“Paris Green.” Both the name of a poison and the name of a dream. All I could think about this week were the dreams that poison the realities of our characters. Specifically Nucky and Angela. Their stories are parallel this week. Angela chases the fairly innocent dream of true love and happiness, though it comes at the cost of destroying her relationship with Jimmy, and Nucky keeps dreaming of having it all, and it’s costing him everything, person by person. All he has left at the end of this episode is Eddie and the hope of the future, which is anything but certain.
So, in case you were wondering, this one’s not an upper…
Margaret’s finally getting the chance to see Hardeen (I just really need to research correct name spellings before I publish – there’s like one guy a week I totally fuck up because of my commitment to “sounding it out.”), who’s performing a dazzling escape from a straight jacket that makes him look totally constipated. She’s with Nucky, Anabelle and Harry, and only the ladies are actually enjoying the show. Nucky looks bored and underwhelmed, and Harry looks like he’s trying the sweat-it-out weight-loss technique. I have to admit, when you’ve seen enough “Saw” movies as I have, it is pretty boring to watch someone take six and a half minutes to wiggle out of a straight jacket. Maybe if there were tiny grenades filled with flesh-eating virus all hidden inside the straight-jacket, set to explode if Hardeen didn’t use the key hidden inside his assistant’s eyeball (that he’d have to eat out because his hands are tied) – all within six and a half minutes, then Nucky, Harry and I would all be a little more impressed.
Skippity-doo. Try wiggling out of a federal investigation, Hardee Boy.
Hardeen (finally) gets out of his bindings, and Margaret’s so excited she attempts, and fails to give him a standing ovation. I love it when her pre-industrial naiveté comes out. Nucky’s in some kind of mood, though… Her innocent happiness just makes him rolls his eyes a little bit as opposed to lighting up his creaky, corrupt little heart like it used to. Wonder what’s up…
At Jimmy and Angela’s, things are considerably less exciting. Well, they’re probably pretty exciting inside Angela’s head, what with the lady sugarplums dancing naked around in it, but not so much on the outside. Her head’s someplace else entirely and when Jimmy asks what’s up, she’s brushes him off. She was thinking. He asks about what and since Angela’s a woman equipped with NO ability to lie to a man, her response is, “I don’t know if I’m thinking about anything.” Now, Jimmy’s no ding-a-ling, so he’s a little… unconvinced, shall we say, that Angela isn’t keeping something from him. But the phone rings before he gets the chance to grill her, and he snaps to someone on the other end of the line for a minute before returning to the table. It was Gillian, he explains. And then he gets to the good stuff – his father’s dying!!!
Wait, who’s your dad again?
Onto our third awkward dinner of the night, Sebso and Van Alden are having Chinese together, and Van Alden looks like he might think there are actual living goldfish or some shit on his plate. Sebso, for his part, is happily munching away on rice and chop suey, using his chopsticks like a pro, and Van Alden compliments his dexterity with such foreign tools. When I say “compliment,” I should clarify that the words themselves are complimentary, but if Nelson could have, he would have used said words to brand “liar liar PANTS ON HELLFIRE” onto Sebso’s face. It’s a tonal issue, really…
Anyway, the reason Sebso’s so good with the sticks is that he worked at some place in Manhattan that was near a Chinatown and he ate there a lot. But Nelson’s not really interested in anything that involves eating anything cooked in an unholy shallow pan and mixed with strange noodles. He guesses that Sebso craved more excitement in his life, which is why he joined the bureau. And he found it when he engaged in mortal kombat with Billy.
Sebso tries to change the subject, explaining that he’s not really comfortable talking about the whole thing, and Nelson decides to play with his food a little before he eats it. He asks why the agent should be uncomfortable. It was self-defense in the line of duty – no harm, no foul. Sebso confesses that he wished the whole thing could have gone down differently, but he’s really no match for Van Alden, when it comes right down to it. There’s no escaping Nelson getting to the truth, for better or for worse, and this dinner isn’t about spending quality time together. Did Sebso wish it were he that died instead of Billy? “Of course not,” Sebso protests. Then Van Alden just goes to town, and the degree to which Sebso is so well and truly fucked by his own incompetence, as an agent AND a double agent, comes to light. He’s seen Van Alden in action, but he’s not as good at handling the interrogation as Jimmy was. Observe a dramatic reenactment:
VAN ALDEN: So you let him out of the car because he needed to pee.
SEBSO: Sir, yes, Sir.
VAN ALDEN: Uh-huh, yeah, and he hit you with a rock, and you shot him.
SEBSO: Sir, yes, Sir.
VAN ALDEN: In the forehead?
SEBSO: Sir, ye-, oh wait, no Sir, in the chest.
VAN ALDEN: He hit YOU in the forehead.
SEBSO: Oh! Sir, yes, Sir.
VAN ALDEN: Shut up. So he was facing you when he whipped out his Johnson, but you didn’t see the massive rock he had in his…what – third hand?
SEBSO: Sir, yes, Sir. I mean… no, sir, no…
VAN ALDEN: Right, so just to clarify, this man pulled down his pants, hit you with a rock and you shot him. In that order?
SEBSO: Uh, it all happened very quickly… And, um, I’m suffering from a head injury, so I forget stuff… and stuff. But it was all totally on the up and up! I bungled it, Sir! Agent Bungler Sebso, at your service.
VAN ALDEN: No further questions.
SEBSO: Sir, aren’t you gonna have any of this delicious Chinese food, Sir? I thought this would be a nice bonding experience for us.
VAN ALDEN: I didn’t come here to eat.
That last part is pretty accurate. Sebso asks Van Alden if he’s gonna eat anything because he hasn’t up till this point, and Van Alden doesn’t bat an eyelash when he answers that it disgusts him to think of putting any of that filth into his mouth. This dinner was soooo not about eating.
Well, not food anyway.
And it’s onto another INTENSE shot of Hardeen, the world’s first David Blaine (magician/douchebag extraordinaire), as he holds Margaret’s wrists in his hand. Margaret, for her part, looks like she’s terrified her hands are going to disappear any minute, but they don’t. Just her bracelet, and it goes right onto Anabelle’s wrist! The ladies are totally bowled over, and Margaret mentions that even though she knew he was deceiving her, she still missed his trick. Hardeen explains another pertinent theme for this episode when he says that deception requires complicity – we all want to be deceived, however subconsciously.
For a little while, at least. Just for a chance to wear some nice clothes for a spell.
Nucky and Harry look just as bored and uncomfortable respectively as they did at dinner, so Nucky’s inspired to comment that he saw Houdini, Hardeen’s brother, do the straight jacket stunt hanging from the Green Street Pier once. Hardeen snits that doing the trick in the open as opposed to behind a “ghost box” was his idea, as was the milk can escape. He proudly reminisces (all the while doing a slight of hand trick that makes Margaret squeal and Nucky roll his eyes once more) that getting a grown man into a tiny tin container is no easy feat. Anabelle chirps that he should try a corset and heels, and Nucky pipes up that helping women escape from those two shackles is probably something Hardeen has much experience with.
Hardeen smoothly states that that’s the most difficult trick of all, and the party laughs gaily. Except for Harry, that is, who has finally decided to lose his shit completely. He’s ruined!! When everyone appears confused, he can’t believe no one’s read the paper. His Italian fella, a Mr. Ponzi, has swindled him out of every last dime! Every last dime! The best part of this scene is that Harry’s freaking out, but no one else really is… Fleming’s there, but stands awkwardly silent next to his wife. Margaret and Hardeen just stare concernedly, and Nucky just takes a drag of his cigarette and tells Harry that nobody offering 50 percent returns is legit. Harry protests that it was all going so well up until he lost everything. At this point Anabelle decides to join the freak out party and asks Harry if he really is totally washed up. He tries to reassure her that they’ll be fine, but Anabelle’s no dummy. She knows when the well is dry, so she calls Harry a foul, worthless fool and storms out in the huffiest of huffs, her roly-poly lover toddling behind her as best he can.
Feet don’t fail me now!
Nucky makes a snide comment to Hardeen and the show’s over. Damn, this is like the return of I Lie About Liking Soda Bread Nucky. I find Nucky interesting in that when he acts human, he turns into an asshole, and when he’s in total control of himself, he’s kind of a sweetie.
Anyway, in New York, the shit’s continues to hit the fan for Rothstein. The White Sox players are folding one by one, and while it’s still an issue of someone’s word against his, it’s becoming a lot more people’s words against his than it used to be… His lawyer advises him to actually head to Chicago, into the lion’s den to face the charges, as it were, head on. He wants AR to think about who, within the city’s perimeter might be willing to do him a favor… Not Torrio after you took a shot at Nucky Thomspon, you shit.
And in a totally irrelevant, but hilarious transition, we’re treated to a shot of a dead dog in a luxe coffin. Apparently the commodore’s pooch was sick, just like he said two episodes ago. Dont’ laugh. It’s not funny.
Well, it kind of is. If you’re a cat person. Which I am. Hee hee hee…
Luanne checks to see if the Commodore’s still alive as opposed to just trying to rouse him to let him know “his visitor” is there. He wakes with a start to find her standing over him, nose to nose, and she gives him the news. Jimmy walks in.
YOU’RE the daddy!
Soooo yeah, the Commodore is Gillian’s baby daddy, and Jimmy is their unholy spawn. I say unholy because we find out in a minute that Gillian was 13 when the Commodore “plucked” her out of obscurity, and he was 54. I don’t do ten year age differences, much less 40. Anyway, the Commodore’s pleased to see Jimmy looking like a gentleman, and in case anyone had any ideas about this being a pleasant reunion, Jimmy snaps that his mother raised him well.
Stay back, Old Man.
Whatever boundaries he may have don’t stop Jimmy from a drink and a cookie, and he takes his snack over to the dog. The commodore sadly recalls, showing more emotion and feeling than I’ve seen him show toward any person yet, that the dog vomited all last night, and couldn’t find a place to settle until he finally passed. There wasn’t a thing the Commodore could do for him. That was probably a good thing. I have a feeling the commodore’s bedside manner involves copious amounts of booze for whatever ails one. Jimmy scoffs at how upset the Commodore is about a “fucking dog,” probably remembering countless bouts of measles, mumps and whooping cough he had to live through without so much as a telegram from the commodore. His father calls him a “stony little bastard,” and Jimmy shrugs. He’s what time and circumstance have made him. He would also like all that life has to offer right the fuck now, and he’s willing to shoot people to do it.
The commodore says as much, and doesn’t fault Jimmy for it – he wouldn’t expect a son of his to act any differently, he says proudly. He’s heard about Jimmy’s escapades – Gillian keeps him informed. Jimmy, like most kids, but probably more so, doesn’t want to hear anything about his mother and his father “keeping each other informed.” He thinks it’s pretty sick, and, frankly, so do I when the commodore starts talking about Jimmy not understanding the different and wonderful ways people can be close. Okay, show, lay off with the invasive imagery. I just found out Jimmy’s dad is not only a crotchety old anti-Semitic jerk, he’s also a pedophile. It’s too much to process all of that and the image of him and Gillian together now. I mean, here are the layers I’ve been working with for the past five minutes:
Commodore in bed.
Commodore having sex – with anyone.
Commodore having sex with Gillian.
Commodore having sex with 13-year-old Gillian.
Commodore having sex on his deathbed with adult Gillian.
See what I mean?
The commodore doesn’t take well to being judged by anyone, so he snits that Jimmy would have done the same thing in the same position.
Sex with his 13-year-old version of his mother? Dear Show, Stop sexually abusing my imagination!!! Alex
That’s about all Jimmy can take for the afternoon, and he makes to leave. But he stops when the commodore finally comes out says that he’s dying. Jimmy offers to call a priest, but the commodore just wants to talk about how AC was a swamp before he came to town, and how he build their city on rock and roll. Jimmy’s still unimpressed and sassy until the commodore forces him to pay attention. “The wrong man is running this town,” he says gravely, before Jimmy excuses himself to the bathroom to puke the same green vomit the commodore’s been puking for a few weeks now.
Paris green? By far the least nauseating moment of this scene.
Back on the boardwalk, a place where I can imagine taking a deep breath of fresh sea air thank GOD, Mary and Angela are going over last minute plans in the photo studio while Robert’s in the back. Angela can barely contain her excitement as she and Mary discuss meeting at the studio and heading down to the dock to be there an hour before the ship departs. A clatter’s heard from the back, Robert bellows and Mary and Angela scatter like roaches in fluorescent light. Not the prettiest metaphor, but it fits for at least one of the ladies. After Angela scurries away, Robert gimps in whining that he spilled developer on his pants. He’d also like to know what the girls were whispering about, and Mary evades in what I’m sure is her customary way. But then Robert says something interesting – “You do like your little games,” and Mary comments that he seems to enjoy them, as well. After she’s sat him down and moved back to the shop window, he calls out, “Tres malis, mon amour,” which roughly translates to “very wicked, my love.” If he said “mali/s/t” at all. I couldn’t really tell. After a second, Mary comes back to her husband’s side and places a tender kiss on the side of his head. Wait, what? Ooooh, snap…
WHO ARE THESE PSYCHOS?????
Looks like Mary loves her husband more than we all thought. And it’s a vengeful, bitchy love. Many thanks to my friend Trish for pointing out this small, but important scene. Totally missed it upon first viewing.
A few doors down at The Ritz, Nucky’s on the phone with Agent Sebso, who’s in the lobby and losing whatever shit he has, which isn’t much. Van Alden’s onto him – what does he do? What does he dooo? Well, stop talking about your federal officer boss being “onto you” in public for a start. Nucky agrees with me, and tells Sebso he’s nuts for using that location. But the post office office wasn’t safe, Sebso whines. Even though he was cleared, Van Alden’s still giving him trouble. As well he should. I have to say, as psychotic as Nelson is, he’s right… like, a lot.
Nucky suggests that Sebso lead Nelson to a big bust to throw off some of the unwanted attention. He practically gift wraps the agent the address of a large scale distillery for the Prohies to check out. He tells Sebso not to get spooked and encourages him to go be a hero. He hopes they don’t talk again and hangs up. Nucky lets his head hang over the back of his fine leather armchair for a moment before yielding the floor to Eddie. Apparently there’s a lady in distress seeking an audience.
Annabelle rushes in, but before she can get through her first “That son of a bitch!” Nucky cuts her off and tells her she can say whatever she wants to as long as she does it without crying, shouting or throwing anything. Ha! His remarkably effective, and I have to be honest, I just got a little turned on.
Now I know why she called him “Daddy.”
Annabelle complies and as calmly as she can tells Nucky that Harry stole his money back from her. I say that because you remember the cash Anabelle had stashed under her floorboards? The almost $4000 she stole from Harry after she’d fucked him to sleep? Yeah, that’s what he “stole” from her, and she’s pissed. She wants Nucky to have him arrested, and even Nucky has to almost laugh a little at that point. Then Annabelle starts crying about how she worked her tail off for that money (fair) and what’s gonna happen to her little girl, and Nucky rolls his eyes. She promised she wouldn’t do that. I think tears are like onions to Nucky’s eyes the way onions are like onions to other people’s. He hands her three hundred dollars to see her through Summer and before she can get all weepy again, he kindly asks her if they can just skip to the part where she says she’ll do anything for him. Exhilarated and, let’s face it, kind of good at getting money out of men, Anabelle tells him to draw the curtains and she’ll do it right now. When Nucky asks where her tears went all of a sudden, she winks that if he rides her like he used to she’ll soak the pillow through.
Okay, this may be getting TMI, but that kinda turned me on, too. This show makes weird things happen inside!!
Nucky smiles and strokes her cheek – he’ll keep that one in his pocket. Annabelle closes her eyes to his touch before Margaret’s pissed off voice breaks the mood entirely. She announces that Nucky absolutely will remember that Annabelle owes him because that’s his special gift – he always remembers what people owe him. To his credit, Nucky doesn’t bat an eyelash in the line of fire, even though he was just caught totally red-handed. I think it’s time for some more SUBTEXT Feat. Shaggy!!
MARGARET: And he will, you know. Mr. Thompson’s gift is to never forget who owes him what. I just caught you red-handed creeping with the girl next door.
NUCKY: It’s generally a good principle. Harry found her stash and did a bunk. Wasn’t me.
MARGARET: I know. Did you mention I already gave you $50 myself? You might as well have been both buck naked, banging on the bathroom floor.
NUCKY: I guess we’re both a soft touch. Wasn’t me.
ANNABELLE: Thanks for helping a girl out. How could you forget that you had given her an extra key?
MARGARET: I thought you might like to hear the League of Women Voters has decided to endorse Mr. Bader. All this time I was standing there, you never put your eyes on me.
NUCKY: That’s wonderful. Wasn’t me.
“Fuck this day” is I’m sure all Nucky can think when Margaret stomps out of his office.
At Gillian’s the camera lingers on her bed a little longer than necessary before zooming out to reveal mother and son going over Jimmy’s meeting with his father. Gillian asks how the commodore looks, and Jimmy shrugs that he’s dying, that’s for sure. And he smells of garlic. Weird. Not sure what to make of what the commodore told him, Jimmy tentatively asks about Gillian’s relationship with the man who statutory-raped AND knocked her up at age 13. She shrugs it off in that way Gillian has when it comes to incredibly serious topics, and simply states that they began keeping in touch awhile ago.
The commodore was worried when Jimmy enlisted, so he called her, and she reassured him that Jimmy would be home safe. Apparently the commodore lost a brother at Vicksburg, or something. And so it goes…? God, Gillian’s so weird and awesome, but sometimes just weird… She goes to get Jimmy some rhubarb pie, but Jimmy doesn’t let her change the subject. He can’t let go of the fact that because of the commodore, Gillian was a 13-year-old single mom, all alone. Gillian understands, but she wasn’t completely alone – Nucky Thompson took care of them. Apparently being the commodore’s foot soldier isn’t reason enough for Nucky to act as responsible for Gillian and Jimmy as he did, so Jimmy wonders why Nucky was so involved. Well, it all goes back to one fateful May Day in 1897. Gillian, who obviously had amazing parents, was one of King Neptune’s Consorts, and the commodore, under the spell of her youthful, barely legal beauty, told Nucky to fetch and that is exactly what he did. That night, Gillian was brought to the commodore by Nucky, then sheriff, and apparently the two continued on like that for “some time.”
Jimmy coldly calls Nucky a pimp, and Gillian glosses over that term (considering what it implies for her), calling him an ambitious man who wanted to get ahead. Her speech kind of meanders for the next few lines, but from what I can glean, Nucky wanted to impress the commodore to move up in the world, mostly for ambition, but also partly because he wanted to start a family with his lovely wife, Mabel. When Mabel died, it appeared that his efforts to improve his own situation on the back of a 13-year-old girl were for naught, so he was always kind to Gillian and Jimmy and helped where he could. Gillian muses that the whole affair has always bothered Nucky a bit.
I think the question now is how much does it bother Jimmy?
Gillian strokes Jimmy’s hair and tells him that she told the doctor she’d meet him at the commodore’s house – no one deserves to die alone. I wholeheartedly disagree. Sometimes that’s all the vengeance nice people have.
So when Nucky offered Agent Sebso the very specific directions to the distillery of distraction, I would have thought Sebso would have checked them out first just to make sure everything was on the up and up, so to speak, but I just keep overestimating Sebso’s intelligence. I think he’s well-intentioned, or at least not as violently crazy as Nelson, but he’s really no match for his partner… Anyway, the two men are driving aimlessly, finding nothing, so they decide to get out of the car and search on foot. Nelson’s still giving Sebso the cold shoulder, because, let’s face it, he doesn’t really give a fuck about liquor busts. He’s waiting patiently for Armageddon. The men come across a gospel church group baptizing in the river, and Nelson’s transfixed all of a sudden.
This kind of thing excites Nelson the way WWII memorabilia excites my uncle.
The two men approach and the music stops. Deacon Cuffy introduces himself and explains that he’s just making the Lord’s army a little stronger today with some baptisms – he calls it performing the lesser miracles. Nelson nastily questions whether or not the deacon really believes Jesus can hear anything in this godforsaken city, and the deacon holds fast that Jesus sees and hears all and no one is too far from His reach. When Nelson tests his faith some more by calling Christ’s power “pretty words” and nothing more, once again, Deacon Cuffy will not be swayed. Those words are the Gospel, and it is true, whether a soul runs from it or not. All roads lead to a reckoning. Van Alden and Deacon Cuffy should have their own talk show. And for his third and final test, Nelson asks if the deacon really does believe such a thing. Of course, he does, and would “stake [his] place in the kingdom on it.” Appeased, Nelson smiles and lets the group continue. Sebso and Van Alden watch as Cuffy shouts about believers going to heaven and non-believers going to hell (fiery, fiery, brimstone, brimstone) and Van Alden abruptly turns to Sebso and confirms that his people, the Jews, don’t believe in heaven. Wait, Sebso’s Jewish?
I’m not trying to bigoted, but you are sooooo fucked, Dude.
Sebso awkwardly acknowledges that no, the Jews do not believe in heaven, per se, and this confounds Nelson. If they don’t believe in heaven, how can they believe in hell? More to the point, if they don’t believe in hell, what stops everyone but Christians from sinning all over the place…? Van Alden returns his attention to the baptism and when he hears Deacon Cuffy ask if there be anyone who needs to wash sins away, come forth, and they shall be washed clean, he is moved to tears by his rediscovery of God’s forgiveness. Forgiveness, which, if Lucy isn’t familiar with the whole Lysol trick, will last roughly nine months. Put off by Nelson’s practical hypnosis in the face of the sacrament (as most people are when they find themselves in the presence of crazy Christians about to start speaking in tongues), asks if his boss is all right. Nelson snaps out of it and answers yes. But the question is, is Sebso?
Yup, fucked. Van Alden’s God just authorized the use of deadly force in your apprehension of your immortal soul.
Back at the Commodore’s, the doctor’s arrived, and Gillian and Luanne are presiding over the commodore’s exam. Gillian tries to get him to eat, but he doesn’t. He just gazes at her, musing that he knew the Angel of Death would be beautiful. I’d be touched, but, yeah. 13 vs. 54, still gross. After a look at the commodore’s nasty ass foot, he pronounces the older man jaundiced, and Luanne confirms that his chamber pot has been empty for days. The doctor’s perplexed that his patient’s organs seem to be failing all at once and would like to run some tests. However, when he tries to take a small hair sample, the commodore dementia-freaks that the doctor is trying to kill him and starts struggling like mad. But then Jimmy’s there…
Jimmy sweetly calms down his father allowing the doctor to take the sample, and the commodore, at the most vulnerable he’s probably ever been, calls Jimmy a good son. Okay, despite the super fucked up origins of their relationship, that was pretty sweet. Jimmy turns to Gillian to ask if she’s eaten – she hasn’t. Jimmy tells her to go home and get some rest, and he’ll stay with his father during the night. She hugs him and leaves, and Jimmy takes up a post at his father’s bedside. The countdown begins.
At Margaret’s, she and Nucky are getting ready for a night out, but the issues between them are far from resolved. Putting on jewelry, Margaret sullenly asks what’s the point of “this gathering?” Nucky tells her she doesn’t have to go if she doesn’t want to – most of the women in the DAR aren’t particularly fond of immigrants, nor were they in favor of suffrage. Margaret shrugs that she’ll do whatever’s required of her. Uh-oh, Nucky… Blood in the water. Cancel your plans and take her on a trip far, far away from all the reminders of your corruption and her complicity in it…
That warning bell going off in the back of your head? ABORT.
Dutiful obedience wasn’t the answer Nucky was looking for, and Margaret asks what answer he would prefer. Stupidly addressing the elephant in the room, Nucky tries to reassure her that what she “thought” she saw in his office was perfectly innocent. NOT. Margaret astutely comments that Annabelle is far from innocent, not to mention the fact that she’s an ex. Nucky brushes off his past by simply saying he and Annabelle had a relationship years before, but it meant nothing and he was only helping her. Eyebrow raised to roof, Margaret draws the obvious parallel between her and Annabelle, but Nucky claims the situations are different. Besides, Annabelle’s Margaret’s friend. “So you wouldn’t fuck her?” Margaret asks. Taken aback, Nucky tells her that language doesn’t become her. It really doesn’t, btw. Nucky and I both prefer Margaret to use her swear words sparingly, and only aimed at women like Annabelle and Lucy. Margaret reasons that Nucky would prefer her to be demure then, but he simply counters that he’d like her to be rational. Oh, Nucky, you should know enough about women to understand that when you lie to them and get caught accepting the promise of a roll in the hay from an old flame, rationalality is about as likely as swine flight.
Margaret’s back already broken by many, many straws, she wonders if “demure” means that she closes her eyes and ears to what she sees and hears around her. Agent Van Alden told her that Nucky was capable of anything (including murder most foul), and that, plus their whole arrangement makes her sick to her stomach. She can no longer accept the fact that she is to sit idly by as he and his cronies run the town behind closed doors, and she really can’t accept the fact that sometimes she’s supposed to help. Nucky rightly comments that she’s never said “no” to anything he’s put in front of her, and the little bit of moralistic noise she makes every so often doesn’t buy her any real absolution. A good person wouldn’t still be there, surrounded by cake and eating it, too.
All Margaret can say in her own defense is that Nucky doesn’t know her, not really, and then it all gets a lot worse. Nucky breathes that he does know what she is, and runs to the bathroom to get…
I really hope Lysol didn’t pay a lot for this product placement. It’s not doing their image any favors.
Nucky accuses Margaret of lying with him and then washing herself with poison like any whore. Margaret balks, both at being called a whore, and maybe a little that Nucky thinks she would have the urge to clean herself after they’ve made love. She probably did have real feelings for him… She uses it to prevent having children – his or any other man’s. Nucky forcefully asserts that that isn’t her choice to make. And there you have it, Ladies and Gentlemen. I give you the limits of Nucky Thompson’s feminist support. Margaret’s agog that Nucky would care whether or not she had children – did he expect her to give him an heir? They’re not married, and she wasn’t aware that that’s what he wanted her for. He didn’t – he thought she needed saving. And then Margaret passes the point of no return.
“Is that why you chose my husband?”
Nucky’s not sure what she’s talking about at first, or maybe just can’t believe she’s gotten the jump on him. But Margaret fills him in – Nucky wouldn’t have known anything about her husband had she not come to him seeking help, and she basically accuses him of eliminating her husband in an effort to obtain her. Nucky is NOT happy about the line the conversation is following and tells her to be careful. Which, of course only makes Margaret push harder. Didn’t Eli come to her with money to keep her quiet? Nucky swears it was to help her, which it probably was, but that’s not the way Eli spun it. Finally backed into enough of a corner, Nucky lashes out – she has been quiet. Mighty quiet over the death of a man who beat her and murdered her unborn child. He hasn’t lost a second of sleep over what happened and he tells Margaret that neither has she. She has, though, and slaps him to prove it. I’d like to point out at this time that at least Margaret can have an actual fight with her lover. It probably never got further than a minor argument with Hans before things came to blows.
Nucky stares at her for one smoldering second, then grabs the Lysol and shatters it against her vanity mirror. He bellows that she “won’t be needing that anymore!” and storms out.
Aww, first fights are rough…
At the commodore’s the next day, our hero has made it through the night and Richard’s come to visit Jimmy. Ready for some much-needed distraction, Jimmy asks about business. Chalky White’s heard back from his man in Philly and if the D’Alessios are there, they’ve gone into hiding. The only family left to speak of is a mother, sisters and a brother who shunned the criminal life in favor of dentistry. I wonder who has the highest mortality rate? Dentists commit suicide a lot…
Jimmy’s frustrated that nothing of value came up, but Richard offers to go to Philadelphia anyway. In one of the most chilling moments we’ve been privy to with this character, he tells Jimmy that he will kill the mother, the sisters and the dentist. That will make them stick their heads up…
Still less uncomfortable than the mental image of Gillian and the commodore.
Before Jimmy can fully react to his friend’s proposal, the commodore’s doctor arrives. Apparently he can run tests remarkably quickly for the 1920s because he already has the results. Jimmy asks Luanne to show out his friend and he and the doctor get down to business. I can already tell by the look on the doctor’s face that something’s amiss. He asks Jimmy who stands to gain from his father’s death. A little perplexed by the question, Jimmy doesn’t really know – he’s probably not in the will, that’s for sure. The doctor explains that while his tests are crude, there’s enough arsenic in the commodore’s system to take down a hippo.
Or a very large, very crotchety man and his dog. Whodunnit???
At Jimmy’s house, Angela’s taking advantage of his absence and packing a bag for herself and Tommy for their trip to Gay Paree! Never has that nickname been more apropos.
Tommy doesn’t want to go and Angela is furiously trying not to cry and simultaneously convince her son that Paris is made out of chocolate and he’ll love his new school with its tunics and muses and explorations into child sexuality. “Can Daddy come?” he asks. And I have to take a second to comment on the fact that Tommy isn’t even whining. He’s just stating plaintively what he’d like and asking pertinent questions about the journey. He’s a way better toddler than Emily.
Angela explains that Daddy’s already been to Paris and he didn’t like it. They’re going with Aunt Mary. “Can Gillian come?” he asks again. But the answer is still no, though she’d probably be in favor of the whole idea. Finally ready, Angela leaves a note for Jimmy on the bed and heads out.
Dear Jimmy, My turn. Angela
Coming down from his night of excitement with Margaret and the DAR, Nucky’s taking getting some coffee at his brother’s house. Thomspon Sr. is sitting on the porch, still pouting about his house. Nucky’s predictably unsympathetic, but he doesn’t admit to his brother that it was he who did the torching. The two brothers sit down and Eli, like a good sister, asks Nucky about the fight with Margaret. According to Nucky it got pretty ugly, but Eli reassures him that he and his wife fight all the time and it’s fine. They just go out to the woodshed in the back so the kids don’t hear. Eli confides that June has quite a mouth on her, and it seems like he kinda likes it. I kinda like that he kinda likes it.
For obvious reasons Nucky isn’t convinced that he and Margaret are going to patch things up as easily as Eli and June. Mostly because she knows they disposed of Hans. Eli brushes off that revelation with a, “She suspects.” That is until he sees Nucky’s expression. Nucky didn’t tell her, but he didn’t deny it. Which, when it comes to murder, is the same as telling her. And then Eli flips out so hard his voice actually breaks.
It’s kind of great.
What the hell was Nucky thinking? Nucky admits that he wanted to hurt her, and Eli throws up his fists and tells his brother that that’s what those are for. Nucky looks away and tells Eli that’s not the way he does things. He uses other people’s fists for that kind of work. Eli calls out Nucky on the semantics of not hitting Margaret but still being willing to beat the shit out of her husband and toss the guy into the ocean, and Nucky brushes off his brother’s protests with, “That was different. He deserved it.” Uh-oh… I smell a very dangerous God complex… Eli agrees with me and shouts that his brother isn’t God, and he should leave the moral judgment to said higher power and stick to business. Yeah, but then no one would get killed and nothing would get done. We’ll table that discussion for later.
Eli’s pretty apoplectic at this point, raving about the encroaching enemy political party. He calls Margaret a liability to all of them, created solely to feed Nucky’s need to absolve his sins for all the shit he pulls behind the scenes. According to Eli, that’s exactly how his brother thinks.
Whoa. When Eli’s right, Eli is RIGHT.
And this is the awesome/sad part about Eli. He really is smart. He knows that Nucky’s system and conscience both have some very major flaws which could bring down their whole house of cards in spectacular fashion. However, the sad part is that Eli isn’t smart enough to come up with anything better, so he’ll probably follow the lemmings right off the cliff, while protesting the entire way.
Nucky swears Margaret won’t talk, but Eli isn’t having it. How does Nucky know? He didn’t know about Lolly’s casino getting robbed, and Eli has the bullet in the gut to prove it. What else does Eli have? Eight freaking children, so the downfall of the Nucky Thompson Organization for the Development of Republican Party Ideals in New Jersey puts a serious cramp in his style. I’d tell him to buy June some Lysol and look the other way, but it’s kind of too late for that.
He rails that Nucky prances all over town like AC’s his own private circus and he’s the “King of the Freakshow,” but people only care about what Nucky can give them – including Margaret, now in possession of one helluva blank check. Nucky still cares about and believes enough in Margaret not to stand for his brother to talk about her like that (which is really, REALLY sweet), and he tells Eli that his brother should have seen Hardeen the other night. As he coldly gathers his things to go, he explains that it was an entertaining act, but if the guy wasn’t Houdini’s brother, nobody’d give a fuck.
Below the belt, right where it counts.
In less fiery, but just as tense waters nearby, Jimmy stops by Gillian’s to give her an update on the commodore. He made it through another night. Gillian’s surprised and… a little disappointed? Uh-oh, Gillian… Uh-oh…
Jimmy hilariously refuses coffee from his mother now that he kind of suspects her of arsenic poisoning, but he does glibly try to suss out if she knows how much money the commodore has. She glosses over the amount, but she does admit that her ex-lover does seem to be living comfortably. They sit down across from each other and Jimmy asks her if she’s spoken about what would happen to the commodore’s estate after he died. Gillian admits that while the two are close, they aren’t quite that close, and she’d like to know what Jimmy’s getting at. Jimmy sighs, perhaps drawing the veil of fantasy off the last unselfish person he knows, and tells his mother that he found a can of arsenic stuffed down in the commodore’s kitchen trash. He’s actually fine with whatever choice she makes in this matter, but I guess he had to tell her what he found.
You can find it in the deadly substances aisle between hemlock and 7-11 hot dogs.
Like Nucky, Gillian doesn’t deny anything either.
In Nucky’s office, Bader’s telling a bad joke and he, Fleming O’Neill, Halloran and other cronies are all having a good laugh. Oh man, without Eli and Margaret, Nucky’s sort of strapped for intelligent conversation. When Bader gets a history fact wrong when telling his joke, Nucky flips his lid a little, á la Eli. He’s glad everyone can have a good laugh while the Democrats are out pounding the pavement making this election the most difficult one any of the men has had to face in their lifetimes. Due to the bad press and corruption allegations, Nucky’s decided to make a bold change. They need a new sheriff. A new sheriff with a clean record. And just like that, Deputy Halloran becomes Sheriff Halloran, and I suspect Nucky will regret this decision one day…
Not suspect, know.
Eddie informs Nucky that Richard Harrow is on the phone, so he leaves the party and we head to the Boardwalk where Angela’s running to meet her lover. But what’s this?
A wicked game?
Angela slowly walks in, and I can’t decide if she’s just really astute or she just never truly expects anything good to work out in her favor, but as she slowly walks into the empty studio, she knows with every step that Mary has betrayed her. A man sweeping in the back room introduces himself as the property manager and offers her assistance. She asks a few questions she already knows the answer to, but probably can’t bring herself to accept. Where are the Dittrichs? Where is Mary? Did they leave word? Where’d they go? The property manager only knows the “wife” was always going on about Paris… You can literally see Angela’s heart break right out of her chest as she becomes another innocent victim of Jimmy’s rage. Before they leave, Tommy runs up and hands her a photo of “ghosts.” It’s really just a damaged picture of a married couple, but it’s a metaphor for Angela’s life in more ways than one.
At the post office office, Sebso approaches Van Alden’s desk and announces that he’s putting in for a transfer to Detroit. He’s got family in those parts, and his working relationship with Van Alden has hit the skids in more ways than one. Sebso knows Van Alden doesn’t trust him and Van Alden innocently wonders why his partner would think such a thing. Sebso hilariously outlines several valid reasons like the incessant questions, tension and insinuations about his religious beliefs for a start. Sebso’s frustrated that the Billy Winslow shooting is still an issue, but Van Alden insists that his story just doesn’t add up. Also, Sebso’s wearing some mighty nice new wing tips all of a sudden… The Junior Agent finally shouts that he’s trustworthy and begs to know what he has to do to convince Van Alden!
Which was a stupid, stupid question.
Van Alden and Sebso arrive at Deacon Cuffy’s baptism for the second time (it must be baptism season, because this dude is busy), and are warmly greeted. Cuffy asks if Van Alden has come to accept his place at Christ’s side and Van Alden claims never to have left. This guy on the other hand, putting his hand on Sebso’s shoulder like vice, has a darkness in his soul that needs to be washed away. He’s positively brimming with lies and menorahs and must be cleansed! Somehow Sebso didn’t see this coming on the way to the river and is shocked and totally appalled this is what his boss requires from him in the way of proof of integrity.
Cuffy invites Sebso to come forward and Van Alden sort of orders him. He protests a bit, what with it being totally counter to his beliefs, but with some egging on from the crowd and some intimidation by Van Alden who’s stripped down to his shirtsleeves and wading in the river, he relents. I guess if this is all one has to go through to prove one’s loyalty, things could be worse… I mean, it’s horribly anti-Semitic and bigoted, but considering how crazy Van Alden is, I’d say Sebso got off easy. He strips to his shirtsleeves as well, hands his new shoes to one of the congregants and heads down to wade in the water.
Why are so many Christian rituals wet? I hope there aren’t crawdads.
Van Alden asks Deacon Cuffy if he may be permitted to baptize Agent Sebso himself and the Deacon assents. And remember what I just said above about Sebso getting off kind of easy? Just forget that whole thing. Van Alden asks if Sebso will accept Jesus as his personal savior and it seems like Sebso’s about to ask if he should hold his breath when Van Alden grabs his chest and shoves him under the water. He brings him back up after a few seconds and asks again – “Will you confess your sins and accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?” It’s all Sebso can do to sputter, “Look, what do you expect-” before he’s dunked under again, this time for longer. Deacon Cuffy and the congregation are getting more uncomfortable by the minute as Van Alden brings up his baptismee over and over again, in what is starting to look less like a baptism and more like a drownin’ with every passing second. They start to protest, but it’s all pretty mild, mostly because, like me, they can’t really believe what they’re seeing.
They’re probably horrified, but I just think the whole thing is stupid.
Cuffy protests that the baptism isn’t a battle, but oh, Van Alden disagrees. It is a battle against Satan, and he has seen him at home and abroad and he will force him out! And then it happens… Oh, not Satan, Sebso just stops thrashing. Because he is dead. After 20 whole seconds under water. Guess he wasn’t a witch.
Van Alden lifts up his arms unto the Lord, quotes some Bible and heads out of the crowd, making sure to draw his gun and show his badge if any of the FIFTY WITNESSES TO MURDER think of talking. I’m sorry, I probably could have written this part of the recap with more gravitas, but this whole thing was just dumb. A) It takes more than 1/3 of a fucking minute to drown someone. Trust me. B) I refuse to believe that an entire group of people would be so intimidated by one, as yet, unarmed man that they would just stand by and do nothing as another man was murdered in front of them. I don’t the African American citizens of AC lived in that much fear of the law considering the Sheriff was half responsible for the resident KKK leader losing a finger. C) Really? Death by baptism? Lame.
Dear Show, Misstep. Alex
At Margaret’s, Nucky’s walking through the quiet and apparently empty apartment with Richard Harrow. Uh-oh… Richard explains that the previous night, Margaret sent him away claiming she wasn’t in need of his services and Nucky knew. And today, Nucky asks slowly, echoing Angela’s knowing heartbreak at the Dittrich Studios earlier. Today Richard arrived at the usual time and Margaret sent him to Annabelle’s to return some borrowed items. When he returned, “They had disappeared,” Nucky finishes, picking up the Peridot bracelet that was one of his gifts to Margaret. He is so very sad walking through the cavernous space that seemed so warm when she was there, and is so muted now.
It’s late when Angela and Tommy finally return home to a darkened and empty apartment. Angela tells her son to get ready for bed as she heads to her room to set down the useless suitcase. But what’s this? If she thought the day couldn’t get any worse, she was wrong. The letter’s gone. And Jimmy’s home. “Boo,” he says quietly (and creepily – that’s his killing voice) from the living room. Tommy’s certainly glad to see him but Angela looks like she’s gonna puke. Jimmy steps into the bedroom and coldly insists upon helping her with her suitcase. He does, and shoves it under the bed. He sing-songs, “I know what you’ve been up to,” and Tommy wonders how. Jimmy tells his son that he and his mother have been at Abe Klein’s, and he can tell by the chocolate phosphate on Tommy’s face. Then Jimmy picks up his son, carries him to the bedroom and asks if the boy liked staying up late. It’s fun, right? Then he creepily promises that in a few years, when it’s just “us boys,” they’ll be up late keeping all hours. He puts Tommy down and whispers that mommy will tuck him in. Then he shuts the door on Angela, trapping her even more than she already is into a life she’s pretty sure she doesn’t want. The door shuts and Angela starts quietly sobbing.
I’m so mad she doesn’t know about Pearl!! This is such bullshit!!!
The episode draws to a close on Nucky and Eddie as they slowly walk the boardwalk at night, Nucky feeling the weight of his crown more so than usual. Totally stripped of any compass, be it the commodore, his brother or Margaret, he finally breaks down and stops by the fortune teller. He’s never been this far out to sea before, and it’s a cloudy night with no wind…