No title cards necessary this week, Folks. We open on a shot of the Chicago Tribune, so that’s where we are. In a little café, to be exact. A café that Liam (Pearl’s face cutter) frequents on a regular enough basis to have a “usual” breakfast (corned beef hash and eggs… mmm…). Oh, P.S. I totally missed that it was Liam and not Sheridan that gave Pearl her facesplit. My bad. A cop sitting at the bar spots him and nonchalantly gets up to use the telephone to call someone.
Someone Italian, I’m guessing.
And I’m right! Al thanks him, calls him a credit to the force and hangs up the phone. He pops into tell Jimmy the news that Liam’s been found, and Jimmy’s sacked out on the couch. “Leg again?” Al asks, and Jimmy moans that he should have just let them cut it off. Nah, scars are way hotter than stumps. You made the right choice, Babe. Well, Al has something that will make him feel better, and he gets behind Jimmy, puts his hands on his shoulders and tells him that Liam takes his meals on a joint on the North side.
Doesn’t look like it worked, Al.
I kind of like the way Al and Jimmy have become hetero lifemates in the past two episodes. It’s cute.
With that it’s onto a haunted house -
Aw, nah, it’s just Nucky’s dad’s house. Oh, and it’s like, April in the Boardwalk Universe. BTW, disrepair, thy name is Thompson Sr.’s house. And angry dementia? Thy name is Thompson, Sr. He’s thrusting a poker fiercely at an unknown assailant in the middle of a disgusting kitchen. He tells the intruder to get back or he’ll use the poker! Then the camera pans left to reveal one of several cats that he either doesn’t own or acquired and doesn’t remember doing so. Either way, they are not welcome, and in the midst of making himself a breakfast of burnt toast and whiskey, he tries to shoo them away from a filthy table and loses his balance. He falls hard, hurting his leg and starts screaming for help.
Cats: We coulda Lassied some shit out for you, Thompson, but then you shook the poker at us. Now we’re just gonna sniff your toast and lick ourselves.
If you didn’t catch it, there are some serious paternal issues in the Thompson family given that there are two successful sons and one decrepit and ailing father living by himself in squalor. Let’s go exploring!
Back in Chicago, Jimmy’s at a military hospital getting his leg checked out. He tells the less than interested doctor that he’s had four surgeries on the leg, and the doctor mentions that it’s some fine work. So why does it hurt, Jimmy wonders, and Doc guesses that it’s probably the screws in his femur, possibly nerve damage. Jimmy jokes that he’s got a screw loose and the doctor asks, “Do you think you do?” Jimmy explains that it was a joke, and I’m not sure the doc didn’t know that, and Jimmy just didn’t get his joke. I don’t know, he’s just got this superior air to him that makes me think he thinks he’s mentally eight steps ahead of Jimmy. Doesn’t make for a good bedside manner. Whatever, anyway, Jimmy explains that the pain is more of a dull ache that started recently. He’s not sleeping well. Then Doc asks what Jimmy does, and when Jimmy answers that he goes for walks, reads, etc., that bedside manner appears once more. He smiles condescendingly and clarifies that he was interested in what Jimmy did for employment. Jimmy gets it, and nervously answers “Bell telephone.”
I can’t tell if he’s nervous because he’s still not quite used to being a full-fledged criminal, or if the doctor’s attitude has made him feel somehow less-than. And if it’s the latter, fuck you, Doc! I’m not always Jimmy’s biggest fan, but I can already tell you’re the bigger douche and, I’ve only known you two minutes.
Focus on the bowtie, Jimmy. This man is not to be taken seriously.
Then, for no reason whatsoever, the doctor asks Jimmy if he’s heard of a Doctor Whitworth who developed a Personal Inventory Test that’s being given out to all the soldiers – for the good of the country, of course. Jimmy wryly jokes “To set a higher standard,” mocking a propaganda poster on the far wall of the room. He asks what he has to do, and I’m still confused as to how any of this helps his leg. Is the doctor implying that Jimmy has an STD? Is that what the test is for, because it sounds like some kind of psych test. Though if it is an STD test, it’s the best name I’ve ever heard for one. The doc tells him that he just has to answer a few questions about himself – it could help him feel better. Jimmy rolls his eyes and agrees, but he’s obviously well-aware that the visit about his leg has been a complete waste of time.
Guess I’ll just WALK HOME.
The doc exits to do what, I’m not sure, and Jimmy looks around the room. He spots a fully-dressed man sitting on a bed who’s been badly injured. As in, half of his face is gone. The image strikes Jimmy long enough for him and the other man to meet eyes, and the camera pans down to the bed revealing a contraption that appears to be half-mask, half eyeglasses.
I don’t think Pearl would have liked it, though… Men aren’t attentive to girls who wear glasses.
Back in AC, it looks like someone heard Thompson Sr.’s cries for help, because Eli and a two other men are trying to get him onto a stretcher amidst a lot of screaming and swearing from the older man. Eli is being remarkably patient with his father for someone with the capacity to be such a dick, so I’m guessing it’s Nucky that has the pained relationship with Father Dear. And so it shall be written, so it shall be done: Nucky walks in to the surliest of greetings from his father (something along the lines of “look who decided to show up!”), and he spits back that he came as soon as he heard. Eli, because this is obviously one of those rare situations in which he gets to be better than his brother, pipes up that he called Nucky’s office, but was told Nucky was out with his “ladyfriend.” Thompson Sr. cruelly jokes, “Mabel?” and Nucky clarifies that Mabel was his wife and his father knows that.
There’s more complaining from Thompson Sr. that he was on the floor for five hours before Eli happened to drop by. And thank God he did, he could have lost his leg. Thompson Sr.’s one of those people who probably spent his entire life driving people away and then spent his remaining years bitching that he’s all alone.
I’m sure sons like Nucky did a frigging dance the day the life alert was invented.
Nucky thanks the doctor as they wheel out his complaining father, and stays back in the kitchen. He gazes at a wall upon which hang numerous ribbons, pictures and memorabilia… for Eli. Eli joins him and, still feeling like he has the upper hand with the confidence boost from their verbally abusive father, starts in about Margaret. She’s a peach, he’s sure, but she’s also a widow – REMEMBER? Nucky snaps that she knows nothing and she never will. Not until the season finale at least. Or just until you piss off your brother again and he drinks too much. I give it three weeks, max.
Dying for a change of subject, Nucky comments that it smells like piss in the house, and Eli agrees. Nucky offers to call Sailor’s Haven to see if they have an extra bed, and Eli balks at putting their father someplace like that. Sounds like it’d suck for the other sailors, that’s for sure. Nucky angrily asks if he’s supposed to get the man a private nurse, and Eli offers to let their father move in with him. Not jumping at this opportunity as I would were I in Nucky’s position, he asks after Eli’s children. Hmmm. It doesn’t dissuade Eli, though, whose kids just luuurve their grandfather. That matter sort of sorted, Eli admits that it is time to sell the house. Nucky thinks for a minute and proposes they give the home to some guy named Fleming. Just give it away, Eli asks. Nucky can’t see why not – the Flemings just had another baby, and they’re probably going to have more. I expect a Catholic joke to come out somewhere in there, but none does. Nucky wants a decent family to make a home out of the place that obviously holds no pleasant memories for him.
If Eli wants to argue further, he doesn’t. Nor does he respond when Nucky notices a toaster that cost him nine bucks that has obviously never been used sitting on the windowsill. It appears the brothers may not agree totally about their father, but that’s one pile of shit Eli’s not stepping in.
I will be keeping my boots squeaky clean for the rest of this episode, thank you very much.
Yay! Chalky! He’s looking over fake whiskey labels, complaining that the glue doesn’t stick. His associate tells him the vendor’s willing to take $50 off, but considering the labels are basically toilet paper if they don’t stick, Chalky’s not interested. Yeah, even if I were desperate, I probably wouldn’t buy something that had tape on the label. We all have standards. Before he can gripe any further, there’s a furious little knock on his door and a high-pitched voice asking for him, several times over.
A small man enters and resulting “shortpants” jokes ensue. The size differential between the visitor and Chalky is pretty hilarious, not to mention the high voice. The resulting scene reminded me of the David and Goliath story, but if David had sent his little brother Normy to throw some pebbles at Goliath while David went off to the bushes behind Temple to make out with Bathsheba. But what Normy lacks in stature he makes up for in pluck!
He introduces himself as Michael Lewis, hailing from the borough of Manhattan with a business proposition for Chalky. May he approach? Chalky tells him he may stay the fuck where he is, but he is allowed to speak. Michael daintily picks up a piece of trash from the floor and places it in a crate before beginning his eloquent spiel. Say a boy wants to by a boiled wool coat for his ladyfriend. At Gimbel’s, the coat costs him twelve dollars and forty-six cents. I spelled out the price because that’s the way Michael talks. His cadence is very specific and timed. He’s rehearsed, but well-rehearsed and despite the fact that Chalky and his men can barely wait for him to leave to let out the laughter that’s building, he is utterly unintimidated.
Anyway, the coat costs twelve dollars and forty-six cents at Gimbel’s, but on Rivington St…. He doesn’t get a chance to tell us what a boiled wool coat would go for at wholesale in 1920 because Chalky cuts him off letting him know he’s not running a fucking coat shop. But the principle is the same, Michael clarifies. Chalky makes a product that is priced according to certain quality, cost and competition. What if Michael were to buy 1000 cases of liquor from Chalky to their mutual benefit – i.e. cutting Mr. Nucky “Middleman” Thompson? Chalky ponders the idea for a moment and smiles, commenting that no one would ever have to know except the men in the room.
Oh, right, because criminal plans based on mutual secret-keeping NEVER go awry.
Chalky asks Michael if his mother knows that he’s out running around in his father’s Sunday suit. Michael laughs and answers that no, she doesn’t, and she also doesn’t know he has $10,000 in American currency stashed away in his pocket, which pulls out for Chalky to count. He does, and then starts a dangerous laugh that makes me think this deal isn’t gonna happen for Michael today. Michael asks if Chalky’d care to tell him what’s so funny, and Chalky tells him to go tell Nucky Thompson that’s gonna take a lot more than $10,000 to get Chalky to screw him. Michael looks a little confused at this, but then tips his hat and tells Chalky he can’t blame a guy for trying. And out he goes. I honestly wouldn’t have been surprised had he clicked his heels on the way out.
I will say I think this little man is a) fucking dangerous and b) probably working for Arnold Rothstein.
Never trust someone who’s willing to make a total and unapologetic ass of themselves for no apparent benefit. They are either stupid or conning you.
Speaking of Nucky, he’s meeting with Fleming who’s telling a sweet story about a thunderstorm and his kids all cramming into his bed with him and his wife. It’s really sweet, actually. Nucky asks how the baby’s doing – she’s well. She was seven weeks early, but Fleming gives his wife all the credit for nursing the little girl to health. This is also sweet. Now I’m worried. The sweet people in Nucky’s circle generally don’t fare very well. Fleming apologizes for going on and on, but Nucky protests that he doesn’t mind. It was Fleming’s family that he wanted to talk about anyway. Then, because Lucy’s talent lies not between her legs, but in her utter genius at embarrassing Nucky, she barges in, shoving off Eddies’ insistent protests.
Jeez, Nucky, was this so impossible to predict?
Nucky shouts that he’s in a meeting, as if Lucy could possibly give a fuck, and she demands to know why he isn’t returning her calls. Aw, Nuck. I’m no fan of Miss Danziger, but come ON. Please engage in less assholery during your breakups. She cries that she loves him, and what could Margaret the shopgirl possibly have that she doesn’t? Nucky tells her to calm down and she looks around realizing that she’s left some of her clothes in his suite. Because it’s the only way to get her out of his hair at the moment, and not because he has any intention of following through, Nucky promise they’ll go to dinner, the pictures, whatever she likes. She whispers that she feels empty without him inside of her, and he promises they’ll talk about that, too. Pacified for the moment, she finally lets Eddie lead her out. I hope the fact that Paz de la Huerta is a series regular means she won’t do anything lame like kill herself. OMG, IDEA! She should get with Rothstein! Perfect!
Okay, back to business.
Nucky apologizes to Fleming after Lucy leaves, and Fleming just seems to have been entertained by the whole thing. Nucky asks if Fleming and his family are still living in an apartment, and they are. Then Nucky announces that their family needs a house, with a yard for the kids to run around in, and Fleming agrees. They’re saving up. Well, they don’t need to anymore. Nucky’s giving them his father’s house, no strings attached. Horrific juju, but no strings. Fleming can barely speak – Nucky’s just made him and his wife the happiest people on earth! Until it inevitably comes crashing down! Nucky tells Fleming that that’s all he needed to hear. The two men shake hands, and Margaret’s voiceover leads us to the next scene.
Just feed the cats! You never know when you might need them…
She’s having tea with Anabelle who’s hair may be decade appropriate but is AWFUL.
It’s like she used a crimper made out of electricity.
Margaret’s explaining that she doesn’t know, aside from the obvious, what Nucky wants from her. When Anabelle questions what Margaret wants from him, she sheepishly answers that she’d certainly like to hang onto “all this” referring to the flat and newfound financial security. She is in sort of a weird situation – it’s not like she and Nucky had an intensely personal relationship before they started sleeping together, and now she’s like his fair-weather wife, but I’ll bet she doesn’t know his middle name. She’s well-aware that he won’t marry her, and Anabelle confirms – he was with his last girl for ages. Oh, poor Lucy. Margaret would like some certainty in her life, though. Maybe that’s something she should go for? Anabelle sniffs that in three years, the only certainty she’s gotten with Harry is $4000 stashed under her bed. It’s not that he pays her, oh no. She just steals money from his trousers when he’s asleep – the occasional ten spot adds up. Margaret balks at ever doing that to Nucky (and I do, too, kind of), but Anabelle tells her she might surprise herself one day. I’m wondering what’s worse. To actually be a prostitute officially or to be a prostitute essentially, and then also a bit of a thief? Monetarily the equations balance, but I’m not sure about personally.
Neither is Margaret. I think both of us are new to this game.
When it comes time to discuss the matter of love, Margaret’s fond of Nucky, but she doesn’t think he’s gotten over his wife. Not that he talks about it much, it’s just a feeling she gets. Anabelle’s glad to hear that he’s not much of a talker. That’s the last thing Margaret wants, she advises. She learned something – “not from Harry, but from the one before him” – is that if women like them let their men bare their souls and spill their secrets, the mistresses become a constant reminder of how weak their man really is. Well, yeah, if they’re married. Nucky’s kind of holding all the cards in this situation. The milk, she is pretty free from Margaret. Then Margaret’s daughter runs in, significantly cuter now that her mother can afford to dress her in something other than burlap. Anabelle comments on how lovely Emily is and promises that she’ll have no trouble finding a man of her own.
Ignore the lady with the prickly hair, my darling.
Oh, yahoo – we’re finally back to Mickey! He’s an ass, but man is he fucking funny. He’s sitting with Max Casella (Leo D’Alessio) and the other Philly Italians playing cards. Then, making good on his word to Nucky or something, Lucky walks in! The mobsters greet each other warmly, and introduce Mickey in Italian. He owes them money – they’d slit his throat, but then what? Hey, killing isn’t always practical. Lucky pats Mickey on the back and tells him that the Phillies think he’s a standup guy. Then he introduces his friend… Meyer.
I KNEW IT!!!
The Phillies ask why Lucky’s in town, and the answer is of course, business. And it houses the only woman who can get his rocks off, but that’s not public knowledge. He gets right to the point – just how many times do the Phillies think they can knock over Nucky Thompson’s bagman before he bites back. A kid in the background – little shit from the previous episode – pipes up that it was easy pickings. Lucky sneaks it in that the gang knows that they owe Arnold Rothstein for the privilege, capeesh? The Phillies know no such thing, which introduces a whole new conversation. Meyer wonders if the fellas have notices the price of gas climbing, and the fellas wonder why the fuck that’s relevant. And then we’re introduced not only to Meyer, Lucky’s friend, but Meyer fucking LANSKY, Lucky’s friend. Awesome. He goes into great detail about how much a liquor operation like the ones the Phillies are trying to start with their little $3000 take, could cost. The answer is, a lot more than $3000. And they can’t keep stealing from Nucky Thompson every week for very long. Leo wonders if Rothstein wants to back them, and Lucky tells him of a casino, that just so happens to be owned by Nucky Thompson, whose cage holds $150,000 every Saturday night. If the boys knock it over, they’d split the take 50/50, and use the cash to bankroll their next job. I think Lucky just found himself some patsies!!
Hey, remember that guy who played dead in front of the car accident in the pilot? Yeah? Well, Billy Winslow is his name, and armed robbery is his new game. Van Alden walks into what I assume is a police station in a jurisdiction neighboring Atlantic City and gets briefed on Billy’s recent activities. He wonders what this could possibly have to do with him, and the man who called him informs him that Billy has a sick mother and is scared shitless of going to jail for ten years. When the charges were leveled, the little blond rat asked to see a Fed from Atlantic City immediately. Enter, Van Alden.
Billy’s looking pretty green around the gills when Van Alden and his colleague Agent Sepso, but that doesn’t stop him from trying to negotiate for his freedom the minute Van Alden asks him what he has to say. Van Alden could eat this little kid for Sunday Communion, though, and tells him that with 10 years Hard Labor in front of him, Billy’s not exactly in the position to bargain. At which point Billy actually tears up.
There’s no crying in larceny!
And then stupid, stupid Billy spills the whole story of the hijacking in January and his part as decoy – a part that involved no killing whatsoever. He doesn’t know why everything went to hell in a hand basket, but he does know who the ringleader was. Does he have a deal to get off if he spills? Van Alden promises that if Billy agrees to testify, Van Alden will use his influence as best he can. That’s it. That’s all Billy gets in the way of a promise from a man who hates criminals of any kind before he feels comfortable enough to spill Jimmy’s full name and Al’s first name. Oh, Billy. It’s either death or death in jail for you, my Sweet.
Incidentally Van Alden looks like he could kiss Billy smack on the lips, so I guess some good came out of this.
Back in Chicago, Jimmy’s sitting at the hospital again, reading, presumably there for his Personality Inventory or whatever. The half-masked man walks in, as well. His breathing is loud and his speech is labored and husky. He stops ahead of Jimmy with his back to him and asks if Jimmy likes to read. Slightly confused by the odd greeting, Jimmy answers that it keeps him occupied. He’s reading The Tin Soldier, and calls it a “bunch of malarkey.” The man finally turns to him and we get a glimpse of the man and the mask together. It’s effective to the extent of covering his injuries, but totally ineffective in that it draws all of my attention to his face and makes me intensely curious about what’s underneath the glasses.
He’s like Two-Face!!!
As soon as he sits down, Jimmy gets up and introduces himself – Jimmy Darmody meet Richard Harrow. Jimmy offers a cigarette, but Richard mutters, “Not possible.” I like this guy. He’s no bullshit. Jimmy sits down next to him and Richard pulls out a Tom Swift novel. He offers it to Jimmy – his sister sends them to him because he used to like them. Jimmy asks why he doesn’t anymore, and Richard posits that it occurred to him that the basis of fiction is connection between human beings. He’s now convinced that doesn’t exist, so… yeah. It’s clear by this point that Richard’s going to be a fascinating character based solely on the fact that while he is completely socially broken, he’s still willing to attempt to be social.
Not in a position to argue with the whole “connection” theory, Jimmy simply thanks Richard for the book and continues to smoke his cigarette. Richard asks if he’s there for the test, and he is – there to take the “nutcase test.” Hm, guess it is a psychological test. Richard claims the test is to see if they’re “normal” and that some of the questions are supposed to be embarrassing. Jimmy advises him to just lie, but Richard claims he doesn’t find that very easy anymore. He believes they’re interested in what’s in their heads so that next war the soldiers will fight better. Jimmy doesn’t have much to say to that, and then Richard pulls out a German sniper mask. He reveals that if he doesn’t have it on him, he feels anxious. How did he acquire it? Also a sniper, he watched the guy for three days behind a duck blind when finally, the German lifted it up to scratch his nose. Richard got him an inch below the eye. Damn. It’s all kind of an overshare, but like I said…
Socially inept, but socially willing.
Jimmy’s also like, the perfect friend Richard could try to make right now. It looks pretty clear that killing Sheridan and his men has done little for his guilt about Pearl, so he’d probably be Horrifically Scarred Richard’s best friend if it meant making the guy’s life more livable. In response to the sniper story, Jimmy sort of smiles awkwardly and says, “Well, fuck him, right?” Richard looks sort of surprised that Jimmy hasn’t politely scooted over on the bench, yet and ended their freaky little romance, so he starts in again with the oversharing. Did Jimmy know that on the test they ask if the soldiers have ever been with a woman…? Jimmy doesn’t get a chance to answer because the nurse calls out, “James Darmody?” Staring intensely at Richard like he’s just come up with a fabulous idea about how to help what might be a virgin sitting next to him, he tells the nurse that the Darmody character left. Said he was feeling fine all of a sudden and up and walked out. When she calls Richard’s name, Jimmy tells her he left as well. Then he turns to Richard and implores the other man to “try lying.” Inspired, Richard takes a deep breath and tells the nurse that yeah, Richard left.
And old friendships renewed in AC – hey everyone, Angela’s a lesbian! Oh, MAN does that suck for her in this day and age. We open on her contentedly putting on a record, dressed in nothing but her robe, and slinking back into bed with a lovely blond – the photographer’s wife, I think. She does not seem at ALL broken up about Jimmy leaving. Hey, it probably freed up a lot of dilly-dalliance time. But she is fairly distraught about her and Mary’s situation. She’s afraid that Nucky could become aware of it, and that if he does, he’ll stop sending her money in disapproval. He totally might. Nucky’s pretty progressive, but I don’t think he’s that progressive. Mary asks about Jimmy, but Angela says he hasn’t sent anything, and she thought he would – if only for Tommy. Hmm… That’s kind of odd since we totally saw Jimmy send Angela money last episode right before the redheaded hooker came to try and get him to go downstairs and play. I wonder what happened.
Mary tries to cheer Angela up by telling her that her husband has a friend in town that’s looking at some real estate and the man works at Washington Square Gallery in Greenwich Village. The two women lean back to get down to getting’ down, and whisper about how wonderful it would be to live in Greenwich Village… It’s everything they’ve heard about.
Yeah, in 1920. It’s not gonna be a Tommy’s two mommies situation, Ladies.
The next day, Nucky, Margaret and the kids hop out of the Packard to check out the progress on Nucky’s old house. Nucky warns them to stay away from rusty nails and Margaret tells them not to wander off. Oh!!! It’s so cute they would be the cutest family omg Nucky MARRY HER SO PERFECT!!!!!
The house is coming along wonderfully – so much so that Margaret can’t believe it’s the same home he described to her. Nucky assures her that it was disgusting not more than a week ago. He wonders at how small the house feels now, when it didn’t seem so when he was a child. Margaret sweetly observes that he was small, too, then. THEY ARE SO CUTE. Nucky nods and remembers his father as the giant from Jack in the Beanstalk – he was terrified of him. Margaret asks him if the man still scares Nucky, and Nucky breathes that he can’t be hurt now. Then he picks up a poker off the stove and tells Margaret that on his 9th birthday, he made the mistake of reaching for a piece of bread before his father, and was punished with that very same, but much hotter poker. He still has the scar. He reveals that he lies awake to that very day sometimes wondering at how a man who was supposed to take care of his family could be so violent toward them, when Margaret suddenly gets uncomfortable. Not only is Nucky hitting pretty close to home, he’s talking way too much.
How did I let this happen? Anabelle will be so displeased.
She cuts him off telling that she’s no stranger to a man’s cruelty and that sometimes the past is best left in the past. Nucky’s surprised at her sudden unwillingness to listen and at his own insensitivity. His expression shows it, and Margaret goes to check on the children.
Fuck you, Anabelle.
Back in Chicago, Jimmy’s invited Richard to his house to play. Richard astutely deduces that Jimmy lives in a whorehouse and if he could furrow his brows, he surely would have. Jimmy smiles and they walk to the bar to get a drink. Bourbon – the real stuff, one with a straw. They toast to “the lost,” one of the few things they have in common. Another thing they have in common? Guns. Richard’s already observed that Jimmy has one under his jacket – a Colt .45. Richard has one of those, also like 7 others, which he describes in detail. The list is long and it takes as long as it takes the match Jimmy struck for his cigarette to burn down to get through. I know that because I stared at Jimmy’s fingers in panic terrified that he was going to burn his hand.
Weird things catch my attention.
The whorehouse, the gun and the purple suit all come together for Richard and he asks Jimmy if he uses the gun to kill people. Jimmy flippantly answers, “What do you think?” A little taken aback by Jimmy’s harshness, Richard simply says that the gun is very good for that and turns away. Immediately sorry for being a defensive ass, Jimmy calls over a girl – Odette. He introduces Richard to her as a war hero who deserves recognition for his service. Odette sweetly and perfectly agrees that she’s a patriot, takes Richard by the hand and promises that she’s got a whole tickertape parade waiting for him. Jimmy promises to watch his things and Richard and Odette head upstairs. Jimmy looks on pensively, like maybe his leg is hurting a little less all of a sudden.
Maybe I should be a pimp AND a gangsta…
Back in AC, Nucky’s finally taken Margaret out to a night on the town – at Chalky’s speakeasy. Damn, Margaret’s horizons are just getting broadened all over the place. They’re with Harry and Anabelle (whose hair has SIGNIFICANTLY improved, I’m happy to say) on the most hilariously weird double date ever. Those two are as scintillating dinner companions as you’d expect. Harry’s trying to talk Nucky into some kind of early calling card scam, which Nucky doesn’t really understand, and Margaret and Anabelle are in the bathroom. Harry gets distracted by all the crazy negro dancing (scandalous) and Chalky walks up. Harry compliments Chalky and his “people’s” liveliness, and Chalky restrains himself from shoving peanuts up the guy’s nose by just turning to Nucky and confronting him about “Michael.” He passed the test, huh? Nucky, of course, has no idea what Chalky is talking about, but Chalky doesn’t believe him. He gives his partner a cold-ish goodbye, and tells the party to enjoy the rest of their evening.
Does this mean I’m some kind of mother-fucker?
The women return from the bathroom and Anabelle wonders what they were talking about. Margaret answers business – what else? Nucky ventures that there is also politics, and Harry includes baseball as well. Nucky mentions that he once owned a catcher’s mitt from Hardy Richardson – his prized possession. Just then the music gets a little hotter, and Anabelle drags Harry off to dance. Margaret remarks that they’re quite a couple, but Nucky thinks they’re mismatched. Margaret thinks Anabelle really seems to like Harry, but Nucky counters that she liked the last one, too. Anabelle’s a bit of skank in his book, it seems. Margaret changes the subject and asks if Nucky still has his mitt. Nucky, his mind elsewhere, probably on their awkward afternoon, takes a minute to answer. He doesn’t have the mitt anymore – it was stolen. And just to show how much his conversation with Margaret at his father’s house hurt him, when she asks for details, he coldly tells her he doesn’t want to talk about it. And now that Margaret has effectively trained him not to talk, the two have… nothing to talk about.
Christ, Anabelle, I may not know what I want from him, but I know I don’t want to be bored to tears.
And now for the softer side of the Commodore and Leann. The commodore’s in his robe, shoving his breakfast aside, and Leann’s clucking that he barely ate any. Apparently he’s suffering from some kind of stomach ailment. She’s mixing up some kind 1920s smoothie in the kitchen and telling him he should go to the doctor – he probably has worms. The commodore grouches that he’s dying, and there are no two ways about it. Leann tells him to stop talking that way, and he asks if Nucky came by. He didn’t, she answers, but sent one of his men. The commodore is more than a little insulted, and comments that Nucky’s getting too big for his breeches, sending one of his minions to the house.
Maybe, but I know damn well who I’d rather be spending time with.
He was the one, after all who put Nucky where he is… and Nucky sent him to jail. Oooh, now that’s interesting. Either not understanding or plain not giving a shit about the her boss’ ramblings, Leann gives him his smoothie, and sweetly tells him to lie down while she makes a porridge paste to rub on his belly. GROSS. This is a part of their relationship that does NOT need to be filmed, HBO. The commodore grunts in agreement, but when he moves to get up, it’s all he can do to make it to a waste bin to empty the meager contents of his stomach.
There’s a hilarious voice over of Nucky reciting a verse on indigestion to go with the commodore’s puking, and then we cut to Margaret’s breakfast table. The children are all atwitter at a father figure who’s entertaining them as opposed to beating up their mother, and it’s a very pleasant scene. The children ask to be excused and Margaret lets them go, looking after them lovingly. Then she turns to the man who now makes her children’s happiness possible, and begins to apologize for her behavior at Thompson Sr.’s house. She admits that when Nucky began to talk to her, she was selfish and took some bad advice. She explains that while they’re intimate in many ways, she would like him to be able to confide in her, and to know that he can talk to her.
Because she is perfect!
Proving that he’s a much better man than anyone Anabelle’s met, Nucky immediately tells Margaret the story of his mitt. It was stolen by some other boys – older than he was, and his father forced him to return to the scene of the crime and confront them. They beat him unconscious and he was in the hospital for 11 days. Margaret’s agog at how horrible the experience must have been, and Nucky simply states that life can be that way. Before she can go sit on his lap and shower him with kisses, the phone rings. The house is finished! Nucky asks if Margaret would like to go see it with him, but she has to put Emily down for her nap. Teddy asks to go, but his mother tells him “Mr. Thompson” is very busy. Nucky interrupts that it’s “Uncle Nucky” in the worst nickname for your mom’s boyfriend ever. Confused as to why? Just think about the word “nookie” and I’m sure it’ll come to you. Anywho, the kid can go, and Margaret and Nucky smile at each other – another hurdle overcome.
He says that he’s gonna marry me, and we can make a little family…
In Chicago, Liam’s day of reckoning is finally at hand. He sits down at his café, when who should sit down across from him, but James Darmody.
You made my girlfriend commit suicide. Not cool, Man.
Liam obviously knows he’s in hot shit, because the minute Jimmy sits down, he explains he was just doing Sheridan’s bidding when he cut up poor Pearl. Jimmy just tells him to relax – he’s not there to kill him. Hmm. He lights a cigarette and asks if Liam served in the war. Nope, rheumatic fever. Lame. Well, Jimmy was there for three years, and proceeds to tell Liam what a living, waking nightmare. He goes on to talk about a German soldier that got caught in barbed wire near their camp. Jimmy shot him twice (stomach and neck), but the man survived for days, yelling, “Mutti, mutti” – “mama” in German. The curious thing, according to Jimmy, is that even though the soldier’s situation was utterly hopeless, he didn’t want to die. Jimmy offered to kill him several times, but the soldier refused, and kept fighting, waiting for a miracle. Jimmy wonders at humanity’s capacity to hang onto life, even when in some situations (like the soldier’s and like Pearl’s), being alive is so much worse than the alternative.
Then Jimmy looks Liam dead in the eye, hoping to convey to the man that what he did to Pearl was place gun in her mouth and her hand on the trigger, and tells him he never wants to see him again. Liam, scared shitless, assures Jimmy that he’ll disappear. Jimmy gets up, pats Liam roughly on the shoulder, and heads out.
Personal Inventory complete.
Liam takes a deep breath in relief, and a water pitcher a waiter was holding in front of the bay window explodes. The waiter looks around confused and when his eyes fall on Liam, the pitcher becomes the least of his worries.
Thought you dodged the bullet, didn’t you?
Right under the right eye. A woman starts screaming bloody murder in the background, and the camera moves to a bullet hole in the window. A window through which we can see a flowing curtain in an upper room across the street. In that room, Richard stands before that window, replacing his mask to the tune of Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor (overplayed scary organ piece). He methodically and purposefully puts away his weapon in under ten seconds, and is out the door before you can say “Richard got his groove back.” No fate worse than death for him, just yet.
Before I can judge the incredibly hokey music choice for Richard’s triumphant exit, we cut to the silent film, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” and the music is revealed to be partly transitional. Thank goodness. Lucy’s in the theater, tearfully watching the movie she begged to see with Nucky, realizing that Nucky will no longer keep any promises he makes her. I’d feel bad for her….
…if she weren’t such a wank.
Nucky arrives at his father’s old/now new house, and it’s painted, beautiful and full of picket fences. There’s still a sinister look about the place, though, and I can’t figure out why. Oh! It’s because Thompson Sr.’s inside! Eli brought him by to see the place all fixed up. Nucky’s about as happy to see his father contaminating his good work as his father is to see said worth. Nucky immediately tells Eli to get the old man out of there, and as Eli’s wheeling the man out, Thompson Sr. grates that Nucky may think he’s king, but he’s not worth a Goddamn. Yeah, no amount of paint or fencing is going to exorcise Nucky’s demons.
But maybe this will…
After his father is wheeled out, Nucky picks up the abandoned poker. Teddy’s busy investigating a jar of lighter fluid, and you can literally see the appropriate method for catharsis take shape in Nucky’s head. He tells Teddy to wait in the car, and takes the can from him. As soon as the boy is gone, Nucky douses the kitchen in lighter fluid, probably pouring on some of his own hate, too.
And with the flick of a match…
The entire house goes up in flames and Nucky is once again master of his domain. On a lighter note, Fleming arrives just in time to see his dream smoking out of existence. He’s apopleptic, asking if Nucky’s called the department. Nucky just stares at the house, pulls out a wad of cash, and tells the heartbroken Fleming to find a better place to live. The Packard drives away, and Teddy looks out the back window at a scene he doesn’t understand.
Sometimes the past should stay in the past, and sometimes it should be burnt to the fucking ground.