Previously on Boardwalk Empire: The Commodore suffered a stroke, which will probably put him out of commission forever and put Jimmy in charge. Jimmy started establishing relationships in Philadelphia at exactly the same time Nucky did, so we’ll see how that goes. Two Face bonded with Angela over art and his painful past, and two of Van Alden’s boys started to suspect he was up to no good. And then one of them got himself blown up by Sleater while attempting to inspect Mickey Doyle’s warehouse.
It’s summer in AC, by the look of things. Nucky’s addressing a group of soldiers on Memorial Day; Jimmy’s amongst those in the audience, along with Angela and his son. Eli’s there too, staring daggers at his brother. Nucky even pays tribute to the Commodore, whom he says is detained by other business, and he acknowledges Attorney General Dougherty, who’s also present. To finish up, Nucky calls Jimmy up to speak, apparently without having given him any warning that he was going to be presenting. Jimmy talks tough to Nucky when he gets to the podium, but once it’s just him, he starts to visibly shake. He manages to pull himself together and tells the crowd he’s no hero. All he did was fight for democracy, and for his mother, son, and wife, just as all the other vets did. He gets a god round of applause, to Nucky’s chagrin. After the applause, Jimmy reads out the names of men who, presumably, died in combat. I assume these are just the men from Atlantic County who died, since the list sounds fairly short.
While Jimmy’s doing that, TF’s in his room going over his scrapbook of happy family images, which now include Angela’s portrait of him and a picture that must have been taken before he was wounded. He sets the book aside, checks his watch, stashes his knife in his belt and packs up a lunch. Oh, TF, what’re you up to now?
After the event, Nucky bitches about Jimmy, saying he only enlisted because he couldn’t hack it at Princeton. Dougherty and one of the other boys just want to go out and play golf and briefly discuss Nucky’s legal problems. Dougherty’s found a prosecutor Nucky should be able to work with. Dougherty takes off and the other guy they’ve been chatting with (I guess he’s Dougherty’s crony in some way) takes a moment to ask Nucky what he knows about George Remus. Nucky knows he’s a bootlegger, but that’s about it. The guy asks Nucky to put in a good word for him.
The Geriatric Guard is meeting with Eli and Jimmy at the Commodore’s place, talking about their war stories—fighting the Sioux and the like. Wow. Jimmy’s clearly a bit tense, and he only gets more tense when the guys round on him and start talking business. They’re not at all happy about this warehouse explosion, which ran to the tune of about $70K total. Hey, I just realized one guy with a serious set of sideburns is Uncle Junior. Hi, Uncle Jun! Long time no see! Will you be putting out a hit on Jimmy soon? Eli promises they’ll take care of things, and one of the GG asks to speak to the Commodore. Jimmy tells him that’s not going to happen anytime soon. One of them threatens to punish him, and Jimmy sneeringly asks if they’re going to throw him out of the yacht club. This earns him a clip to the head from one of their canes as a member of the GG growls that it’s about time Jimmy’s generation showed him and his some respect. Ok, I’m, not saying that facing down some charging Sioux wasn’t scary, but Jimmy’s generation wound up trapped in trenches for months before being sent out to face mustard gas and machine gun fire. I’m sorry, but you can’t compare the two. Mustard gas was so awful even Hitler thought it was a bit too much. So show Jimmy’s generation a bit of respect too, ok, GG? Jimmy excuses himself, and Eli races out after him. Jimmy’s ready to throw out the GG altogether, but Eli’s a little freaked out, since they’re financing everything. Jimmy knows he’s in charge, though, and tells Eli to butt out of his business.
TF gets a lift out to the middle of the woods, where he looks around for a bit, then finds a fairly misty, picturesque, surprisingly barren area (considering it must be mid- to late-May), where he observes some pheasants and birds. Is someone about to tap back into his artistic side?
Gillian’s attending to Jimmy’s wound and asks him what happened. He tells her the GG know something’s up. She tells him that nobody’s allowed to do this to him, and he needs to make that clear. She’s not messing around at all, and now, neither is Jimmy. She reminds him that John D. Rockefeller came from nothing and became a billionaire. Time for Jimmy to claim what the world has to give him, I guess.
TF hangs out in the woods, loosens his tie, slices up an apple to snack on, and removes his mask for a bit so he can eat. The mask looks creepy when it’s off of him, this unseeing eye just staring out blankly. They’re definitely determined to get their money’s worth with his makeup this year: that wound is pretty scary looking. He puts on a necklace of some kind—maybe a war medal?—and then lies back, looks up through the trees, and slowly puts the barrel of his shotgun in his mouth. NOOOOOOOO! Don’t kill off one of my favorite characters!
As happens so often in movies and TV shows, he’s rescued by a dog: a German Shepherd-looking mutt (which has its own connotations you can discuss at length) that snaps up TF’s mask and runs off, pursued by TF, who croaks that he needs that back. So, I guess he won’t be killing himself anytime soon
Nucky returns home and is immediately accosted by Margaret, who asks him where Sleater is. He asks her why she needs Sleater and she explains that Eli’s there. Doesn’t really answer the question, but ok. Nucky goes into the conservatory to have a face-to-face with his brother, who asks if Nucky’s still willing to accept him back with open arms. Nope, that offer’s expired, it seems. Nucky tells Eli he loves him, but this conversation is over. So, Eli plays his only card: he knows who’s going to be testifying against Nucky. Nucky doesn’t care, because remember, his case is a federal one now, and he just got finished playing golf with the AG of the US. He correctly realizes Eli’s just a frightened boy with nowhere to turn, so he needs to come up with something useful if they’re going to talk. Eli reveals the Commodore’s had a stroke, which I guess Nucky didn’t know after all, and that he’s totally out of the game and the whole thing’s being run by Jimmy and Gillian, who’s gone a little batty. Eli admits to having made mistakes and Nucky finally tells him they’ll sort this out. But first, he wants Eli to get down on his knees and kiss Nucky’s feet. Eli’s thrown by that, but the thing is, Nucky isn’t actually willing to let bygones be bygones. He sneers at his brother for refusing to finish what he started and tells him, essentially, that he, Gillian, Jimmy, and the Commodore can all go to hell. The discussion devolves to fisticuffs that trashes the conservatory until the nanny (I think) sees what’s going on and alerts Margaret, who intervenes by putting a frigging shotgun to Eli’s head to get him to back off and orders him to get out of her house. Damn, girl! I love her! Where’d she get a shotgun from?
After Eli’s gone, Margaret allows herself to look terrified. Nucky takes the gun and, a little meanly, tells her to make sure the gun’s loaded the next time she points it at someone. Uh, you’re welcome? Margaret asks him if this is what their lives are going to be like? Nucky has no answer for that.
TF’s collapsed, exhausted, next to a tree, where he’s found by a….hunter? Woodsman? The dog’s owner, I guess. The man calls him out and invites him to join him and his buddy for some fine barbequed squirrel or something. The hunter hands back TF’s mask, which he immediately puts on. Hunter’s buddy asks if it itches and then asks TF if he wants some squirrel. TF declines. He does not, however, turn down the flask Hunter’s buddy hands over. Hunter finally introduces himself as Glemore and his buddy as Pete. They discuss AC a bit (Glenmore’s never been, but Pete went once and saw a flying horse. He doesn’t care that it was probably fake.) When asked, TF lies that he was out hunting. They start carving up the squirrels. Yum!
Nucky arrives at the Ritz to meet up with Dougherty and his new prosecutor, Chip Thoroughgood. A name that surely strikes fear into many a man. Nucky’s lawyer is there, and he and Chip lay out the trial: they’re going to present it to the judge as a federal case, and then it’ll be dropped, because the federal judges are pretty swamped as it is. Nucky wants a guarantee, but they can’t give him one. Guess he’ll have to go on faith. And maybe have Margaret bring a shotgun to court. A loaded shotgun.
Richard’s finished his dinner. He asks what the dog’s name is and Glenmore says he doesn’t belong to anyone, he’s just an old soldier who keeps on fighting. Why don’t we just go ahead and call him SYMBOLISM now? TF asks what he fights for and Glenmore tells him to ask SYMBOLISM himself. Glenmore gets ready to go to sleep while Pete prepares to go home. Before TF takes off, Glenmore asks him, in an indirect way, to please not blow his brains out in those woods in future. TF promises not to do so.
One of Eli’s sons has brought him a broken toy to fix. Eli promises to do so, before taking a healthy swig from his flask. One of the Cronies—George something, apparently—shows up, misidentifies the kid by the wrong typically Irish name, and asks to talk to Eli. Eli sends the kid off for a tool, and once they’re alone George tells Eli there’s a rumor that the Commodore isn’t all there. Eli denies it, even describing the breakfast he and the Commodore had together that morning. George wants to go see him, but Eli puts him off. George reminds him that, if the Commodore isn’t able to protect them all from Nucky, they’re essentially screwed. He guesses that Eli’s reluctance to arrange a meeting means the rumors are true, and that Eli and Jimmy are in charge, which rightly scares the hell out of him. George tells Eli he’s out of this whole deal, and furthermore, he’ll go straight to Nucky. Eli freaks out, grabs a wrench, and smacks George across the throat or face or something, somehow mortally injuring him. So, Eli does the only sensible thing and finishes the job by beating George’s brains out right on his garage floor. See, kids? This is why you don’t drink and discuss hostile takeovers.
Jimmy and Angela are having a slightly uncomfortable evening together, which seems about par for the course for these two. She asks after his head, and we learn he told her he had a run-in with a car door. You think she believes anything he says anymore? Or is she totally in denial? She asks him if he really meant the things he said at the ceremony, and he evasively tells her that their kid’s asleep in his bed, they have a roof over their heads, so what more could they want? She pointedly says there has to be something more, and because he’s Jimmy, he just kisses her and gets ready to leave the room. There’s a knock on the door and Jimmy quickly arms himself as Angela goes to answer it, finding TF on their doorstep. She tells him they missed him at the event that morning and he says he wasn’t interested in being there, before asking to speak to Jimmy. He steps into the dining room and Angela makes herself scarce.
Jimmy asks TF where he was earlier and TF says he needed to take a walk. That business done, Jimmy asks if TF’s up for a job that night. TF doesn’t seem to be, so Jimmy finally turns on his humanity and asks TF if there’s a problem. TF asks Jimmy if he’d fight for him. Jimmy says he certainly would, so TF decides that this partnership will work. His lips say yes, but when Jimmy turns away, his face says he’s not so sure.
Later, Eli’s still in his garage, drinking and wondering what to do with the dead man cooling at his feet. He finally heads out to do…whatever it is one does in situations like this.
In a richly appointed study somewhere, a member of the GG’s examining a Native American weaving (I believe). He hears something outside the window but dismisses it. His manservant comes in and he shows off his Sioux breechcloth (ok, that’s what it is). He marvels at how foolish the Sioux were for thinking they could stop bullets with magic. They were good with beadwork, though.
The manservant retreats, and unbeknownst to GG member, he’s replaced by Jimmy and TF. This particular GG member, by the way, is the same one who smacked Jimmy in the head earlier. So, Jimmy teaches him a lesson by having TF scalp the man alive. Holy crap, talk about a disproportionate response! The guy was a dick, sure, but he was also an old man in a wheelchair! This show really has it in for the aged, doesn’t it? This is the second episode in a row where someone essentially unable to protect themselves has gotten beaten up (or worse, as in this case) by someone younger and stronger. And thanks, HBO. Believe it or not, I don’t pay the premium rates for extra gore.
Margaret wakes with a start and checks on the kids, who are both sleeping soundly. When she turns from their door, she’s scared to death by the appearance of the maid, Katie, who asks if there’s something wrong. Margaret thought she heard a scream, but she admits it’s been a strange day, and she’s probably just overly anxious. She dismisses Katie, who returns to her own room, where a very naked Sleater’s waiting in bed for her. Seems it was Katie’s scream that woke Margaret. Sleater teases her about it and says he won’t do it again, if she doesn’t want him to. Oh, I’ll bet she does want him to. She tells Sleater about Margaret making her call her family in New York, which I’m sure he’ll file away for later use. Then she takes off her robe, asks him not to get her into trouble, and they get back to business.
Eli brings his buddy—I think it’s the idiot they were going to run as sheriff last season—back to the garage to help him move the body. The guy does so, almost without a question. Moron.
Nucky’s trying to get work done while the AG and the judge are partying it p with some whores in the next room. You can’t say the guy doesn’t have focus.
Out in the middle of nowhere, Eli digs a grave for George that will surely be uncovered in a few weeks. He dumps the body and starts to cover him up.