Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Nucky hooked up with Sally down in Tampa, Will decided he wanted to join the family business, and Dunn got a bit out of hand and killed the Baptist church’s reverend.
Small satchel in hand, Dunn approaches a house, stopping to pluck a cigarette from the porch steps. He knocks and is admitted by an elderly lady he calls Ms Monroe. Inside, we see that the place has become a really, really nice crack den. Junkies are draped all over Ms Monroe’s furniture, passed out on their heroin highs. Ms Monroe tells Dunn she’s got relatives coming that week and he smilingly pays her off. As Dunn walks through the house, he steps on a discarded needle and scolds one of his minions, reminding him that Monroe likes to keep the place tidy.
Minion rolls his eyes and tells Dunn they’re running low on H. He tells the guy to cut it again, even though they’ve already cut it once, and hands over a couple more bricks. In return, the guy hands him two enormous stacks of money. Before he leaves, Dunn passes along a flyer for a play called Ominira, which Narcisse has written and is having performed soon. And he’s expecting a good crowd to show up.
In DC, the Feds gossip about a massive bet Rothstein made on a horse and lost, before helping himself to some cheesecake. Knox is annoyed with the men for only having anecdotes, instead of actually managing to connect the crime elements in NY, Boston, AC, Chicago, and Florida. He invites anyone uninterested in working on this to go back to cracking land fraud cases. One of the men pipes up that he heard about Nucky’s nephew at Temple who was mysteriously released from police custody with all charges dropped, only to have his roommate arrested and accused of poisoning a fellow student. I knew this was going to get back to Knox at some point!
Will’s been installed in Eddie’s old room, where the chirping birds wake him at the crack of dawn, so he heads into the kitchen to make some coffee. While he’s reading the paper, Nucky comes in, and Will tells him he’s low on groceries. When asked, Nucky evasively tells his nephew he’s heading out on business. Will offers to come along, but Nucky tells him Eli will be there, so Will passes. Nucky advises him to move forward and turn this unfortunate turn of events into an opportunity.
Cuffey’s funeral. Daughter Maitland is singing, and Chalky isn’t even trying to hide how enthralled he is. His wife, no fool, clearly notices and is not pleased. Even Maybelle leans forward to ask if he’s ok. Chalky tells her he’s fine. After the song finishes, another reverend gets up and does his sermon, and we see that there’s one white face in the crowd: Mayor Bader. Chalky eyes Narcisse, who’s patting the widow on the back in a fairly patronising way.
At the warehouse, Mickey’s complaining about his lousy love life. Eli and Nucky both look like they want to kill themselves. Nucky tells Mickey to check outside, and then notes that Mickey’s carrying around Eddie’s cane. Mickey says Eli told him he could have it. When the brothers are alone, Nucky tells Eli they need to fix this thing between him and Will. Eli’s still too pissed off to give way, and they both think this’ll eventually work itself out. Plus, it hasn’t even been a day, so I think a cooling-off period is fine.
The shipment they were waiting for comes in: crates of booze from Florida, hidden underneath oranges. And accompanying that shipment is none other than Sally, whom Mickey starts chatting up immediately. Nucky goes up and greets her pretty tightly and tells Mickey to get lost. Sally notes that Nucky’s in a mood and he asks if there’s a problem with the operation, because her appearance is a surprise to him. She says everything’s fine, and he finally unbends a bit and welcomes her to AC. She starts to give herself a tour of the warehouse and asks what Eli’s deal is. Nucky starts to explain about Will, then gives up and really awkwardly invites her out to dinner. She turns him down and he asks her why she came up, if she didn’t want a date, and she just says she didn’t really stop to think about the why.
Dunn goes to the barbershop and tells one of his men he thinks Minion is skimming. He also sees Chalky, who asks him what he knows about Cuffey’s death. Dunn promises they’re looking for anyone who knows something, but it’ll take time. Chalky tells Dunn to come with him, because they have some business to take care of.
Bader’s waiting in Nucky’s new suite with Will, who asks conversationally how Bader got started in politics. Bader tells him he had a construction business, and Nucky persuaded him to give something back to the city. Nucky returns and sends Will off to see about the grocery delivery. Will hops to it and Nucky asks Bader what’s up. Bader reminds him it’s an election year and if there are any problems, he needs to know about it. He starts detailing some of the issues that have come up lately—dead lady on the building site, dead deacon in his church—which are seriously hurting him with voters. The latter one has basically taken the whole north side away from him. Nucky tells him to go to Chalky and get that sorted.
Chalky takes Dunn to the crack house and Dunn tells him there’s nothing going on there. Chalky knows better, and he, Dunn, and Chalky’s men go in and start clearing the place out with fists and baseball bats. Chalky tries to get one of the addicts to say who’s running things, but the guy gives him nothing. Dunn goes into the back, shoots the minion and pockets the money on the table. Chalky comes back and scolds him for killing the man before he could question him, but he seems slightly mollified by the satchel of H and money he finds there. He also finds the flyer for Narcisse’s play.
Knox pays Pencilneck a visit in jail and gives him some packets of his favourite smokes before asking him to tell him all about Will.
At the Onyx, Chalky watches from above as Daughter performs. Nucky arrives and comments that she seems to be going over well with the crowd. Chalky plays it cool on the subject of Daughter, but Nucky still asks if there’s anything Chalky needs to tell him about what’s going down on his side of town. He asks about Cuffey but Chalky still knows nothing and says they’re looking into it. Nucky suggests he make a donation to the church and warns him not to let his life get out of hand. And Nucky’s really someone who can give that sort of advice from experience.
Nucky goes downstairs and spots Mickey flirting with Sally at the bar. He joins them and asks her what she thinks of the club. She comments that he was slumming down in Tampa. He tells her that people expect something a little different up north. She and Mickey start to head out to visit Rendezvous Park, but Nucky’s got his back up, and he snatches Eddie’s cane out of Mickey’s hand and tells him he’ll be taking care of it now, before smacking Mickey in the side of the head with it. Mickey finally gets smart and excuses himself. Nucky explains that Mickey was getting on his nerves, but she’s annoyed with him now. But since we all know that’s basically their aphrodisiac, it’s hardly surprising that they end up back at the Albatross, waking Will up with the sounds of their lovemaking.
Narcisse’s play is being performed and it’s…pretty awful. The crowd clearly thinks so too and reward it with very weak applause. He tries to address the crowd at the end, but there’s a racket outside, so everyone goes to investigate and find Chalky and his men, with Chalky beating a trash can lid. Narcisse tells him the play’s over, but Chalky’s there to show Narcisse something. He takes the heroin from Dunn, holds it up, tells him the house on Baltic is no longer in use, and sets the H on fire.
Sally surprises Will in the kitchen the next morning, and he’s cutely awkward around her. The two settle down for breakfast on the balcony and get comfortable. They’re chatting away by the time Nucky comes out, and she serves up some breakfast and tells Nucky that she and Will have been discussing his future. At her prompting, Will says he wants to learn how things work in AC, and he’s willing to start at the bottom and work up. He also agrees to apologise to his dad. He eagerly says he wants to show Nucky that he can be the person Nucky wants him to be. Nucky tells him he should be the person Will wants to be and agrees to see what he can do. I’m seeing shades of Jimmy here—him wanting to get involved, Nucky reluctant and urging him to finish school, but eventually lending a hand anyway.
Narcisse finds Daughter in bed in the middle of the day and chides her for giving in to her melancholy. She tells him she tries not to and he urges her to try harder, because he doesn’t want to think that he’s failed her. She asks how the play went over and he says the symbolism was too deep for the audience, and then Chalky created a disturbance afterwards. He tells her that Chalky will be visiting her that night, and he wants her to keep him there.
Sally and Nucky are back at the warehouse, where the last of the shipment back south has been loaded up. Sally asks Nucky to tell her when he’s heading down south again. She also informs him that she didn’t accompany his shipment purely out of the goodness of her heart. For keeping the boys in line and making sure every last drop made it to AC, she demands $1500, which he readily pays from cash he just had in his pocket. Holy crap, who carries that kind of cash around nowadays, let alone in 1924?
Knox surprises Eli at some diner, and it’s clear he’s dropped the hayseed Prohie facade. They’re joined by another agent and Knox tells Eli they’re Feds, before bringing up Will and telling Eli the story Pencilneck spilled. Eli insists none of this ever happened, and as far as he knows, it didn’t. But there’s not much he can do here, and when Knox threatens his kid and reminds Eli that he has a lot to lose, he backs down. Knox essentially insists Eli become an informant, but we cut away before he gives an answer. Not that he has much choice.
At the Albatross, Will packs while Nucky coaches him on the finer points of a believable apology. Nucky also tells Will he’s got a job at Bader’s office, if he wants one, and all he has to do is keep his eyes and ears open on his uncle’s behalf. Will’s cool with that, because he wants his family to be back where it belongs: on top. Nucky hands him a copy of Ragged Dick that his mother gave him and tells Will there’s a lot he can learn from it.
Chalky’s getting dressed at Daughter’s, explaining he has business. She keeps urging him to stay, and he sits back in a chair and talks about her singing and about how they sang the same song she performed at Cuffey’s funeral (Ship of Zion) at his dad’s funeral. He asks her to sing it again for him and she does. As she sings, he begins to cry and tells her it’s beautiful. She doesn’t seem to know what to do, but then Dunn knocks on the door and Chalky gestures for her to open it. She and Dunn exchange a tense look, and he comes in and sends her off to get some food. He then tells him that Narcisse is behind the heroin trade and Cuffey’s death. The men gradually close the huge gap between them and Chalky asks how Daughter fits into all of this. Dunn says she’s clearly working for Narcisse and gives Chalky Narcisse’s current whereabouts and offers to take him there. But Chalky’s no idiot, and he knows Dunn is Narcisse’s man. The two men start fighting viciously, and Chalky manages to stab Dunn in the cheek with a knife, but Dunn gets the upper hand and begins choking Chalky. Just as it looks like it’s all over for one of our favourite characters, Daughter appears and stabs Dunn in the back, killing him (slowly) and saving Chalky’s life. She rushes to Chalky and starts reciting bible verses as she urges him to breathe. Farewell, Dunn. You turned out to be a surprisingly interesting character, and I will genuinely miss you.
Eli returns home to find his family, Will included, gathered around singing a song in a tableau Norman Rockwell could have hardly dreamed up. They fall silent when Eli enters and Will immediately apologises to his dad for failing to show him respect, asking to come back home. Eli hesitates just a second, taking in the sight of his 900 kids, wife, and brother, and then embraces his firstborn and tells everyone to go right back to their fun. Nucky strolls over and tells Eli he knew it would work itself out. Eli thanks him, but stands there, looking lost as the singing gets more and more frantic.