Fade in on a bunch of happy poor people listening to Al Jolson as their laundry dries on lines strung between two buildings. We’re at Van Alden’s apartment as he’s aggressively buttering his toast and saying a silent prayer over breakfast. His peace is broken by Lucy dreamily slurring “It was kicking again.” Is she so pickled that she wakes up drunk?
Van Alden doesn’t take kindly to Lucy calling the baby “it” so he reprimands her but Lucy doesn’t care. She’s going stir crazy living in that dingy room with a block of wood called “Nelson.” She mentions that a neighbor came by and invited them to dinner, and my, how the mighty have fallen. She used to go to Babette’s every night with Nucky and now she has to beg to go to dinner down the hall in a tenement. Nelson reminds her that he’s paying her to sit in the apartment all day and stay out of sight. He’s a catch.
Do you ever not look like…that?
Lucy points out that it’s just a simple dinner with conversation and some music and when she mentions the neighbor has a “vv 80” you’d think she said they have a devil baby by the way Nelson responds. He tries to leave for work but Lucy is in her third trimester and getting really agitated and when she points out all the things she used to do Nelson says, and I quote, “Yes I’m sure between ordering murders and rigging elections Nucky Thompson showed you quite a time.” For a humorless prig he’s got a mouth on him. Lucy has a mini-fit saying she can’t live like that and Nelson points out that once the baby is born she won’t have to. So she’s basically selling herself to him as his incubator. Lucy gets off a slurry, blowsy dig telling Nelson that at least Nucky’s fun. That one seems to land.
And here we are with Fun Nucky, resplendent in his silk jammies and robe. Still looks like Steve Buscemi, though. He’s pensively looking out the window as Margaret comes up looking like Rose Van Alden and telling Nucky she’s returning some items to La Belle Femme. She says she has no need for them but Nucky isn’t having it so she says that “under the circumstance” she thought they should conserve their resources. Nucky, showing he didn’t get a reputation for being a profligate spender for nothing, says that under the circumstances they should just keep spending like there’s no tomorrow because Image is Everything. Like he’s Andre Agassi, only with more hair and less acid-washed denim. Margaret has one final twinge so Nucky tells her they’ll be fine but Nucky is wandering around the house in his pajamas. He might not be the most reliable source. As Nucky leaves Margaret looks at the mail and sees a letter from the Pinkerton Detective Agency. She looks like she wants to vomit.
I wonder if it’s good news.
Down at the casino, Fleming’s stopped by to pick up Nucky’s take but the envelope is practically empty. Fleming does his best to sound tough when Lolly the owner points out that it’s a little light. Fleming calls it a “dirigible” which he probably thought was clever until Lolly mocks him for working really hard on that zinger. Fleming asks what he should tell Nucky, but Lolly just says “Ask him why I had to hire this mick when I ain’t got no booze to sell,” which fair point since Owen’s working as a barkeep. Owen just lights his cigarette and doesn’t seem to take offense to Lolly’s casual ethnic slurs.
Fleming’s still hectoring Lolly about the light take so Lolly launches into the biggest “duh” speech where he explains that everything in the casino business revolves around drunken patrons either drinking their losses away or celebrating their wins by getting tanked and then losing because they’re too drunk to make good decisions. No booze equals no business. Fleming points out that a delivery came in not too long ago, but it was bootleg crap and even that’s running low. Fleming’s still loyal to Nucky and tells Lolly it’s hard because Nucky’s fighting for his life but Lolly could not care less. He wants quality booze asap, and if he doesn’t get it from Nucky he’ll get it somewhere else.
Oh, never you mind me. I’m too runty to be muscle.
At the yacht club the Commodore, Jimmy and Eli are meeting with Nucky’s supplier, explaining that he’ll still be dealing with all the same people, so it’s just a passing of the baton. When the supplier, Bill McCoy, points out that the baton is just being passed back to the person who passed it to Nucky in the first place, the Commodore’s like “Don’t be a dick, Bill. I’ll get the liquor, may as well be from you.” McCoy continues to bait the Commodore but the Commodore isn’t biting. McCoy walks off without a deal. Jimmy asks what the next step is and the Commodore says they’ll call the Coast Guard. How…common.
Segueing over to the Ritz with Nucky and some Eddie time as he nudges and fidgets over a pushy visitor. With an inexplicably dramatic zoom it’s just Capone, visiting like we knew he would from last episode and all the season previews. Eddie’s none too pleased so he takes his leave to make coffee, stopping briefly to register his dissatisfaction. Capone doesn’t give a damn because he’s Capone and after some brief, awkward small talk, he informs Nucky he’s in Atlantic City with a message from Torrio that “he wanted to deliver personally.” Nucky refrains from calling him an ignorant goon, like he would if Eli said it, and Capone starts explaining why he’s there, but Nucky tells him to just give the message, which is that Chicago will no longer be buying their liquor from Nucky.
Heh. I’m an asshole.
Nucky incorrectly assumes it has to do with his arrest but now it’s Capone’s turn to be all “don’t know, don’t care,” and that it’s not personal. Nucky figures that Torrio’s got a new supplier but Capone smarms that he’s not saying that. Tired of going round and round with this halfwit, Nucky tells Capone that he’ll find out eventually so Capone finally lets Nucky know that his friend, George Remus, will be bringing it in directly from Canada so George Remus can sell it to Torrio. Capone takes out an envelope stuffed with money as a “token of good will,” but when Nucky’s inscrutable Capone asks what he should tell Torrio. Nucky just gets all butt-hurt and says that the next time Torrio has something to tell Nucky personally, to tell him in person. Capone’s like “Fine by me,” and pockets the envelope.
On his way out, he asks after Jimmy, and Nucky gets even more butt-hurt, telling Al to ask Jimmy himself. Then Nucky fishes to see how things are in Chicago but Capone just talks in clichés until Nucky asks how Torrio handles the competition. Capone says jokingly but not really, ‘We’re killing ‘em.” Still a creep.
Eddie Cantor drops by the tenement to visit Lucy, who’s still wearing her black lace maternity peignoir and looking rough. I don’t know how much more of sad, lonely, and pregnant Lucy I can take. I’m missing the loudmouthed boor who asked if Schroeder was Irish for “bitch.” She looks so young and so lost now and feeling sympathy for Lucy seems wrong.
A little hooch won’t hurt ya.
Cantor’s trying to cheer her up with jokes and booze. Works for me, not so much for Lucy. Thinking he offended her, Cantor apologizes but Lucy points out that seeing him makes her sad for all she’s missing. Cantor still not getting it tells Lucy rather sweetly that a baby is everything in the world and that Papa will be over the moon when he sees “that kisser.” Lucy lets Cantor know that the father’s married and Cantor asks with due foreshadowing if it’s “Mr. Mueller” because that’s the name on the mailbox.
As Cantor pours Lucy a drink (it’s the 20s y’all) she shares her sad tale of how she ended up with Nelson in Ocean City and it’s just so damn sad listening to Lucy tell Cantor that Nelson’s paying her and taking care of her and she just wants to feel important. Paz de la Huerta is never, ever supposed to break my heart, people. STOP THIS.
Cantor gives Lucy a cigarette to go with the scotch and Lucy asks him to tell her about vaudeville. With Lucy’s mood picking up (FINALLY) Cantor goes back into performer mode telling her about a new show he thinks is a bore, and he just happens to have the script with him. It’s about a showgirl who wants to marry a rich man. Lucy’s rebounded and briefly flirts with Cantor before she reads the episode show title, A Dangerous Maid.
STOP THIS! LIKING LUCY DOES NOT COMPUTE!
Jimmy and Richard drive up to Jimmy’s house and hear a frog croaking a tune in Italian. Turns out it’s just Capone singing to Tommy while Angela sits with them and it’s very sweet. When Capone sees the men, he greets Jimmy by fake punching him in the gut and all the happy horsing around makes Richard sad.
Since no one wants to break the internet again with a million gifs and pictures of sad Richard, we switch to Jimmy complaining that all Nucky needs to do is step aside and Capone being Capone assumes Nucky’s going to step aside “like Colosimo” by getting a bullet to the head. Jimmy says it’s a political coup. But those are SAT words and Capone never graduated from Highlights so he’s all “What?” Jimmy explains the plan because it hasn’t been explained enough and when Jimmy says Nucky will be in jail by the fall Capone says “Why not have Frankenstein just drill a hole in his noggin?” Richard, in cold-blooded sniper mode, calmly says he won’t do that. Capone gets aggressive and dick-swingy but Richard just cocks his head to the side and spooks the hell out of Al. Then Jimmy and Al toast to how perfect everything is going for them because it’s not like they’re on Boardwalk Empire.
How to win friends and intimidate jerks with a well-timed head tilt.
After some bonding and small talk about their families Jimmy excuses himself to help Tommy and the sweet scene between father and son darkens Al’s mood, reminding him that his own son is deaf and they won’t have these moments. Al’s near tears when Richard asks about Odette. Al snaps out of his funk by telling Richard that “She’s a whore. That’s how she is.” All class, that one.
Eli comes home to his rambunctious brood and has a moment of fun with the kids before June scurries him up to his father’s room to clean him up. Eli’s like “Can I at least hang up my coat?” but June wants him cleaned and changed now because he’s old and probably smells like liniment. So Eli trudges upstairs and pours some warm water to wash his father and change him into his pajamas. Still the golden ray of sunshine, Pops shows Eli the story about Nucky’s arrest and calls it bullshit. Eli just wants to change the old man and get out of the room so he forges ahead and Pops is all “I need to be ready in case your brother needs me.” And like that, Eli’s about to go into Jan Brady mode and whine NuckyNuckyNucky, but manages to be sweet to the old man, telling him he needs his rest. Pops still on a tear tells Eli he needs to look out for his brother but when Eli says Nucky can take care of himself. Pops gets all agitated and tells Eli “You need to help him. You can handle things. But Eli? He has no goddamn idea what he’s doing.” Geezers say the darnedest things.
Nucky! Nucky! NUCKY!
Margaret’s in bed and looking through her letter from Pinkerton. It’s immigration files of a man and three girls and the letter lists an address in Brooklyn. Margaret is visibly upset by the news. She hears Nucky come home, hides the documents in her nightstand and picks up her book. Nucky comes in the room and they chit chat about Chalky making bail but Margaret doesn’t have a poker face and Nucky asks her what’s wrong. She lies and suggests it’s the book but she’s even worse at lying to him than she is at hiding her feelings. Nucky comes to her side of the bed to have her remove his cuff links and gives her a moment before he starts asking again if she’ll tell him what’s wrong. She tries to deflect by asking about his troubles but he blows off her concerns with an “I’ll do the worrying for the both of us.”
Realizing she’s not going to change the subject, Margaret tells Nucky that her brother and sisters are in the States, in Brooklyn, and gives him the package from Pinkerton. Nucky notices that this doesn’t seem to be good news, and asks Margaret what she plans to do. She’s unsure because her leaving wasn’t under the best of circumstances. Nucky does what Nucky does best and paints a blue sky future and tells Margaret that when everything blows over he’ll take the whole family to Paris. She says she’s happy in AC but Nucky sweetly says he appreciates that but it’s important to always have something to look forward to. Aww.
Where are the happy, dancing Irish stereotypes like in Titanic?
Back to Jimmy’s beautiful beachside house for some creepy motherboy bonding as Gillian gives Jimmy a manicure and some tips on how to behave during his dinner with the Commodore and the Governor. Gillian’s being very complimentary toward the Commodore and the whole situation so Jimmy has to point out the black cloud around his silver lining, again, by reminding her she used to call the Commodore “The Lech.” When she tries to deny it Jimmy counters that she did and he remembers because he had to look the word up. Angela comes into the sun room as Gillian sweetly explains that she grew up and forgave the Commodore while massaging lotion into Jimmy’s hand and creeping Angela out. Jimmy says by Gillian’s logic he should forgive Nucky. Angela asks for what which breaks Jimmy out of his reverie and he snaps “Nothing.” Angela walks off wondering how the hell she ended up in some V.C. Andrews novel when V.C. Andrews hadn’t even been born, yet.
With Angela gone mother and son continue their inappropriate bonding as she thanks him for “defending her honor” and massages his hands. Jimmy wonders what’s up with the Commodore’s hair then leads into telling her about Capone coming to bury his father who was a barber which got Jimmy wondering if he wouldn’t be better off with a simpler life. Gillian, showing another reason why she’ll never be Mother of the Year, tells him that’s nonsense because “He’s a born leader.” Even Jimmy starts to wonder just how cracked his mother is, so he asks her what she is and Gillian says, coquettishly, that she’s just a woman who loves her family.
Just your average Motherboy manicure.
Lucy’s having a good time for once reading through the showgirl’s lines when Nelson comes home to quash her fun. He asks her what she’s doing and she adjusts her fur coat over her peignoir and says “Nothing.” Nelson’s confused by Lucy’s behavior and is completely unfamiliar with a script but that doesn’t stop him from acting superior and wanting to know what Eddie and Lucy talked about. As Lucy talks to Nelson like he understands the concept of “entertainment” he asks her if the words on the pages are for the actors to recite. It’s like he’s a big, wooden alien.
Lucy wonders if he “ain’t never seen a show,” and he hilariously tells her that his aunt took him to a Christmas pageant in 1894 and his parents never spoke to the aunt again. Lucy tells him petulantly that he doesn’t know what he’s missing. So Nelson asks her if she “wishes to appear in this spectacle,” and Lucy loses it, telling him through drunken sobs that yes she does because she’s going (more) crazy. Nelson walks her back to her bedroom and says it can’t happen because she’s with child and it’s both a sacred charge and a financial agreement so sucks to be you, Lucy.
Your eyes leak and it confuses me.
Over at the Ritz, Fleming is explaining to Nucky everything Lolly told him, and Nucky takes it well, telling Fleming that they have three boats coming in that night with scotch, rum and rye and to tell Lolly to stay calm. Eddie interrupts to tell Nucky that the Attorney General is on the line and Nucky has to bum rush him out because Fleming’s not the brightest bulb and Nucky realizes he needs more than just loyalty from an alderman.
Nucky starts schmoozing the Attorney General, Daugherty, verbally glad-handing him over his new gig. Daugherty asks what Nucky wants, because he’s a politician and no one just calls to congratulate you on your new job. Nucky tells him about the charges and asks for a favor and Daugherty’s all “Yeah, about that.” Nucky reminds him that he kept Harding’s ditzy mistress and illegitimate child under wraps and Daugherty’s still like “Yeah, cheers. Thanks a lot, but can’t help you with that election rigging since it was a state election.” Then he asks Nucky to come stay at the White House. Dick.
Heh. I’m an asshole.
We head on over to New York and Rothstein because there hasn’t been enough creepy this episode. Luciano and Lansky walk into a restaurant where Rothstein is already dining with Masseria. Rothstein brings up Lansky’s gang and informs the young men that Masseria considers the game to be on his territory and “before more blood is shed” they need to reach a compromise. This “more blood” comes as a surprise to Lansky and Masseria explains that the two goons from last week, his nephews, were killed in Tompkins Square Park. This is news to Luciano and Lansky and Lansky starts tap dancing about how they run a game but no violence. Luciano backs him up and says it was a coincidence but Masseria doesn’t believe in coincidence then calls Luciano trouble since he was ten.
Rothstein “brokers” the deal that they will pay Masseria a one-time fee of $2000 for the families and a 10% tax on the game going forward. Luciano starts twitching but Masseria agrees to the deal. Then he starts harassing Luciano in Italian for working with Rothstein and throws around some ethnic slurs, I guess never realizing that Lansky speaks Italian, as we learned last week. Luciano gets heated but with a gentle “Charlie” from Rothstein keeps his cool long enough for Masseria to check out Luciano’s junk and snort. Didn’t he see that episode last season?
Ah, yes. Now I remember you from last season.
With Masseria gone, Luciano and Lansky ask Rothstein what’s the deal. The money was fine but why make them give up 10% of the game when they’re already giving him 50%. Of a game he allegedly didn’t know existed. Rothstein gets oblique and says “Now you know why” and leaves. He’d get punched ten times a day if he weren’t so rich.
Time for Mickey the Roach. This time he’s giving information to Nelson about a speakeasy for Nelson to raid. Nelson insists on calling him Kusic and Mickey says it’s Doyle now because he’s “already been arrested under the new moniker.” When Nelson suggest he arrest him again and see if it sticks, Mickey’s all “Kusic works for me.” As Nelson pays Mickey for the information, Mickey asks casually if there’s a chance Van Alden would sell him back the confiscated liquor. Van Alden takes it well and asks if Mickey’s admitting he’s a bootlegger. Mickey isn’t a roach for nothing and just giggles that he can’t figure Nelson out, until Nelson takes a quick glance at a picture of a naked woman on Mickey’s wall. Mickey doesn’t realize he’s skirting close to dangerous territory and says “So that’s what you like.” Nelson says he’s a married man and not interested in that sort of woman and Mickey just says “Treat a queen like a whore and a whore like a queen,” and giggles. Nelson’s duly repulsed by Mickey and takes his leave but stops to ask if Mickey thinks Nucky is fun. Even Mickey has no answer for that.
I’m on a show with Dabney Coleman and I’m still the biggest creep around.
A quick swipe to the tenement where Lucy’s looking at her naked, pregnant body and sobbing because we’ve gone a long time without feeling badly for her.
But we swipe back to Margaret where she’s having Katie call her family in Brooklyn. Katie’s nervous so Margaret tells her to ask for any occupant of apartment 2A. While they wait Katie asks if it’s a friend and Margaret says a relation. Before Katie can get any more information someone comes on the line and she asks about Peggy Rohan but is cut off immediately. Katie hangs up and informs Margaret that Peggy Rohan died twelve years ago. Margaret walks off, upset by the news.
Will you accept a collect call from Flushing?
Nucky’s still staring meaningfully out of windows and I begin to wonder if maybe he should stop and get some work done. Eddie comes in to tell Nucky that Mayor Bader came by to invite him and Margaret to dinner. Nucky wants to blow it off. Eddie starts to leave when he sees the phone on the floor. He tries to replace it but Nucky hasn’t nonsensically berated Eddie this episode so he yells at the valet to leave it. At that moment, Owen walks in asking for a moment of Nucky’s time. Nucky’s like “May as well.” Owen starts by thanking Nucky for the job at the casino, but as has become Nucky’s wont, he just rashly assumes Owen’s there about the booze delivery. Owen’s like “Whatever, I’m here to offer my thuggery and intimidation skills.” Nucky feigns not needing those skills but Owen knows better. Before Owen can leave Eddie comes in to let Nucky know that Bill McCoy’s ships have been seized by the Coast Guard. Owen leaves before any job offer is made, but it’s implied.
Another quick swipe has Katie bringing towels to the upstairs linen closet and spying on Margaret sobbing in her bedroom. Because it’s been a while since we’ve felt badly for Margaret.
And on that happy note, we’re back at the tenement as Lucy considers throwing herself down the stairs to abort the baby. Just as she’s ready to step off the landing a delivery man comes by with a delivery for “Mueller” from “Mr. Mueller.” Nelson bought Lucy a Victrola and a record to listen to while she’s stuck in the house. Aww. The wooden statue grew a teeny, tiny heart.
My eyes are leaking and it confuses me.
Margaret comes down to the servant’s quarters to see the staff laughing and boozing it up. They hop to attention when they see her but she just tells them to pour another round, and for her as well. Margaret’s losing it and asking the staff to call her Margaret and that Katie should thank her lucky stars she wasn’t born in Ireland and Nucky comes down just in time to tell her they’re going out to dinner with the mayor.
Nelson comes home and hears Jolson through the door. Lucy’s swaying in her own world listening to the music and Michael Shannon’s stoic face registers about 15 different thoughts and emotions as Nelson tries to process a woman like Lucy and how easy it was to make her happy and he actually manages to look…sweet?
Thank god we’re at Babette’s. The Governor has arrived for his dinner with the Commodore and Jimmy, glad-handing his way to the table. As the older men smarm Jimmy shows that he’s clever enough to hang and all is well until Nucky and company show up. Even Babette knows this won’t end well and the mayor suggests another restaurant but Nucky insists they stay. He catches the Commodore’s eye and we go back to the schmoozing.
Gentlemen? To evil!
Nucky fumes as the other men laugh and as one last offer to go to another restaurant is rejected, they place their order. When Nucky learns that the Commodore not-at-all symbolically got the last Lobster Thermidor, he storms over to the table, throws the plate on the floor and tells the Commodore he’s eaten his last meal at Babette’s. Jimmy tries to calm Nucky, but Nucky’s on a roll threatening everyone, but he’s mostly hurt by Jimmy betrayal. The Commodore tells Jimmy to meet Nucky’s eyes and through a smoke haze Jimmy’s warm feelings toward Nucky have turned cold again.
Nucky and Jimmy glare and accuse until Nucky tells Jimmy he keeps his promises and promises to ruin him and everyone at the table. When the Commodore calls Nucky a child, Nucky calls him an expert on children then tells Jimmy he didn’t even know Gillian’s name. Just pointed to her and the rest was understood. This finally gets Jimmy’s back up but the Commodore talks him down and Nucky goes back to his table. That was intense.
More inappropriate interaction with the parental figures.
Lolly’s going over the booze delivery with Richard when Owen comes running around back to tell Lolly that he won’t be taking the delivery because he works for Nucky and Richard is not one of Nucky’s men. Richard’s getting fumey and wants to know if he’ll take the delivery but Owen says they won’t. Then he goes after Richard asking him if he was a soldier and who he’s fighting for now. Like one crook is better than another. Owen tells the extra to reload the truck but the extra decides to get tough and say he doesn’t “take orders from some Paddy.” Owen responds by head-butting the extra, punching another, and then pulling his gun on Richard who already had his gun drawn. Richard’s standing there like he’s waiting for a bus and Owen’s breathing hard and a little nervous wondering why Richard didn’t shoot him. Richard placidly responds he may still. So Owen pleads his case saying he has no quarrel with Richard they’re just not buying his liquor. Richard considers all his options then drops his gun. No skin off his nose…oops.
Music leads us to Jimmy’s house where he’s drinking, smoking and brooding when Angela comes in. She asks him how his dinner was with his father and he moodily asks which one. Despite having every reason to leave his tired ass, Angela hugs Jimmy and kisses him which seems to comfort him but he’s pretty much in a fugue state and she goes to bed.
Nucky and Margaret come home and as Katie comes to take their coats Nucky kisses Margaret. She’s pleased and he says he never wants to see her sad again. Then he asks Katie to lay out his suit for the next day and walks off. Margaret’s in a good mood so Katie asks what happened at dinner since Nucky’s also in a pleasant mood. Margaret just says “Good night, Katie,” forgetting that she supposedly dropped those airs earlier that evening. As Margaret walks off, Katie grabs Margaret’s wrist and says she knows Margaret is Peggy Rohan. Margaret goes cold but Katie doesn’t pick up on that and says she’ll never tell, like they’re BFF’s. Margaret looks at her wrist like she wants to cut off Katie’s hand just for touching her and after the young maid lets go, Margaret icily tells her that will be all and poor Katie scurries off as Margaret climbs the staircase, pausing long enough to let us know that she is freaked.
So we know a little more about Margaret coming to the States and that it wasn’t under positive circumstances since her family is saying she’s dead. Jimmy’s all conflicted about which crook of a father figure is better (or worse) and is any of it worth it. And how the hell did Nelson and Lucy become sympathetic?
Any other thoughts or ideas about this episode or where the season is going?