So, if you look up the word “normalcy,” you’ll find it in any dictionary, but you probably wouldn’t have before the 1920 presidential elections. A “return to normalcy” was the campaign slogan/promise of one Warren G. Harding, a president who traditionally scores between 35-41 in historical presidential ranking polls (that’s bad). The fun part about a “return to normalcy” is that “normalcy” wasn’t thought to be a word at the time. Just like “societal” vs. “social” and “guesstimate” vs. “estimate,” many accused Harding of unwittingly creating the word “normalcy” because he was stupid enough to think it was a legitimate synonym for “normality.” Turns out, it was, but that doesn’t erase the attitude of skepticism and the general eye-rolling at a campaign slogan that promised America could possibly think of returning to a mental state that existed before the largest and most horrific conflict it had ever known.
The point is, normalcy doesn’t really exist. It sounds plausible enough, but at the end of the day, when things look prosperous and calm, it’s usually a sign there’s a storm brewing.
Keep a lookout…
We open this week on Nelson’s determined, stay-the-course face as he quotes St. Augustine about Carthage and whatnot to new Prohie recruits. St. Augustine (who was an ASSHOLE, btw, may he rest in peace) went to Carthage and succumbed to the temptations offered therein, Nelson sadly reports. He succumbed. And he was a saint! But no worries, he went on to regain his faith and blame a lot of the evil in that city on women, so it all worked out nice and neat. But beware, he warns his listeners. Atlantic City is the “grandchild” of Carthage and if they’re chosen to replace him, they’ll be bribed, coerced and tempted into giving in to all the deliciously sinful fun that AC has to offer. One agent stupid enough to think Nelson has anything close to resembling a sense of humor pipes up, “Bring on the dancing girls!” and Nelson bitch slaps him right into next week!
You shut your mouth when you’re talking to me!
The recruits who were previously in the thrall of the palpable sheer devotion to his cause written all over Nelson’s face are now more than a little frightened of the man before them. He shouts that his partner, the dearly departed Agent Eric Sepso, died in the line of duty of a heart attack, and Nelson will not stand by and let the man’s memory be besmirched by low humor. Or any humor for that matter. He tells the men that Elliot will review their applications and class is awkwardly dismissed. After the agents exit, Elliot approaches Van Alden and expresses a wish that his once troublesome agent would reconsider. But Nelson claims that there’s nothing in AC for him anymore, and Elliot leaves. Hmmm…
Nothing but trouble – that’s spelled with T that rhymes with CY and that spells Lucy!
Onto another group of men who could stand to take a course in proper comedic timing. The ward bosses, including Chalky, sit in Nucky’s office at the Ritz laughing at a newspaper article that predicts an easy win for Fletcher, the democratic mayoral candidate. Nucky stalks in, grabs the paper from O’Neill’s hands and starts instructing his crew in the basics of rigging an election. It’s time for hardball. He tells them to buy drinks, promise jobs and generally do whatever it takes to get their people to vote. Then, once they’ve voted, tell them to head to neighboring wards. Damn, your vote fucking counted in AC.
O’Neill pipes up that he still thinks it was a mistake to get rid of Eli, but Nucky immediately calls him out on the fact that this is the first time his mealy little mouth has said a single word on the subject. Nucky goes on to say that he wants a high turnout this year, men and women alike. Fleming optimistically reports that they’ll even have spooks, and Chalky’s all, “Say what, motherfucker?” Fleming clarifies that his clerk is combing the obituaries for extra help, and Bader gleefully surmises that he’ll be another AC official elected by dead people. It’s Halloween after all, ’tis the season. There’s more laughter at yet another stupid joke, and Nucky snaps that he hopes Bader is half as witty during his concession speech.
He moves to the drinks cart in disgust and the bosses hang their heads in contrition. All except for Chalky, who has yet to make jokes, which is probably why he and Nucky have such a fluid working relationship. This is life and death for both of them, all the time. Chalky approaches Nucky and tells him they need to talk, and Nucky orders the bosses to leave. Once they’re alone, Chalky reports that he’s been approached by “the other side.” Fletcher and the other democrats have promised Chalky a land of equality, sunshine and other such nonsense should he throw the weight of the Negro vote behind them. Nucky purses his lips and surmises that “savvy businessman, Chalky White, believes them.” Chalky smiles at Nucky’s underestimation of him and reveals that he told the democrats he believed them, and pocketed their money all the same. He’d like some recognition for his loyalty, though.
Nucky smiles and comments that Chalky puts the screws to him every election year, and Chalky knowingly responds that what’s different this year is that Nucky could actually lose. He’d like $10,000, a new car, and an invitation to the victory party at Babette’s. Hmm, I think we just found out what Chalky’s endgame is… Nucky raises his eyebrows and tells his friend that the last part is a tall order. Ouch. Chalky snaps that delivering 100% of the colored vote ain’t no cakewalk either.
Do you know how many people in my neighborhood don’t answer the door to an official sounding knock?
Oh, now it’s time to find out where Margaret “disappeared” to last week. Oh, it’s just Nan’s. I thought it might be someplace cool like the Four Deuces, but I see now that’s a pipe dream… She’s busy making Barnbrack, a traditional Irish All Hallow’s Eve baked good. She’s reciting a poem by Robert Burns her grandmother used to perform for her every year, and Nan looks up from playing with her daughter to ask if it’ll be read at the church service that evening. Margaret explains that the poem was for fun, and the service is more of a religious tradition to pray for the souls of the dead. Nan wittily tells her friend that Catholics certainly have a flair for the dramatic.
And then she tattoos Warren’s name on her daughter’s butt so there’ll never be any doubt…
Much to Margaret’s obvious annoyance, Nan muses that Warren so loves (erotic) poetry, and asks what Margaret will do after Tuesday when the house is no longer available. Nan’ll be headed straight for the White House as soon as Warren wins the election and sends for her. Damn, Nan isn’t even on drugs. I wish I could maintain a state of blissful, willful ignorance with no hangover as well as she can. Margaret’s thought about going to Moorgate where she could get another shop job. Though, she might just be rich and not have to, depending on what unsanitary trinket she gets in the barnbrack. At Nan’s confused look, Margaret explains that a ring, a sixpence and a rag are all baked into the cake. If you get the ring, you’ll be married, the sixpence, you’ll be rich and if you get the rag, you’ll be destitute. Okay, that sounds like an emotionally risky game to be playing for a woman with very, very few prospects…
I’d throw in 10 sixpences, 5 rings and spit on anyone who started to ask questions.
Nan smiles blissfully at the quaint tradition and returns her thoughts to Warren. Margaret will come and visit her at the White House, won’t she?
If by White House, you mean a big white loony bin, absolutely. I can always use proof that my situation could get worse.
At the commodore’s, our “hero” is looking much better. He’s at his dining room table flanked by Gillian, his doctor, Nucky , Halloran and Jimmy. Across from him sits Luann. Poor, abused Luann, not smart enough to smother her boss when she had the chance… The doctor reports that the arsenic was introduced slowly into the commodore’s system, so slowly that he might not have noticed the symptoms at first. Gillian snaps that he’d been complaining about his stomach since Christmas, and the doctor explains that toxic levels of the poison were found in everything from the commodore’s tea biscuits to his toothpaste. When Halloran asks how Luann can explain the situation, she just proposes that some of it must have fallen in.
Things do tend to fall out of containers when you open the lid and rigorously shake them upside down.
Halloran wonders that if that were the case, why wasn’t any of her food tainted, and Luann doesn’t have much to say about that, unfortunately… The commodore has something to say, though. She killed Jerry, he grates out, barely holding back tears. Jerry was the dog, fyi. Jimmy sardonically pipes up that he ate one of the cookies, if anyone was interested. Nucky’s the only one who even gives him a backward glance, which I find hiLARious. Nucky explains that the commodore used to feed the dog his leftovers (that’ll teach you to feed dogs human food), and Luann mutters that the commodore treated Jerry better than he treated her. The commodore “shouts” as best he can that Jerry was the best friend he ever had before Gillian tries to calm him down. But he will NOT calm down! Luann’s a fucking murderer!
Well, maybe if you were better at making friends with creatures that had higher standards for treatment than petting and human food, you wouldn’t be in this situation, now would you?
The commodore calls Luann an ignorant bitch, and can’t believe how ungrateful she is after all he did for her. To her, for her, who can say? Halloran asks what her motive was, and it’s finally time for Luann to get some ire off her considerable chest. She spits slowly that if she’d have used a shotgun, she would have had to clean the mess up herself. Every word laced with more poison than was ever running through the commodore’s veins, Luann continues that she’d had as much as she could take of his abuse. The commodore actually looks a little taken aback at the hatred in her voice, but does find enough breath to ask Halloran if he’s going to arrest her or not. Halloran waits for instruction and Nucky gives it to him. She will not be arrested, he orders, tells Luann to come with him, and the pair exits under the surprised gazes of five pairs of eyes. I think we’re headed to a NuckyAwesome! moment.
The two head out of earshot, but not out of sight, and Nucky softly tells Luann that while he understands why she might want to, she can’t go around poisoning people.
“But even if-?” “No.”
He hands her his customary wad of cash and tells her to change her name, go far away and never return. She smiles beatifically at him and offers up a few “God bless you”s in thanks. Then, oddly, the smile disappears and she warns him to be careful. She hands him the book she’s been carrying all this time and leaves. Confused, Nucky regards what could be a Bible, but looks a little small, and opens it to a marked page. His confusion changes to frightened shock as he watches Luann depart.
The commodore shouts after Nucky, in disbelief that he’s letting the attempted murderess go, but Nucky doesn’t listen. Yet another nail in the coffin of what remains of his and Nucky’s relationship.
In New York, Meyer Lansky is holding an umbrella for Arnold Rothstein as he, Lansky and Luciano head out into the rain. Rothstein’s booked passage for himself and his wife, and should he be indicted (which looks very likely), his lawyer will get word to Luciano and Lansky about how to get in touch. Lansky muses that Scotland in November should be beautiful, and it appears that that’s where Rothstein’s headed if the World Series business doesn’t go away. He can research his product, tour distilleries, play a little snow golf – there are lots of ways to amuse himself. Luciano once more recommends seeking help in Chicago, but AR’s skeptical. Everyone (like, EVERYONE) thinks he’s a total douche for rigging the World Series, and his only real friend in Chicago, Torrio, is too new to town to have any weighty political allies. However, Luciano proposes, Nucky Thompson does. And Torrio can connect Rothstein with Thompson. Uh, what?
I feel like if Nelson were Rothstein right now, Luciano’d be rubbing the side of his face after havingbeen soundly slapped with a leather glove. But alas, Rothstein’s too classy for physical violence.
Rothstein echoes my own objections about the likelihood of Nucky Thompson helping the New Yorkers do anything besides jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, but Lansky and Lucky are insistent. The war with Nucky has gotten pretty unprofitable, and it’s obvious that the D’Alessio brothers aren’t going to be assassinating anything but sandwiches for awhile. Lansky reminds his boss that Rothstein is first and foremost a businessman – perhaps it’s time to cut their losses. Rothstein balks a little bit at being given advice by his underlings, but as he gets in his car to head to an unfriendly destiny, he looks to be considering swallowing his pride and folding.
No one has a chocolate chaser for this bitter pill I have to swallow?
Later that day, Jimmy returns home to find Angela and Tommy prepping for Halloween. Tommy’s got a pirate hat on and Jimmy playfully asks who he’s supposed to be. Tommy awesomely ignores his father for asking such a dumbass question and Jimmy has to get his attention again before Tommy finally states the painfully obvious fact that he’s a pirate. Angela smiles and tells him to get his shoes on for a party, and Tommy heads to the bedroom.
Angela asks Jimmy if he’ll be home for dinner, and now it’s her turn to be ignored. After a minute she can’t take it anymore and asks how long he’s gonna keep up his bullshit behavior. He pouts and is all, “Keep what up?” The passive aggressive silent treatment you hypocrite. Angela’s sick of his bullshit, and Jimmy, proving what an evolved creature he is tells her that if he were a different sort of man, it’d be more than distressed looks and silence she has to deal with. Then he starts on Tommy. His son is pretty disrespectful all of a sudden. Angela icily informs him that Tommy is terrified of Jimmy – they both are. At last, some honesty. Apparently along with kicking the shit out of people on the boardwalk in broad daylight in front of his infant son, Jimmy’s been having night terrors. He did it again last night, shaking Angela in his sleep, eyes wide open and shouting something in German.
Obviously shaken, Jimmy softly says that he wants to protect Angela and Tommy, and motions for her to sit down at the kitchen table. He takes her hand and explains that he didn’t write her when he was France because he didn’t think he was coming back. There were nights in the trenches he would dream of her hair against his face, and Tommy, and it looks like that was all the solace he would allow himself to have. There are things he brought back with him from the war he wishes he wouldn’t have, but they both did things when they were apart, for whatever reason. Then he softly asks Angela if she was in love with Mary. Angela tears up, but all she can say is that she was lonely. Jimmy admits that all he wants to do is go back to the way they were before. Angela asks if they can do that and Jimmy tells her he wants to try – can they try? Angela nods, and he kisses her, pulls her into his lap, buries face in her hair and looks for normalcy.
There’s that word again.
A priest’s voiceover breaks the silence of Angela and Jimmy’s reunion and we cut to a Margaret, Nan and the children at a churchyard cemetery. The priest and the congregants pray walk through the gravestones, tossing holy water left and right and praying for the souls of the departed. How awesomely macabre!! We NEVER did this stuff when I was a kid! I can assure you I would have been way more interested in catechism had it involve nighttime graveyard constitutionals.
Nan asks Margaret if she prays much, and Margaret answers that she does, mostly for the children. For the health of the ones she has and the souls of the ones she lost. And also, her own sins. Nothing unpleasant permitted to penetrate Nan’s tiny little brain, she muses about how peaceful it is in the graveyard. Not listening, Margaret stops in front of a headstone that erases the smile from her face.
Nucky’s son survived six days and his wife followed a month later. Nan reveals that in Chicago, Nucky told her he’d lost a son, and Margaret turns back to the headstone, pity and shock written all over her face. Is there hope for Magucky yet????
Speaking of Chicago, Torrio’s on the phone with Nucky, trying to convince his friend that he should take a meeting with Rothstein. Nucky’s far from interested, but Torrio tells him that it’s a business meeting, nothing more, and he’ll be there. They’ll pick a spot near AC. Eddie’s putting on Nucky’s shoes for him, and pulls a little too hard, because Nucky shouts, “Ow, Goddammit!” into the phone. Torrio thinks he’s saying “How, Goddammit?” and shouts that he’ll be on the night train. Nucky snaps that he’s late for a party, says that he’ll talk to Torrio in the morning and hangs up. Guess that’s settled. Someone’s at the door, and Eddie goes to answer as Nucky finishes getting dressed. He dons his jacket and a black mask when Eddie returns to announce that there’s someone to see him.
Eddie leaves them alone, and Nucky awkwardly takes off his mask. Margaret smartly tells him to leave it on – it suits him to dress as a “dapper villain in a Sunday serial.” Nucky asks what she’s going as that evening – pleading wife, Temperance fighter or suffragette? Margaret observes that he left out kept woman, but Nucky clarifies that there was no keeping her. The niceties out of the way, Margaret gets down to business. She softly remembers that when they met, she was pregnant, then she lost the baby. He lost a baby, too – a son, after six days, and the mother a month later. This catches Nucky completely off guard, and he tries to avoid the conversation. No more of the game where he tells Margaret his sorrows, she pretends to be sympathetic and they fall into bed. Margaret raises her eyebrow and assures him that won’t be happening tonight.
She sits down on the sofa and Nucky asks her why she’s there. Cryptically, she tells him that she’s there to find out who Enoch Thompson is. Whether it’s because he thinks it might win her back, make her stay just a little longer, provide him with some absolution or simply that he’s too tired to fight anymore, Nucky starts his story. Seven years before, he’d just started his job as County Treasurer and Mabel had just given birth – they named their son Enoch, which was Mabel’s idea. He emphasizes the fact that he was very busy. Their son was very frail and small – so much so that Nucky was afraid to hold him. A week passed, and Nucky was, he makes sure to say again, very busy – there was a county audit or something going on. However, he came home one night to find his wife in the nursery, rocking their son. Oh man, it reeks of dead baby all OVER this story. Mabel looked so calm and happy in that moment that Nucky finally found the courage to hold his son, but when he pulled back the blanket, he realized the baby had been dead for days.
Both Margaret and Nucky look like they’d so, SO much rather be in bed right now, but Nucky continues. He took his son from Mabel, and finally held him for the first and only time. They buried the child in the churchyard, but Mabel never accepted it. Nucky continues that she had completely broken with reality and developed one nasty case of melancholia. Her doctor said she would get over it, but Nucky saw that she wasn’t. But he was busy…. And afraid, most likely. Nucky doesn’t do well with problems he can’t throw money at. So, a month later, Mabel took his razor blade and slit her wrists.
Margaret sniffs and wipes away the tears streaming down her face, and Nucky finally looks at her before revealing the reason he was able to tell the story to her in the first place. The times he spent with her and the children, at something as simple as breakfast were the happiest moments of his life. They were also the most terrifying. Nucky can manage everything around him but the people he loves, and it is so, so sad.
Margaret sweetly recalls that he thought she needed saving. Nucky comments that she did, didn’t she. Yes, but not in the way he chose, she answers. Sitting so close and yet so far away from her, Nucky asks if she’ll leave Atlantic City, and she wonders if that’s his demand. No, only a question. Margaret sadly tells him it’s probably for the best, and Nucky stands to fish some more money out of his pocket. She yelps, “No!” before he can get it out, and weeps that there’s a kindness in him that she doesn’t understand. How can he do the other things he does? Nucky answers helplessly that they must all decide for themselves what sin they can live with. Margaret tells him she’s pleased to have finally made his acquaintance, and leaves him standing alone in his grand suite.
Nelson’s returned home to White Plains and his wife offers him a biscuit. He grouchily retorts that molasses hurts his filling, and she takes them away. Bet guilt hurts your filling, too, Nelson. Hurts it so much, in fact, that even after he found the still Sebso was originally taking them to when they discovered that handy river, and was offered a permanent position, raise in pay and two additional agents under his command, he decided to turn it all down. For a partnership in a feed business in Schenectady. Rose is decidedly bad at hiding her displeasure at what a lame-o proposition has just been made to her, and Nelson picks up on it. She admits that she likes being the wife of a federal agent – it’s nothing to do with vanity (probably more to do with the fact that it keeps her husband on the road for most of the year) she protests when Nelson accuses her of putting said vanity above his happiness. He’s doing God’s work in AC, she pushes, but Nelson’s adamant. If God wants him to stay in AC, let God give him a sign.
I don’t God’s in the mood to give you shit, dude.
The next day in AC, Angela comes home with the groceries and starts looking through the mail. There are a few letters for Jimmy and a postcard… from Paris. Mary gets in one last thorny dig when she writes, “Forgive me, but don’t forget me. Je t’aime, ma Cherie.”
Nucky pulls up to the meeting he scheduled the night before with Torrio and is NOT pleased to see Rothstein and Luciano there. Torrio begs him just to listen, and Nucky does, but it’s all pretty tense. Torrio starts speechifying about Big Jim and how he was a wonderful man, but lacked the ability to look forward. Luciano makes a joke about the man’s inability to look backward into the eyes of Frankie Yale, and Al, with his big boy hat on, snidely tells Luciano to shut the fuck up with the stupid jokes.
Torrio continues on to say that in their business they must look forward, and sometimes that means letting go of the past. That’s why Arnold reached out to him to meet with Nucky. Nucky snaps that Rothstein tried to have him killed – as in that’s not shit you let go of. Rothstein pipes up that he’s interested in ending all hostilities, and Jimmy interjects that that’s not remarkable considering the way things are going.
I am Jimmy’s total lack of surprise.
Rothstein goes on to say that they could wage war for years, but he’s got bigger fish to fry. Like his impending indictment, Nucky proposes. Why not just pay someone off? Rothstein wryly admits that while he is well-known in Chicago, he’s not too fucking popular at the moment, so he’s there to make a deal in exchange for some of Nucky’s political contacts. Nucky considers it for a moment and nods that such a deal could be arranged. “What?” Jimmy interrupts, only to be quashed immediately by Nucky, who demands a cool million in cash (BOOM!) and the location of the remaining D’Alessio brothers. Rothstein considers it for a moment, and Nucky tells him that he could always take his chances with his good friend the State’s attorney… Done and done, says Rothstein, considering he can use the life insurance policies he took out on the brothers to pay Nucky, and simultaneously rid himself of an indictment, a war and a few greasballs. And I actually think he’ll turn a profit… Arnold Rothstein is a fucking genius.
Despite the Jimmy’s total shock, Luciano and Capone exchange info on the D’Alessios. Before everyone departs, Nucky orders Eddie to get Eli on the phone and call a press conference for three in the afternoon that very day. He wants every paper in the county there and it’s all Eddie can do not to shout “Yawhol, mein herr!” as they drive off. Heavy drums of anticipation send all three cars on their way to destiny.
BUM BUM BUM BUM DESSSSTINYYYYY!!!
The drums beat faster as we cut to the press conference. Nucky turns his head around to the nice side and starts speechifying about the tragedy of the criminal element that’s sprung up since Prohibition, and uses the example of the Hans Schroeder case to make his point. As he’s doing so, Richard Harrow approaches the back door of an abandoned office and knocks. One of the D’Alessios opens the door and makes the GRIEVOUS mistake of making fun of Richard’s mask. Never make fun of Richard, especially when he’s holding a shotgun.
And that’s how that particular story ended.
The littlest D’Alessio’s also inside, and in a panic, reaches for his gun… and the bullets lying beside it. Totally unable to load it in time what with being 12 and all, at some point he stops trying and just tries to hold up his hands to defend himself from the a shotgun shell. Richard’s strange face looming over him and the shotgun barrel bearing down on him is the last thing he’ll ever see.
Nucky’s voice over continues as he announces that the shooting of January 15th (why oh why couldn’t it have been the 16th????) was a conflict between rival gangs. Due to the tireless work of his brother, former Sheriff Eli Thompson, it was discovered that Hans was the ringleader and his accomplices have been identified – a few brothers by the name of D’Alessio.
The drums continue as yet another D’Alessio’s number comes up. This one heads out to a neat looking house built over some water,and rounds the corner to meet Al Capone.
And his friend, Lil’ Al.
Al shoots the third D’Alessio in the head, steals an apple and heads on his merry way, just as Nucky’s getting to the part about all six brothers being held for questioning.
And now onto the good part. Nucky recalls that the Democrats, solely for political gain, accused the incumbent Republican administration of corruption. Well, the heinous murder that just took place may have happened under Republican watch, but the killers were found under Republican watch, as well. Vote for Edward Bader, and keep the city safe.
Oh, and the sixth and final D’Alessio? Iced during that last bit of Nucky’s speech. He was stupid enough to get a shave when he should have been in hiding, and Jimmy must look mighty intimidating on any given day because the barber stops mid-shave, backs up in terror and pretty much stands by and lets Jimmy slit Max Casella’s throat. That unpleasantness finished, Jimmy wipes his knife clean, returns it to his pantleg, and heads out.
This is Lil’ Jimmy.
So what was accomplished during that speech? Six people were killed and their reputations simultaneously destroyed so no one’s going to be asking many questions after their deaths. Nucky reclaimed the election for the Republicans by hitting on the only other issue more important to the public than reform – safety. And he also made his brother look like a massive hero. Torrio, Rothstein and Nucky should all be proud of themselves for a job well-done today. Much was accomplished and I feel like the only people who suffered were six murderers who tried to kill a character I liked, and the electorate, who don’t have faces in my head. Nice work, Show.
Stars and Stripes Forever begins playing as a montage of the dead D’Alessios begins and ends with a shot of a newspaper article detailing their demises. Nucky’s wearing that pimp suit again as he heads to vote and shakes hands with people standing in line. He’s at his finest, kissing babies and shaking hands, and generally exemplifying the reason everyone loves the fucking shit out of his man – when he gladhands, he’s actually sincere. For the most part. In a sweet moment, he comes across Margaret and Nan in line, and while he avoids them out of respect, he and Margaret share an understanding look of forgiveness and understanding.
Yeah, I paused it here a few times…
Jimmy returns home after his barbershop slaying to find Tommy playing with the truck Jimmy bought him in January. The little boy is obviously still nervous around his father, though, and Jimmy picks up on it immediately. He says hello and asks where Angela is. He doesn’t have to wait too long for an answer because a second later, Angela emerges from their bedroom, her lovely hair shorn into an edgy bob. Needless to say, Jimmy’s not a fan. She announces that the commodore called and would like to see him. The two share a series of looks as Jimmy approaches – he’s in disbelief and crushed that she would destroy one of the things he loved most about her. For her part, Angela seems frightened of what his reaction might be, but it seems like, after receiving Mary’s postcard, she’s determined to break with the past before she can move onto any sort of future with Jimmy. Hopefully he’ll get over it eventually. But it won’t be anytime soon, given the grief stricken way he strokes her newly shorn locks before heading out the door.
It doesn’t help that the bob itself isn’t super-attractive yet. I’m sure once she starts rocking some finger curls Jimmy’ll come around.
Too upset to deal with his father at the moment, Jimmy heads to Nucky’s suite, where an early victory party is underway. Jimmy, having come full circle from douchebag to awesome to douchebag in one season sits alone in the corner, drinking and smoking his troubles away. I guess I don’t blame him. It’s been a rough day. His notwife cut her hair and he learned just how different a vengeance killing is than a hit.
Fleming gets off the phone with the Third Ward and the republicans are up by 20%. It’s good news all around as Eddie informs Nucky that the Chicago State’s Attorney just called, and Rothstein will NOT be indicted – meaning there’s a cool mil headed toward AC right then and there. Eddie exits and Nucky turns to Eli telling him they’re almost home. But Eli’s still pretty pissed at being ousted as sheriff and tells Nucky that despite the pretty penny both brothers are going to make off the Rothstein deal, Nucky’s still an asshole. He’s totally insensitive and has no idea how much damage his words can do – they mean more than he thinks and they hurt in ways money can’t fix. When did this become an episode of “Full House?” Nucky, of course, has a really hard time conceiving of such things, and he also has a really hard time not taking the people close to him completely for granted. These two things make it very difficult for him to understand just how deeply he must have wounded Eli when he cavalierly tossed him out of office.
Nucky asks his brother to trust him – blood is thicker than water. But Eli asks why it (always) had to be his blood. Before Nucky can find the right sound byte to feed his brother, Eddie interrupts with a call from the campaign office, Nucky exits and his brother follows.
But he’s not happy about it.
Nucky hangs up the phone just as Frank Hague pokes his head in. The ward bosses chime in with a good-natured, “Who let the Democrat in?” and he answers that you don’t have to be Irish to march in the St. Patty’s Day parade. Nah, just happy and willing to get your drink on. Once Hague is welcomed, Nucky makes the announcement. Edward Bader is the new mayor of Atlantic City!! Yay!! There’s still a show!!
And now for another announcement. Bader’s first act as the new mayor is to accept Sheriff Halloran’s resignation, which is given begrudgingly when O’Neill explains to him that “It’s what Nucky wants.” And whatever Nucky wants… It is then Bader’s pleasure to announce his reinstatement of his good friend Eli Thompson as the sheriff of Atlantic County. Hurrah!!! Everyone cheers and Eli just looks totally flabbergasted. Nucky gives him a smile, but it’s only half returned. It’s like the fable of the stray dog and the house dog. Stray dog was hungry and cold, and badgered by rabies mad raccoons every night. House Dog was warm, well-cared for and given belly rubs by his mistress every night. But when Stray Dog inquired further about his friend’s situation, he found out about the fixin’ that had gone on when House Dog was still a wee pup. And Stray Dog was all, “Hell to the naw – I may be hungry, skinny and tormented, but I still have my disco stick, and I’m gonna go put it in the poodle next door. Peace.” The moral of the story is that gilded cages are no compensation for a dickless life.
Not even if the gilded cage comes with half a million dollars and a famous brother?
Jimmy’s standing up at this point, but he’s a little unsteady and decidedly bored by all the victory around him. Then he spots Pat Ryan, his one-time almost boss. Patty greets Jimmy and tells him he’s looking well, and Jimmy slurs a response. Then he uses one of my favorite phrases EVER and says that he’s “aces!” How’s politics treating Patty? Very well, Patty answers - Nucky’s taking good care of him after all. And now for another sign of intoxication – inappropriate honesty! Jimmy comments that Nucky must have pimped out Pat’s mother too, then! Pat’s all, “Jigga whhaaaa?” So Jimmy repeats: “He must have pimped out your mother, too!” before Nucky literally drags him from the room. Confrontation time!
Nucky snaps Jimmy, wondering what the fuck is going on with Misanthropic Mabel over here, and Jimmy says nothing – Nucky’s his hero! He’s a machine – able to change the lives of people on a whim with no emotional entanglement whatsoever! Hey Jimmy, Nucky has emotional entanglements. He just ignores them. Nucky, having totally the wrong idea about what’s upsetting Jimmy, gently explains that Halloran wasn’t working out. But Nucky doesn’t stop there, Jimmy contends. He’ll use anyone – man, woman, 13-year-old girl…
Nucky takes a deep breath and finally catches up. Not giving any ground because it’s sort of too late to apologize now, he reminds Jimmy that Gillian was an orphan living in a home for wayward children. Operative word being CHILDREN, Nuck. Anyway, the commodore took good care of her (gross!!!). Jimmy shrugs his shoulder and smiles that then Nucky took good care of him – was all the learning at his feet, the ticket to Princeton, the job – was it all out of guilt? And then Nucky says the dumbest thing he’s said all season: “Guilt, duty? You’re a grown man now, what difference does it make?” This is painful to watch – Nucky is actively upending Jimmy’s reality even more than it already has been. And this time, Jimmy’s much more violent and angry man than he used to be…
Jimmy stares at his shoes and quietly explains that he thought Nucky might have taken care of him out of love. And because Nucky is spectacularly unsuccessful at showing his love, he denies Jimmy and tells him that he’s not the boy’s father, after all. Jimmy nods and agrees. Then he announces that he’ll just go take it up with the commodore.
Drunk or no drunk!
Nucky tries to tell Jimmy to sober up first, but Jimmy shoves the older man’s arm off, tells him to stop pretending to give a shit and stalks off. Oh, maybe the commodore will die this season!
At Nan’s, a slightly less boisterous party is underway. Margaret and the children are mopily choking down the Barnbrack cake, and Emily’s complaining that she didn’t get anything in her slice. Which is probably best, because she’s three and three-year-olds choke on things like pennies and rings. Speaking of rings, of COURSE Nan finds the ring because Margaret’s still paying off some bad karma. She goes all apeshit and starts mooning about being the First Lady – which, in case your history’s off, did NOT happen. Margaret congratulates her and wishes her luck, but also asks what Nan’ll do if Warren doesn’t send for her. Hahahaa, as if Nan’s thought that far ahead. She hasn’t – it’s simply inconceivable that he wouldn’t. Christ, it’s like asking a scientologist if L. Ron Hubbard could have been mistaken. Their thought processes just don’t go past a certain point.
Margaret gives Nan one of her “Okay, dumbass,” smiles, and returns to her cake… and the rag hidden inside. Nan’s face falls because for her fortune to be true, Margaret’s has to be, too, and that’s exactly how good a friend a friend Nan is. Emily asks what’s up with the rag in the cake, and Margaret says that’s nothing but a silly superstition.
Maybe for you. I’m going to be Mrs. President Warren G. Harding and my daughter’s going to be America’s first princess. Warren said so.
Margaret’s morals are looking pretty cold and poor about now, I’m guessing.
At the post office office, Nelson’s packing up his things (no sign of God, I guess) when one of his deputies lets him know that there’s a woman to see him. I don’t know who he’s expecting, but Nelson hops RIGHT into action. He puts on his coat, straightens his tie and takes a quick, nervous peek at his reflection. Is he expecting Jesus? I feel like he wouldn’t expect Margaret after their last conversation, and he wouldn’t get all gussied up for his wife. Anywho, it’s neither of those women – it’s LUCY!!!!! Oh my God, I hope what’s about to happen is what I think it is.
These two would make such an awesome sitcom married couple. They’d be like an edgy Lucy and Desi – and their studio could be NelsiLu!
As you’ve probably guessed, out of all the post offices offices in all the world, Nelson did not expect Lucy to walk into his. He’s also not particularly happy about it, as you also might have guessed. He pulls one of the best fake smiles into real frown I’ve seen on television in my entire life. It’s a thing of beauty, that change of expression. Realizing she’s not going to get any kind of greeting she’s accustomed to, Lucy simply reveals that she went to Nelson’s rooming house and his landlady told her where he worked. She asks quietly if he’s a postman. And I can’t help it, but Lucy is so lost and sad and not bitchy at all that I just want Nelson to be nice to her. He isn’t.
He curtly tells her that he’s a Prohibition agent (so ix-nay on the inks-dray I ought-bay ou-yay e-thay other-hay ight-nay). Not really caring what he does unless what he does is break up new couples and put old ones back together, Lucy sighs and says, “Well, you made me pregnant.”
Here’s your sign.
At the commodore’s, Jimmy’s staring drunkenly at an owl that’s maybe a morbid replacement for Jerry? I hope not, though. I feel like if the commodore went senile, he’d start treating the owl like Thompson Sr. treated his cats. The man himself is sitting all bundled up grouchily accepting some warm milk from Gillian. He begs her to put some brandy in it or at least get him a steak, but she doesn’t budge. They’re trying to rebuild the lining of his stomach after all, she fusses. What about my stomach lining, Lady? Watching you coo over your own personal child rapist is giving me an ulcer. Jimmy, too, from the looks of it. He snaps that they’re one happy family all of a sudden, and Gillian redeems herself for her supremely fucked up lovelife by uttering the best line of the entire season:
You don’t’ have to be so fretful all the time.
HHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!! Yes he does!! Because he’s Michael Pitt and his brood is his trademark. I love it.
Gillian promises to go fix the commodore some eggs and finally the father/son team is alone. The commodore asks Jimmy to spike his milk, and Jimmy does – possibly trying to weaken his father’s stomach lining some more, but no matter. Jimmy observes that this is the first time they’ve ever shared a drink together, and the commodore warns him not to mention it to Gillian. Then he starts muttering about Nucky because Nucky is the only thing he and his son have in common, unfortunately. He can’t believe Nucky just up and let Luann go, and I kind of feel like Nucky should have at least faked her death or something. Jimmy remarks that Nucky has an odd sense of justice, and I agree – it’s one of the things I like most about him, but I’m pretty sure Jimmy didn’t mean it as a compliment. The word “justice” and the company of someone who isn’t sick of the story spurs the commodore on to tell the story of how Nucky sent him to jail.
When Woodrow Wilson was governor, he and Nucky both got caught up in some election rigging. Wilson made a deal with the prosecutor to send either the commodore or Nucky to jail, and since the commodore was hurt politically, it made sense for him to go away and Nucky to stay behind and run things. They’d square up in five years when the commodore returned. But after five years, Nucky was too powerful and popular to be bothered with squaring up, according to the commodore, and that’s, along with the arsenic, I’m guessing, is what put that famous bitter taste in the commodore’s mouth.
He motions for some more booze in the milk, and Jimmy obliges. The younger man reveals that he hated coming to the commodore’s house when he was younger – he was afraid of the animals, not to mention his crazy-old and domineering father. The commodore admits he knew that, but gets pretty riled up when Jimmy then reveals that it was Nucky who had to buck him up before each visit with words like “duty” and “be strong for your mother.” The commodore calls Nucky a manipulative son of a bitch and tells Jimmy that he knows exactly why Nucky recalled the soldier from Chicago. Jimmy’s there to do what Nucky doesn’t have the stomach to, and all he’s getting is few percent off the top. Jimmy protests that he made a good deal, but the commodore interjects that Nucky only made Jimmy think it was a good deal, same as he did with the commodore. The whole situation is bullshit, and it’s time for Jimmy to reclaim Atlantic City for the both of us.
I am far too drunk for this conversation.
Jimmy wonders just how that’s supposed to happen, and, as if on cue, Eli walks in. The commodore smiles and tells his son that he didn’t acquire so much by being stupid, and a conspiracy is born.
At Babbette’s, Eddie Cantor is performing and everyone is celebrating in fine fashion. I so want to be Babbette when I grow up. She must have been awesome. Despite severe personal downers in the past few weeks, Nucky’s in good spirits. So is Anabelle, for that matter. She’s hooked up with Baxy!!!!
LOVE LOVE LOVE
Baxter makes an inappropriate comment upon meeting Nucky again, but the whole thing is awesome, so I don’t even mind. Nucky rolls his eyes and turns back to his date, some boring blond. But then something catches his eye, and the camera moves to Margaret’s lovely silhouette as she enters Babbette’s. (my notes while watching: omgomgomgomgomgomggoaljdsfa;lkjdsf;l!!f AYAYAYAYAY!!!!) The two approach each other slowly, so as not to burst what must seem like a very delicate bubble. “Margaret,” Nucky greets. They exchange pleasantries and Margaret congratulates him on his victory. Nucky admits that he owes her no small amount of gratitude for the women’s vote. She mentions that she could use a drink – champagne perhaps? Nucky asks about the children, and Margaret admits they miss their Uncle Nucky. Awwww!!!!!! I’m sorry I’m such a loser, Folks, but this is what happens when you don’t have a boyfriend and you watch too much TV.
Before Nucky and Margaret can make out, Babbette calls for everyone to shut up for a second – there’s news coming in on the radio machine – all the way from Pittsburgh! Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh!! Warren G. Harding is the new president of the United States! Much cheering is made until Babbette quiets everyone down again for the Return to Normalcy speech. Margaret and Nucky listen attentively until Nucky gets distracted and starts smelling her hair. When the speech is over, everyone cheers again and Magucky is sealed once more with a kiss and spoon.
Eddie Cantor starts to sing, and there’s a montage of everyone and their little storylines. Nan waits patiently for Warren to call and tries on the cake ring. Luciano and Lansky take delivery on a shipment of Canadian Club and shoot the messenger. Eddie takes delivery on the million bucks and does NOT shoot the messenger. Eli, the commodore and Jimmy form their own little fight club turning against a man who’s done nothing but take care of them for as long as he’s been able. And Nucky and Margaret exit Babette’s at dawn to look over the ocean on the boardwalk, supremely confident that they have achieved some semblance of normalcy.
Dear Show, Thanks for a great season – Alex