Previously, a priggish Irishman shook down Nucky and left Owen as a parting gift, Dunn Pernsley sassed Chalky and got his ass kicked for it, Chalky went to Nucky for advice, Jimmy got control of Atlantic City and proceeded to lose his mind and sweet little Emily developed a fever.
Nucky’s at customs in Belfast. He’s traveling with Owen so there goes my theory that he was skipping town. They present their passports and Nucky tells the customs agent, in a pleasant enough tone which should be the first clue he’s lying, that he’s there to bury his father. Nucky’s brought the proper documentation so the agent makes small talk before he stamps their passports bidding them a “Welcome to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.” This does not go over well with Owen.
Éirinn go Brách, bitch.
Margaret ‘s in a good mood as she receives a telegraph letting her know Nucky and Owen arrived safely in Ireland. Katie tries to be friendly and is agog about traveling to Ireland in just six days but Margaret snaps at her that they’re called “steam ships” because she still feels in competition with the younger woman.
Lillian comes downstairs to inform Margaret that Emily is refusing to get out of bed so it seems the girl didn’t have Scarlet Fever like I thought. (0 for 2 on those theories.) Margaret goes up to the little girl to get her out of bed and makes a light little joke before Emily says she can’t move. Margaret’s still not getting the severity of Emily’s situation and thinks she has a cold. Emily gets more specific and says she can’t move her legs, which panics Margaret.
The face of a woman who doesn’t know what’s about to hit her.
She pulls back the covers and frantically asks the little girl if she can feel her touching her knees then demanding that Emily wiggle her toes. When the little girl says she is, but isn’t, Margaret cries out for Katie to call the doctor. As Katie runs off Margaret runs to Emily to hug and comfort her little girl even though she’s more aware of how bad Emily’s situation is than the girl is. Aw, Peg. Just when things got good, they turned bad. I liked the touch of Margaret calling Emily cuishle (dearest) even though she’s never spoken Gaelic before. She’s reverting to her own “safe place” to keep Emily safe.
The young’uns, minus Richard but plus Mickey, are gathered in Jimmy’s sun room as a nasal Brooklyn twang yells out DAH-MA-DEE. It’s Capone bringing George Remus to meet them. Jimmy minds his manners for a change as George Remus shakes everyone’s hand. He doesn’t even get his nose out of joint when George Remus asks about meeting in his home. Jimmy does find George Remus’s habit of speaking in the third person as annoying as everyone else, but he presses on bringing up that he’s heard George Remus has government bonded whiskey to sell. George Remus likes money so he asks if Jimmy speaks for the group and Charlie, who can’t let their dick-measuring contest go for a second, says “In Atlantic City he does.” Well, since you’re in Atlantic City, zip it, Charlie.
Remus says he does have alcohol, but it’s strictly for medicinal purposes and this is when I remember that Coke used to have coke in it and things really were different before government regulations. Jimmy’s trying to be clever that there are a lot of sick people in AC, but he still sounds half dead so Mickey, in the most hilarious neck brace ever, agrees with him. Remus points out that he can only sell to legitimate drug companies but George Remus is not responsible for the liquor once it’s on the trucks. Jimmy must have taken some kind of medication because he just patiently asks how to find the trucks. That’s what George Remus is selling, so Capone says the five of them are willing to kick in $60K a piece for that information. George Remus likes the terms but wants the cash upfront and confirms that everything will be comped for the weekend because, as we know, George Remus doesn’t like paying his phone bill when he’s on vacation. Jimmy agrees.
Just because he nearly broke my neck doesn’t mean we can’t work together.
George Remus steps out to look at the ocean so the young’uns can toast to evil and that they can turn the $300K into $3 million, but little Lansky brings up the elephant in Philadelphia, Manny Horvitz. Horvitz still wants his money and he’s been nudging Luciano as well as Jimmy and Lansky just wants it dealt with. He thinks Jimmy should pay him while Mickey suggests bringing him in, but Jimmy says he’ll take care of it. And Jimmy’s been doing so well making his own decisions, lately. Mickey mockingly drags on his cigarette and calls Jimmy the “Grand Poobah” because nothing ever makes Mickey sweat. The young’uns discuss heading to Jersey City to see the Dempsey fight live and Lansky invites Jimmy to join them but Jimmy decides to stay in AC. Then he makes fun of George Remus’ habit of talking about himself in the third person because Jimmy still doesn’t believe in foreshadowing. Capone laughs because he a goon.
Darmody thinks Darmody’s losing it.
Back in Belfast and Nucky’s in an embalming room with his father’s casket. An extra chats him up in a decidedly Lucky Charmy kind of accent until that beacon of good humor, McGarrigle, comes down stairs with Owen. McGarrigle offers his condolences on Nucky’s misfortune, and wonders about coming so far to bury the dead, but Nucky just gives a look to Owen who opens the casket to reveal it’s full of Tommy guns. McGarrigle’s impressed and Nucky says it’s his “donation to the rebellion.” McGarrigle likes what he sees, but you don’t get to his position by jumping at the first offer so he says a dozen’s good but 100 is better. Nucky p’shaws him and says they have 3,000 at the AC Armory and he’ll trade the guns for all the Irish whiskey he wants.
It should be a win/win since they won’t have to pay for the guns and the distillers will have a venue for their alcohol, but McGarrigle is such a zealot that he gets self righteous with Owen saying “And that’s the kind of man you bring me?” like he wasn’t begging for a meeting with Nucky at the beginning of the season. Even Owen’s like “bitch, please.” Nucky points out that he had no problem with the type of man Nucky was when he came to Atlantic City way back in the second episode. But a zealot wouldn’t be a zealot if he ever considered all the internal inconsistencies in his behavior, so McGarrigle sloughs off Nucky with an “it will have to be discussed” and leaves telling Nucky he’ll send word. Nucky takes his peeve out on Owen wondering what’s up McGarrigle’s ass but Owen just says he’s a “flinty old geezer.”
You pompous, stuck up, snot nose, giant twerp.
Back in AC Old Man Thompson’s actual funeral is being held while Chief Investigator Lathrop watches through binoculars, even though his car appears to be about 100 feet away. Eli, June and their 300 kids are there as are Eli’s deputies including dim but faithful Halloran. As the mourners say a prayer over the old man’s grave, Lathrop seems satisfied with what he saw.
The doctor is finishing up with Emily and wants to know about Teddy’s situation. When it’s established that the children share one room the doctor kindly says to get him out, quickly and that the boy will need to be examined, too. Not thinking, Margaret wants the diagnosis immediately, even with Teddy standing there, but the doctor insists that the boy leave first. As Lillian leaves with Teddy, Margaret asks the doctor if it’s polio. He says there’s no need to speculate, but after he scared the hell out of her with the “get the boy out of here, NOW,” the least he can do is be upfront. So he confirms that Emily has all the symptoms and will need to be quarantined at the children’s hospital immediately. Margaret’s at a loss about what to do and being a practical woman lands on asking the doctor to take them to the hospital since she can’t drive. Yes, Peg. Keep thinking and maintain some normalcy before you fall apart.
Down at the Ritz, the Black kitchen crew is preparing lunch for the guests, handling beautiful, fresh produce and cleaning the fine china. Well, maybe not cleaning the china since it’s Dunn Pernsley’s responsibility so he’s just kind of slapping them around in the hot, soapy water. The manager is straight out of an olde timey villain store and refers to Pernsley as “boy.” He’s there to call lunch for the kitchen staff, and they have ten minutes to eat. Rather than give them the fresh food they’ve been preparing, the staff is fed from a stock pot full of what sounds like mush.
Top Chef: Atlantic City
Dunn Pernsley realizes he needs a couple of more scenes for his “dramatic” reel and starts bellowing about “I-I ever bite you, frie-end?” Even the day player cast to play the cook is wondering who the scenery chewer is, but Dunn Pernsley complains about the food. Then he launches into a speech about how the scraps from room service are better than what they get, and I like the continuity of his having a busted eye from the fight in jail. I just wish he’d dial down the “acting” to melodrama. He’s too much.
He’s not wrong, though, and starts in on the staff accepting the conditions without a fight calling them “Uncle Toms.” (Which would have been an accurate insult for the time. I checked.) A fellow worker tells Dunn to be happy he has a job, but Dunn isn’t giving up the spotlight to some day-player so he cheeses some more until the manager comes back. Pernsley continues on his one-man show sassing the manager who actually calls him “Pernsley” then goes off on a series of demeaning titles meant to put Dunn Pernsley in his place before he says that one more word out of Dunn, and he’s fired. Then he tells them to get back to work.
At the children’s hospital, Margaret’s watching as they’re prepping Emily for a spinal tap, and I’ve heard about the size of the needle they used but I sincerely hope this one is an oversized prop because my heart breaks for Emily at the idea of having that probe jammed into her tiny back. The doctor takes a factual approach with Margaret, which usually works, but when Emily starts calling for her Margaret can’t control herself. All she wants to do is hold Emily to keep her safe, but with Emily being contagious it’s the one thing the doctor can’t let Margaret do. Margaret says she doesn’t care about herself, but the doctor not unkindly points out that Margaret should consider the other people she comes in contact with. As Emily screams for her Mommy the doctor encourages Margaret not to watch. But she doesn’t leave and as they place the needle into the little girl’s back she shrieks in pain and Margaret’s heart is breaking and I can barely type this sentence because my eyes are a little misty. All that planning and she still can’t control everything.
Esther Randolph’s enjoying a post coital cigarette with Chief Investigator Lathrop and she really was a groundbreaker in 1921. She mocks his long, gnarly toenails which he equates with being an eagle, but she tells him that they’re “rather unpleasant birds.” Ooh, single attorney AND sexual harasser. She’s just at the vanguard. She turns on the light to read a file and Lathrop gets bratty over how cozy it is to be in bed with her and “Nelson Van Alden,” meaning one of his Nucky files. And I just noticed that Lathrop looks like what Michael Shannon would look like if his face were prettier but less amazing.
Randolph wonders out loud if Nucky’s the murdering type. Not directly. Lathrop lets his jealousy fly when he jokes that she may as well be reading the latest Black Mask. Randolph’s still intrigued about Nelson’s file, but Lathrop’s too busy being pouty and mocking the Prohie agents as not being real cops. Randolph just laughs at him. Lathrop rightly points out that Van Alden claims Nucky called for 12 murders with no supporting evidence, but they land on Hans Schroeder. Lathrop believes what he read in the papers about Hans being a bootlegger but Randolph notices that the information came from Nucky. Lathrop still doesn’t get Esther’s interest in using Van Alden, but she says they can use him to testify in the Volstead Act violations. Then she makes a joke about Nelson and Lathrop says “Good girl,” which tweaks her sense of importance so she reminds him that she’s the boss and walks off.
Lathrop tries to swing it back around and mentions that he went to Old Man Thompson’s funeral. Esther’s none too pleased that Lathrop waited to tell her until after they boned but he just licks his wounds that it’s hard enough to get her attention on a good day. Oh please. Esther’s rather put off and says to bring in Eli, who won’t comply, so she wants any cop to come in to answer questions. Then she “subtly” wonders what Nucky’s doing in Belfast.
May I remind you, you’re the bimbo in this relationship?
Why, he’s playing Big Man with a Gun, showing the IRA guys how the Tommy Guns work by blowing the shit out of a grandfather clock. The IRA guys are properly impressed. Owen passes around the gun while Nucky gives the specs. As one man fantasizes about what they could do with that many sub-machine guns, another wonders if Nucky invented them, since they’re called “Thompson” guns. Cute. Then a rather dour one, even by Irish standards, wonders how Nucky came by so many, and Nucky’s finding his groove telling them that the guns are American and so is he. Simple as that. He seems to be making headway with them, so of course, it’s time for McGarrigle to come by and shit all over him.
He claims that England is offering a truce and de Valera is on his way to negotiate. This news divides the representatives as the younger man, who was starry-eyed over the guns, thinks it’s not enough because the English will still have dominion. The older men want to hear out what the final proposal is, and Owen looks like he wants to garrote something. As Owen and the dour man make questionable eye contact, an older gentleman informs Nucky that McGarrigle’s youngest was killed in action recently, which probably explains his willingness to negotiate. As the men disperse, the older gent asks Nucky to join him for a drink. It’s the neighborly Irish thing to do.
Like a dark cloud on a sunny day.
Back in crazy town, Richard and Jimmy are sitting in Jimmy’s sun room. Showing that they’ll always be way more of a married couple than Jimmy and Angela, Jimmy can just FEEL something’s up with Richard and wants to know what it is. Maybe you don’t take him out to nice places, anymore. Maybe you don’t tell him he’s pretty. Wait. Actually, Richard’s put off by the party at Babette’s. Jimmy thinks he means throwing Mickey off the balcony and says it was a gag, but Richard wants to talk about Jimmy’s pep talk about his settling down with a nice girl. As guests arrive, Richard wants to know why Jimmy would make fun of him if they’re friends. Jimmy’s surprised and says he wasn’t making fun of Richard and his ass totally doesn’t look fat in those high-waisted pants.
Obligatory forlorn picture of Richard
Waxy Gordon’s there. Jimmy’s invited him to discuss Manny. Jimmy offers information on the two guys who were killed, Herman and Nathan Klein, the guy killed during the highjacking. When Waxy’s muscle comments that Nathan’s face was chewed off by a raccoon before they found him, everyone gets awkward because, you know, Richard. Jimmy says that Manny’s the one who shot Nathan and Waxy wonders how Jimmy knows. Jimmy doesn’t hesitate to say he was standing right there. When Waxy gets to the thornier subject of Herman, Jimmy just obliques that he should be careful where he orders his cutlets. Because saying “Manny made me slit his throat because he wasn’t kosher,” wouldn’t have flown. Waxy’s satisfied with Jimmy’s answers so he asks for a drink. Jimmy, treating Richard like the good wife, lets Richard get the mens their beverages.
Waxy mentions he was working with Nucky but Jimmy launches into his pitch about bringing AC and Philadelphia together and that he’s running things now but Waxy stops him to say that Alfred, the muscle, has some business to take care of first. Alfred tries to be clever, but Waxy lays it out straight. They’re going to kill Manny and he wants to know if that’s a problem for Jimmy. Jimmy could not care less
What Jimmy thinks 24/7
Margaret and the servants are clearing out the house of everything that might have been contaminated. She pauses briefly on Emily’s favorite doll but Margaret works best when she has a purpose so she quickly throws it in the basket with Emily’s bed sheets. As Lillian and Katie burn the items, Margaret watches with Teddy from the house. He wonders if Emily will die like their father did, and Margaret refuses to entertain that idea. She gets angry with Teddy for even suggesting it. And even though she’s really more angry with the situation, that poor boy can’t catch a break. Pauline the cook leaves the house with her bag because she has her own family and Teddy sadly watches Emily’s stuff go up in flames, as an artful shot shows her pretty little doll turning to ashes.
Nucky and Owen are enjoying a drink with the older gent in the cellar of his distillery. He’s sitting on a huge store of Irish whiskey and waxes on about how Fitzgerald whiskey has been in the family for 90 years but between the Rebellion and a bunch of American kooks his business is practically shot. Nucky suggests he give Nucky 10,000 cases on consignment, but Fitzgerald says that if there’s peace, he’s back in business. Owen lets Nucky know that’s December at the earliest (it’s July on the show) so they’re at an impasse since Nucky can’t afford to buy the liquor but Fitzgerald won’t go against McGarrigle.
Not even drunk, yet.
Esther Randolph is ending another unproductive meeting with Neary who takes a moment to bend dim Deputy Halloran’s ear before he sits down with her. Randolph is polite, if patronizing, but Halloran just smirks about lady lawyers. He really is dumb. Lathrop casually joins in the conversation saying they’ve also called Eli then they tag-team Halloran about whether Eli’s his friend or boss and why did Eli boot him as sheriff after the last election. Halloran says Eli had nothing to do with it, so they start in on confusing him about Nucky. Halloran says he keeps out of the politics. He just does his job patrolling the boardwalk.
Randolph uses this opening to ask about him doing his job on January 19, 1920 when he and Eli responded to a domestic disturbance regarding Hans Schroeder. Halloran’s too stupid to lie well so he gets squirrelly about the call, until Lathrop says they’re not after him, they’re after the people who boss him around. Randolph adds that they’re willing to do a lot for their friends, but Halloran has the loyalty of the foolish and refuses to speak further. Randolph excuses him with a “We’ll be sure to let Sheriff Thompson know you stood up for him,” in a way that makes Halloran even more squirrelly.
Chalky’s in his garage sharpening a woodworking knife when Dunn Pernsley shows up. Chalky’s wondering why he’s there and Pernsley smarms about how Chalky told him to come by anytime. Then they exposit about how they first met in the jail for viewers who missed that episode and that Chalky got Pernsley his “good job” at the hotel and wonders if Pernsley has any news for him. Pernsley tells Chalky that the manager threatened to fire him the next time he overacts and that the other workers are “simmering” and waiting for the word. Chalky goes back to sharpening his knives and dismisses Pernsley with a “So go on. Give it to ‘em.” Sneaky!
Time to go back to Belfast for John McGarrigle’s Judgment Hour for Zealots. He wonders about trading guns for liquor and Nucky plainly states that he doesn’t have the money to buy it. Then McGarrigle continues to be a pain in the ass wondering if Nucky even has the guns. Nucky proving why for all his faults he’s still the most capable gangster in AC calmly asks why McGarrigle would even ask. McGarrigle says all he’s seen is a dozen guns and a stunt. Nucky wonders if McGarrigle can really afford to send him home empty handed but McGarrigle didn’t get that gargoyle face by being easy-going or self-aware so he says it’s his lot in life.
Nucky shares a wary look with Owen then launches into Irish current events, explaining just how wrong-headed McGarrigle is being when he points out that the British are still being the aggressors with Ireland, still holding their POWs, still sending more troops to Ireland and threatening Martial Law. Nucky wonders what exactly they’ve offered in good faith? McGarrigle believes that now is the time to use diplomacy. Nucky points out that puts the Irish people at risk and McGarrigle says that’s a risk he’s willing to take. How noble.
And to think, people say I’m an asshole.
Nucky just lays it out and wants a quid pro quo for helping McGarrigle back in February. McGarrigle gets up on his high horse one more time wanting to know what their cause means to Nucky, trying to shame him, but Nucky’s past caring what someone like McGarrigle thinks of him so he points out that McGarrigle is down in that same gutter since whenever he needs the help he’ll think nothing of who he’s asking.
As Nucky leaves and Owen goes to follow, McGarrigle holds him back. He wants to know exactly what Owen does for Nucky and Owen non-answers that he does as he’s told, but he takes care of his own business as well. McGarrigle still likes his high horse and says Nucky’s only out for himself so Owen says he’s really more in his own war, but I can’t figure out what else Owen says because his mumbling and pokey Irish accent sounds like he says “darsh.” McGarrigle wants Owen to come back to work with him but Owen says he’s no peacemaker. McGarrigle does the hard sell telling him all battles end. Owen just non-answers that he’ll serve as needed.
Manny’s butcher shop is closed and he’s counting his take. A not-at-all suspicious guy comes up saying it’s an emergency. His kitchen pipes burst and he needs two chickens for dinner. I’m assuming they were ruined and he wasn’t just non-sequituring. Manny doesn’t want to open for just one customer but the guy’s a whining little pain in the ass, so Manny relents…just in time for the guy to run off giving Alfred a cleaner shot, which he totally whiffs. Manny tries to close the door but Alfred gets there and they scuffle but Manny punches the plate glass so he can drag Alfred in. They scuffle some more until Manny can grab the cleaver and plant it firmly in Alfred’s frontal lobe. Man, Jimmy’s going to be sorry when he hears about this.
This won’t end well.
Back at the Ritz and Pernsley’s ready to put the strike in motion. He’s appealing to the workers’ sense of injustice and low morale, pointing out how the white workers upstairs get paid ten times as much as they do and don’t have to deal with a fraction of their shit. The foreman’s still clinging to being a good employee, but Pernsley’s overacting is wearing him down. The manager shows up just as their resolve is set. He’s ordering the brigade back to work but they just sit there, letting Pernsley talk. As the manager fires Pernsley the other workers support him as he gets a good head of steam going and cheeses that they want a raise and a decent meal. One by one the brigade stands with Pernsley but it stays calm until the foreman’s finally had enough and throws his plate of mush on the floor. This prompts the other workers to throw plates and food and after a casual racial slur gets hurled by the manager it’s mayhem and a little silly because there’s no way to stage a food fight that doesn’t look hoary and cliché.
Nucky’s on his way back to America and McGarrigle takes a moment to be a dick. He says Nucky will land on his feet. Nucky’s not so sure. McGarrigle smarms about how Americans are all optimists but Nucky jokes “Not the Irish ones.” Nucky goes to get in the car but notices the dour Irishman from the demonstration. A nod from Owen let’s Nucky knows it’s safe. As they drive off we see McGarrigle walking in the distance as a gun fires and he falls to the ground. Dour Irishman just tells Nucky he’ll deal with him, now: a thousand guns for 10,000 cases of whiskey. Nucky’s over his shock and ready to do business.
I’d totally share a cab with this guy.
Jimmy and Richard are listening to the Dempsey/Carpentier fight in a full auditorium. As people take their seats at the end of a round, Jimmy notices that people all over the audience are staring at him. It tweaks him like you’d expect what with the failed attempt on Nucky so when a guy comes up the aisle with his hand hidden, Jimmy’s ready to shoot up the auditorium. He’s just passing Jimmy an ominous note that says “Watching you closely.” As round three starts, Jimmy’s vibrating but he notices that the note came from two floozies. They sweet-talk their way into the two aisle seats closest to Jimmy and he finally relaxes.
The staff at the hospital is also listening to the fight, leaving Margaret alone in the hallway. She uses this time to go be with Emily in her quarantine. As the little girl sleeps, Margaret strokes her hair and asks for forgiveness for what she’s brought on the child. She’s heartbroken and scared and just lies with her baby girl, and it’s all just too much.
So. Many. Feelings.
Back in auditorium and Jimmy’s relaxing into having two bimbos fawning over him. He asks if they came alone and tells them they shouldn’t be passing notes to strangers. When one says he’s not a stranger, Jimmy wonders if they’ve met but she says everyone knows who the “new king” is and Richard looks like he’s getting a headache. Jimmy doesn’t really care, though, as the women say they were at Babette’s. They make a joke about Mickey which puts Jimmy off, but as he’s trying to talk to Richard one of the women grabs and kisses him aggressively enough to push around Richard. Then the other tries to kiss Jimmy, but she sees Richard watching and stops. Jimmy gets offended on Richard’s behalf but when the floozy says “What the hell,” Jimmy figures his duty as a good friend is done and goes back to the other floozy. Just because he was sincere about helping Richard doesn’t mean he has a clue in hell how to do it.
Nucky’s waiting for his boat at the port of Belfast when Owen comes up with two telegrams. Nucky wants to know how long Owen knew McGarrigle and if he knew they were planning on killing him. Owen non-answers that nothing he could say would stop it and they got what Nucky wanted. Then he tries to be wistful saying he doesn’t live there anymore, but Nucky stops him, saying he doesn’t like secrets. Owen would do well to heed this.
They walk off and Owen reads the telegrams. The first is from Mensch letting him know his trial date is August 23 and the second is from Margaret. Owen reads aloud before he reads the whole content and says “Come home…” then stops. Nucky turns to look and Owen finishes that Emily has polio. So sad.
Watching Margaret face Emily’s illness alone was gutting and reminded me that no matter how awful she might be on occasion, she’s a tough little woman who’s acting on the fly most of the time and doing it to provide for her children. Her motives are pure even if her actions aren’t always. But seeing Nucky’s face at the end brought home how similar they are. They’re both pragmatic, sensible people who do what needs to be done. Things like polio are beyond their comprehension because they can’t make a plan to deal with a sweet little girl being paralyzed. Owen’s sealed his own fate by not telling Nucky about McGarrigle because Nucky won’t want another Jimmy in his midst.
Speaking of, Jimmy, a genuinely sensitive, if thoughtless, young man whose damaged, mercurial nature made him the absolute worst person to run a political/criminal machine is crumbling from the pressure. At a time when he needs allies, he’s burning through them, including Richard. And who knows what’s going to happen with the strike Chalky orchestrated.
There are only three episodes left and Jack Huston has promised that the ending is a humdinger, so any thoughts or ideas?
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