Boardwalk Empire: Mitzvah

The camera pans past the waves washing up on shore while exceptionally sappy old timey music plays. We catch up to a young couple—a man and a woman, walking along the beach, all cute and cuddly. The woman playfully runs away to splash in the water, and the camera spins around the man to reveal it’s Two Face, but he’s now got one whole face—no sign of his war wounds at all. He watches the woman fondly, but then she turns and starts screaming in horror.

In non-dream world, TF is startled awake by screaming, all right, but it’s poor little Emily, Margaret’s tiny daughter, doing it, because he’s asleep on her mother’s couch with no mask on and his awful wounds out in the open for all to see. Ok, there are a few things wrong with this. Most important, why the hell is he staying here? Nucky owns an entire floor of a hotel, he couldn’t find somewhere to put a cot for this guy? Or maybe get him a room in one of the other hundred or so hotels in Atlantic City? Or maybe have him stay with Jimmy? And if he must stay at Margaret’s, why is he sleeping on the couch? She’s got three bedrooms, she can’t have the kids bunk together for a little while to avoid this exact issue?

Poor TF wakes up fast and tries to put the mask on in a hurry, mumbling apologies, but the damage is done at this point. I mean, I’m horrified by the sight of this guy’s wounds, so I’m pretty sure this would be the ultimate High Octane Nightmare Fuel for a four-year-old. Still, my heart totally breaks for him as he tries to comfort her and apologizes over and over again, covering his half-face with his hand and finally getting the mask on. Margaret and Nucky come tearing down the stairs, and Margaret immediately begins comforting her daughter. TF apologizes again, explaining that the mask is uncomfortable to sleep in. Margaret glares at Nucky briefly before taking Emily back upstairs. Nucky follows a second later, and TF mumbles one last apology. Awwww! Someone give this poor man a hug!

Meanwhile, in another tense room, Sebso is giving his version of the events leading up to their star (sole) witness against Jimmy getting shot. His story: the guy had to pee, so Sebso let him out and uncuffed him so he could do his business. Van Alden, unsurprisingly, tells Sebso he should have just let the guy piss himself rather than stopping, but Supervisor Elliott warns him to be quiet. Sebso gives a very convincing performance here. I almost believe him. Elliott decides Sebso acted in self-defense and tells him to take a week’s leave to get some rest. Once Sebso’s gone, Elliott lays into Van Alden for letting this happen and embarrassing the bureau. There’s now no case against Jimmy or Nucky, since Winslow’s death means his confession is useless hearsay (really? They didn’t get an official version or anything? Did that kind of thing not exist back then?) Elliott shouts at Van Alden for bungling the whole matter from start to finish and warns him that he’s on his last legs at the Bureau.

Chez Darmody, Angela’s switched from painting nudes to painting tourists frolicking in the water. Jimmy comes out of the bedroom and, when she pauses, he tells her not to stop. She offers him coffee and exposits that Gillian took Tommy out for ice cream. Jimmy admires the painting (specifically, the skin tones), and references another painting of hers that he liked. Angela’s surprised he even noticed her work. Jimmy takes the opportunity for a little wartime reminiscence, explaining that a few days of trench warfare horror is enough to make you forget there’s anything beautiful in the world. I can imagine that’d be true. Hell of a way to take the Grand Tour.

He joins Angela at the canvas, and she takes his hand and together they mix some paint. Artistic encouragement seems to get her hot, because she soon drops her palette (that’s going to be a mess to clean up later) and they start getting to it on the kitchen table. It’s a lot nicer and sexier than the last time they had sex there.

Over at Margaret’s, Nucky’s reading the paper (there’s a story about the continuing investigation into the World Series on the sports page, which he’s not reading). Margaret asks if there’s any word on the ratification of the 19th Amendment. It’s all down to Tennessee. Margaret’s happy to hear it, but notes that Nucky doesn’t seem optimistic (despite the fact that he was totally optimistic about the amendment passing just last episode, so I’m not sure what’s going on here.) He says the South isn’t exactly famed for its forward thinking.

TF politely knocks on the dining room door to tell Nucky that Eddie’s out front. Nucky tells him he’ll be five minutes and goes to finish his coffee. Once TF is gone, Margaret starts to tell Nucky that she doesn’t think it’s a great idea to have TF staying there. Nucky reminds her that TF is a war hero, which is all well and good, but try explaining that to a couple of kids under the age of 10. Nucky also reminds her that TF is there to protect her, presumably from other gunmen out to ruin her ill-gotten dresses. Speaking of that, Margaret asks if anything’s been done about the guys who shot at Nucky so recently, and she wonders if she and the kids should go away for a while. Nucky, of course, intends for them all to stay put, because he’s got some plans for Margaret and he’d miss them all too much.

In NYC, Rothstein’s meeting with Mickey Doyle and Leo and Ignatius D’Alessio while flanked by Lucky and Lansky, extolling the wonder that is radio and other methods of communicating information “within minutes.” Yes, yes, it’s a brave new world, Arnold. Shame you weren’t around for Google alerts—getting immediate updates on Kate Middleton’s latest whimsical hat would have blown your mind. Anyway, Rothstein’s point is that a businessman lives and dies on information and its successful use. Rothstein has been a successful gambler because he knows how to use information (although Leo stupidly adds in a reference to Rothstein allegedly fixing the World Series.) That’s met with stony silence from Rothstein, Lucky, and Lansky.

Rothstein finally gets around to his real point: He relies on information, which the D’Alessio/Doyle gang was supposed to have on Nucky Thompson, but their info was lousy and the hit was horribly bungled. Ignatius tries to explain that they were hoping to send a message, which they did, it just wasn’t the one everyone was hoping to deliver. Now a tourist’s been shot and Nucky knows Rothstein’s after him. And everyone knows the D’Alessios are morons.

Rothstein takes a break from scolding the idiots like children so a manservant can place a glass of milk and a slice of devil’s food cake in front of him. Lacks subtlety, but, heh nonetheless. Leo offers to kill Nucky himself, but Rothstein’s not convinced they can deliver. The D’Alessios ask how they can make this up to him, and Rothstein goes for even less subtlety when he tells them nothing says “I’m sorry” like a wad of cash. Mickey kind of shakes his head and looks away, seeming to realize he’s thrown his lot in with a bad crowd.

Ahh, Chicago. I thought we might not see these guys again for a while, now that Jimmy’s back in AC. Torrio’s having a meeting at a table in the bar with some associates while Al giggles like a schoolgirl and screws around nearby. Torrio calls him on his behavior and Al settles down a little. Like a kid. You seeing a pattern here?

Torrio leaves this alone so he can go greet another associate—a brewer named Guzik. Torrio greets him warmly, accepts a nice fat envelope, and then starts to talk about expanding his distribution to the north side of the city. As he talks, Al comes scampering over and offers Torrio a cigarette. A second after it’s lit, the tip of it explodes like a tiny firecracker, startling Torrio and his associates and sending Al and his idiot friend into gales of laughter. Al snorts that it was a gag, but Torrio’s a freaking grownup and tells Al that they’re in a meeting. He accuses Al of acting like a 12-year-old, which he’s pretty much been since we met him, so I don’t know why Torrio’s so surprised. Al’s an overgrown child, he thought shooting a gun into Jimmy’s pillow would be funny. Torrio’s not amused by Al’s antics and calls an end to the meeting, telling Guzik they’ll talk at his kid’s bar mitzvah that Saturday.

In Nucky’s plush office, he’s meeting with Jimmy and complaining about TF’s grotesque appearance. Jimmy’s excuses are interrupted by the arrival of Eddie, who announces that Mickey Doyle’s come to see Nucky. Both Nucky and Jimmy are surprised by Mickey’s balls. Eddie, still pretty proud of himself for his quick gunslinging work on the boardwalk, asks Nucky if he wants Mickey frisked. Nucky asks if Eddie’s Tom Mix all of a sudden and tells Jimmy to take care of it. Jimmy gives Mickey the full TSA treatment and finally lets him in to see Nucky.

Mickey acts like they’re still all buddy buddy, but Nucky’s not playing along. Mickey apologizes for getting rattled after losing his moonshine operation, and then really, really stupidly tells Nucky that he’s partners with the D’Alessio brothers now. Nucky grabs Mickey by the throat and threatens to throw him out a window as Jimmy smoothly pulls out a pistol and holds it to Mickey’s head. Mickey chokes that he had no idea what they were planning and says he came to tell Nucky everything he knows about them and their deal with Rothstein. Nucky considers this for a moment, then releases him and tells Jimmy to get Mickey a drink. “I should piss in it,” is Jimmy’s response. If he did, it would probably still taste better than the crap Mickey was making in his basement in episode one.

Everybody settles down (Jimmy does spit in Mickey’s drink, in case you were wondering, and then practically throws it at him). Mickey gives all the dirt on the D’Alessio’s and how they’ve been keeping busy in AC—lynching Chalky’s guy, robbing O’Neill, and shooting Eli at the casino.  Not to mention shooting at Nucky on the boardwalk. It was that, plus the fact that Mickey’s smart enough to have figured out the D’Alessios plan to shoot him one of these days, that led to this change of allegiance. Jimmy asks how Lucky figures in and Mickey fills them in on Lansky’s visit to Chalky a few episodes back, which was really just a ruse to find out how many bottles Chalky’s moving. It’s all in the name of gathering information for Rothstein, who’s moving to take over the liquor business in Atlantic City.

Nucky tells Jimmy to get Chalky on the phone, but Eddie’s on the line. Nucky calls Eddie in, and Eddie happily shares the news that it was Trenton on the phone—the news just came in that Tennessee folded and women have finally gotten the vote.

That evening, Margaret’s reading The Wizard of Oz to the kids as TF lurks in the darkened dining room, listening in. Margaret looks up and notices him and he grunts another apology and starts to draw back as the kids squirm and look scared. Margaret finds her humanity and decides to set an example for her children, so she invites TF to join them in the living room for the story. He thanks her and takes a seat across from the sofa. Margaret continues with the story; she even holds up the book so TF can see the picture of the Tin Woodsman. Aww. TF adorably tells the kids he’s the Tin Woodsman, and he taps his mask and tells them he needs some oil. Both kids smile and giggle, starting to thaw. Emily asks Margaret if he’s really the Tin Woodsman and Margaret says he certainly is, and who better to have around the house than the mighty Tin Woodsman? Awwww! TF smiles and looks genuinely happy for the first time since we’ve met him.

Van Alden’s in his rooms, dressed in trousers and an undershirt and ripping through the information he’s acquired in frustration. He flicks aside a magazine with Lucy on the cover and picks up Margaret’s immigration papers again.

Back at Margaret’s, the kids have been put to bed, and Nucky’s popping a bottle of champagne. He says he won’t insult her by offering any, but hopes she understands he wants to celebrate the good news. Margaret actually says she’ll have one, since it’s a special occasion and all. You know what? I think finally starting to shrug off a crushing patriarchal yoke and establishing your entire sex as thinking, reasonable people who should have a say in how their own country is run is as good a reason as any to take a drink, even if you’re the most ardent teetotaler. She and Nucky toast to the vote. Once they’ve taken a sip, Nucky starts to sell her on all the great things the Republican party’s done over the years: Emancipation, women voting, etc. He tells her that at a luncheon that Sunday the Mayor will be announcing his retirement. Nucky wants Margaret to get up and convince the League of Women Voters that Bader should replace him. Margaret’s not as pliant as Lucy and asks what Bader’s qualifications are before she agrees. Nucky starts to get a tiny bit annoyed at her questions, so she switches tactics and asks what she should say. He tells her to inform the ladies that Bader represents change—that all the cronyism and violence in the streets will be a thing of the past. She asks if that’s true, realizing Nucky will be the puppeteer for the new mayor just as much as the old one. Nucky tells her that continuity is important to ensure the city keeps running smoothly.

It’s a fine afternoon on the crowded boardwalk, and Jimmy’s out with Angela and Tommy. Jimmy takes Tommy over to the creepy preemie hospital/freak show and tells Tommy that this is where they got him from. Tommy’s sufficiently precocious to know that’s not true, so they move along to the photographer’s studio. There, out of Angela’s earshot, Tommy points to a picture of Robert the photographer and Mary in the window and informs Jimmy that “that’s mommy’s kissing friend.” Shit. From the mouths of babes, eh? Jimmy, of course, thinks the kid’s pointing at Robert. I kind of wonder how he’d react if he knew the truth. In this case, he reacts by going inside and punching Robert right through the camera as he’s trying to take a picture of a little boy. He commences beating the crap out of Robert, eventually throwing him through the glass front door of the shop. Mary shrieks, Angela (holding a sobbing Tommy) asks what the hell is going on, and a crowd gathers around the fallen photographer on the boardwalk. Jimmy starts beating the hell out of the guy again, explaining to the crowd that John “had relations” with Jimmy’s wife. Angela insists that isn’t true, but Jimmy’s not listening. This actually reminds me a little bit of Al beating the hell out of that reporter asking him for a statement way back in episode 2.

At her home, Margaret hurries to open the door, where she finds Van Alden, who’s there to deliver a moral beatdown. He asks to come in, and she lets him, of course. TF emerges from a room near the back and Van Alden tells him he’s a Federal agent and needs to speak with Margaret privately. TF says he’ll be out back with the kids, so I guess they’re all good now. Margaret ushers Van Alden into the living room, and once there, he pulls out the immigration picture of her and asks her to identify the woman in the picture. Understandably thrown, Margaret asks if this is some kind of poor joke. Van Alden wonders what happened to the girl in the picture, who came to the country full of hope. Margaret’s really confused now and asks if she’s being deported, which would be strange, since she’s now an American citizen. Van Alden tells her she’s consorting with a murderer, the man who made her a widow. He urgently tells her that her life doesn’t have to be like this, and that he can see into her soul, every night, when he looks at the picture. He sits on the sofa beside her, taking her hand, and looking completely demented. Good lord, Michael Shannon gives good crazy.

Margaret, sensible girl, is now completely creeped out by this weirdo and demands he hand over the photograph. She jumps away from him like he’s on fire and lays into him for having the nerve to gain entry to her home under false pretenses and then lecturing her. He asks if this is the life she wants, and I’d have to say, yeah, actually, I think it is. Remember that crappy hovel she was living in when you first met her? Margaret tells him to get lost, despite his offer of salvation, and Van Alden hollers that he came by to save her from the fires of hell. He finally leaves, and Margaret looks totally freaked.

That Saturday, Al and Torrio wander into a synagogue for Guzik’s kid’s bar mitzvah, Al taking in the opulent surroundings and unusually dressed attendees like he’s in a museum. Torrio sends Al off to find seats while he talks to someone, so Al sits down and takes his newsboy cap off. A man sitting in front of him turns, greets him politely, and tells him he should keep the hat on, as a sign of respect, which is totally the opposite of what men did in church, which is why Al took his off. The man then gives Al a rundown of Jewish beliefs and explains, when asked, what the bar mitzvah means. Al’s surprised that their faith recognizes someone as an adult at the age of 13, but the man merely says that’s old enough to know right from wrong and to be responsible for one’s actions.

Everyone takes a seat so they can begin, but before the ceremony can get underway, Al’s new buddy gets a dig in by pointing out that he’s wearing a kid’s hat, essentially. Al frowns, considering this, then watches the ceremony attentively. I’m no expert, but the kid seems to do really well, and the ceremony’s a lot shorter than I remember the bar/bat mitzvahs I went to when I was younger being.

Nucky’s meeting with Chalky, filling him in on the Meyer Lansky/Michael Lewis bit that Chalky had always assumed Nucky was behind. Mickey’s in the meeting too, walking around the room restlessly as Nucky goes on to tell Chalky about the involvement of the D’Alessios, Lucky, and Rothstein in all the crap that’s been going on lately. When Chalky asks if these are the guys that shot Nucky, Eddie pipes up that they shot at him, but they weren’t successful. Someone wants daddy’s approval. And he’s not getting it. Nucky coldly asks Eddie why he’s even still in the room. Because he’s awesome? Geez, Nucky, the guy’s your driver, and he saved your life with some hitherto unknown impressive shooting skills. Cut him some slack. And give him a really good Christmas bonus.

Eddie makes himself scarce as Jimmy comes in, apologizing for being late. Nucky tells Chalky that he wants him to set up a meeting with Lansky, arranged through Mickey, and to accept any offer Lansky makes. Jimmy coaches Chalky to say that he’s not happy with how things are going with Nucky, and to agree to sell them as much liquor as they want. The whole thing is basically a plan to get Lansky and as many of Rothstein’s guys as possible into one place so they can take them hostage or kill them or whatever it is they plan to do.  Chalky considers this, then asks Nucky what he plans to do with Rothstein. Nucky offers to make Rothstein the richest corpse in New York.

The next day, at the League of Women Voters lunch, the Mayor’s announcing his intention not to seek reelection while Margaret fidgets in the audience. Nucky tries to comfort her and tells her she’ll do fine—it’s hard the first time you have to make one of these speeches, but it gets better.

The mayor finishes up and announces Margaret, who takes the stage to enthusiastic applause. She starts out sounding a tiny bit nervous, but she really hits it out of the park (and hey! Dana Ivey’s out in the audience! Smiling proudly, no less). Margaret finishes by introducing Bader as the city’s next mayor, and everyone stands and applauds. Nucky grins and claps for her. Nucky, seriously, marry her. She’ll make a great political wife, and then you wouldn’t have to worry about her testifying against you! Just something to keep in mind.

Bader takes the stage, thanks Margaret sincerely, and begins his speech. Margaret takes a seat on the stage and watches Nucky out at the table, chatting with the soon to be ex mayor and one of his cronies. She starts to look sad, realizing there won’t be any change forthcoming at all.

At the whorehouse in Chicago, Torrio comes down the stairs with a girl and is met with an unexpected sight: Al, dressed like a grownup, with a fedora instead of his usual slouchy newsboy hat. Torrio sends the girl away and asks Al what’s up. Al takes the hat off and apologizes for acting like a child. He’s ready to step up and be serious now. He’s heard Guzik’s brewery could use some help. Torrio mentions that their distribution’s screwed up, so Al offers to try and do something about it.

Chalky’s got Lansky, Mickey, a couple of the D’Alessios, and a few other guys in his workshop, where he’s regaling them with a story of how Nucky used to collect money from Chalky when they were kids, to kick up to the Commodore. Eventually, Chalky found out that Nucky was skimming off the top to the tune of 5%. And thus, it seems, began Chalky’s fake resentment. Lansky promises that Rothstein doesn’t cheat his partners and then tells Chalky that Rothstein’s after the real stuff, not the moonshine Chalky’s bottling in his workshop. He asks if Chalky can part with 500 cases a month, and Chalky says he can.  Ignatius D’Alessio says Chalky will now be their main guy down in AC, and then his brother, very stupidly, says that, if Chalky plays his cards right, he can buy a Packard for every day of the week. Oooooh, I’m guessing Nucky left out what he knew about the lynching when he was telling Chalky what Mickey had told him. This slip up does not escape Chalky, whose gaze lingers on the idiot’s face as Lansky promises to send trucks for the cases the following day. He and Chalky shake hands, and then Chalky starts to walk them out. Just before he opens the door, however, he reaches into his jacket, pulls out two giant guns, and demands to know how they knew he drove a Packard.

Later, Angela makes her way down the boardwalk and heads into the darkened photo studio, whose broken door window is now boarded up. Mary, who’s inside sorting pictures, looks up fearfully until she sees who it is. Angela finds out the extent of Robert’s injuries (five broken ribs, nose, fractured jaw) and apologizes. Mary takes the blame, however, for not leaving Robert months ago. If she had, this never would have happened. Actually, it probably would have, but believe whatever you like, Mary. She and Angela go into a back room, where Angela starts to cry and says that Jimmy’s not the same person she knew before the war. Mary asks Angela to grab Tommy and come away with her to Paris. She doesn’t even give a crap about her beaten and bloodied husband—she just says he’ll recover and move on with his life. Meanwhile, they can retreat into their foolish fairytale paradise world where Tommy will grow up along the Seine, speaking French and finding his muse at Isadora Duncan’s school and having two mommies way before that was cool.  The fact that Angela actually seems to consider this a viable plan just proves how completely and utterly infantile she is. Do you really think Jimmy wouldn’t find a way to hunt you down, Angela? And he could, too. You know this guy has serious connections, and it’s not like you’ve proven yourself to be such a genius when it comes to keeping things from him. Anyway, they promise to head to Paris as soon as possible and start making out.

Halloran sees Margaret home, clumsily mentioning his planned bid for sheriff, if Eli’s not better. Margaret has no response to that at all, so Halloran makes himself scarce. Margaret moves into the living room and sits down; she’s soon joined by TF, who tells her the kids are asleep and the babysitter just left. He starts to close the curtains, and Margaret watches for a moment before apologizing for not being nicer to him when he first arrived. She admits that “his affliction” frightened her. He accepts that, saying that people find it “disconcerting.” That’s probably the nicest word there is for how I imagine most people react to him. Margaret apologizes again and says that one should judge the person on the inside, not on appearances. TF says that he’s not able to do that himself, so why should she be able to? In a really sad moment, he says that sometimes he forgets what he looks like, but then he passes a mirror and is reminded. And then he stares at his reflection and can’t remember what he was like before. This guy’s a heartbreaker in every frigging scene he’s in. And Margaret clearly feels it too—she looks incredibly sad as she nods and smiles a little at him, then slowly heads upstairs.

At a speakeasy somewhere, a doorman slides one of those face-sized peepholes open, sees Van Alden outside, and lets him in. Huh? What the hell kind of security is that? No password or anything? Why have a doorman at all?

Anyway, Van Alden walks in and looks around uncertainly for a moment, then goes to the bar and orders a whiskey, seeming to only do so because it was the only alcoholic beverage he could think of. He contemplates it for a moment, then knocks it back, lets the burn settle, and asks for another. He takes this one with him and sips it a bit more slowly, turning to look around the room. Who should he spot there but Lucy, sitting alone at a table, dressed up in a beaded red dress. He makes a beeline for her and asks to join her. She allows it and accepts his offer of a cigarette. She takes him in, then asks for his name. He tells her the truth—Nelson—and she asks him to get her another drink. Van Alden obliges.

Over at Chalky’s, Meyer and the other boys (aside from Mickey, of course) are kneeling on the floor, their hands tied behind their backs. Nucky comes in, accompanied by Jimmy, and Chalky introduces him. Nucky notices Ignatius D’Alessio and says they’ve already met—Ignatius is the one who shot at Nucky on the boardwalk. Ignatius insists that was someone else but Nucky knows better.

Nucky pulls Chalky aside and asks what happened—he was just supposed to set up a deal. By way of answering, Chalky asks why Nucky didn’t tell him these were the guys who lynched his driver. Nucky says it’s because he hadn’t gotten confirmation, but Chalky’s gotten all the confirmation he needs. Nucky asks how they’re supposed to get to Lucky and the rest of the D’Alessios. Before we can hear Chalky’s no doubt brilliant plan to do just that, Lansky asks to speak with Nucky. Nucky returns to the prisoners and Lansky offers to set up “an accommodation” with Rothstein if Nucky and Chalky let him go. Nucky says that Rothstein made his bed. “And you can all die in it,” Jimmy adds. Ignatius is apparently suicidal, because he then makes the unbelievably stupid move of mouthing off to Jimmy, Nucky, and Chalky. Lansky, who would like to live to see another day, closes his eyes in horror. Who would do something like this in this situation?

Jimmy smiles, then pulls out his pistol, leading Ignatius the Idiot to actually wonder aloud if Jimmy’s really going to shoot him for mouthing off. Um, yeah, why wouldn’t he? What reason does he have to keep you alive? What reason do any of them have to keep you alive? If anything, you’ve given them plenty of reasons to want you dead!

“I wasn’t going to, but you kinda talked me into it,” says Jimmy before dispatching Ignatius the Idiot with one perfectly aimed bullet to the head. Too bad the Darwin Awards weren’t around back then, because I think this guy would have been a contender. The D’Alessio brother who was right next to him stares down at his brother’s body in shock, then starts to cry. Nucky asks if anyone else has anything to say. No takers. Someone asks what they should do with the body and Chalky tells him to take it to the dump. As they go to do just that, the other D’Alessio proves that stupid runs in this family big time by growling at Chalky that, when his brothers arrive, they’re going to string him up higher than they did his driver. So, now it’s Chalky’s turn to have a rage killing. He pins D’Alessio the Idiot II to the wall and strangles him to death with his bare hands while Jimmy, Nucky, and Micky watch calmly. Welcome to the Moral Event Horizon, gentlemen. Watch your step as you approach.

Nucky circles Meyer, the last one standing (or kneeling, as it were) because he’s the only one with a few brain cells to rub together. Nucky cuts his hands free and tells him to share the story of everything he saw that night with Rothstein. Meyer rises, nods, and leaves.

Wow, liquor really is quicker—Van Alden and Lucy are back in his crappy room, and she’s riding him, still doing that creepy and annoying “daddy” moaning thing of hers. She starts to kiss his chest and neck, but when she starts to get a little too close to his lips (oh, those lips that speak the word of God!) Van Alden shudders, then flips her over so she’s on her stomach. The whole thing’s over a couple of seconds later, and we get a nice, lingering shot of the wicked scars on his back, then see his face contort in horror. He leaps off of her and curls up in a fetal position at the opposite end of the bed.

Having dispatched his business for the evening, Nucky arrives at Margaret’s and slips into her bedroom. She’s still awake, so he tells her he was seeing to some business, “plotting [their] strategy for November.” He sits on the edge of the bed and compliments her on the speech that afternoon. Then, rather paternally, he tells her she should get some rest. He goes into the bathroom to wash up, and Margaret slips out of bed to open a window. As she heads back to the bed, she pauses in front of a mirror and stares at her reflection, TF’s words from earlier no doubt ringing in her ears as she tries to remember who she used to be, when she was a girl seeking a new life on the other side of the ocean.

Another good episode—and only two left! What did everyone else think?

8 thoughts on “Boardwalk Empire: Mitzvah

  1. [“Meanwhile, they can retreat into their foolish fairytale paradise world where Tommy will grow up along the Seine, speaking French and finding his muse at Isadora Duncan’s school and having two mommies way before that was cool. The fact that Angela actually seems to consider this a viable plan just proves how completely and utterly infantile she is. Do you really think Jimmy wouldn’t find a way to hunt you down, Angela? And he could, too. You know this guy has serious connections, and it’s not like you’ve proven yourself to be such a genius when it comes to keeping things from him.”]

    Jimmy has connections . . . in France? And why is Angela so unpopular with fans? I never understood the hostility toward her.

    1. Well, Jimmy did fight in the war in France, so, yeah, he may actually have some connections over there. Even if he doesn’t, he certainly has connections on this side of the pond, which is where Angela would have to book passage and get on the boat, and those connections might be able to help him trace her if she ever tried to run with Tommy.

      As far as Angela’s unpopularity–I can’t speak for anyone else, but I just don’t find her all that interesting. I think she’s childish, indulging in these fantasies of bohemian life and refusing the jobs Gillian suggested while Jimmy was away because “they weren’t for her.” Well, sorry, princess, but that grocery bill’s gotta get paid. What would she have done if Jimmy hadn’t come back and Van Alden hadn’t send that wad of cash along? This is a personal thing with me–I have little patience for childlike adults, but maybe she’ll grow on me. Anything’s possible!

      1. I’m still confused about this “Jimmy’s connections” thing. Wouldn’t most of his connections be from the US army? It’s not like he was in France on a cultural exchange or anything. The majority of his time was probably spent in a trench with his unit. Similarly, how would he automatically know people who book civilian boat passage? I’d assume the army had their own means of transportation for shuttling soldiers abroad.

        I’d have less patience for Angela’s “childlike adult” status if she actually had the freedoms of a male adult. But seeing as she’s barely allowed to vote, will be paid a fraction of whatever a man earns at any job she takes, and is subject to puritanical modes of morality while her common law husband is allowed to screw any woman he wants and basically act with impunity in all other areas given his familial connections, I feel like fans should cut her a break. I can’t imagine feeling any differently if my husband left me for years with no word to fight a war, and then disappeared under similar circumstances to Chicago, and then comes back demanding sex and babies on his schedule. Not to mention Jimmy’s suffering PTSD, which was a pretty alien concept at that time.

        A final note on Angela’s behalf- what’s so wrong with wanting to be a painter? I realize why people in the ’20s might judge her as being selfish for being a woman who dared to have personal interests, but why do we have to? I know this is primarily a guns and mobs show, but what is it that makes violence more appealing than art? Is Jimmy doing the “right thing” and Angela doing the “wrong thing” because his way brings in money? If so, that’s scary commentary on what we value as a society.

  2. This is an excellent recap! I found your link on the HBO site.

    You are spot on about so many things:

    1. Shannon does “give good crazy.” He just gets creepier each time I see him. What is he going to do to punish himself now for having sex with Lucy?

    2. Lucy’s “daddy” thing is too weird. I just don’t like the character. She’s a little too Betty Boop and pouty/whiny for me.

    3. Nucky should be much nicer to Eddie. He was such a badass when he kept Nucky from getting shot and Nucky didn’t acknowledge it and just continues to be nasty to him.

    4. I enjoyed Al’s transformation in this episode. I kept wondering how goofy Al was going to turn into the Al Capone that I’ve read about and now I know.

    5. I love Chalky. The time he had the Klan leader alone and told about his father was excellent. I’d love to see more of him.

    6. I really like Harrow too. Then I think about the fact that he’s a sniper and doesn’t bat an eye when asked to murder someone. He’s a likeable murderer (kind of like Paulie and Syl and Tony in the Sopranos) that I find myself rooting for.

    7. The photographer would have been Mommy’s kissing friend too if Jimmy hadn’t shown up at the door. However, that was a little out of line considering he’d been hanging out with Pearl the prostitute and that he and Angela aren’t really married.

    Again, this is the best recap I’ve read and I look forward to going back and reading the previous episodes.

  3. [“Well, Jimmy did fight in the war in France, so, yeah, he may actually have some connections over there. Even if he doesn’t, he certainly has connections on this side of the pond, which is where Angela would have to book passage and get on the boat, and those connections might be able to help him trace her if she ever tried to run with Tommy.”]

    Exactly what kind of connections that Jimmy would have formed as a doughboy in France, during the war? He would have been unemployed if Nucky had not given him a job as a driver, upon his return to the States.

  4. Luckily I stumbled across your blog this week and I’m blown away!! I am an Irish viewer/reader and season 2 begins this week, I cannot wait to read your posts

  5. The bar mitzvah scene, they just show the kid reading the Torah. It’s called the maftir. The haftorah is also normally read but it’s pretty long…too long for the scene. The kid actually makes a mistake in the blessing after the maftir. It’s the writer’s fault. That synagogue used Ashkenazi Hebrew where some t’s are pronounced s. Israeli Hebrew and all but a very very few synagogues today pronounce all the t’s as t. If one went to an Ashkenazi synagogue back then, even a kid would never make that mistake. I went to an Ashkenazi synagogue 40 years ago but since have used modern Hebrew. If I had to read the Torah at an Ashkenazi synagogue today I’d make that mistake a lot unless I practiced quite a bit. And even then I’d could slip once like the kid did.

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