It was a tough decision last night: watch the Giants game or catch "Boardwalk Empire" at a reasonable hour? I chose the former, got angry as a result, but thanks to the marvel that is HBOgo.com, my mind was taken off of that painful loss.
However, my first comment about the episode, called “Bone for Tuna” (a play on the Italian phrase “Buon Fortuna”, meaning good luck), is one of my few rare criticisms, albeit minor, of the show. We open with a dream sequence, where Nucky trying to get a hold of Billie Kent on the phone, but to no avail. To be honest, this subplot is a bore, and getting old. Throughout the episode, Nucky keeps calling her, but is unable to get through. We get that Nucky is having a rocky marriage with Margaret, but his obsession with this flapper girl is getting kind of ridiculous and is taking away from other characters and plotlines that deserve further development.
If anything though, the dream sequence serves as a useful tool into what is on Nucky’s mind. In the dream, he sees a kid in his office that is shot in the face, in the exact same place as where Nucky fatally shot Jimmy Darmody. This is recurring throughout the episode and hints that Nucky may be feeling a twinge of regret for his actions and a nostalgic desire to return to happier times in the past.
Nucky is awoken from the dream by a telephone call from Margaret, who wants him to come home and look over preparations for his knighting ceremony by the Bishop tomorrow in thanks for his generous donation of land to the church (which Margaret signed off on without Nucky’s prior knowledge). Nucky makes his displeasure clear and hangs up.
We then go to Chicago, where Nelson is the victim of a practical joke at work. Here, we really feel his pain and we see that he is forced to hold his tongue and not lose his temper in order to keep his job. His reduced status as a salesman is a far cry from his glory days as a speakeasy-busting FBI agent. At home, we see that Nelson actually has a woman who cares for him in Sigrid, who gave him the family that he has always wanted, and was unable to get back East. In a classic show of how the tables have turned, the other salesmen apologize for their joke and invite Nelson to a speakeasy. Unfortunately for them, the FBI raid the place and Nelson gets out by paying off one of the agents, who just so happens to be his neighbor.
In a show of force, Nucky, with a police escort, sits down with Gyp at a Tabor Heights diner and hammers out an agreement with him which gives Gyp a month’s supply of booze and a night’s stay in Atlantic City free of charge. In return, Nucky gets free passage from Atlantic City to New York for his liquor convoys. There are some great quotes in this scene that point to the tension between the two men, from Nucky pointing out that Gyp can get insulted by a bouquet of roses, to when Gyp asks Nucky, “Everyone’s a person though, right? So how else could they take it, but personally?”
Lucky has invested in Gillian’s brothel and is not happy with his return. Lucky and Mayer Lansky are using Bugsy Siegel to transport heroin to a deal. Siegel is almost mugged by men sent by Joseph Masseria, a Mob Boss in New York, but is saved by Lansky, who shoots one of the would-be muggers in the head. One of the aspects of Boardwalk I love is the allusion to actual historical events, and this hints at the Castellamarese War that will erupt in 1929 for control of the Italian Mafia in New York.
Before his dinner with Gyp, Nucky is reminiscing about when Jimmy returns from World War I and Nucky gives him a job, which happened back in Season 1. This is in contrast to Gyp, who looks forward to the future. However, we see that both Gyp and Nucky came from humble beginnings and the dinner goes amicably. Gyp persuades Nucky to take him to Gillian’s brothel, but Gillian lets slip to Gyp that Eli attempted to have Nucky killed, reinforcing Gyp’s perception that Nucky is a worried and vulnerable man.
Mickey Doyle is running his mouth as usual at the warehouse, and in the process of shaking down one of his associates, insinuates that he killed Manny Horvitz. Richard, who actually killed Manny, is insulted when he hears this. He surprises Mickey at his house and drags him at gunpoint to Nucky. Mickey apologizes to Nucky, and admits that he did not kill Manny. Nucky then realizes that Richard in fact did kill Manny and Richard relents and lets Mickey go.
Richard tells Nucky that the reason that he killed Manny was because Manny killed Angela, Jimmy’s wife. Richard also makes it known that he knows that Nucky killed Jimmy, but does not hold any ill will towards Nucky because both he and Margaret were kind to him and gave him a place to stay and that Jimmy, as a soldier, chose his fate. Harrow tells Nucky that he has killed 63 people, but when Nucky asks Harrow if he ever thinks about the people he’s killed, Harrow replies, “You know the answer to that yourself.”
At the end of the episode, we see Nucky go to Billie Kent’s apartment in New York (ugh), but more importantly, Gyp kills the sheriff of Tabor Heights by dousing him with gasoline and lighting him on fire after, what else, but a perceived slight. It seems that open war between Nucky and Gyp will happen at some point.