The theme of all things Oz continues in “The Emerald City,” this week. The Emerald City, Dorothy’s anticlimactic brass ring. The city the wizard ran, not by making everything green or out of emeralds, but by making everyone wear green glasses… Interesting thought to take with us on the way to the season finale in two episodes. How much of the good that Nucky does is simply a smokescreen for the bad?
Pay no attention to the ledger behind the curtain…
We open on a beautiful scene by the beach, set to what could be ballet music – lilting, sweet, no vocals – and a couple walks along the shore. It’s Richard and he has his arm around Odette, the “lady” Jimmy set him up with the day they met. They seem impossibly happy, probably to do with the fact that Richard’s dreaming, and he has the handsome, perfect face to prove it.
It’s even better when his hair’s long – check out “Shrink” if you wanna see what I mean.
He watches Odette run along the beach ahead of him, simple peace and pleasure written all over his unscarred visage, and then smiles as she runs back to him. But suddenly her smile turns into horror and she begins to scream, with the voice of another overlapping her own.
It’s Emily, Margaret’s daughter, who’s screaming at the sight of Richard who’s been sleeping on the couch with his mask off. He tries to comfort her, rasping for her not to be afraid, which of course practically makes the three-year old pass out in fear, so he retreats to the couch covering up his face and reaching for the mask. It’s heartbreaking, the entire time he’s apologizing, and you can barely hear it because Emily is screaming and crying that loudly.
Trust a three-year-old to make the asshole move.
Margaret rushes downstairs followed by Nucky throwing on his robe (Richard must be her bodyguard for the moment), and it becomes immediately apparent what’s happened. Margaret isn’t nearly as tactless as her daughter, but she’s not happy about the incident, that’s for sure. She’s also probably not happy that she has to have a bodyguard in the first place due to all the criminal activity of her man that she’s not supposed to know about. All she can do is pick up Emily, throw a fearful look Nucky and Richard’s way and rush out of the room. Nucky sighs and snits, “As if we aren’t on edge enough around here?” Sensitive man, that Nucky Thompson. Richard humbly explains that the mask isn’t comfortable to sleep with, and Nucky just looks at him, frustrated, and walks out. Richard apologizes quietly once more, to himself.
Oh man, I just want to crawl through the screen and give him a hug. Mask on of course.
Another man with a face issue – covered in egg – is Agent Sebso (not Sepso, like I initially thought). He’s being debriefed by Agents Elliot and Van Alden, and it’s not pleasant. It’s a little funny, though, given that he’s got a little bindi in the middle of his forehead from hitting himself in the head with a rock. However, he’s doing his best to sound remorseful about his “mistake,” but at the same time making said mistake sound so innocent that he’ll be able to keep his job. The story goes that Billy had to “make water,” and the kid threatened to pee his own pants inside the car if Sebso didn’t let him out. Nelson, of course apoplectic at the destruction of his case against Jimmy, shouts that Sebso should have let him! Elliot warns Nelson to hold it together and Sebso continues his tour de force performance. He had to go too, what with the several cups of coffee he had and Manhattan being four hours away. So once they both got out of the car, he unlocked Billy’s cuffs -breaking protocol, Elliot interjects, and Sebso agrees, but if he hadn’t let Billy out of the cuffs, he would have had to undo Billy’s pants and… “Touch his Johnson with your bare hands,” Elliot finishes.
I’ve been there, Sebso. I’ve been there, and I don’t ever wanna go back…
He sounds grave and a little understanding (also hilarious), but Nelson sure as hell doesn’t. He spits that Sebso wound up killing their witness over an issue of modesty. He’s cut off by Elliot once more and told that his ass will be 86ed from the operation at hand if he doesn’t shut the fuck up.
Nelson tries to hold it together, but his eyes get pretty fucking beady when they stare at Sebso. For his part, Sebso is trying like a madman to look remorseful, and it seems to read to Elliot, who exonerates him on the grounds of self-defense and gives him a week leave to get some rest. Well, that worked out well – cover intact, and a surprise vacation! It’s all Nelson can do not to hop over that table and wring Sebso’s neck, and something crosses his face as Sebso leaves that makes me think Nelson’s a little suspicious of his agent’s constant “bungling.” In case I haven’t said it before, Nelson is seated in the “crazy, not stupid” section.
And Sebso’s in the “makes me giggle with that dot on his head” section.
As Sebso leaves, Elliot lays into Nelson for the embarrassment Billy’s murder has caused the department, and Nelson humbly takes full responsibility. But Elliot doesn’t give him the pat on the back he was expecting – instead he agrees wholeheartedly that the entire thing was Nelson’s fault. Van Alden was told over and over again to drop the Darmody affair and focus on more visible arrests and seizures, but noooo, had to nail Thompson. Van Alden protests that Billy’s confession is a direct link to Thompson, and he can question Darmody again, but Elliot tells him the confession is useless hearsay and Jimmy’s been released due to lack of evidence. Van Alden protests once more the value in pursuing the murder and Elliot, FINALLY at his limit, throws the case file across the room shouting that Nelson’s bungled the whole thing from the start.
Finally without words, Nelson’s quiet and Elliot tells him that he has one more chance to do something in AC, but if he blows it, he’ll “be tracking down moonshiners in the Everglades.”
He looks freaked out, but is it just me, or does that sound like way more fun…?
I think the thing that frustrates me most about Nelson isn’t his creepy, uber-religious, single-minded conservatism, but the inherent stupidity that almost always accompanies such personality traits. If he were willing to see that the Bureau IS NOT INTERESTED in doing the right thing, but way more interested in doing the popular thing, I feel like he’d be better equipped to throw them a raid every once in a while but still keep time for his own projects. It’s just too all or nothing with Nelson, and I think that’ll be his undoing.
At the Darmody place, Angela’s painting a beach scene wistfully wishing it were boobs as Jimmy gets dressed. He’s a little more tentative around her this morning, perhaps out of embarrassment at getting arrested the day after he came home. He tells her not to stop for him, and she tells him there’s coffee. Tommy’s with Gillian for an ice cream. Wink, wink. Jimmy compliments her painting (the skin tones are nice) and tells her he likes her other one – the lady with the flowers. She’s surprised he noticed, and he hangs back, telling her that after two weeks in the trenches, he used to forget there was anything beautiful or civilized in the world. I wonder if Angela gets tired of hearing war stories every time she and Jimmy are about to have sex. Oh well, it was a really nice way of telling Angela that he appreciates what she does. Jimmy moves behind her and she gives him not the brush, but the palette knife, guiding his hand on the palette. She shows him how to mix the paint, but that’s about as far as they get before they make sweet painty love on the kitchen table.
Inexplicable as ever…
At Margaret’s, she and Nucky are using the table in a far more civilized manner by having breakfast on it. Margaret happily announces that after Tennessee ratifies the 19th Amendment, women will finally have the right to vote in America! Nucky’s unhappy that the decision rests with a backwards southern state, and tells Margaret he doesn’t want her to get her hopes up. Before she can process his sudden lack of optimism, Richard announces (from a distance) that Nucky’s car is there. Nucky says he’ll be there in five minutes, and gets ready to leave. Having waited until the last possible minute (as I would have) Margaret asks about Richard. She doesn’t mean to be cruel, but insensitive’s okay – he frightens her children. Nucky, acting like he’s been in Richard’s corner all along, gently scolds that the man’s a war hero. I also think Nucky hasn’t really had need for bodyguards beyond Eddie before now, and Richard and Jimmy are all the muscle he’s amassed over the years.
Margaret posits that perhaps she and the children should go away for a bit until the sheriff’s department finds the men who tried to kill Nucky on the boardwalk, but Nucky insists that it isn’t necessary. Besides, he’d miss them too much… awww… Margaret smiles at him, touched, and asks if this is what it means to be in charge – people shooting at you?
Among other things.
Nucky believes that being in power one attracts enemies – just as Margaret will learn when the women get the vote. And when Margaret tries to use some of her power against Nucky again.
In New York, the D’Alessio’s are getting their own Elliot-style dressing down in front of Rothstein and Lucky. Rothstein speechifies (softly, which means he’s really pissed) that nowadays, information is becoming more and more readily available – stock prices over the ticker, news on the radio minutes after events have occurred – marvelous! That makes information a pretty serious commodity. Does Mr. Doyle know why Rosthstein is so good at gambling? Mickey tentatively answers, “Because you’re lucky?” Channeling Elliot, Rothstein grits his teeth, tells himself that the monkeys’ll be gone soon and responds, cocking his head to the left that, “No, he’s Lucky.”
It’s not luck that Rothstein utilizes, it’s information. He doesn’t bet on a single outcome that he’s not sure of. He creates his luck. Leo pipes up, “Like the World Series – you put the fix in.” I facepalmed for him when I saw that. Time and a place, Vinnie! Rothstein practically squeezes his desk to sawdust and moves onto call the entire assassination attempt full of total incompetence. Mickey bitches about how in hell he was supposed to know Eddie was carrying a gun.
I know I’m not usually on Mickey’s team, but I see what he means.
Rothstein slams the paper down and screams at Doyle to find out if the other man has heard a word he’s said. He’s heard it, he just doesn’t understand it, AR. Rothstein lays out that not only did a woman get shot, they’ve tipped his hand to Nucky. Lucky stares at the floor for that last bit, praying that Nucky and Rothstein don’t come face to face anytime soon. It looks like AR’s about to have the four men tossed out back and shot, but then a manservant brings him his cake (“Devil’s food?” “Yes.” “Good, you may live.”) and he calms down for a second. Just long enough for Leo to promise that he’ll put a bullet in Nucky’s head himself – and this time it’ll be perfect! Rothstein’s not convinced, so Leo goes even further – yes they had bad information (from Mickey, a guy they already want to kill), but this time THIS TIME it’ll be flawless! Isn’t there anything they can do to convince AR?
And now for the “Is that Irish for bitch?” line of this episode: “Nothing says ‘I’m sorry’ like money.”
One time zone over at the Four Deuces, Torrio’s sitting down to a meeting wondering why, if there are so many people in Chicago and therefore, so many men, why aren’t they making more money? His three lieutenants have nothing offer in the way of an explanation, and neither does Al, who’s sitting off to the side at the bar, laughing with a friend. Annoyed Torrio asks if he’s listening, and Al shoves his comic books under his desk, sits up straight and answers, “Yes, Mr. Torrio. You’re worried about the money, and two+two=four.” Torrio rolls his eyes, and then a Mr. Jake Gusick is announced. Torrio greets the “beer baron” warmly, and gets handed a fat envelope from the brewery. Torrio ribs the guy good naturedly about his weight, and the two men sit down to be yet another example of the historically fruitful partnership between Italians and Jews.
Or crime and faithful accounting. A rose by any other name.
Torrio wants to talk to Jake about expanding, and Al hands his boss a cigarette while the older man explains. As far as Torrio’s concerned, the “homo side” of things is way open, but before he can get into what I can only assume would be a very necessary exploration into the history of homosexual prostitutes of the 1920s, the cigarette Al handed him explodes in his hand – POP!
Goes the ambience.
Everyone laughs (Al the loudest), but Torrio of course. It was a loan from the joke shop – Al just wanted him to have a laugh. Torrio, sick to shit of the immature bullshit Al pulls on a regular basis, throws his coffee cup against the wall and screams that he’s in a fucking meeting! All Al can do is look chastised, but it’s pretty clear that he doesn’t grasp that it’s his failure to live up to his own potential that’s pissing Torrio off the most. Basically the only thing Al has learned here is to not hand Torrio joke cigarettes while he’s doing business. I wouldn’t put it past him to pull a pie-in-the-face gag in about ten minutes, and have no idea why Torrio takes a shot at him.
You can rap his knuckles, but he’s just gonna be stupid someplace else.
Everyone gets quiet, and Torrio calms down enough to tell Jake they’ll talk Saturday at his son’s Bar Mitzvah. Then he turns to Al and tells him “this ain’t no fucking grade school.” Sunday school, maybe, but no grade school!
In AC, Nucky and Jimmy are having a cup of coffee to delicately talk over the “Richard Harrow Situation.” Nucky doesn’t have anything against the guy, but let’s face it, he’s grotesque. Well, that’s what happens when you mix shrapnel with face. Jimmy uselessly explains that actually, it’s a vast improvement over what he used to look like before the surgery. I’m sorry, I’m trying to be sensitive, but…
Nucky points out that a four-year old isn’t exactly equipped to appreciate the silver lining in this case, and orders that Richard keeps the mask on at all times when he’s in the house. Jimmy agrees and Eddie announces that Mickey Doyle is here to see Nucky. Shocked, at what I can only assume is Mickey’s stupidity, Nucky agrees to see the man, but tells Jimmy to frisk him. Eddie offered first, but despite his excellent marksmanship in the previous episode, Nucky still prefers to have the trained hit man handle his defense. Jimmy complies with glee and Mickey’s shown in. I get all atwitter when there’s a Mickey scene. This guy is dumber than a box of really dumb rocks, but he’s the kind of stupid that has balls. And that’s a stupid I can get behind because it’s usually hilarious. Take this scene, for example:
Mickey announces that he comes to Nucky hat in hand (then removes his hat), but he got rattled when Nucky took away his operation. Nucky pours himself a drink and tells Mickey that now’s the time to pick himself up by the bootstraps. Mickey agrees, but he had partners, you see? The D’Alessio brothers!!! My glee matches that of Jimmy’s and Nucky’s as they clarify that Mickey is indeed partners with the D’Alessio brother of Philadelphia…? Why yes, the very same! Mickey’s still wondering at what a small world it is when Nucky throws him against the wall and starts choking the shit out of him.
HOW? CAN YOU BE? THIS STUPID????
Mickey’s sorry, and Roger Rabbit’s that he swears he didn’t know what they were planning! Jimmy joins the fray with a gun pointed to Mickey’s head telling him he’s not half as sorry as he’s gonna be. Then Mickey plays the trump card he always seems to have (even if he doesn’t see the broader value) – information. He can tell Nucky and Jimmy everything they want to know about the D’Alessios, and Nucky has basically no choice but to angrily offer Mickey a drink and let go of his neck. Jimmy snits that he should piss in it, and goes to the liquor cart.
The formalities out of the way, the gentlemen sit down to talk. Jimmy spits in Mickey’s drink, and hands it to him, a little revenge for the pilot episode. Mickey goes down the list of things the D’Alessios have been responsible for in recent months – all things he was partially responsible for since many of the crimes were perpetrated in an effort to get them the money he owed them – hitting up Chalky’s, robbing O’Neill, robbing the casino, etc. Nucky grates that they also shot his brother, and Mickey, finally serious, admits he knows. What he also knows is that gangsters are gonna shoot him. He may not have looked it, but he’s been well-aware of the D’Alessio’s disdain for him from the beginning, and he knows his number is up. Then Mickey gets to the good part – Jimmy asks how Luciano fits into the whole thing and after the requisite dig at Gillian, Mickey spills that Luciano has a kid named Meyer Lansky who approached Chalky awhile back with a fake bribe. It was fake because all Lansky wanted to know was how many bottles Chalky was moving. Lansky’s Luciano’s boy, and they’re all in AC getting their sticky little fingers wet on Rothstein’s orders. Nearly every aggression Nucky’s endured the past few months has been at the hands of one Arnold Rothstein.
Nucky frowns and tells Jimmy to get Chalky on the phone, but Eddie’s on the line. Before Nucky can verbally cut his balls off some more, Eddie announces that it’s just come over the wire – women have received the right to vote! How’s that for a game-changer?
Margaret appears unaware of the change in her fortune, as we head to her house to find her sitting in the parlor reading The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to Teddy and Emily. Richard cautiously approaches, but stops and turns around when the children get visibly uncomfortable.
I have to believe that children growing up in a town that featured freakshows as one of its main attractions would have been taught to behave a little better in the presence of one of said freaks.
Margaret’s conscience finally overtaking her own discomfort, she invites Richard to join them for the reading. Very pleased to do so, he cops a squat across from the kids who still look a little skeeved. Margaret resumes reading and gets to a passage about the Tin Woodsman. Richard’s listening closely, and when she shows him a picture of the character, he smiles (…ish) and says, “That’s me.” The kids don’t get it, so he taps his mask, tells them he’s the Tin Woodsman and it feels like he needs some oil. The kids laugh and ask Margaret if it really is him. It is, she answers, he’s directly from Oz and there couldn’t be anybody better to guard their home.
Hearts will never be made practical until they can be made unbreakable, but he’d like one just the same…
Van Alden’s in his room, rifling through papers and going over the Thompson/Darmody/Schroeder case. He looks at a photo of Lucy, then an article about Nucky, then finally that soulful photo of a young Margaret taken when she immigrated. He tosses all of it aside and generally looks like he’s at the end of his rope.
Bet NOW you wish God saw fit to allow humans to relieve tension sexually.
Back at Margaret’s she’s getting ready for bed as Nucky pops a bottle of champagne in celebration. They both have a glass and toast to the vote, then Nucky starts in again about Margaret coming to speak on the new Republican mayoral candidate’s behalf at the League of Women Voters lunch. Margaret doesn’t look particularly comfortable making a speech about how wonderful a man with no political experience, and who just owns a construction company would be as mayor for AC. Nucky fires back with the fact that Andrew Johnson was a tailor or something before he was president, and Margaret hilariously points out that Andrew Johnson got his ass IMPEACHED. Because he hates it when Margaret’s right about shit like that, Nucky just pouts and maintains that that’s not the point. Margaret asks what she’s meant to say, and Nucky tells her she should just blather on about change being good and the city’s ready for it and blah, blah, way to provide guidance, blah. If my boyfriend underestimated my morals and intelligence by actually proposing I be a mouthpiece, it’d behoooove him to be mighty specific in what he wanted me to say. Who knows what would fall out of my mouth once my selective Tourette’s set in?
Nucky does mention that she should toss in bits about how they’re presiding over the “new Republican party” and that the cronyism, incompetence and violence is a thing of the past. Margaret believes this about as much as she believes in magic silver slippers, and it’s obvious. She points out that while they’ll get a new mayor, Nucky’s job will remain the same, and he’ll control Bader just as he controlled Bachrach. Nucky protests innocently…
…that he doesn’t control anybody (just their money), but he does provide a continuity of leadership (based on threats and money) that the people crave and the city needs to do business in the long-term (so everyone can keep making money). He argues that the democrats would be starting from scratch, and that wouldn’t be practical for the city. If Margaret agrees, it doesn’t change the fact that Nucky’s asking her to lie about someone’s qualifications, or complete lack thereof. He soothes her by telling her what she is doing is a necessary evil and that it’s not only important for the people of AC to help get Bader elected, it’s important for her, too. I don’t know if Nucky mean to imply that Margaret’d be out on her ass if she didn’t make with the speechin’, but it sure seems that way…
You only want me for my untested public speaking skills!
The next day, Angela, Jimmy and Tommy are spending a beautiful summer day on the boardwalk. They pass the (INCREDIBLY CREEPY) incubator exhibit, and Jimmy tells Tommy that that’s where he and Angela got him – he was cooked up in an oven and when Jimmy and Angela passed him in a window, he looked just right. Tommy, showing more intelligence than either of Margaret’s children correctly guesses that Jimmy’s foolin’ and runs off down the boardwalk. Towards the photography studio!! He stops in front, and when Jimmy catches up to his spry, sneaky son, he picks the lad up and Tommy points to a picture of Mary and her husband and sells out his mom in four little words, “That’s mommy’s kissing friend.” It takes Jimmy all of five seconds to go completely REDRAGE, and he barges into the studio to kick the shit out of… Mary’s husband! He totally got the wrong idea, and now Mary’s douchy husband is getting the crap kicked out him by mistake. But I can’t say I mind, too much.
Guy was a dick.
But Angela and Tommy are understandably upset, and she keeps begging him to stop as a crowd gathers. When it becomes clear someone’s going to try and stop him from doing any further damage to Mr. Photo, Jimmy weilds his bat and explains that Mr. Photo slept with Angela (his wife) when he (Jimmy) was away at war. That seems to be enough explanation for everyone, and Jimmy keeps on keepin’ on. So we’ve got our Wizard, our Tin Man, Margaret may as well be Dorothy, and I’m pretty sure Jimmy’s our Scarecrow…
And now for the Wicked Witch of the West.
An urgent knock brings Margaret to her front door, which she opens to find Van Alden. Awkward!!! She allows him entrance and when it seems that he bears no intent, Richard leaves them alone to talk in the parlor. He’ll be out back with the children (aww!). Nelson follows Margaret into the parlor and tells her he’s going to show her a picture. He’d like to know if she recognizes the person in it. It’s worth noting that he seems a lot more together than he did last night, and I’m hoping all of his sanity isn’t riding on this particular meeting going well…
Slightly skeeved, Margaret asks if the picture is meant to be a joke – it’s of her, taken at Ellis Island. “After your long journey from Kilkenney,” Van Alden finishes. If Margaret was skeeved before, she is full-on wigged now.
You’ll not get any slippers from me, Weirdo.
Nelson goes on to talk about the hope and promise in that young girl’s face, and asks Margaret what happened to her. Either she doesn’t catch onto the spiritual nature of Nelson’s talk or just chooses not to see it because it is so very uncomfortable, I don’t know, but all she can do is ask if she’s to be deported. Nelson tells her that he’s concerned for her soul – she’s consorting with Nucky Thompson! The man killed her husband and is a panderer and a criminal. Nelson moves closer to her on the couch, stalking his prey as Margaret protests Nucky’s innocence and moves away.
Before she can finish, Nelson goes on again about how her life doesn’t have to be full of sin and mischief and good sex and nice houses, and he knows she doesn’t want it to be. He gleefully (and sincerely) tells her he can help her – he can see into her soul and it’s good! Why do proselytizing religious types tell people things like that and get all surprised when said people get freaked out? As Margaret does? She and Van Alden have never been able to effectively communicate with each other – she’s never grasped his true nature and he’s never grasped the fact that she is seriously not interested in being saved by anyone but herself. This scene follows suit as she scrambles away from his kind (for Nelson) offer of salvation and accuses him of weaseling into her house under impure and false pretenses. He doesn’t know her at all and she’d like him to leave. Nelson pockets the picture and shouts that he came there to save her – not from prosecution, but from the fires of hell.
Why am I sure there’s a special circle for you, Nelson? Your good intentions will make excellent pavement all the way there.
With that pleasant good day, he’s gone. Not in a cloud of smoke, but might as well be.
In Chicago, a chastened and more respectful Al has accompanied Torrio to the Bar Mitzvah. He finds them seats in the synagogue and takes off his little newsboy cap. An older gentleman immediately tells him he should put it back on – it’s a sign of respect in the Jewish faith. He and Al strike up a conversation about the Bar Mitzvah and what it means, and Al can’t believe that Jews consider a man to be a man at age 13. The older man dispenses the wisdom stored in his wrinkles and beard and tells Al that all men who have earned anything have spent their adulthood unlearning the follies of their youth. Al nods like he understands, but it’s clear the idea has barely scratched the surface.
The ceremony is about to begin and everyone takes their seats. Before Torrio joins him, the older man turns around once more to Al and tells him he really should get a yarmulke. Al asks what’s wrong with his cap and WisdomBeard answers that Al’s a man, but he wears the cap of a little boy. And CLICK goes the lightbulb!
Al needs metaphors. Hmm, maybe he and Jimmy are both the Scarecrow…
The ceremony begins and Al watches pensively as Jake’s son is lovingly and supportively ushered into manhood, as Al obviously wasn’t. Capone probably didn’t get much of a childhood, but it looks like now it’s clear to him that he’d better grow up and stop wishing for one, or Torrio’s not going to have much use for him in the future.
In AC, Chalky’s sitting in Nucky’s office getting briefed on the D’Alessio situation, their relationship with Rothstein, Luciano, and Lansky (Michael Lewis, remember?) and their responsibility for Nucky’s attempted shooting – among other things. Jimmy arrives just in time for Nucky to ask Chalky to lure Lansky into the fold. He’ll act as bait, calling Lansky and bluffing that he’s not happy with the way Nucky’s treating him, and that’ll give Jimmy and Nucky the opportunity to swoop in and make some noise. Conveniently left out of this situation is the very pertinent information that the D’Alessios are responsible for the lynching. To be saved for a later date, I assume, when it’s more convenient to let Chalky go apeshit on some Italians.
The finger thing is great, we love it, we just wanna bide our time for a bit.
Essentially the plan is to use Chalky to have Rothstein send as many of his men as he can to AC to pick up a massive liquor shipment that Chalky will be “providing.” Once those men are in place, Nucky’s men will kill all of them! I find this a little hard to believe considering that Nucky’s men consist of Jimmy, Richard and Mickey (sort of), but the plan is sort of beautiful in its simplicity. It’s also incredibly likely to work, given Nucky’s treatment of Mickey in the past. It wouldn’t be hard to believe Chalky’d wanna jump ship.
Chalky asks Nucky when all is said and done, just what he plans to do about Mr. Rothstein. Nucky coldly answers that he’s going to make him the richest corpse in New York.
Respect, Man. Respect.
And now onto the League of Women Voters Luncheon in which more of the men in Margaret’s life continue to say just the things to freak her out. She and Nucky sit at a table as Bachrach announces his refusal to seek reelection, and Nucky leans over to tell her not to be nervous. She looks at him sideways and tells him it’s not nerves, exactly.
It’s just that it’s becoming more and more likely you killed my husband and whatnot, and I’m having trouble keeping any food down.
He soothes her and says not to worry – the first time he had to give a speech, he was a wreck, but once anyone gets the hang of public speaking, they can sell snake oil, easy as pie.
Despite her reservations, Margaret climbs to the podium and gives a beautiful, eloquent speech endorsing Bader and urging her fellow ladies to do the same. Nucky and his cohorts, as little faith as they seem to have in most women, are duly impressed at Margaret’s skills – which are considerable. Nucky looks on like he couldn’t be prouder as Margaret goes on and on about Bader’s vision, his skills and all the other qualifications he has to be mayor that she can neither confirm nor deny. When she sits down amidst thunderous applause, she looks across the room at Nucky as he gladhands his cronies on a job well-done.
And she doesn’t like what she sees.
Back in Chicago at the Four Deuces, Torrio’s coming downstairs with a ladyfriend and Al’s waiting for him in the foyer. He’s wearing a fedora (or a homburg?) and addresses Torrio formally. He’s there to apologize – the cigarette was stupid. He’s willing to put away childish things and be responsible for his actions. He says as much when Torrio confides that he brought the kid out from Brooklyn because he thought he saw something in Al, but he needs to quit the childish bullshit. Al agrees to and offers to help out at Gusik’s brewery. He’s so earnest in his entreaty that even though Torrio doesn’t immediately grant the request, it’s clear he will.
I find scenes like this endearing until I remember what a fucking nutjob Al Capone grew up to be.
The plan’s been set in motion in AC, as Chalky’s leading Lansky around his operation detailing why he wants to switch sides. He makes up some story about Nucky screwing him over, and Lansky appears to take the bait. He promises that Rothstein does business fairly, but AR doesn’t want any of the rotgut Chalky’s bottling – he wants 500 cases a month of the real stuff every month. Chalky smiles and tells Mr. “Lewis” that he can – pretty much public knowledge. Lansky apologizes for his earlier subterfuge and he and the D’Alessio’s that are with him promise to make up for it. Chalky will be their one contact in AC and, says a stupid D’Alessio, he’ll be able to buy a different color Packard for every day of the week. Uh-oh…
Chalky never misses a trick and he sure as shit doesn’t miss this one. Just how did they know he drove a Packard…?
Someone bring me my motherfuckin’ tools!
I find it really hard to believe those guns aren’t anachronistic, but I don’t care because that was FUCKING AWESOME!!!!
Night has fallen on the Boardwalk, and Angela’s managed to grab another one of her myriad free minutes to drop by the photography studio to check up on Mary. She looks like she’s been crying, and as she walks up to the counter where Mary’s standing, it’s clear Mary has, too. Angela says she stopped by the hospital, but Mary’d just left. Apparently Robert has five broken ribs, a broken nose and a fractured jaw. But she doesn’t really give a shit because she doesn’t love him and she should have left him ages ago! Will Angela go to Paris with her in two weeks?
I kinda like Mary – she’s a go-getter. No battered jackwagon’s gonna keep her down.
Angela confesses that she can’t take life with Jimmy anymore – he hasn’t hurt her, but he’s not the same person she knew. His penis is, though, and that’s why she can’t stop herself from having all sorts of sex with him at every opportunity. Seriously, what is with them? Angela’s not faking her attraction to him, nor is she faking her love and attraction for Mary. I’d understand this whole thing more if Angela just kept trying to put Jimmy off, but she does seem to have genuine feelings for him that don’t really make sense. And yes, I know love doesn’t always make sense, but this isn’t the kind of entertaining crazy love that makes for good storytelling. It’s just confusing.
Anyway, Mary has this great idea for she and Angela to take Tommy and run off to Paris together. Wouldn’t it be awesome if Tommy could grow up along the Seine and speak French? Angela seems to love the idea that he would be nothing like his father – nothing like “any of them,” those boorish, heterosexual males. Mary speaks of some school run by Isadora Duncan where the children wear tunics and run around trying to find their muses.
Founded modern dance and died at the hands of her own scarf. True and ironic.
So yeah, Angela pretty much jumps at the idea of hopping off to Paris where Tommy can have two mommies and learn to dance. Mary tells her to be on a ship that sails in two weeks, and Angela kisses her in agreement. I wonder if Jimmy ever thought when he made it home safe from France that he would eventually lose Angela to it.
Margaret is escorted back to her flat by Halloran who tells her he’ll be Sheriff Halloran come November. Too tired to contemplate everything wrong with that statement, Margaret just bids him a polite goodbye sits down tiredly in her parlor. Richard comes tentatively to join her, and draws the curtains to guard against intruders. Probably feeling the need to cleanse the only part of herself she can, Margaret begins to apologize for treating Richard insensitively when she first arrived. She found his affliction unnerving, and behaved badly because of those feelings. Richard nods and agrees that people do find it disconcerting. Margaret kindly says that he came to her home to protect her and her children at personal cost, and she apologizes for not recognizing that fact. It was unfair of her to judge him based on his appearance. As she’s turning to leave, Richard asks why he should expect her to refrain from such judgment when he can’t do it himself. There are times he forgets what he looks like, but then he passes a mirror and is reminded. And he can’t recall what he was before…
Neither can she.
The pathos of the situation is too much for Margaret and all she can do is nod at him before heading up to bed.
And in an interesting turn of events, we cut to Nelson, who’s having an honest-to-God night on the town. He heads to speakeasy, not to raid it… but to order things from it. He gets two shots of whiskey, one he downs with some considerable consideration and effort, and another he nurses while he scopes out the joint. Hmmm, judging by the way Nelson considered that first drink, I’m wondering if he’s not an alcoholic, and that’s what informs his Jesus Freakdom…?
Anyway, his perusal leads him to one Lucy Danziger, whose face was built to be tragic because she’s never looked more beautiful.
Or maybe I’m just happy she’s finally stopped mouthing off.
He approaches slowly and asks if he can join her. Lucy poutily tells him, “Sure, why not?” I really don’t like where this is going… Nelson seems to need a minute to get his bearings, but he does and offers her a cigarette and a creepy little smile. He gets a “What’s your name, Handsome?” for his trouble, and it’s clear Lucy’s gonna eat him for lunch.
At Chalky’s place, he’s netted his prey and called Nucky down for an explanation. He introduces Lansky and the accompanying D’Alessio cohorts to their would-be victim and it’s all kind of awesomely strange. Nucky points out one of the taller D’Alessio’s with a bruise on his face, and reminds the man they’ve met – on the Boardwalk. Tall D’Alessio of course denies and Nucky wonders at the coincidence of another Dago walking around with dogshit on his face. Boy, try to kill Nucky and the racial slurs just start flowing. Nucky pulls Chalky aside and reminds him of the initial plan and its subsequent radical change. Chalky reminds Nucky of the boy who was lynched and wonders why Nucky didn’t see fit to mention that these men were the ones responsible. Nucky confesses that he wanted confirmation, and how are they supposed to get to the four other D’Alessios not to mention Luciano if Chalky executes all the men in this room.
Before Chalky can spit back his inevitable “You think I give a flying fucky, Nucky?” Lansky adorably begs a second of Nucky’s time. Surprisingly, he gets it, and then, in that hilariously polite, but effective way of his, formally introduces himself again. He admits that he and Thompson don’t know each other well, so his word doesn’t count for much (right, because they don’t know each other well…), but he’s quite certain that were he to be released (not the other two, fuck the other two) that he’s sure he could work out accommodation with Mr. Rothstein. As much as I’m sure Nucky appreciates some etiquette being brought to the table finally, he shuts Lansky down immediately. Rothstein made his bed, and, Jimmy finishes, “You fellas can die in it.” Nucky looks sideways at Jimmy and so do I, because that was an awesome, awesome line.
Zero to hero, Folks. Zero to hero.
So awesome, in fact, that Dogface D’Alessio is inspired to lip off to Jimmy in reaction. He tells Jimmy that he, Mr. Thompson and “that coon” over there can all go fuck each other. Everyone’s waiting for Jimmy’s reaction – seriously, Chalky AND Nucky both look at him with trepidation because they’ve finally accepted that they have no idea what to expect from this kid anymore. He pulls out his gun and it’s the scene from the original trailer where Dogface asks Jimmy if he’s gonna kill him for mouthing off, and Jimmy answers, “Well, I wasn’t going to, but you kinda talked me into it,” and BOOM!
This is why Meyer Lansky lived well into old age – he didn’t fucking lip off.
Fatface D’Alessio is shocked and appalled and starts crying at his brother lying dead next to him. Nucky looks at Jimmy long enough for the younger man to have a moment of sheepishness, but then Nucky asks if anybody else wants an opportunity to die, implying his approval of the kill. Even Mickey’s impressed with a little, “Jesus Christ,” thrown in for good measure. One of Chalky’s guys asks what to do with the body, and Chalky triumphantly hisses at him to leave it at the dump with the rest of the garbage. Fatface doesn’t like that, no sir. He threatens Chalky that when his brothers come back, they’re gonna string up Chalky higher than they did his boy – or, to be specific, “That other fucking coon.” The D’Alessios aren’t the brightest bulbs in the box. Faced with hard evidence that it’d be wise to keep one’s mouth shut and stay away from the nasty African-American “nicknames” for the moment, Fatface ignored it, and got himself strangled by Chalky.
Play smart, Kids. Play smart and play nice.
That unpleasantness finished, Lansky does the smart thing and stays fucking quiet. This earns him a hall pass from Nucky to go to Rothstein and report everything that happened there tonight. Lansky leaves, breathless, a quick nod to Nucky on his way out. Nucky lets out a breath, at the very least slightly pleased at the events of the day.
And now for a little sex with Nelson! That’s right, Folks – Lucy’s with him in his hotel room and they have the squickiest of squicky sex. It’s so gross, Guys!!! She’s doing the thing where she’s calling him “Daddy,” and he’s trying not to hate himself, but he also can’t help but enjoy it a little and it’s all just so, so sick on all fronts. Plus there are way too many shots of his scarred back, reminding me of Nelson’s other super unhealthy practices, and when he shoves himself off Lucy to crouch at the end of the bed because he totally cannot handle his own humanity, he looks exactly how I feel.
Finally, we close on Margaret in her bed, unable to sleep. Nucky comes home to find her up, and she asks where he was. “Business,” is her answer, and always will be. He sits on the bed and tells her how well she did with the speech that day – she had the ladies eating out of her hand. Once again, Nucky unknowingly says the worst thing he could. He heads to the bathroom to get ready for bed, and Margaret gets up to close the window. She turns around and catches herself in the vanity mirror, and it’s clear for a moment, she doesn’t recognize herself.
And the Wizard has nothing to offer…