Previously on Boardwalk Empire: With Gillian’s help, Gyp bombed Babette’s, almost taking Nucky and Rothstein along with it.
Babette’s is still a blackened mess. Workers are clearing the debris, including the sign, as curious onlookers…onlook. Meanwhile, at the Ritz, Nucky’s getting a physical from his doctor, who says he’s got a concussion and the double vision and ringing ears will go away soon. He advises bedrest, but Nucky’s got things to do. He tells Eddie to call Eli over and gets up to dress, but then feels lightheaded, so the doctor tells him to lie down and reminds him how lucky he was. Nucky briefly thinks of Billie.
In another part of the suite, Margaret, the kids, and the dog are causing chaos. The kids are restless, being stuck inside. Margaret tells Eddie that the furniture in the living room needs to be moved out, then she turns and scolds Teddy for not making his bed. He gives her lip in return and then she snaps at the whimpering dog before stomping out to the anteroom, where some of the cronies have gathered. She asks for Owen and they point her in the direction of Nucky’s office, where Sleater’s cozied up with some of the higher-ups. Margaret asks for a moment and they all obligingly clear out.
Owen asks how things are with the kids and she stresses about Emily’s upcoming birthday party. He says the kids’ll be fine, and they will, because kids adapt surprisingly easily when there’s cake involved. She asks Owen who’s behind this and he tells her straight out that it’s Gyp’s doing. She says he’s welcome to take his dog back if that’ll help. Heh. Owen reassures her this won’t last forever, and then he starts to broach the subject of the two of them, but Nucky comes in and breaks up the cozy pair.
Margaret asks him what the doctor said and then wonders if Nucky should be drinking, as he goes to pour himself some whisky. He can barely hear her, so he ignores what she says and asks how the pony shopping went. Margaret says they didn’t buy one, because now they’re living in a hotel, where horses are frowned upon. Nucky pouts over having nothing to give Emily but Margaret thinks that’s the least of their problems. He insists the party still go forward and then starts rubbing his head as the ringing returns. The others are concerned.
Up in Tabor Heights, the sheriff’s giving some guy peddling a little moonshine a hard time. Behind him, a convoy of cars carrying Gyp’s heavily armed men pulls up, and both the sheriff and the local wisely hasten out of there. Gyp himself arrives in a Packard (just like Chalky! Where the hell has Chalky been all season?) as the sheriff hurries to his office and dials Nucky in AC. Gyp and his men infiltrate the building and bust into his very poorly blocked-off room before he can get anyone besides the operator on the phone. Sheriff welcomes Gyp back to Tabor Heights and nervously says he’s happy to get back to business. Gyp goes to fetch a billyclub and proceeds to beat the sheriff with it for no reason at all.
Hey, there’s Chalky! He and Eli and a few of the other guys are meeting with Nucky, who can’t focus on what they’re saying at all. He snaps and asks Chalky when he got so uppity, which does not go over too well, as you can imagine. Turns out Nucky doesn’t even know who he’s talking to—he thinks Chalky’s the shoeshine guy, until Owen reminds him. Geez, that’s a hell of a knock on the head, Nucky. Who could forget Chalky? Besides this season’s writers, that is. Nucky tells one of the others to put the word out it was a gas leak that caused the explosion. I guess Seriously Over The Top Assassination Attempt/Terrorist Attack would really hurt the tourist trade. His phone rings and Teddy answers it in another room.
Eli and Nucky move into damage control mode, talking about having inspectors check every line on the Boardwalk, and sending flowers to all the victims in the hospital. Teddy comes in and tells Nucky that ‘the gypsy’ is on the phone. Owen clears everyone but Eli and Chalky out of the room and Nucky picks up so he can hear Gyp read a newspaper article about Billie’s sad demise. Nucky hangs up on him and asks the men what they were talking about—the birthday party? He warns them not to mention anything to the kids, because it’ll scare them. Eli reassures him nobody will say anything to the kids but Nucky says they’ll find out, because everyone finds out soon enough. “You know what I’m saying, don’t you?” he says to Sleater, who responds that he doesn’t, actually. “One day you’ll wake up and realise what’s been going on,” he answers. The phone rings again and Nucky answers. It’s Gyp, who says he didn’t get the chance to offer condolences on behalf of himself and Joe Masseria. Nucky responds to that by throwing the phone and the contents of his desk around the room and tossing something through the window while Chalky stands there, pondering the crazy and Eli tries to calm his brother down. He finally manages by wrapping Nucky in a tight bear hug and urging him to stop before he wrecks the whole floor. And it’ll be hard keeping that from the kids, Nuck. Nucky doesn’t know who Eli is at the moment either, and Chalky tells him he needs to get hold of himself. Nucky somewhat pulls himself together and says they need to get all the big bootleggers up and down the east coast together so they can go to war against both Masseria and Gyp. Owen reminds Nucky that Masseria has an army, so maybe this isn’t the best idea. Nucky won’t listen.
Gyp’s taking in some local sights, learning about some general in the Continental Army who spent two nights there on his way to the Battle of Monmouth. Man, those little local shrines are twenty a penny throughout the northeast. Gyp proceeds to a nearby room, where what I assume to be most of the adult townspeople are gathered. He tells them that he and his associates are going to make themselves comfortable for a while and, in return for the townspeople’s cooperation, they’re offering everyone $200 a month. One woman is not pleased to hear he intends to cancel Bible camp and another man’s wary of their demands for everyone’s name and address, but it’s not like they have much choice but to go along with this. Poor Tabor Heights.
At Gillian’s House of T&A, one of the girls is entertaining young Tommy with a song while TF reports to Gillian so he can ask for the next night off. He wants to attend a meeting of the vets. Gillian allows it but warns him not to make a habit of it. Tommy comes running over to show TF a picture he drew. TF adorably critiques it and Tommy runs back to his ladyfriend. Gillian looks on, disapprovingly. She finally goes and reminds the girl that she has an appointment soon. Tommy tries to go with her, but she tells him he has to stay with his mom. Gillian takes over and tells him ladies need a little time to themselves.
Dressed in his underwear and dressing gown, George Remus is pursued through his ridiculously palatial home by agents, who finally corner him in his aviary or whatever, and arrest him. Remus tells the agent in charge he’s making a mistake, but the agent doesn’t seem to think so. Remus protests his arrest most vociferously. Esther comes in at the end, just in time to hear him screaming about having kept receipts from Smith. She’s very interested in that last bit.
Sweet little Emily’s having her birthday party, with a pony-topped pink cake. The kids are bored, evidently waiting for something, and that something seems to be Nucky. June asks Margaret if there’s anything she can do to hurry this along and Margaret tells her Nucky’s in a ‘tentative state.’ That’s one way of putting it. Fortunately, he finally shows up, completely confused about the party setup. Margaret reminds him it’s Emily’s birthday and he irritably tells her that nobody told him about it. She says it was his idea but he doesn’t believe her, so she moves on and suggests they get going. Nucky won’t let his bad attitude go, however, and it’s starting to make everyone pretty uncomfortable. He also calls Margaret Mabel, but she just turns away and starts lighting the candles. Nucky asks Emily if she rode her pony and Margaret covers swiftly by lying that he means the pony on her cake. They all sing and Emily blows out her candles. Nucky gets really wired and demands to cut the cake himself. He somehow manages to screw it up (I think he cut the pony on top in half) and Emily gets upset. He tells her nobody got hurt, it was just a gas leak, after all! He flashes back to Billie right before the explosion and passes out. Party’s over!
Later, Margaret joins Owen in another room and tells him Nucky’s resting. He offers her a drink but she turns him down, adding he can help himself if he likes. He refuses as well, since he’s never liked it much. A man after her own heart indeed. She thinks that’s funny, since their whole lives centre around that. He says that this business is dangerous, as many businesses are. It’s how he makes peace with it, but he intends to walk away from all of it in a year or two. And do what? Having Muscle-for-Hire all over your resume does not get you a desk job. She suggests he do it now and he asks if that’s what she wants. If it is, she need only say it, and they’ll go. She actually seems to consider it, and he’s clearly sincere. She leans against his chest and he holds her sweetly for a moment. Then she returns to the party, which is somehow still going on, and tells all the kids Nucky’s feeling better and just needs to rest.
Julia meets TF at the American Legion hall, where the Legionnaires are giving a dance. He adorably gives her a corsage and she comments that he knows her colours. He admits he let the florist pick it. Wise man. Florists usually know what they’re doing. With some prompting from her, he offers her his arm, she takes it, and in they go.
Inside, the jazz is playing and punch is being poured. One of the other guys recognises Richard and comes over to say hi. He knows Julia too, and she knows him. He asks if her father’s coming, and of course he’s not. He claps TF on the shoulder and takes off. TF suggests some punch and immediately offers her his arm again.
Back at the House of T&A, Tommy wanders the halls and finds two of the girls. One of them guesses he’s looking for his girlfriend and points him in the direction of the room she’s in, where he sees her in flagrante with her client. She sees the kid and freaks out, and Tommy, of course, freaks out as well and runs off.
Margaret’s keeping vigil beside Nucky’s bed. He rouses and asks if Emily liked her party. Margaret says she did and he actually manages to remember on his own that they didn’t get a pony, though he erroneously thinks not getting it was his idea. He asks Margaret if she found the earring she lost (it was Billie who lost the earring) and Margaret tells him she’s sure it’ll turn up. Eli and Sleater poke their heads in and Eli says they should have a chat. Nucky gets out of bed with Margaret’s help so he can head to the office, but he flashes back to Billie again and stumbles back onto the bed. He suggests they talk there and asks Margaret to stay, saying she belongs there, with him.
Sleater tells Nucky that all the bootleggers are on their way, though neither he nor Eli are sure if they should go through with this, with Nucky in this kind of shape. But Nucky talks big and says they’ll have both Gyp and Masseria on a platter by the end of the night. Eli seems pleased by that. Margaret seems uncomfortable. Nucky lies back down and asks Margaret for some ice water.
Many, many crates are unloaded at the Tabor Heights beach as Gyp looks on with Masseria. Masseria thinks Gyp has made some big problems for him with Nucky and Gyp tells him he had good info that Nucky and Rothstein would be at Babette’s that night. Masseria tells Gyp he needs to be a bit more patient in future.
At the Legion, the party’s still going strong, though Julia and Richard are sitting on the sidelines while other couples dance. One of the other guys comes over and asks when Richard’s going to show them his fancy footwork. A slower song starts up and Julia draws him out on the dance floor, where he surprises her by teaching her to waltz. Awww, how many more ways can this man melt my heart? The dance ends and everyone applauds. TF goes to lead Julia off the floor and she pulls him back and lays a kiss on him. Yay!
Eddie’s helping Nucky get ready, and it’s like dressing a child, which is funny, because Nucky thinks Rothstein, with his love of milk and chocolate cake, is the childish one. Nucky goes to put his jacket on, but then bolts to the bathroom to throw up. Too much birthday cake? While he’s in there, he finds Billie’s missing earring. Can we not have another flashback, please? I’m kind of ready to put that character behind us.
Sleater and Mickey greet their guests in the lobby and show them up to the suite, where Nucky’s refusing to see anyone until he speaks with Margaret.
In Tabor Heights, Gyp steals the tricorn hat off the mannequin of the Continental general. Whatever.
Margaret tells Nucky he’s running a fever and fetches him a cold compress. He hands her the earring and she tells him it belongs to someone else. Flashback again, and Nucky hollowly says she’s dead and it’s all his fault. He tells her there’s no walking away from this life for anyone. She asks about the men in his office and he says they’ll either go to war together or they’ll take off and leave him for dead. In a firm voice, she asks if he can hear her and if he knows who she is. He can and he does. She tells him he needs to pull it together, finish getting dressed, and take care of business.
TF checks on a sleeping Tommy, who’s being looked over by Gillian, who yells at TF for going out and leaving Tommy to his own devices, which resulted in him learning more about the facts of life than was, perhaps, age appropriate. Well, Gillian, you did give the guy the night off. It’s not like he snuck out or anything. TF apologises and she sniffs that the damage is already done. TF goes over to the mirror and sees some of Julia’s lipstick on his mask. Tommy shifts in bed and TF goes over to him and asks if he’s ok. Tommy says he wants to go home.
Sleater meets Nucky outside the meeting room and quietly tells him Torrio couldn’t make it. Nucky goes in, and as Sleater goes to close the door, Margaret whispers to him that they’ll go as soon as they’re able.
Nucky struggles to focus his eyes and launches into his spiel: they need to work together if they’re going to take advantage of the latest opportunities. Everyone knows why they’re really there and Waxy Gordon tells him he has no problem with Rosetti. Nucky tells him he will soon enough and they need to act soon to nip all this in the bud. He tells them he intends to fight Masseria and he needs their help to do so. There’s a long silence, and then Rothstein speaks up, telling Nucky they wish him luck. Translation: you’re on your own, pal. Meyer adds that this business between Nucky and Gyp is more trouble than it’s worth. They all get up and start to leave as Nucky impotently tells them he won’t forget this. They ignore him, even as he keeps trying to call Rothstein back.
Early morning, Tabor Heights beach. Gyp strides over to the men loading the trucks, wearing the tricorn hat and looking like a complete idiot.