The one episode we take off and stuff happens. Apologies for being gone last weekend for “You’d Be Surprised,” but we assume you’ll live. In last week’s episode sparks finally flew. Atlantic City bootlegging kingpin Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) came to Jesus with his New York counterpart Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) to discuss the violent loose cannon gangster Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale). Nucky called Gyp a wild dog that had to be put down, but Rothstein argued he was one of Joe Masseria’s men (Ivo Nandi) and they had a truce that could not be broken. In the end, while Nucky and Rothstein landed more than a few insulting blows on one another, Rothstein’s men, led by the hot-headed Benny Siegel (Michael Zegen) attempted to put a hit on Rosetti.
Rosetti, revealed to be an auto-erotic asphyxiaphile, barely survived a slaughter that killed all his muscle. And so in episode #7, “Ging, Gang Goolie.” Rosetti has vanished from Tabor Heights and the law, under Nucky’s watchful eye, seems to have the city restored to the way it was.
Key elements crucial to the plot of this season took place in episode 6 “You’d Be Surprised” with ramifications that should echo out for the remainder of the year. Inquiring Congressional hearings on the Volsted Act (The National Prohibition Act) are held and United States Secretary of the Treasury Andrew W. Mellon (James Cromwell) testifies that the law is not only grossly ineffective, but too expensive, and likely failing from incompetence and corruption.
This leaves corrupt Attorney General Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald), the head of the Department of Justice who oversees all federal prosecutors, in a tight spot since he’s the one who’s essentially been on the payroll turning a blind eye to Nucky, Rothstein, and all the other major bootleggers in the country. But while Special Investigator Gaston Means (Stephen Root), who acts as the middleman in Attorney General Harry Daugherty’s protection racket for organized crime, is cool as a cucumber under the increased scrutiny, it’s Daughtery’s political aide Jess Smith (Ed Jewett), who also assists in maintaining these bribes, who starts to crack up.
When Means does not show up for a money drop, Nucky and Chicago bootlegger George Reamus (Glenn Fleshler) become suspicious. Nucky storms into Daugherty’s office only to find Reamus already there in a meeting. It’s clear that the jig is up and some heads have to roll now that Congress is upset. Daughtery has to hang some major fish to indicate his office is accomplishing something and Nucky is aware Reamus and he are the biggest targets. But since Reamus and Jess Smith have had open dealings that could bring them all down, it means Nucky has to take the fall. But Nucky vows with venom that if he goes down Daugherty is going with him.
Later on in Washington, D.C. Nucky is arrested for buying a bottle of booze. It appears that Daughtery’s men are working fast. The bootlegger has to stew in a jail cell with common men for over 24 hours. But it turns out the incident is entirely unrelated; since the congressional hearing, the new agenda is to bring the quota of arrests up and Nucky was but a random snatch by the cops.
Nucky is slapped with a five dollar fine and set free, but to his surprise, the prosecution is lead by Esther Randolph (Julianne Nicholson), the former Assistant US Attorney who had Thompson on the ropes, but ultimately couldn’t convict him in season two. Disgraced, Randolph is now presiding over these nickel and dime Volsted Act cases. Always one with his eye on the longtail game, Nucky finds Randolph afterwards and invites her out to dinner. Suspicious, she finally agrees and the bootlegger drops a proposition: why have the Atlantic City kingpin when you can have George Reamus, one of the biggest bootleggers in the entire Nation. Nucky posits, that if he can hand Reamus on a plate to her, she can get her fallen career back on track. With Reamus connected to Jess Smith who’s connected to Daughtery, Randolph knows this indictment will never get sanctioned. But Thompson has a plan: go to a higher authority, and someone (Randolph) will end up with a career-making case. An unlikely ally in this dilemma — finding a higher authority — arrives in a phone call from Gaston Means. He’s found the person who Nucky needs, for a price of course.
The most seismic event in the estranged relationship between Nucky Thompson and his wife Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) took place in the last episode. Nucky told Margaret that he was going to be away on business. Margaret, still consumed by her pre-natal care classes, stops by the lingerie shop where she used to work hoping her old boss would help her place fliers for her classes in the store. Much to their mutual surprise, Margaret runs into Nucky, who is there buying lingerie for his mistress, the wannabe actress Billie Kent (Meg Steedle). The jig is up and Nucky’s in the dog house or worse. Is divorce on the horizon? Calling from Washington, after his arrest, Margaret tells Nucky they “need to talk.”
After their conversation, she hears a sound in the burned-down shed and comes out to investigate with a shotgun. There, she finds Nucky’s bodyguard Owen Sleater (Charlie Cox) and after many years of being apart, the two relight their affair. [B]
Bits and Pieces:
– The disfigured WWII soldier Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) joins a veteran’s group for those who can’t get disability. One of the older, bitterly spiteful veterans Paul Sogorski (Mark Borkowski) belittles all the younger men and then is challenged to a boxing match by the bartender. Sogorski puts up a valiant fight, but in the end, he is put in his bloody place by the younger man. Harrow, feeling sorry for the old man, helps him get cleaned up and to the curb where he is picked up by his dutiful daughter, Julia Sogorski (Wrenn Schmidt). A romance to bloom? Harrow seems instantly smitten with the fetching young lady. Fortunately for Harrow, Sogorski leaves behind a medal of honor, so Jack will have a reason to see her again. When they meet again, Julia explains that her father is inconsolably bitter for losing his son, her brother, in the war. She apologizes for his brusque manner and it does seems quiet sparks are flying between the two of them.
– Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol) and Charles “Lucky” Luciano’s (Vincent Piazza) business relationship continues to deteriorate where their brothel is concerned. More to the point, their sexual relationship seems to have ended as well as Luciano is now sampling the whores of the house, much to Gillian’s disdain. In the last episode, Gillian was seen becoming more and more delusional, not accepting the fact, or at least not admitting publicly, that Jimmy Darmody (Michael Pitt) is dead. Up to her eyes in debt with the brothel in deep physical disrepair that is in need of immediate attention, Gillian is in desperate need of a loan. But with the house in Jimmy’s name, and Gillian refusing to declare him dead, she is at a self-imposed standstill. But in this episode, it appears as if Gillian is starting to finally come to terms with her situation. She begins taking down pictures of Jimmy around the house. Is this a sign? While taking a stroll along the Boardwalk, Gillian comes across a young Jimmy Darmody lookalike — tall, blonde, young and handsome just like her departed son. She offers him work, and soon is bedding him with gusto, but its unclear whether she wants a Jimmy substitute in her life or if another plan is being hatched…
– Teddy, Margaret’s son seems to be increasingly troubled by the absence of his step-father Nucky Thompson. He is the one suspected of burning down the shed as he’s caught with gasoline and rags in a neighbors garage. Punished with a spanking, Teddy keeps talking about a “Gypsy” that he sees hanging around the house. Sleater and Margaret are unsure if he somehow means Gyp Rosetti or is simply lying. Meanwhile, Teddy vows to protect his polio-debilitated sister Emily. How, she asks? With a knife he has stashed under his pillow, of which it seems no good will come…