Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Masseria started trafficking heroin to New York via Tampa, Chalky went fully on the warpath against Narcisse, Knox put the squeeze on Eli, and Margaret’s boss scammed Rothstein.
Cream swirls artistically into a cup of coffee, poured by Eli, who’s in a diner giving Knox some intel on one of Torrio’s guys, Balanchek, I think. He reassures Knox that this guy is Torrio’s right hand. Knox reassures Eli that what he’s doing takes courage, and that he’s a good dad. Eli looks like he wants to hang himself.
A boat lands down in Tampa with a shipment, observed by Sally, as always. The booze is loaded into crates with oranges for shipment up north. Sally whips some of the boys into shape, then goes around back, where she sees some men, including Petrucelli, in a back room adding some crates of oranges and heroin to the shipment. Oh look, Meyer’s there. And Lucky. Guess Masseria wanted to be extra sure this shipment got up north safely.
Sally goes to call Nucky and tells him about the surreptitious shipment. Nucky unnecessarily asks if she’s told anyone (only McCoy) and says he owes her one. She knows.
Eli comes downstairs for breakfast and finds Knox at his table, being served coffee by his wife and shooting the breeze with his son and eldest daughter. Knox has told them he’s an insurance salesman who sold Eli a policy, and that he likes to come around and see what he’s insuring. Right, that’s not strange or creepy at all. Knox compliments Will on his gumption for taking the job with Bader instead of bothering with pesky distractions like college. The kids move off so the men can talk, but before they go, Knox gets super heavy handed by telling them that their father’s a smart man who knows that, in an instant, everything he loves and has worked for can disappear. Will’s starting to realise something’s up, but he obediently leaves. Eli gets menacing with Knox, but Knox isn’t playing around, because he knows Balanchek’s been dead for two years. He grabs Eli and tells him to get better information, or his son’ll be breaking rocks up in Trenton before he knows it.
At Margaret’s office, she’s on the phone trying to score an apartment. She’s interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Rothstein, who asks how much she makes ($11 a week, with the occasional bonus) and realises she can’t possibly afford that apartment. He urges her to give him a call, because he owns several buildings and might be able to set her up. No fool, she asks what he wants in exchange. He says her boss is driving down the price of the stock he bought. He wants to know before it bottoms out.
Chalky gathers his men and tells them they’ll be paying Narcisse a visit that night. He pauses briefly when Richard comes out to empty a pail of trash, and we get some quick exposition that reveals Richard’s now a dishwasher, hired by Nucky, and the black men who work at the Onyx resent him because they think he’s taking one of their jobs. Chalky tells them one man has as much right to eat as another, and that Richard’s a friend of his. He and Richard shake hands and Chalky tells him to look him up, if Richard ever needs something.
Back to business: Chalky tells his men they’ll wait until after dark, then strike.
At the warehouse, Mickey’s going on about the Thief of Bagdad to Eli, who couldn’t care less. Neither could Nucky, who’s waiting in the office for them. He tells Eli he needs him to take some men and intercept the shipment on the White Horse Pike that night, and confirm that the heroin is there. He suggests Eli take Knox with him.
Ralph, Al, and Van Alden discuss the partitioning of O’Banion’s former territory. Torrio comes over and Al informs him Ralph’s being bumped up and Van Alden’s taking over Ralph’s collections. Torrio’s starting to realise how much Al’s starting to take over and sarcastically asks what he’ll be doing now. Al tells him he’s not going to squeeze him out and Torrio thanks him for not kicking him out of his own operation. Al reminds him that he wanted Al to expand his role. Guess this is what you get. Al makes it clear he intends to take over fully someday.
AC’s north side. Chalky and his men open fire on Narcisse’s place, and the crowd inside ducks and covers, some more effectively than others. Narcisse takes refuge behind a desk, and when Chalky stupidly turns and walks away instead of making sure the actual target is dead, Narcisse pulls a gun and shoots him in the shoulder. Chalky dives into his car and shouts for his driver to go.
Eli and Knox wait for the shipment, and Knox muses about the Murders in the Rue Morgue. The trucks approach, and Knox takes a moment to tell Eli that he knows he doesn’t care for Knox, but things between them don’t have to be too bad. Eli just gives him a ‘Seriously?’ kind of look and climbs out of the car.
One of the agents stops the trucks by flashing his badge. Meyer gets out and asks Eli what’s up, telling him they’re already behind on their shipment. Knox deals with a guy who won’t get out of the way by shooting him point-blank in the head and Meyer immediately becomes much more accommodating. An agent finds the heroin and calls Knox over.
Chalky hangs at the Onyx, drinking in the upper office. Narcisse bursts in, seriously pissed off, and angrily tells Nucky that Chalky came after him. Nucky essentially tells him he brought this on himself and refuses to help him, because frankly, he’s sick of this guy running around AC like he now owns the place, quoting his bible and Shakespeare and generally being a pain in the ass. Narcisse warns Nucky that he’s not ready for this war but Nucky won’t back down and tells him to deal with his problems with Chalky himself, and get lost immediately.
Richard’s stashed Chalky in the Legion Hall and rips up some bunting to form a sling for Chalky’s arm. Daughter, looking a bit more like herself, shows up and helps tend to Chalky. Chalky tells the man accompanying her (the pianist, maybe?) to get back to the club, so nobody’s suspicious. He sends Harrow on his way as well. Daughter asks him what he’s going to do, incapacitated as he is.
In Brooklyn. We get a look at Margaret’s crappy living conditions. Her and the kids stuffed into one room, with some rather violet neighbours just upstairs.
Nucky arrives at the site of the stopped convoy the following morning and lights into Meyer, who’s kneeling by a ditch on a side road. Meyer lies that he and Lucky were forced to go along with this by Masseria and he didn’t want anything to do with narcotics. Nucky backhands him and Eli puts a gun to the back of his head. Meyer finally drops the innocent routine and admits that he really wanted to get rich on this scheme, figuring he was at equal risk whether he was running heroin or booze. Nucky tells him to call Masseria and tell him to get his ass down to AC. He and the others walk off and someone tells Nucky that Chalky left him an urgent message.
Margaret’s boss hands her some trade confirmation slips before he leaves for the day. She butters him up a little bit while he talks about how stupid Rothstein is, and once he’s gone, she gives Rothstein a call.
Nucky is having a sit down with Chalky, who wants to know how they can get to Narcisse. Chalky asks Daughter to excuse them, then asks Chalky if he’s really thinking straight about any of this. Chalky assumes he’s talking about Daughter and says she was the one who stabbed Dunn, so he’s pretty sure she’s on his side. Nucky tells him about Narcisse’s deep desire to see Chalky six feet under and says he has no desire for a war on his territory. Chalky tries to feel out Nucky’s allegiance and Nucky, in his way, says he’s on Chalky’s side. It’s really the least you can do, Nucky, considering Chalky totally helped save your ass during the last war in AC. He urges Chalky to sit tight until he hears from Nucky.
Bader’s campaigning in the North Side, swearing for the press that he’ll bring the men who attacked Narcisse’s to justice. He and Narcisse quickly climb into a car and leave, without answering any of the reporters’ questions.
Masseria’s come down to the Onyx for his meeting with Nucky, who’s got Eli on one side and Meyer on the other. Masseria’s brought Lucky, naturally. Nucky asks Masseria what he has to say for himself and Masseria reveals his partner, Narcisse. This is all news to Nucky, but he doesn’t blink an eye at the reveal, just asks what’s going on here. Narcisse calmly explains that he’s a dope dealer, and Masseria’s the supplier. Nucky asks what happens if he objects to this, and Narcisse tells him nothing good will come of that. And in addition to Nucky’s complicity in this heroin trade, he wants Chalky served up on a platter. In return, Nucky gets a cut of the action—he demands 1/3, and Masseria agrees. Narcisse reassures Nucky he won’t be sorry about this. Nucky clearly feels disgusted, but shakes the man’s hand nonetheless.
At his hotel, Nucky gets Bader on the phone and tells him to send two sheriff’s deputies to get Chalky out of town. Bader agrees immediately.
In Chicago, Al’s telling bad jokes to some of the boys and prostitutes. Torrio and the chip on his shoulder depart for the day. Al gets a call and takes it in the office, while Van Alden brings in some drinks. The man on the other end of the phone tells Al he was just calling to say goodbye. Van Alden sees men with machine guns in the building across the way and immediately drags Al down onto the ground. The building’s sprayed with bullets, but both Al and his brother are fine. Can’t say the same for some of the other guys in the room, though. ‘Lucky for Johnny he left when he did, huh?’ says Al. Oh, Al, you drug-addled idiot, says Van Alden’s face.
Rothstein’s in Brooklyn, paying Margaret a visit so they too can strike a deal. She tells him she works hard but can never seem to get ahead, while the criminals like Nucky and her boss get everything. She shows him the trading slips and urges him to buy more Anaconda stock and not to sell until her boss does. In return, she demands a rent-free apartment for five years, with rooms for the kids. He notes that she won’t accept anything from Nucky but will happily take from Rothstein. With a steely look, she tells him she earned this, and when it’s over, she won’t owe anyone anything. They shake, and Rothstein reveals he’s never done business with a woman before, but he finds it to be rather a treat.
Chalky and Daughter discuss their plans to catch a train the following morning and head west. The deputies arrive and the pair go out and get into their car.
Will arrives at Nucky’s and tells him that Bader seemed very chummy with Narcisse earlier and had a meeting in Bader’s office for more than an hour. Nucky immediately telephones the American legion hall, but we know it’s already too late.
Chalky and Daughter are in the back of the car, and Chalky notes that the deputies missed the turnoff for Philly. They claim the road’s being worked on. Chalky plays along, pretending to go to sleep, but surreptitiously takes the sling off his arm. One of the men turns, his pistol out, but Chalky’s ready for him and turns the gun around, shooting the man in the head. He then gets his sling around the driver’s throat, and while he’s throttling him to death, Daughter steps up, taking the wheel and driving the car off to the side of the road. She and Chalky dump the bodies. I knew Chalky would manage to be badass even with only one arm, but still: damn.
Hoover and some of his men watch a newsreel about Marcus Garvey’s appearance at Carnegie Hall. Hoover thinks that thousands of negroes with ideas is a threat worth worrying about. Knox has his own concerns and reveals that he’s got Eli on the hook as an informant. Hoover really doesn’t care, instead turning his attention back to the Garvey situation, telling the lone black man at the table—their man in Harlem, apparently—to keep an eye on things. Hoover leaves without so much as giving Knox the time of day.
Maybelle and her brother visit the Onyx in the off hours, because they need to get out of the house for a bit. Maybelle’s hesitant to even sit down, but after she does, she urges her brother to go ahead and play the piano for a bit. He heads up on stage and starts rocking out with the band while she tries not to cry. She glances up at the now empty upstairs room and heads up there. It’s dark and pretty creepy, and she lies down on a sofa, only to have Narcisse turn on a light and reveal himself. He notes her apparent unhappiness and quickly figures out who she is. He introduces himself as Richard Pastor (interesting choice there) and says he’s a friend of her father’s. She asks if he knows where her dad is and he says he doesn’t. She admits her mother won’t get out of bed, and that Samuel dumped her. What a dick. ‘Why must it always be the daughters that suffer?’ Narcisse wonders. Maybelle shrugs that she doesn’t feel like she’s suffering. He takes her hand and speaks softly of how delightful it is to be free. She starts to cry and says she was supposed to come here to forget things. He tells her to go, then, and forget. Creeeeepy. Is he going to get her hooked on heroin now?
The Albatross is being turned into a fortress, which I’m sure the other guests appreciate. Eli arrives and Nucky tells him that Bader’s turned against them and is in Narcisse’s pocket. Will says Bader’s been locked in his office, preparing a statement and that two deputies have been found dead on the pike. Eli doesn’t like that Will’s involved in any of this, but Nucky says it’s a bit too late to object now. Eli asks his son if this is what he wants. ‘Isn’t it what we do?’ Will asks. Eli steps back and they get ready to start sorting things out.