Boardwalk Empire: Arrangements

Out on the Boardwalk, everyone’s going about their normal business, including one of Nucky’s guys, who’s making his regular collections. As he’s crossing a name off the list (which only has one more name left on it, so he’s clearly near the end and probably toting plenty of cash), some young punk type comes up and starts insulting him. The guy tells the kid to get lost, but the kid hocks a loogie in the guy’s face and takes off, leading the guy on a merry chase down the boardwalk. He runs through an archway, and as the collector follows him, someone comes running out from behind a large poster and lays him out flat with a club to the head. The attacker grabs the dropped bag of cash and leaves our poor guy lying stunned on the boardwalk, watching the birds wheeling overhead.

Egh, Lucy’s back. It was nice to have a break from her last week, but I knew it couldn’t last. Anyway, she and Nucky are cuddled up post-coitally in bed, and she’s asking him if he enjoyed it (once again creepily calling him “daddy”. Was that a 1920’s thing, or does this chick just have issues?) Nucky kind of grunts in response and tells her she’s a good kid. She asks him if he’s seeing anyone else and once again just gets a grunt in response. She starts things up again, but gets way too rough when she digs her nails into his chest and rakes them right down, leaving Nucky bleeding and totally spoiling the mood. He gets out of bed and heads into the bathroom in a snit. Not the best way to start the day, and considering the scene that preceded this, we know the day’s just going to get worse.

Margaret slinks into an office where Dana Ivey’s at work and asks Dana if they could have a chat about a “private matter”. Dana gestures for Margaret to sit and sets her work aside, giving the widow her full attention. Margaret opens by telling Dana that “a man” has made her an offer of the mistressing kind. Dana, without any judgment, asks who the man is, and Margaret just says that he runs things. Margaret says he’ll provide for her and her children, but she doubts he’ll marry her. Dana gently says that society has names for that kind of woman, and none of them are particularly kind. Margaret just repeats that he’ll provide for her. Let’s face it, Margaret’s in a really tight spot here. There weren’t a lot of employment opportunities for women with children during this time period—it’s not like daycare was all that common. And let’s not forget that she owes her only paying job to Nucky in the first place. I’ve no doubt that she has feelings for him—I don’t think she’s being coerced in any way—but if she were to refuse him, would the job with Madame still be hers? Hard to say.

Anyway, Dana decides to give us a little backstory (and reminds me what her actual name is—Mrs. McGarry). Her late husband owned a quarter interest in an oil field in PA that was bought by Standard Oil for a good packet of cash. Mr. McGarry took the money and built a big mansion down at the shore, and then died six months later of influenza (perhaps during the pandemic?) The Widow McGarry sold the giant house and moved into a smaller one, thus providing for her own future and giving her the means to pursue important interests, including temperance and, most importantly, votes for women. Margaret points out that she doesn’t have a mansion to sell, so Mrs. McGarry tells her, smiling, that she has to do as she sees fit, then, and she doesn’t owe anyone else an explanation. Margaret seems as surprised by that response as I am. I like the Widow McGarry! As Margaret gets up to leave, Mrs. McGarry hands her a pamphlet called “Family Limitation” by Margaret Sanger and tells her it contains “useful information” and Margaret should really read it. As Margaret stares at it, we get a rather amusing sound over from the next scene of two people clearly having sex. Heh.

We cut to Lucky and Gillian in bed, and Lucky’s clearly gotten over his little problem. He finishes and they light up a pair of cigarettes. Lucky, smiling mischievously, asks her to call in sick. She asks if he ever gets tired, and he tells her he doesn’t, with her. This conversational thread eventually leads to him revealing that he hasn’t been such an, uh, stand up guy with other girls lately. Or, as he puts it, Gillian’s “the only broad in years who’s put any lead in [his] pencil at all.” I’m kind of surprised he would admit that. Gillian doesn’t believe him at first, but he insists it’s true. It looks like they’re about to start up round two, but the ringing phone interrupts them. Lucky gets up and answers it thus “Yeah.”

It’s Rothstein on the other end, and he responds to this with a mere raise of the eyebrows and a gentle admonition that that’s no way to answer a telephone. Rothstein knows all about Lucky’s doings, which means he knows Lucky hasn’t made it up to Saratoga because he’s been too busy riding Gillian. Rothstein wants a report on Jimmy, but Lucky has no news for him, and he asks to call Rothstein back, because he’s with Jimmy’s wife right now. Ohhhh, I totally thought he’d figured out that Gillian wasn’t Mrs. Jimmy. Obviously not, because Rothstein just shortly says that Charlie’s actually with Jimmy’s mother before hanging up. Lucky turns and looks at Gillian in shock as he slowly hangs up the phone.

Nucky’s collector has peeled himself off the boardwalk and is in Nucky’s office, relating the whole story to Nucky and Eli, who’s lurking in the background. Nucky can’t believe someone would do this in broad daylight on the Boardwalk. The collector insists the attackers weren’t from his ward, since he would have recognized them. He suggests they might be from another guy’s ward, since they had a “dago” look. Nucky, who’s shown in the past he has very little patience for ignorant, bigoted statements and slurs thrown around, sharply asks the guy what kind of look that might be. Deaf to Nucky’s irritation, the guy says they looked “feeble minded”. Uh, yeah, the country that brought us Da Vinci and Michelangelo clearly tends to churn out a lot of feeble-minded people, dude. Moron. I no longer feel bad he got clubbed in the face. The collector promises to have his guys out on the street and tracking down Nucky’s money right away, but Nucky tells him Eli will handle it. The collector gets up and leaves.

Once they have the room to themselves, Nucky lays into his brother for allowing such a thing to happen on the Boardwalk, a mere hundred yards from Nucky’s suite. They both realize this was clearly planned to hit the collector at the end of his rounds, when he’d be packing the most cash. Nucky wonders who in AC would be dumb enough to pull a stunt like that, and Eli says that the Italians just don’t respect the rules. Nucky considers that and then asks if Lucky’s still hanging around—he’s pretty sure Lucky was either behind the robbery or knows who was. As they’re talking, Eddie’s gently knocking on the door, and after getting no response, he comes right in, getting the rough side of Nucky’s tongue in the process and being told to knock like a man next time. Eddie goes on with his message: Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague has been cooling his heels at a nearby hotel on Nucky’s dime and he’s getting tired of hanging around. Nucky impatiently tells Eddie to set up a dinner with Hague, and then tells Eli to bring Lucky in.

In Chicago, Jimmy’s showing off a trick with his war knife that basically consists of stabbing quickly between his fingers, which seems pretty stupid and reckless. Even Al thinks so. Once he arrives, Jimmy stops and invites Al to play (apparently it was a common war game called “Five Finger Fillet”). Al just tells Jimmy that Torrio’s coming in, so Jimmy tucks the knife into his boot. The camera lingers on it just long enough you know it’s going to be important later. Torrio comes in and bitches about a sore tooth before informing the boys that they’re going to sit down with Sheridan and get out of Greektown. He doesn’t need either the money or the aggravation. Al, of course, wants to put up a fight but Torrio’s not interested in getting embroiled in a war, especially not a war of Al’s making. He sends Al off to do some menial task, just to remind him of what his place is, and then complains about Irish gangsters coming to his place and spilling blood. Jimmy thinks it’s a mistake to get out of Greektown, since their bar there is making good money and provides a foothold in the neighborhood. Jimmy knows Torrio doesn’t want a war, but retreating looks pretty bad. He thinks they should have the meeting and “come to an understanding.” I think that understanding’s going to come at the expense of a life or two, don’t you?

At the AC Post Office, Van Alden’s nervously greeting his superior, who’s shown up for a surprise inspection. Van Alden and his associate kick all the postmen out of their office and hand over a file of their findings, which place Nucky at the head of a major criminal empire centered on illegal alcohol. Sounds about right. The superior asks for proof of this, so he can take it to the district attorney, but Van Alden needs more resources to get that proof. In order to get those resources, though, he needs to start seizing lots more illegal liquor and shutting down stills and such—you know, the things that get good press. Except we already know he can’t do that because he doesn’t have the resources…God, no wonder Prohibition ended up being such a loser. An endless circle of nothing being able to get done. Van Alden tries to win his superior over by saying that Nucky was also responsible for the hit on the liquor convoy in episode one, even though we know it was Jimmy all the way. Van Alden makes the mistake of bringing up Hans Schroeder, and his superior asks what his deal is with this Schroeder guy. Apparently, Van Alden even requisitioned Margaret’s immigration file. Creepy! Van Alden, of course, has no defense for that, and lamely says he’s just being thorough. The superior’s had enough and tells Van Alden to start busting up some stills and liquor bottles.

Looks like Margaret’s made her decision. She and Nucky are tucked up in bed at her house (guess the kids are with Edith?) Their pillow talk is actually kind of cute, and vastly different from the crap Lucy spews. For one thing, Nucky actually talks instead of grunting, and it’s clear he’s paying attention to what Margaret’s saying, whereas when Lucy speaks, it seems like his mind’s elsewhere. Not that I blame him in the least. Margaret worries a bit about what the neighbors will say and Nucky exposits that they won’t be her neighbors for much longer. She notices the scratches on his chest and asks what happened; Nucky tells her it was a hunting accident. No fool, Margaret asks who was hunting whom. Nucky tries to divert the conversation by kissing her, but she’s not really in the mood and says she has to pick up the kids and then go to work. He tells her she doesn’t anymore, but she wants to hold on to at least a little independence. Good for you, Margaret!

In the bathroom, she starts the taps and retrieves the Sanger booklet from a hiding place atop the old-fashioned toilet. She sits down and opens it to a page that basically explains the concept of douching with Lysol after sex. I’ve seen vintage ads for just this type of thing—apparently it was common. Doesn’t stop me from cringing and retreating to my happy place for a little while, though.

Family dinner at Al’s place! Jimmy’s sitting at the table, asking if he can help, but Al, who’s buzzing around and talking in Italian with his mother, tells him to sit still, he’s a guest. Al’s wife, a red-headed Irishwoman, is pouring the wine and tells Jimmy she heard about that poor “waitress” at the “restaurant”—Pearl. Apparently Al told the wife that Pearl was hit by a streetcar. Al keeps up the pretense, turning away from the stove just long enough to promise to talk to the streetcar driver and make sure he’s more careful in the future. Al asks Jimmy how many sausages he wants, and Jimmy tells him one, so Al gives him three. That’s Italian, all right.

Al’s little son is playing on the floor, and Al calls him to dinner. The wife says to leave him, but Al doesn’t, yelling at the kid, and then stomping on the floor right next to him when he doesn’t respond. The poor kid jumps and drops his toy, and Al grumbles about him as his wife looks distressed and helps the little boy sit at the table. Al asks his mother, in Italian, for some coffee, and the mother takes the opportunity to insult Al’s wife, calling her a stupid Irish cow. I can’t help but wonder if my grandmother, who was an Irishwoman who married into an old-school Italian family, ever had to go through this kind of crap. I know there were some people in the family and neighborhood who weren’t delighted by the match. Didn’t stop 800 people from showing up for the wedding, though.

Al’s wife seems used to this, and says that she may not speak Italian, but she knows what “stupido” means. Heh. Jimmy’s sitting next to the kid, who’s about Tommy’s age, and he glances fondly over at him as Al and his mother take their seats. Al goes ahead and insults everyone there—calling his mother a guinea, his wife a mick, and his son a dumbbell. His wife sharply tells him not to call the kid that, and Jimmy hurries to diffuse the situation by mentioning his own son. Al’s on a roll, though, and when Jimmy talks about Tommy, he interrupts to say that Tommy at least comes when Jimmy calls, right? Jimmy asks the little boy if he likes his dinner but gets no response. Al calls the boy a dopey little bastard, and geez, Al, I think you’re taking this tough-love thing a little far. Mrs. Al turns to glare at her husband, but before they can have words, Al’s mother trips over one of the kid’s toys while bringing a plate to the table and drops it, burning herself in the process. Al starts shouting at her, which always helps in these situations, Mrs. Al starts to clean up, and Jimmy notices that all the commotion has bothered the kid not a bit. He watches him for a moment, then snaps his fingers a few times right next to the kid’s ear. No response whatsoever. Kid’s clearly deaf. Al looks up just in time to see Jimmy snap his fingers, and the look he and Jimmy share is fairly devastating.

At the dress shop in AC, Mme is showing Lucy some of the latest classy lingerie, but of course Lucy wants something super trashy. Crotchless panties, basically. Mme goes to see what she has, and while she’s gone, Lucy turns and insults Margaret, who’s adjusting a display nearby. Mme returns with just what Lucy was looking for, and Lucy says she wants to see what it looks like—on Margaret. Uh, is she heading towards some strange threesome situation?

Back in the dressing room, Margaret starts to strip down as Lucy watches. As you can imagine, it’s super uncomfortable for everyone, including the viewers. As Margaret removes her slip, Lucy asks if she’s ever worn a bra. Margaret didn’t find it comfortable, but Lucy says she should try one again, because Margaret’s “saggy.” She totally and utterly is not, of course. And Lucy’s next jab, that she can tell Margaret’s had children, falls as flat as Kelly MacDonald’s stomach too. Lucy, in her awful, coarse, Nooo Yawk accent, tells Margaret she looks like the kitchen help; a quickie bent over the table. Can a streetcar run her over? Please? Or can a diving horse fall on her head? Margaret, good girl, lets the insults roll right off her and merely says that “he” doesn’t seem to mind. Lucy tries to call Margaret stupid, which doesn’t work, so she tells Margaret she’s just a way for Nucky to appease his Catholic conscience. Every now and then, he starts to worry he’ll go to hell, so he finds himself a good girl to mess around with, but then Lucy pouts and shows off her crotch, and he comes running right back.

Now, a lesser woman might have been cowed by this, but Margaret (who’s getting dressed again), is not a lesser woman. She tells Lucy a little story about a guy who used to come around to their town in Ireland every year with a rooster who could pick out a tune on a toy piano. Margaret and her friends thought it was awesome the first year, stupid the next year, and the third year, they didn’t even go to see it, because the rooster only knew that one song. Lucy, of course, doesn’t understand subtlety at all and needs some explanation, so Margaret clarifies: maybe Lucy’s “cunny” isn’t quite the draw she thinks it is. Ha! I love Margaret! With that, she leaves the dressing room, tells Mme she quits, and swirls out of the shop. Awesome. Plus, Mme can hire back that last employee she loved so much. It’s kind of a win-win.

Soon after, Nucky’s Rolls Royce is pulling up in front of a fancy rowhouse with Margaret and the kids (clutching new toys) in back. Inside, the house is beautiful, full of delicate furniture. Margaret tells the kids to be careful, but Eddie just says that if anything gets broken, it’ll be replaced. The place has three bedrooms, one for Margaret, and one for each of the kids, and considering all three of them were sleeping in the same bed up until the previous night, this is quite a step up indeed. Margaret stares at her opulent surroundings, not quite believing she’s here. As Eddie goes to leave, Margaret suddenly asks if Nucky’s nice to Eddie, and Eddie says he is, Nucky’s a very nice man.

Which, of course, leads perfectly into a cut to Nucky saying “Are you trying to sass me, you greasy c**ksucker?” Ha! He’s talking to Lucky, who’s unfazed, as you would expect. He says he thought Nucky was all about manners, and Nucky slings back that he treats people as they deserve to be treated, and Lucky deserves no gentle treatment. Nucky informs Lucky that he’s persona non-grata in AC ever since Rothstein tried to shake Nucky down for $100K. Lucky finally admits that he’s there because he’s having fun with Gillian (and he pretends not to know her name). Nucky gets a little pissed at him for the cavalier way he’s talking about Gillian and smacks Lucky upside the head. That sets Lucky off, and he lunges at Nucky but is restrained by Eli, who wrestles him, with some difficulty, into submission. Nucky tells Lucky, in no uncertain terms, that he’s to treat “Mrs. Darmody” with the utmost respect. Lucky calms down a little bit, and Eli releases him. Nucky moves on to a discussion of the recent theft. He tells Lucky to inform the men who accompanied him and his boss up in New York that thieving will not be tolerated. Lucky doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, and any clarification is held up by Eddie hammering loudly on the door (remember Nucky told him to knock like a man). Eddie’s just come by to tell Nucky that Margaret’s settled into her new home and happy with the accommodations. Nucky sends Lucky away, and Lucky sarcastically thanks Nucky for “showing [him] how it’s done here.”

Chicago. Jimmy tucks some cash into an envelope, along with a note telling Angela to use it however she sees fit. One of the girls comes in as he’s finishing up and asks if he really wants to be in there all by himself, so I guess he’s staying in Pearl’s room? Eek. Jimmy says he does, actually (though not unkindly) and the girl hands over the book Pearl was reading, which she left in the other girl’s room (the book is Free Air, which I think is what Jimmy was reading a couple of episodes ago). The girl urges Jimmy to come downstairs and hang with the others for a while before leaving. Jimmy pages through the book and a folded up advertisement for oranges falls out. It shows two oranges (marked “Jimmy” and “Pearl”) kissing on the branch. Awww. Jimmy stares at it for a little while before slowly folding it back up and putting it in the desk drawer. In the drawer as well are what appear to be Jimmy’s dogtags. He pulls them out and puts them on. Getting ready to go into battle, Jimmy?

Van Alden pulls up at Margaret’s old house, but of course his knocks yield no result. From next door, Edith calls out that she’s not there. Van Alden asks where Margaret went. Edith guesses she’s off drinking champagne or something like that. Van Alden asks for some clarification, and Edith tells him Margaret’s out all hours, constantly asking Edith to watch the kids (see? I knew Edith must have been getting pissed about that!) and working for French people. Edith’s clearly bitter, and judgmental, mentioning that Margaret’s not four months a widow, and Hans Schroeder was a lovely man. Um, what? This woman lives next door, she had to have known that Schroeder was beating the crap out of his wife on a regular basis. Maybe that kind of thing didn’t prevent someone from being a nice guy back in the ‘20’s, particularly if he brings his neighbors day-old crullers. Edith spills that a blue limo pulled up and carted off Margaret and the kids. Van Alden knows that car well. He closes his eyes for just a moment in horror and then asks Edith if there’s anything else he can tell her. “Yes, she’s a whore,” Edith says, before flicking her cigarette away and going back into her house. Nice.

Looks like Torrio took Jimmy’s advice to heart. Sheridan’s sweet talking a blonde coat-check girl when Torrio, Al, and Jimmy come in for their meeting. Sheridan’s guys pat down Torrio and the gang, and once they’re pronounced clean, they hand over their hats and coats to the coat check girl, who gives Jimmy a sultry look as she hands over the claim chip.  

Al demands a chance to search Sheridan and his crew, but Sheridan won’t have it. He even informs Al that he and all his boys are packing heat, which Al says wasn’t the deal. Al tries to talk Torrio out of the meeting, but Torrio waves him off. Sheridan points out that if he was going to kill the boys, they wouldn’t have made it through the front door. Fair enough. Jimmy tells Al calmly that everything’s fine.

The meeting begins in a back room, and it’s pretty tense. Pearl and the bartender Al beat into a broken jaw are slung back and forth until Torrio chalks everything up to an unfortunate misunderstanding. Um, yeah, that’s exactly what it was. Sheridan apologizes for Pearl, and Jimmy says he’d rather hear the apology from Liam, the guy who actually did the slashing. Doesn’t seem like that’s happening anytime soon, though. Torrio and Sheridan get down to business: Sheridan offers them a three-block portion of the city, along with some other territory, but we don’t get to hear about that, because we’re now focusing on Jimmy, who’s crossed his legs, accidentally (?) revealing his knife, tucked into his boot. One of Sheridan’s guys notices it too and immediately pulls his gun, interrupting the proceedings and demanding to know what the deal is with the knife. Sheridan and the others pull guns too, and Torrio tells them to take it easy. One of Sheridan’s goons retrieves the knife and hands it over to Sheridan, who accuses Jimmy of sneaking it in. Jimmy tells him he forgot he hand it on him, and Sheridan threatens to cut his throat with it. He then asks for some details about a little point at the hilt of the blade, and Jimmy tells him it’s a skullcrusher, for cracking walnuts. Well, it’s nice to hear the thing has some peacetime uses as well.

Sheridan eases up and invites everyone to have a drink and let bygones be bygones. The guys put away their guns and relax, so I guess the meeting’s going to end with everyone friends, right?

Later, Sheridan and his guys and Torrio and the boys are heading out. Torrio takes off to visit the men’s room as the others retrieve their coats. Sheridan notices that the coat check girl is now a brunette and wonders what happened to the blonde. He’s told she’s on a coffee break, but everyone who’s ever seen a gangster movie knows what this means for Sheridan and his crew. Sure enough, when Jimmy gets his coat, the girl nods to him ever so slightly. He thanks her, then pulls a pistol out of the coat, turns, and starts shooting. Al pulls a frigging shotgun out of his coat and opens fire. He and Jimmy finish off Sheridan and his goons as Torrio emerges and tells them to wrap it up. Sheridan’s still alive, so Jimmy, after telling Torrio to get out of there, pulls him up by the necktie, puts the pistol to his chin, and says: “I think you’ll agree that Greektown belongs to us now.” Then he pulls the trigger and splatters Sheridan’s brains all over the pristine marble wall. Why yes, Jimmy, I think he would agree. Before leaving, Jimmy takes his knife back from Sheridan’s dead body.

At Margaret’s new place, Nucky’s getting dressed as Margaret emerges from the bathroom, presumably having Lysoled herself again. Nucky asks what she was doing in there, and she lies that she was “luxuriating”. They play all cute together again, but sexy time is interrupted (interruptions seem to be a theme this episode) by the ringing telephone, which startles Margaret. Nucky answers and learns he has to go and take care of some business. Before he goes, he invites Margaret to accompany him to a show that evening: Hardeen, Houdini’s brother, who’s just as good. Margaret’s excited by the idea of finally going out with Nucky and getting a chance to have dinner after the show with Mr. Hardeen himself, and possibly Mrs. Hardeen. Yeah, I guess you can’t really take Lucy to any meetings that involve wives. And man, is Nucky having his cake and eating it too here or what? He gets the Madonna and the Whore. Though it’s clear, for now at least, that he prefers Madonna and the semblance of family life she’s providing. Margaret even helps Nucky finish getting dressed in a very wifely way.

At Torrio’s, the boys and the girls are having a party. Torrio heaps praise on Jimmy and is delighted to learn he plans to stick around for a while. Al rises to offer a toast to Jimmy that quickly devolves into a series of insults about how scared Jimmy was when Al woke him up by shooting the pillow next to Jimmy’s head. Everyone cracks up, and even Jimmy laughs, but then Al says Jimmy was a latrine scrubber over in France, and Jimmy doesn’t seem to find that so funny. Once Al sits down, Jimmy gets his jabs in, calling Al’s war record into question and making fun of him being part of the Lost Battalion (he was so lost he thought Brooklyn was in France!) Everyone laughs again, except Al. Oh, this could get out of hand so quickly.

In AC, Nucky’s sitting down for lunch or dinner or something with Frank Hague, who’s complaining about being kept waiting for so long, even if it was in a deluxe suite at a nice hotel. Nucky brings up the Road Appropriations Bill and it’s implied that Nucky really has the upper hand here, because he has much more powerful friends, including Senator Edge. It’ll be easier for everyone if Hague doesn’t put up a fight—they can just split the money, and avoid unpleasantness and hard feelings. This is certainly different from the way things are being handled in Chicago.

Hague is noncommittal, but he asks where they’re going that night. Nucky reluctantly offers up the Hardeen show, but Hague’s not interested in being a third wheel.

Jimmy’s done with the party and has retreated to Pearl’s room to read. Someone knocks on the door, and after getting no response to his repeated “who is its”, Jimmy cautiously approaches with a primed pistol and opens the door. It’s Al, cackling, as he does. Jimmy demands to know what Al’s holding behind his back, and Al holds out a package of steaks as a gift. He hands it over and Jimmy softens, inviting Al in. Once he’s in, Jimmy offers him a drink, and Al admits that he gets stupid and runs off at the mouth when he drinks. He kind of chastises Jimmy for what he said about Al and the war in front of the others. He tells Jimmy that’s not how you treat a friend, and Jimmy seems surprised that Al considers him a buddy, since he thought they were just accomplices. Al shrugs and says “Isn’t that the same thing?” In this world, I guess it kind of is. Then, Al gives Jimmy some cooking advice and invites him over for dinner again.

Jimmy thanks him for the steaks and Al turns to go, but before he gets to the door, he suddenly tells Jimmy that his kid’s deaf. Apparently, he’s known that for a while, which puts his horrible insults regarding the kid in a whole new light. The first time I saw this episode, I thought he somehow might not have been aware that the kid was deaf until Jimmy snapped his fingers next to the boy’s ear. If that was the case, I could understand Al thinking the kid was half-witted (not that that excuses his put-downs). But he knew all the time and still said those awful things about him? WTF? Was he just trying to cover, until Jimmy figured it out himself, or is he just a complete monster? I’ll let you decide.

Al manages to dig himself a tiny bit out of the hole he’s in with me by admitting it kills him to think the kid’s being punished for all the horrible things Al’s done. Jimmy tells Al to take the boy to a doctor, but they’ve been there and done that and the kid’s deaf as Helen Keller, sorry to say. Al plays the mandolin and sings to the boy, putting his little hand on Al’s throat, and although the boy feels the vibration in his throat, he doesn’t understand what it is. Al’s voice breaks as he says this, and I’ll admit, my heart does too, a tiny bit. Jimmy gently urges him to keep at it, the kid’ll start to understand someday, and with advances in medicine, there might be a cure someday soon. Or a hearing aid that will fool morons in 2010 into thinking a time traveler on a cell phone made it into a Charlie Chaplin movie in 1928. Al finishes out the scene by cracking a bad joke about what Sheridan and flat beer have in common: no head. He cackles his way out of the room.

Looks like Hague put the kibosh on Hardeen in favor of heading to a cathouse, where he and Nucky are being serenaded by a naked girl with a ukulele. Now that Hague’s a bit looser and more liquored up, he’s more willing to talk turkey, so he asks Nucky what he wants. He wants a highway—two lanes going each way from Philly and New York to AC. I’m sorry to say this, Nucky, but it’s going to be at least 40 years before you get that. Hague warns Nucky that he’s putting a big bet on Walter Edge that he really shouldn’t be making, because Edge has a major skeleton in the closet in the form of a “paving company” with no address in which he’s a silent partner. Nucky asks why Hague’s telling him this, and Hague says that guys like Edge come and go, but bosses like Hague and Nucky are there to stay and, presumably, they need to stick together.

At Margaret’s, she’s reading the kids a bedtime story as a very buttoned-up looking black woman watches. Margaret tells her the kids are usually asleep by nine and shouldn’t be any trouble. Rather emotionlessly, the woman says she loves babies, and she sits for most of the other young ladies too. Margaret, clearly looking for some kind of a connection here, tells the woman that she’s seeing Hardeen that night, and the woman smiles plastically and says that’s very nice. Unfortunately, the phone rings, and it’s Eddie informing her that she will not, in fact, be seeing Hardeen that night. Nucky’s been caught up on business. Margaret’s clearly disappointed and takes a moment to gather herself before turning back to the living room, where the babysitter’s ushering in a well-dressed woman leading a cute little girl by the hand. The woman introduces herself as Annabelle, the neighbor across the way, and Margaret introduces herself as well. Annabelle asks about the kids and Margaret introduces them too. Annabelle’s cute with them, and then asks if she might be able to add her own little girl to the babysitting brood that evening. The little girl’s name is Ruby, in case that ever becomes important. Annabelle sends Ruby off to play with Margaret’s kids, and then sweetly asks Margaret if she minds, adding that “us girls” help each other out. Margaret asks for some clarification on the “us girls” part, and Annabelle winkingly refers to them all as “the concubines.” So, AC’s most powerful men stash their pieces on the side in the same place? That seems like a really bad idea. Margaret looks really uncomfortable, although “concubine” is probably the politest term that Dana Ivey was referring to back at the beginning of the episode. Annabelle promises to return the favor, and then, looking around, asks if this is the three bedroom unit? Margaret says it is, and Annabelle says Margaret’s fellow is clearly sweet on her. But not enough to take her to see Houdini’s brother, sadly.

In his own sad, lonely room, Van Alden is not gazing at the picture of his wife on the bureau—he’s giving his full attention to Margaret’s immigration records. These list, among other things, her maiden name (Rohan), the fact that she was pregnant (and presumably unmarried), and suffering a miscarriage when she disembarked. Yikes. Van Alden moves on to a picture taken of her, presumably when she arrived, and he traces the curves of her face with his finger. On the back is written her age when the photo was taken: 16 years old.

Hague is having a good time with two girls, who are pouring champagne on his face and, from the sound of things, slapping him around a little. Nucky watches, bored and unimpressed by the show, as another girl kneels beside him and asks what’s on his mind. He tells her that he’s trying to be good, and she sassily informs him that it’s too late to be good that night.

At her palatial new house, Margaret waits in the dark, contemplating her choices, as the camera pushes in on the telephone behind her, which probably won’t be ringing any more that night.

Van Alden has set Margaret’s file aside and is beginning elaborate preparations for some kind of ritual, which include taking off his shirt, setting his wife’s photograph face down on the bureau, laying a towel out on the bed, and removing a leather strap from one of his suitcases. He carefully lays the strap down on the bed, sits down beside it, takes one more, lingering look at Margaret’s photograph, then removes his undershirt, revealing a badly scarred back. He picks up the strap, ties one end in a knot, and begins beating himself with the knotted end as he looks at Margaret’s picture. Seriously, man, just masturbate, like normal people.

3 thoughts on “Boardwalk Empire: Arrangements

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