, but the fighting withEnglandand Prohibition inAmericacut down seriously on demand. Nucky asks the man if he’d be willing to give him 10,000 cases on consignment. Sean says if there’s peace, he’ll be back in business, and they can talk then, but that won’t be for months, and Nucky needs the liquor now. He’s not willing to go against Mcgarrigle, because the man, though a stuck up prig, has sacrificed a lot for the cause.
Randolph welcomes Deputy Halloran to her office and smiles through his clumsy, sexist remark of how amazing it is to see a woman lawyer. Randolph and Latham double-team him and act all sympathetic about how hard it must be to be friends with one’s boss, because they would know. Even Halloran picks up on the dynamic between these two, and we know he’s not the brightest bulb.Randolphasks about Hans Schroeder’s death. Halloran doesn’t remember him, or, at least, he claims not to. He gets talked around until he’s pretty knotted up and resorts to anger. He yells that he doesn’t have to sit there if he doesn’t want to, but then he immediately looks uncertain and asks if he does.Randolphdismisses him.
Chalky’s back in his garage/woodshop when he’s joined by Pernsley, who’s come, literally, hat in hand. They make their peace, in a sense, and Chalky asks how things are coming along at the hotel. Ahh, so I guess they’ve already made their peace and Pernsley’s been working for Chalky. That’s what I think is going on here, anyway. Kind of hard to tell, because if that’s the case, then all that making up dialogue makes no sense at all. Pernsley says he’s been putting on the slow burn at the hotel and now he’s got the other workers at a good simmer. Chalky tells him to turn up the heat.
Nucky and Mcgarrigle are having a presumably non-cloven-hoofed dinner and discussing their possible business arrangements. Mcgarrigle’s not quite ready to jump into bed with Nucky, so Nucky pushes just a little, reminding him that the Brits haven’t withdrawn troops or offered anything in the way of good faith ahead of these negotiations. He reminds Mcgarrigle that he helped him out in his hour of need, and now Nucky’s asking for the same in return. Mcgarrigle reminds him that he’s basically consigning hundreds, if not thousands, to their deaths at the hands of his machine guns. Nucky sharply tells him that whenever men like Mcgarrigle need to win, they turn to men like Nucky. He gets up and leaves, but as Sleater goes to follow him, Mcgarrigle calls him back for a word. Sleater reluctantly hangs back. Mcgarrigle asks him what his business is with Nucky and Sleater gives a non-committal answer. He says Nucky’s got a war of his own he’s fighting that seems to be keeping him pretty busy. Mcgarrigle thinks Sleater’s changed, which Sleater doesn’t agree with. Mcgarrigle tells him that every battle ends someday, and he has to realize that.
Manny’s sitting in his closed shop, counting his cash when a customer comes knocking on his door, pleading an emergency in Yiddish. Manny lets him in, the guy takes off, and Waxy’s sidekick appears out of nowhere with a shotgun. He gets off a round that misses Manny, who immediately slams the door. Sidekick gets the shotgun between the door and frame, so Manny punches through the glass and hauls the man inside. Damn, Manny’s a badass. He should get together with Two Face and Micheletto. They’d be an awesome threesome.
The two men tussle, but Manny’s not a butcher for nothing. In the most no-nonsense way imaginable, he grabs a butcher knife out of a nearby knife block and sinks it right into the guy’s skull. Seriously—awesome threesome! Sidekick drops dead and Manny finds a box of matches from a restaurant in AC in his pocket. Jimmy, how have you managed not to get yourself killed yet, throwing your lot in with idiots?
At the hotel, the kitchen workers are eating again, observed by Pernsley. He brings up the crappy food again and gets the other guys talking about how the men upstairs make ten times what they get. An alarm goes off and the guys get ready to get back to work. Pernsley asks how long everyone’s been there and asks if they’ve ever gotten a raise. Nope, apparently not. He suggests they all walk and they all look around at each other uncertainly. The manager appears and tells them to get back to work. Pernsley tells him the food sucks, so the manager fires him. Pernsley gets up and demands a raise and a decent lunch, on behalf of all the other workers. A few of them get up and back him. The manager tries to regain control, but he’s totally outnumbered. He threatens them all with firing, and they respond by throwing plates of food at him. Food fight!
Nucky’s getting ready to depart the Emerald Isle. He meets Mcgarrigle outside the house he’s been staying in and they bid each other farewell. One of the other rebel leaders is waiting for Nucky in the car, and as they drive away, through the back window, we see someone shoot Mcgarrigle dead. Woah. This has been an episode with a lot of those kinds of moments, it seems. “You’ll deal with me now,” the man intones. He orders a pack of guns in exchange for whiskey.
Stateside, Jimmy and TF are part of a big crowd at Babette’s, listening to the Dempsey fight on the wireless. As they listen, Jimmy notices several people in the crowd turning to look at him. A man walks past his seat, reaches into his pocket…and pulls out a note. Jimmy opens it; it says: Watching you closely. Jimmy turns his attention to a couple of cute girls checking him out. They get up and walk over, whispering a word in the ears of Jimmy’s seatmates so they can sit next to him.
At the hospital, the doctors and nurses are listening to the fight as well, while Margaret sits on one of those uncomfortable benches in the hall. She gets up and walks over to the quarantine room where Emily’s being kept, along with a whole slew of other sick kids. She ignores the “do not open this, dear God, whatever you do!” sign and goes in, sitting on the edge of Emily’s bed. She brushes the little girl’s hair back, cries, kisses her, and then lays on the bed next to her sleeping child.
Back at Babette’s, Jimmy’s talking up the girls, telling them they shouldn’t be passing notes to strangers. One of the girls giggles that Jimmy’s not a stranger, because everyone knows who the “new king” is. They pull out flasks and start taking turns making out with Jimmy, but then one of them notices Two Face and blanches a bit. Jimmy sticks up for his buddy and one of the girls shrugs that it’ll be “something to talk about when we’re old” and goes to make out with him. Charming.
Nucky’s at the docks, watching a little girl at a nearby fruit cart. Sleater arrives with two telegrams, presumably from home. Before he opens them, Nucky asks him how well he knew Mcgarrigle and whether he knew what was going to happen to him today. Sleater just says they did what they came there to do. Nucky tells him he doesn’t like secrets. Sleater refrains fro blurting out more than he should and instead reads the telegrams out: Nucky’s trial date has been set for August 23, and, as we know, Emily’s very, very sick. Sleater stops in his tracks when he reads that one and Nucky looks sickened and horrified by the news. Suddenly, six days must seem very long.
Over the closing credits, we get to hear the broadcast of the Dempsey fight. Sounds like a good one. Dempsey won.