It’s a snowy, grey day in Chicago for Colosimo’s funeral. The outside of the church is packed with mourners, gawkers and reporters. Torrio is badgered by a journalist asking about implications that Torrio had something to do with the shooting. Torrio claims he and Colosimo were like brothers and that the shooting was a robbery. How come nothing was taken, the reporter asks before Al Capone backs him off with a, “Have some respect for the dead.”
The casket is loaded into a hearse, and wreath of white lilies and roses is placed in back with it. The ribbon reads “Keep with the Angels,” and the card is signed “Nucky Thompson.”
And we’ll be hanging with the devils down here.
In AC, Nucky’s reading a newspaper article about “mobster” Big Joe Colosimo’s murder and the chaos it’s causing in the Windy City. Hey, Chicago liked a good murder back in the day. Ask Velma Kelly. He gazes at a picture of his wife, sadly, and tells the man shining his shoes to watch out for his socks. Then he asks (Harland) if he’s a family man. Missing the one thing you can’t buy, Nuck? Don’t blame ya. Before Harland can start going on about his wife and four boys, Eddie rushes in announcing an Agent Van Alden… who rushes in right after to give himself his own introduction.
My name doesn’t sound right with an accent. Allow me to announce myself.
Nucky’s pretty taken aback that the dogcatcher has appeared right on his doorstep, but maintains enough composure to offer Van Alden coffee or something “stronger.” Van Alden’s a little pissed that he’s been waiting since 9am to see Nucky, and questions why the county treasurer wouldn’t keep regular hours. It seems that Nucky and the City of Atlantic keep march to the beat of their own drummer. So what’s Van Alden here for?
Well, he’s investigating the Saturday night shootings, and Nucky’s insincerely curious as to why. The architect of said shootings was thankfully found dead recently, so they can all rest knowing that ugliness is far behind them. Ah yes, Van Alden recalls. Hans Schroeder. A hun, Nucky interjects, half-hoping Van Alden is more of racist patriot than a law-obsessed patriot. He’s not, though, and starts to elaborate on Schroeder’s pretty spotless criminal record (one citation for public drunkenness). Nucky, pulling a mean “Dexter,” mentions that innocent people rarely end up dead in fishing nets with little to no explanation. Gambling, drunk-ass wife beaters do, though.
Nucky proposes that Van Alden should really be talking to his brother Elias, the sheriff, if he’s so curious about the shootings. When all he gets is a grunt from Van Alden, Nucky tries out the trite and true method of dealing with those who would question his incorruptibility – he asks if Van Alden has seen the “hottentot” (some kind of African sideshow), and offers to fix him up with a date if the agent is stag.
Or simply: Look! Something shiny! And sex!
Of course Van Alden sidesteps “temptation,” and revisits the topic at hand. He’s visited the Schroeder household, and Margaret’s not in. Does Nucky know where she is.? Now it’s Nucky’s turn to evade, not to save himself this time, but because he’s sure as shit not going to let Margaret go through anymore crap at the hands of her late husband. He pointedly wonders why Van Alden’s all up in his grill about the shootings when shouldn’t he be raiding another still? Van Alden simply smiles and says that perhaps, he too marches to the beat of his own drummer. The word, “shit” is painted clearly across Nucky’s face as the agent takes his leave without another word. Poor Eddie (Nucky’s own personal hun) enters immediately after and is berated for letting the agent through the door and ordered to get Elias on the phone. He utters a few “jas” in obedience, and I grow to love him just a little bit more. He’s like a puppy. A puppy that’s seen too much.
Out on the boardwalk, Jimmy Darmody, large package in hand, avoids a man handing out KKK fliers to passersby. It’s kind of hilarious how much they look and act like Nazis, all the while claiming to be a pro-American organization.
But then again, stupid people? Often funny!
Jimmy stops to admire a necklace in a window and heads in ostensibly to buy it with his newfound wealth. Hope you’ve put some of that away, my boy.
Nucky arrives in the lobby of the Ritz with Eddie and is immediately flagged down by some guy he can’t even place. Eddie informs him that the “sap’s” name is George Baxter and he sells cutlery to the restaurants. I love it when one word lets me know if I’m supposed to like or dislike someone on a television show. George Baxter? Dislike.
The portly man in a straw boater hat approaches and he and Nucky chat about how business is grand and about the lucky lady Baxter just picked up in Philly. He calls her over, and introduces her as Claudia, a little shy. A blonde chorine if I ever saw one, she immediately corrects Baxter and clarifies that she’s not especially shy, just sometimes. Like when it comes time to bone a gross guy who just took you out to a nice dinner? I have experienced much the same shyness. No judgment. Nucky hopes they have fun taking in the sights, and Claudia announces she wants to go roller skating, with all the certainty of a two year old. Not to mention the demeanor. Oh, George, you’re in for a rough and frustrating weekend. Nucky bids them well, trying not to roll his eyes to their faces and exits.
Does he have more money than you? I’m gonna need to know that before we go any further.
Onto a definitely less lively lady, we visit Margaret in the hospital. She’s reading The Ivory Tower by Henry James when a nurse reports that there’s a Mr. Thompson to see her. She rights herself and asks the nurse to give her a minute before sending him in. There’s a pretty blue ribbon in her hair and an expectant, if timid look on her face as her visitor enters. Mr. Elias Thompson, if you please. Uh-oh…
The scene is just as uncomfortable as you’d expect. Whatever Margaret’s feelings about her husband breaking out the size nines on her probably on a daily basis, she’s neither eager nor particularly willing to believe that he could have been responsible for the bloody shooting Elias says he is. Apparently he was never in trouble a day in his life. But he beat her, didn’t he, Elias asks. She stresses that he wasn’t a murderer, though, and Elias sickly counters that she just lost a baby didn’t she? Margaret has no answer for that, so the sheriff presses further. He asks if Margaret knew where her husband went when he left the house for something other than his lack of job, and she admits she doesn’t know. So he could have been going anywhere – and by anywhere, Elias is clear to say, he means dicking around with bootleggers and murdering gangsters. Margaret, having a serious issue standing up to intimidating male authority, wavers and agrees. The upper hand firmly… in hand, Elias makes sure that since she can neither confirm nor deny her husband’s involvement in the crime she should confirm it if anyone asks her about it.
Especially anyone with the last name Van Alden. That’s V-A-N A-L-D-E-N.
When Margaret balks at that, as well, Elias breaks out his classy guns and gently threatens to take her children away. He mentions the words child services, and I have to wonder just what the fuck they did back then. Aside from sending your child to work in a sweatshop, I’m pretty sure it was acceptable to do just about whatever the fuck you wanted to them from paddling their backsides with a massive wooden club to giving them uppers so they could perform vaudeville acts late night on the road. I’m looking at you, Momma Garland.
Anyway, the threat’s enough make Margaret look like she’s gonna play ball, so Elias hands her an envelope of money from Nucky, tells her to keep their conversation in the forefront of her mind and leaves. Margaret fingers the bills, which look significant, but isn’t nearly as happy about receiving this round of charity as the one she got last week.
Back in the Prohy den, Van Alden is character profiling Nucky for his boss’ edification. He describes Nuck as a County Treasurer who lives like a pharoh. The entire 8th floor of the Ritz belongs to him, he prances around in tailored suits, pees in crystal vases, eats dinner off of fine furniture while sitting on rare oil paintings, gets massages and rides around in a pretty blue Rolls Royce. That list was dripping with sarcasm the way Van Alden’s list was dripping with venom. Man has a BONE to pick with Thompson. He’s also sure to throw in that Nucky does all of this at the public’s expense. Now that’s just low. Nucky’s lifestyle is at the expense of highly illegal and highly profitable activities, that all benefit the public in the end.
Man’s no saint, but I’ll not have you besmirch and slander his character with vicious untruths, Agent Van Alden!
As for said activities, Van Alden describes Nucky as “corrupt as they come.” There’s a not a single piece of business that Thompson doesn’t get a piece of, nor a single public job that he doesn’t require a fee to hold. The alderman makes the collections and brings them to Nucky every week like clockwork. Now, the problem with Van Alden being such a snot nose as he details Nucky’s nefarious activities, is that we’re treated to a montage of Nucky making the rounds at the same time. And guess what? Everyone’s smiling from ear to ear as they hand him envelopes of cash. Van Alden’s boss is kind of on the same page as me when he asks how the hell Nucky keeps getting voted in? Well, Sir, you see, the people. They love him, Sir. “Especially the darkies,” Van Alden clarifies, voice-overing a scene in which Nucky’s handing out cigars to a bunch of busboys and encouraging them to vote.
Smart man. Kinda racist man, but smart man.
And this is all not to mention the less seemly businesses Nucky’s got his hand in – there’s whorehouses, casinos and even a wire service so he can have racing results at the ready. As for alcohol, it’s like Prohibition never happened – except that Nucky’s making more money off of it now than ever. Bossman reveals that they came down to AC to follow Arnold Rothstein – what’s with all this about Thompson? Van Alden is firm in his belief that Thompson is by far the bigger fish. I don’t know about that, but he’s certainly more interesting and far less creepy.
Finished with the above-board folk for a while, we head to a prison basement with Nucky and Elias. Nucky asks if Margaret was in good spirits. Elias answers that she took the money, but was a little defensive about her husband. Nucky scolds him for not leaving Hans’ body someplace some place that would have ensured it was identifiable – like the side of the road, as opposed to the ocean with all of its hungry, face-eating fish. Elias is a little ruffled at his brother’s patronizing rant and decides to wait upstairs as opposed to coming to whatever meeting Nucky’s having.
And yay! We’re here to see Mickey! He’s stuck in jail with an Asian guy who speaks no English, and doesn’t look to happy to have Mickey as a cellmate. Nucky greets his bootlegger with a, “You’re out, Mickey,” and Mickey does that awesome laugh he does and make to grab his stuff. Oh, but that’s not the “out” Nucky meant. Mickey’s out of the moonshine business because he broke the cardinal rule. He drank his own product? Nope, he got caught. Oh, and Nucky isn’t even going to bail him out because Mickey’ll bring the heat from the Feds.
Sucks to be you, Sir!
Mickey’s pretty fucking freaked about the idea of actually doing his time and sharing space with his cellmate, but he doesn’t seem to be murderously angry. More sad and hurt that he doesn’t get to play anymore. Nucky walks out advising Doyle to use his cellmate to broaden some horizons.
At the Darmody household, Jimmy patiently awaits his wife and son’s return, and when they do, shouts, “Merry Christmas!” They’re having a belated celebration pretty much because the Christmas that happened a month ago was pretty suckola. He claims Nucky gave him a bonus, and he didn’t want to wait for next year to lavish his family with presents. Also because he has pretty much no idea where his next paycheck is coming from, so it’s get while the gettin’s good time. He’s decorated an old tree someone threw out (gross. Also sweet.), got a truck for Skeesix and a… BRACELET for Angela? Who did he get the necklace for?
You’d better not be stepping out on Angela, Boyo. She ROCKS.
Angela admires the bracelet, but is still a little put off at how much money her husband must have spent on it. Smart lady. But before she can ask too many questions, Jimmy whips out the piece de resistance – a vacuum cleaner! Angela’s way more excited about her husband giving her a cleaning tool than I would be, but I guess it is 1920 and sweepers were like, the magic erasers of their time, so I understand. Excited, Jimmy flips the switch and the machine turns on, totally upsetting his son. Angela takes kid away from the noise for a nap, and the camera stops on Jimmy, wind removed from sails.
In New York, Arnold Rothstein is methodically playing a game of pool in his apartment. He looks like a sick scientist with a particularly juicy dissection ahead of him. Like kitten or a deformed baby or something.
This is Rothstein unhappy, and it’s fucking freaky.
Luciano arrives with Frankie Yale, a man who’s just returned from Chicago. He was there visiting (murdering) a friend (Colosimo). The gentlemen get a drink as Rothstein continues to play pool. Lucky looks on as Rothstein begins to tell a story about a man whose name he can’t remember who made a living frequenting billiard halls betting that he could swallow different, weird objects. Billiard balls were his specialty, so one day, Rothstein challenged the man to a bet: $10,000 in cash to swallow a billiard ball of Rothstein’s choosing. This is going nowhere good. The man agreed, and Rothstein gave him the cue ball, which the man promptly tried and failed to swallow, choking to death in front of Rothstein and the entire pool parlor. What Rothstein knew and the man didn’t was that the cue ball was one sixteenth of an inch larger than the other balls – just too large to swallow. How embarrassing for the man who made a living swallowing weird shit!
Rothstein almost sweetly asks if Mr. Yale can identify the moral of this story. The hit man answers, “Don’t eat a cue ball?” I think that’s a little too obvious to be a moral, but it’s funny. Rothstein corrects Frankie and clarifies that the moral, in fact, is that if Rothstein is willing to allow a total stranger to die simply for his own amusement, what does Frankie think will happen if he doesn’t fess up about who paid him to knock off Colosimo? All Frankie can do is take a drink right then, and I don’t blame him for a second.
Everybody’s so fuckin’ serious nowadays.
It’s back to Jimmy as he and Angela are indulging in a little afternoon delight with their son sleeping across the room. Uh, squick? Couldn’t put little Tommy on the couch for an hour…? Anyway, Angela pulls them to a halt at what I’m assuming is the moment of penetration explaining that it’s not a good time, and they should do something else. Natural family planning rears its ugly head. Jimmy protests that he doesn’t mind, but Angela’s all, “I have to take care of’em AND push them out. I decide when have another one.” Jimmy awkwardly and kind of sweetly proposes that they could do it the “French way,” and before I can begin to contemplate the myriad possible meanings of that, Angela nervously clarifies that he wants her to put her mouth “down there.” She gives him a sweet kiss and begins to head south, as Jimmy lies back and tells her about all the times he would think about her during the war, and “it would get so hard.” Then Tommy wakes up and spoils everything before we can get to a really good love scene. The couple springs apart and Angela offers to make Jimmy a steak in place of the lovin’ he’s surely not getting anytime soon, but he refuses. He’s got something he has to do. Like see a mistress who doesn’t have a kid sleeping in the same room?
Looks like it, because here’s where he heads next:
Lovely ladies, going for a song, got a lotta callers, but they never stay for long…
It’s some kind of showgirl rehearsal that Jimmy looks in on. It’s not going very well, and the camera stops on one cutesy blond that Jimmy’s focusing on. Really Jimmy? Your kid interrupted your blow job, so your wife offered to make you a steak, and this is what you do? You need to make better life choices! The rehearsal’s not going very well, people are missing sound cues, and whatnot, so the director orders everyone to take five. The girls head to the dressing room, and Jimmy waits inside, hat in hand, totally nervous and excited. If he weren’t stepping out on a hot artist who’s still a willing housewife in the 1920s, I’d say he was cute. But I’m just too mad at him approve of any of this. About four girls walk in, then the blond that was center stage enters. She sees Jimmy and jumps into his arms. She can’t believe he didn’t write, she thought he was dead, she plants kisses all over his face. It’s very sweet. Apparently he’s been back a month and didn’t come and see her. He was busy. Ah, the life of a second fiddle.
But then something totally fucked up happens. He pulls out the necklace we saw him admire at the shop earlier in the episode and gives it to her. She totally freaks out, and he says, “Come on, calm down, Ma.” That’s right.
Mother and son!
So weird! That’s Gretchen Mol, by the way, if you didn’t know. And she is nine, count them, NINE years older than Michael Pitt. It’s episode Number Squick this week, Folks. Oh well, I guess aside from the obvious fact that his mother must have been some sort of prostitute and or sex maniac when she was like, 13 or something, learning this bit of information does make Jimmy less of an asshole. Now he’s just a guy bringing his stripper mother a pretty necklace. She tells the other girls that she had one just like it from his father, and Jimmy immediately interjects that he doesn’t have a father, and she sold it to keep a roof over his head. He tells that he promised he would get back someday, and how he has. She whispers that just having him back is good enough. Once I got over the uncomfortably romantic physical relationship Jimmy and his mother seem to have, this whole scene actually became pretty sweet.
Next stop, Nucky’s chambers! Jimmy gingerly steps off the elevator and heads into his Nucky’s office. He goes to poor himself a drink, and Nucky flips his paper down and asks just what the hell Jimmy thinks he’s doing. Looks like the old, “I’ll just pretend there’s nothing wrong and surely there won’t be,” method of avoiding punishment isn’t going to do the trick this time. Jimmy mumbles that it’s 4:30 – he’s clocking in. Nucky points out that their relationship has changed pretty significantly in the past few days and he wants to know what the hell went wrong on Saturday night. Jimmy explains about Al and the deer and all the mayhem, and Nucky balks at the fact that deer were apparently what caused Jimmy to kill four men. Jimmy argues that it was actually five and Nucky spits back that no, it was four. I have a feeling that’s going to be an important point later.
Jimmy apologizes, explaining that they couldn’t leave any witnesses once things got out of hand. Also, none of the job was ever supposed to get traced back to Nucky. Well Nucky has news for Jimbo, it has been traced back to him. There was a fed in his office that very morning asking questions about Saturday night. Jimmy looks like he’s about to vomit right then and there until Nucky assures him that Van Alden walked away with nothing of import. Then Nucky gets down to it. Jimmy doesn’t work for him anymore – a choice Jimmy and no one else made. Also, if Jimmy wants to be a gangster, he can feel free to do it, but he will pay Nucky for the privilege. Apparently his end of the liquor deal was a little light when factoring in the visit from the Feds and the assfucking of Arnold Rothstein (his words, not mine, fyi). Jimmy owes Nucky $3000 and has 48 hours to get it. I’m guessing that spending spree Jimmy went on this morning is not being recalled fondly at this moment.
Stupid fucking truck. Had to buy my kid a stupid fucking truck.
It’s back to Chicago, then as we follow Eddie Corgan, Chicago Tribune reporter from Colosimo’s funeral into Al Capone’s joint. Playing barkeep, Al asks Eddie what he’d like, and Corgan answers, “A whiskey and a statement on the record.” This request confuddles Al, who just gets annoyed at the crazy word games this douche is playing. Yeah, Capone’s a wacko and all, but he and I have the same taste in reporters. Eddie gets his whiskey and starts fishing for clues about Torrio’s supposed involvement in Colosimo’s murder. He’s going to publish a story about it, and Capone wonders why he would do such a thing. Somewhere, deep, deep, deep within layers of Eddie’s psyche, a flight or fight response is triggered and ignored. This is what happens when people move out of nature and into the big city. You lose touch with handy animal instincts like the predator detector. Eddie confirms that he’s going to run with the story and playfully asks Al if he’d like to make a statement. Al would, it would seem! Eddie whips out his pen and Capone whips out a whiskey bottle to bash over Eddie’s big, fat head. Then he pops around the bar to kick. The . Living. Shit. Out. Of. Eddie. It’s brutal folks, and our future tax evasion convictee is enjoying every bit of it.
Because Al Capone was a motherfucking psycho.
Back in AC, Nucky receives another phone call from Rothstein, which he finally decides to take. Not before an hilarious exchange between him and Eddie, who’s freaked out about being a chauffeur without the proper head gear. Love Eddie. Rothstein quietly explains that the liquor he was set to receive from Nucky never made it to New York. Hm, interesting, is about the size of what Nucky can get out convincingly. Rothstein’s willing to let the “misunderstanding” slide, and $100,000 should cover the loss. Nucky’s all, “What? Bitch?” and Rothstein presses on, finally getting real and pointing out that it was bad enough Nucky sold the load to Chicago, but his sister-in-law’s nephew was one of the drivers. So there. Nucky doesn’t give a flying fuck and pretty much tells Rothstein so. Rothstein asks if this is how Nucky does business, and Nuck shuts him down, tell him that if Rothstein wants to know how he, Nucky Fucking Thompson does business, he should try showing his face in Atlantic City again.
In the immortal words of Ricky Bobby: That just happened. That JUST happened!
Jimmy pops home and snags a leather envelope from behind the radiator. Ah, loot storage. Of course there isn’t enough to cover what he owes Nucky, so he has a moment of serious panic before Angela wanders out and he has to put on a brave face. He tells her to go back to bed, and she does, but it’s yet another exchange between him and his wife that illustrate just how epically creepy he’s become to her.
The next day, Agent Van Alden pays a visit to the widow Schroeder. Margaret’s just gotten home from the hospital to face her big, empty house full of people dependent solely on her, so she’s not really in the mood to be fucked with. She takes a ribbon out of her hair as she investigates the damage Hans did to her face, when there’s a knock at the door. Agent Van Alden announces that he wants to speak to her about her husband, and she lets him in. She nervously shows him to a table, most likely trying to recollect exactly what Elias told her to say, and Van Alden just watches as she cleans up and refuses to meet his eyes. When she does sit down, he offers condolences for the fine and decent man her husband must have been. He goes on to say that he believes Hans was framed when it came to his supposed involvement in the shootings on Saturday night. Margaret feigns ignorance of pretty much the whole situation, but all Van Alden has to do is mention Nucky Thompson’s name for her to become undistinguishable from a frightened kitten.
(Irish) Meow (Baroque)
We cut to Nucky on the Boardwalk as he comes upon George and Claudia in the worst rickshaw ever:
I know we’re in a recession, but seriously, what if this was your job?
Nucky greets the couple with a mixture of dread and friendliness, and they reply in kind. Claudia whines for some saltwater taffy, and George annoyedly whips out some cash to feed her habit. As soon as she goes inside, he complains to Nucky that after an evening of steak, theater and champagne till dawn, she’s given up not so much as a smooch. That’s why you snag prostitutes, Baxie. You are not cute enough to lock down sex with dinner. Nucky’s just as confused as George – Claudia looks like sure thing! I’m still not sure of the point of this sidestory, it’s either comic relief or illustrating Nucky’s charitable nature as he invites Claudia to a beauty pageant he pretends he and Baxter are judging (that oughtta loosen her up). Or maybe this is just Nucky Thompson’s life – begrudgingly appease anyone who can fill your coffers. No wonder he lives in the Ritz and enjoys the finer things in life. I would imagine kissing certain asses all day would leave a bad taste in his mouth that could only be washed out with champagne and lobster.
Rock Bottom, thy name is Jimmy. Having used up all of his moneymaking creativity on the one heist he managed to complete earlier that week, the only option Jimmy can think of is calling his good buddy Al in Chicago. It doesn’t go well. First of all, the operator takes forever to connect them, and when Jimmy finally does reach his “friend,” it’s all Al and a prostitute can do to not actively laugh Jimmy and his request for help off the phone. Jimmy manages to humiliate himself just enough for Al get his rocks off and pretend to lose signal. Guess phones haven’t evolved very far in 90 years. People are still up to the same tricks. Sorry, Jimmy.
Can you hear me now?
Nucky’s facing his own dressing down as he makes his cash delivery to the commodore. The cash is cold – did Nucky walk there? Nucky ignores the question and announces that he let Jimmy go. It was time the kid got out on his own. The commodore agrees that maybe it’ll be good for him. Probably not considering his main problem-solving strategy is committing crimes in front of witnesses and then killing ALL OF THEM. The two men drink some cognac and talk about their mutual stressors. One of which happens to be politics and the value of the women’s vote. The commodore is less than excited about the prospect of females voting, even if it means that a candidate sympathetic to their “cause” could get elected because of them. He laughs off Nucky’s endorsement of the women’s vote and calls in his maid, Luann. He proceeds to humiliate her in front of Nucky, asking her her thoughts on such as the League of Nations (she doesn’t know what that is) and the Harriday Act (holiday?). She sadly apologizes, explaining with a considerable amount of dignity that she’s not versed on these matters. She exits (without permission, mind you) and the commodore comments that THAT’S the women’s vote. Luann is so elegant in her admission that I want to break the commodore’s glass of cognac and shove it in his pants for screwing with such a nice, wise lady. Ugh, racism combined with chauvinism is U-G-L-Y.
You ain’t got no alibi.
Aaaand boobs. Jimmy’s returned to his mother’s theater. I know this because there are two girls who are running around topless waiting to go on before we ever see Jimmy Darmody lurking in the shadows. Ugh, and he’s there for exactly what I think he is. As soon as the girls exit the dressing room, Jimmy opens up his mother’s door and lifts the necklace. Ouch. That’s a pretty big piece of soul to sell, Babe.
Now onto Van Alden, Jimmy’s brother from another teetotalling mother. I say this because at the end of this scene, it will become clear that Van Alden has just as many issues as Jimmy, but has confined them to a legal platform. He sits alone in a cheap motel room writes to his wife about ways to avoid frozen pipes. To be fair, he does mention that he and the Lord hope she is well, but after that, it’s all instructions for weather conditioning mild affections. He signs the letter, “Your devoted husband, Nelson,” stubs out a cigarette with peculiar force and removes Margaret’s blue ribbon from his desk drawer. He puts the ribbon to his nose and inhales deeply. Uh-oh…
He DOES march to the beat of his own drummer. His own, creepshow drummer.
At Margaret’s, she stares sadly at the kitchen table it’s now her sole responsibility to fill with food. Her two children, in much better spirits than when their father was around, come out, giggling hysterically at her youngest daughter’s attempt to walk in her father’s giant, and now empty shoes. But as adorable as they are, Margaret can barely crack a smile at yet another reminder that she is now alone.
Back at Nucky’s Lucy’s lounging in a bubble bath advising Nucky to get a mustache just like Douglas Fairbanks. Nucky rolls his eyes and makes a comment regarding Fairbanks’ questionable sexuality, but Lucy languidly counters that he’s all man. Nucky smokes a cigarette and tries to remember how good she is in bed when Eddie pokes his head in. It seems Margaret’s dropped by. Contrast!
Nucky greets Margaret kindly and asks where her children are at the late hour. They’re with a neighbor – she apologizes, but it was very important that she see him. They sit down, and Margaret reveals that she cannot accept his charity. Nucky doesn’t understand a) why she can’t and b) why something like this couldn’t have waited till tomorrow. That’s because you have a much more flexible moral code than Margaret does, and why you like her so much. Margaret looks at the money like it really is covered in her husband’s blood and explains that she doesn’t know what the money is, what it’s for and it weighed to heavily on her conscience.
Margaret may be naïve, but she’s no rum dum.
Nucky kindly takes Margaret’s hands and tells her he knows what she’s going through, with the death of her husband. She asks about his wife – was she very young? Caught a little off-guard, Nucky answers that yes, she was young. Young, beautiful and very loving. Margaret offers to keep her in his prayers and Nucky’s touched by the gesture. She begins to explain that when she came to him initially, it was to find her husband a job. When she mentions that she was a parlor maid back in Ireland, Nucky interrupts to ask, “With these soft hands?” and immediately makes Margaret uncomfortable. She pulls her hands away, glances down and says that her point was that she’d not come to see him requesting alms. Nucky hilariously pulls out the Christian card and points out that it was the charitable thing to do. Then Miss Margaret throws out a curve ball and quotes Georges Sand to him. “Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who give it.” Hm. That might be my new inner mantra the next time I ignore an exit ramp pan handler. Nucky questions the reference and they have a sweet exchange about the library in the house where she worked and all the books she read while she was there.
Having finally achieved some sort of mutual respect and common ground in an ivory tower of their own, Margaret reveals the charity she will accept: a way to provide for her children. She throws herself on the only mercy she ever will and tells Nucky she’ll do whatever he wants. All he need to is name the task. He gives her a long look and asks her, simply, to vote.
And a Nucky/Margaret shipper is born.
And after that beautiful, beautiful scene, it’s back to George and Claudia. Ho-hum. Can’t all be wine and roses, I guess. They’re sitting in George’s room, and Claudia’s fighting off his advances. He begs for just one kiss, but she’s not that kind of girl, she protests. Well, what kind of girl is she, he wonders, waspishly. The kind of girl that’ll slap that tone right out of your face, Sir! That’s exactly what she does, and George decides it’s time to make use of his headlamps and take her back to Baltimore that very minute.
We just keep getting more degenerate as the episode comes to a close, and we arrive at a casino, where Nucky’s drunkenly telling some bad jokes to “friends.” Jimmy arrives, hat and $3000 in hand, and pulls Nucky aside to give it to him. He doesn’t need to count it. Jimmy asks if they’re square and Nucky smiles, “As a block of ice.” And just as I think Nucky might be feeling magnanimous after his conversation with Margaret, he tells Jimmy to hang out with him at the roulette table. Uh-oh. There’s that fight or flight response getting squelched in Jimmy as he follows. Run Jimmy, you don’t wanna be here for this. Nucky puts the entire $3000 grand and that little piece of Jimmy’s soul on black and runs the wheel. Red. “Guess it’s not my night,” he quips to Jimmy, before leaving him behind to think about what he’s done.
The episode draws to a close on George and Claudia, our couple of inexplicable importance, as they drive away into the night. George is busy listing off all the reasons Claudia should give it up – the fancy restaurants, the presents, the blah blah blah things other girls would give their eye teeth for. Claudia, for her part, looks like incredibly interested in the nighttime scenery as George vents his frustrations. And really, why shouldn’t she? She got a vacation, presents and a ride home, all for the bargain price of FREE. At some point she does get pretty tired of listening to George’s babyfaced whining, and tells him to pull over. Just after they’ve passed the same New Jersey sign Rothstein’s men did right before they came upon a fateful fakecident. Hmm, George and Claudia are beginning to positively STINK of relevance as they pull over and she begins to give him a handjob. George gets out a few really disgusting grunts and “oh yeahs” before Claudia lets out a scream to rattle the heavens.
A man covered in blood stumbles upon the hood of their car scaring the bejeeeeezus out of both of them, and it seems clear that it was five, not four. Jimmy was right.