Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Young Nucky became a sort of protégé of Sheriff Lindsay. In the present, Sally got shot, Nucky came up with a solution to Margaret’s Caroline Rothstein problem, Chalky escaped from the chain gang, and Mueller got recognized by Lucky and had his whole cover blown by fellow agent Mike.
We’re done with the 1880s and have now moved to 1897. Nucky’s a young deputy sheriff dealing with a townie who takes him under the boardwalk to show him what she’s sure is a dead body. She goes on and on about all the terrible things that go on at night there as young Nucky uncovers…a dead hog. She seems almost disappointed it’s not an actual body.
In 1931, Al’s desperately trying to go number two. I’m sure that’s really integral to the plot. In the suite, the nervy accountant freaks out when he sees a cockroach. Al comes out and tells the boys that, when he called Nucky to inform him that Lucky’s gunning for him, Nucky’s response was, ‘history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.’ Al’s annoyed at being fed what seems like a riddle and is further irritated about the Feds going after him for income tax evasion. He starts panicking and says they have to move everything back to Cicero. Mike takes note. Al runs back to the bathroom.
In AC, Nucky’s trying to pick out something to wear to New York, asking his bodyguard if it’s hot there. Nucky, you’re not that far away from the city. You two share weather. Why do you need to ask? That kid Mickey hired a couple of episodes back knocks and comes in with the message that Mickey needs to see him. Nucky goes to the office and a nervous Mickey reveals Chalky, sitting, waiting for Nucky, dressed rather nicely in a suit. Mickey makes himself scarce and Chalky immediately reassures Nucky he’s not armed. Nucky fetches a drink, but Chalky waves it away. Nucky asks what happened and Chalky says he fell in with a bad crowd and got pinched. He doesn’t tell Nucky about the jailbreak. Nucky sits down and says he’s sorry about what happened and that he has no idea where Narcisse is. He also nicely fills Chalky in on his family’s whereabouts (living in St Louis under his wife’s maiden name). Nucky offers Chalky a safe place to stay, and though Chalky tries to refuse, Nucky insists. He also offers Chalky some cash, and you can tell how much it pains this proud man to take it.
A series of disjointed images and yodeling takes us back to Chicago, where Eli’s back in his drunken haze, being brought around by someone knocking on the door. It’s his wife, June, and her seven-months-pregnant belly, which is quite the surprise to her husband. Jesus, June, you didn’t let him know you were pregnant until the kid was practically born? Woah. She says it’s because he’s under enough pressure as it is. I’d argue that this is just extra stressful, not being prepared or anything, but Eli promises he’s happy and cradles her belly rather sweetly. She says he needs to eat, take care of himself, and ease up on the booze. He asks her to come out to Chicago with the youngest kids. She says if she does that Nucky will stop her allowance but Eli says she won’t need that, because he’s moving up the ladder in Al’s crew. Yeah, right. He tells her he needs her and they kiss. She sits back and smilingly asks if they’re going to eat at some awful chophouse and he says they’re having a meal cooked by his partner’s wife.
Gillian’s reading a newspaper when her friend, Charlotte, comes rushing into the room, hands her a rolled-up piece of paper, and urges her to read it and protect her fur. She’s dragged away, screaming, by some orderlies and Gillian, looking freaked out, opens the paper. It’s an ad for Saks Fifth Avenue that says ‘Beware, the Villain Stalks.’
Nucky goes to see Torrio, who can’t believe Nucky’s in danger, because Maranzano said he was safe. He thinks Lucky was just running his mouth. Nucky says word on the street is Lucky’s gunning for Maranzano too. Torrio urges him to retire once more and asks if Nucky managed to piss off Lansky or Lucky. Nucky says he’s just in the way of business. Torrio promises to come along to a meeting Nucky has with Maranzano later. Nucky apologises for getting him involved but Torrio tells him not to worry about it, because what are friends for?
In 1897, Nucky gives his hog story to Lindsay, who laughs and shakes his head because the woman is pretty notorious for keeping the law running back and forth. He turns the conversation to Mabel, and apparently things are pretty serious between her and Nucky, because Nucky even took her to the Lindsays’ for dinner. Lindsay and his wife like her and Lindsay promises to vouch for Nucky to Mabel’s disapproving father. Nucky wants to sort it out himself at a dinner at the Oyster House that night.
The guy who lost his cash-filled hat back when Nucky was a kid (Mr Halligan), comes through and says someone snatched a lady’s parasol the other day, before asking Nucky how the hat game is these days. Nucky smilingly responds that it’s sailing right along. When Halligan leaves, his face turns to one of disgust.
Lindsay and Nucky are called into the Commodore’s office. Commodore tells them Halligan wants to renegotiate a longstanding agreement, which Commodore is not happy about at all. He tells Lindsay he doesn’t want any of Halligan’s buddies from New York hanging around. Nucky suggests deputizing some men and posting them at the train station and ferries to scare off anyone they don’t like the look of. The others like the sound of that. Commodore agrees and asks to speak with Lindsay in private.
In the present, young Chester plays the recorder poorly for the dinner guests. June sweetly applauds and encourages him, like a good mum, while Sigrid impatiently says that dinner will get cold. June heads for the table, giving Mueller and Eli a chance to talk. They’re worried about Al getting crazy again. Mueller tells Eli to keep his mouth shut about everything. Sigrid calls them to the table.
June thanks them for inviting them to dinner while Sigrid looks like she could happily spray everyone with bullets and then sit down to enjoy a veal chop and a cigarette. There’s some chat about children and Mueller says that they add special joy to a family. ‘Where do people get these illusions?’ Sigrid wonders. Mind, both the kids are right there when she says that. Little Abigail whispers to June that her real mother died and was a ballerina. I wonder if someone told her that or if she just made it up. I’ll bet she made up the ballerina part, because I can’t imagine Mueller telling her a lie like that. June looks thrown but tosses in a compliment about the house. Sigrid says the roof leaks and June offers Eli’s help with that. Sigrid pointedly asks him to come by sometime when her husband isn’t home and things just start to get super awkward.
Caroline Rothstein signs the papers finalizing her deal with the bank and Margaret hands over a cheque, which Nucky has apparently cut to make all of this go away. Caroline’s lawyer tries to hold things up, but she just wants this deal done, so she takes the cheque and leaves. Once they’re alone, Margaret’s new boss gets caught up on her marital situation and her husband’s criminal background. She’s calm about it and tells him that Nucky has a condition for his help: he wants an account set up in his name so he can start shorting the stock of the Mayflower Grain Corp, which, as you’ll remember, was the roomful of snooty Bostonians he was meeting with a couple of weeks ago, when he met Joe Kennedy.
Former Babbette’s (now the Rumpus Room). Mickey tells the kid that he rode the rails once, many years ago. The kid goes to answer a door buzzer and returns with a US Marshal who’s there looking for Chalky. Mickey takes him to the kitchen and points to one guy, but when the marshal tells him to turn around and show his face, it’s obviously not Chalky. Mickey plays the, ‘hey, they all look the same to me!’ card and the marshal leaves, annoyed. As he goes, Chalky comes out.
In Chicago, June rises to clear the table, but Eli jumps up and tells her to relax, in her condition. The men clear up as Abigail puts her favourite record on and the men keep up their conversation from earlier. Mueller says firmly that he’s not going to run again. They go into the kitchen and Eli spots a photograph of the King of Norway, which freaks him out and kicks off a series of memories of Sigrid pouring him a drink while the yodeling music from earlier plays in the background (and the lyrics, in between the yodeling, are super racist). Before long, a drink-befuddled Eli is having sex with Sigrid right there in the kitchen, within view of his majesty.
In the present, Eli staggers out of the kitchen and Sigrid calmly smokes and asks if he remembers now. June asks what’s going on and Sigrid says that everyone’s lying to themselves. She bluntly tells June that she and Eli had sex (using less polite terms), and while June silently begins to let steam come out of her ears, who should show up but Mike, because this dinner party from hell wasn’t quite complete yet. He’s come to take Mueller and Eli in and makes it clear he knows who both the men are. Both their faces say, ‘Shiiiiiiiit.’
Nuthouse. It’s pretty miserable, as you can imagine. Crazy people shouting and flapping and doing crazy people things. Gillian smokes and stares at nothing until her friend Charlotte’s wheeled in. Gillian goes over to her and asks what Dr Cotton did to her. Charlotte doesn’t respond at first, so Gillian tempts her with a butterscotch krimpet, which is well known to get anyone talking. Charlotte opens her robe and reveals a massive scar running straight across her midsection. Did she do that to herself or did the doctor…remove her liver or something? I thought at first he’d given her a hysterectomy, but that incision looks really high up for that. It’s practically up at her ribcage. Gillian looks horrified.
In 1897, Nucky is having dinner with Mabel and her dad, Mr Jeffries. There’s some talk about Mabel being a schoolteacher in Camden (yikes!) which she’s really excited about, presumably because concealable weapons were slightly less prevalent in 1897. Nucky talks about how AC is up and coming, which her dad doesn’t really believe, but Nucky sticks to it and points out that AC has doubled in size the last decade. Jeffries notes that Nucky has risen from bellboy to deputy sheriff over the past few years. Jeffries sends Mabel off to buy him a pack of cigarettes. Before she goes, she whispers to Nucky to remain steadfast. Once she’s gone, Jeffries says his daughter’s quite willful and he doesn’t know what she sees in Nucky, because Jeffries doesn’t particularly like him. Nucky points out that they’re both fighting over the same thing, and one of them is going to lose. He tells Jeffries he intends to marry Mabel and provide for her and their family. Jeffries says that Nucky talks a good line, but he doesn’t really know what he is. Nucky says they’ll just have to find out together.
Present-day Nucky goes to meet Maranzano in his restaurant and finds out Torrio isn’t coming. He asks Maranzano when he’s going to get rid of Lucky, because Maranzano must know Lucky’s going to come for him someday soon. Maranzano expects that, since it comes with the territory of being in charge. But Lucky’s Italian, and Maranzao likes dealing with Italians. As they talk, a car pulls up and men start spraying the restaurant with bullets, old movie-style. Nucky’s bodyguard sees them coming and yanks him to the floor just in time (man, that guy’s worth his weight in gold, isn’t he?) Only the poor bartender gets it.
Young Nucky goes to Lindsay’s place and exchanges some pleasantries with his wife before getting to business with Lindsay, offering to help out with the off-the-books jobs Lindsay does for the Commodore. Lindsay says they’ll discuss this some other time, because you don’t just show up and ask to start doing someone’s assassinations.
Gillian meets with Dr Cotton and tells him she’s totally cured and ready to go home now. And of course he says, ‘sure thing! Just sign here and here and you can be on your way!’ Of course not. He tells her she’s locked up indefinitely, because that’s what an insanity verdict gets you.
Mueller and Eli are sitting in a room together, waiting for the Feds to come in and question them. Eli asks Mueller to stop staring at him and tells Mueller that he had sex with Sigrid accidentally. Yeah, he just…slipped or something. Mueller calls bullshit on that, as well he might. ‘I don’t know about you, but my life is a shipwreck,’ says Eli, like Mueller’s life is any better right now. Eli apparently realizes that and shares his flask before Mike and another agent come in and start bringing up the agents both Mueller and Eli have killed. They offer the two men a choice between death row and working with them to put Al away. They send the boys to get the ledgers that very night so they can make this tax evasion case. Mueller reminds them that the books are written in code and Mike says that won’t be a problem, because they got the accountant and tortured him with some serious Room 101 shit to get him to give up the code.
Lansky and Lucky report to Torrio that the whole block around the restaurant is roped off and nobody knows who’s alive or dead. It’s obvious Torrio’s involved on some level, and Nucky knows it too. He calls Torrio that very minute and Torrio tries desperately to lie that he phoned to say he wouldn’t be able to make the meeting. Nucky tells him that he won’t rest until he sees this trio in their graves.
The Boardwalk Townie has Nucky back under the boardwalk, where she insists yet again there’s a body. And this time, she’s totally right. It’s Halligan. Guess they won’t have to worry about deputizing anyone to keep his friends out of town after all.
Nucky gets on the phone with Ronis, who tells him that Sally’s dead. Nucky can’t believe it and wants the names of those responsible. Ronis says that’s not how things are working down there. Nobody will be called to account for this. Nucky is displeased and downs a drink. I’d say he’s earned a few of those today.
Chalky makes his way to one of Narcisse’s brothels and is allowed in. I believe it’s the same place that was shot up not long ago, because the guard at the door mentions ‘a ruckus’ but that could really be anything. Chalky makes his way to a door marked ‘Private’ and takes out a gun he had stashed away before stepping inside. The first thing he sees is a little girl asleep on the sofa. She sleepily calls out for her mother, and who should appear but…Daughter Maitland. Oh dear. She spots Chalky and the two of them stare at each other, not sure what to say or do. Yeah, I’d say you two have some catching up to do.