Once again, I must commend Boardwalk Empire and HBO for their charity work in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. Steve Buscemi, a former FDNY firefighter, made a video in support of the charity Friends of Firefighters, Inc. He also has been visiting hurricane shelters throughout the affected areas and was kind enough to take a picture with my uncle, who is currently volunteering at a shelter on Staten Island.
Please also consider donating to to one of these fine charities for Hurricane Sandy relief: the American Red Cross, the Hurricane Sandy New Jersey Relief Fund, Save the Children, Habitat for Humanity, the ASPCA and the Salvation Army.
This was probably one of the tensest, most suspenseful episodes in the history of Boardwalk. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time, not knowing where we would wind up by the end, let alone the next scene.
But we begin on a funny note: it’s now summertime in Atlantic City, and the annual King Neptune Bounty celebration is taking place on the beach. Harrow, Julia and Tommy are part of the crowd, but the event is disrupted when a beachgoer discovers a bottle of whiskey in the water. Soon, dozens more bottles wash up on the beach, and everyone goes to get some before it’s too late. Even King Neptune himself runs off in the middle of his speech to join the party.
However, these bottles were part of a shipment of Gyp Rossetti’s bootlegging operation that fell overboard, and Gyp isn’t too happy to find some of his stash missing. He yells at his subordinate Tonino, but Tonino’s cousin Franco unwisely chimes in, bringing up the possibility of a rogue wave. For the time being, Gyp takes this as a joke and is satisfied with this explanation.
Back in Atlantic City, Nucky takes a call from Gaston Means, who informs Nucky that Jess Smith is acting erratically and may bring everyone down with him if he’s made to talk. Nucky asks Gaston to kill Smith to keep him quiet.
Gaston manipulates Jess to burn the stolen money while he cunningly shows this to Harry Dougherty to show that Jess is going insane. Here, we see Gaston pulling the strings and orchestrating the whole situation to suit his own ends. That night, Gaston slips into Jess’s room with a gun in an attempt to kill him, but Jess is awake, pointing a gun right back at him. Again, Gaston is a cunning manipulator, putting his gun down and talking with Jess, who shoots himself in the head.
Owen is getting ready to go over to Nucky’s (and see Margaret in the process), but his girlfriend Katie is suspicious of the relationship between Owen and Margaret. Owen calms her fears, and proposes to her. Once Owen arrives, he and Margaret discuss their plans to escape and what could happen if their plot is discovered (more on this conversation later), but Owen is soon summoned to a meeting in Nucky’s office.
Nucky is planning a hit on Joe Masseria, because Gyp will be weak without the powerful Masseria’s backing. He sends Eli to Chicago to enlist Torrio’s help. Nucky then tells Mickey to pack his bags, and in one of the funniest lines of the season, Mickey says, “tell me I’m going to Paris,” followed by his signature laugh. However, Nucky has a less romantic destination in mind: West Overton, Pennsylvania, where Mickey can get Mellon’s distillery up and running as part of the deal Nucky made with the Treasury Secretary to bring down the Attorney General. Meanwhile, Owen and Agent Sawicki are sent to New York to do the hit.
However, Lucky and Lansky know of Nucky’s plans from last episode. After Rothstein warns them not to make deals in a time of war, the two ignore his advice and go see Masseria to pursue a heroin trade agreement. Perhaps wisely, Lucky puts himself into debt with Masseria by borrowing $300,000, knowing that it is foolish to kill someone in debt because the money won’t be paid back. Lucky also lets slip to Masseria that Nucky is planning a move on him, putting him on guard.
Harrow gets into another fight with Julia’s father Paul, and when Paul insults Julia, Harrow nearly chokes him half to death. Harrow then leaves the house, but Julia follows him out, signifying that she has chosen him over her abusive father. They go to the beach and sleep under the boardwalk.
In Chicago, Nelson is selling homemade alcohol that Sigrid has been brewing to local speakeasies. However, he makes the mistake of selling in Capone’s turf. He is set up by one of the bartenders, and two of Capone’s goons take him away to see the man himself. Capone questions Nelson’s connections to O’Banion, and intimidates him into spying on O’Banion. Nelson is in a tough spot now, and it remains to be seen how he will finagle out of pressure from the two gangsters.
We then get to see another example of Gyp being a psychopath. Again, his shipment is missing cases, and as punishment, he put Franco in a hole on the beach, left to be drowned by the incoming tide. Franco’s cousin Tonino tries to intervene and begs Gyp for leniency. Taking this differently than what was intended by Tonino, Gyp bashes Franco in the head with a shovel, decapitating him and putting him out of his misery.
Nucky is woken up at four in the morning by Kessler, because a delivery has just arrived in a crate. To their horror, Owen’s corpse is inside (I was right, predicting last week that his chances of dying were over 50 percent). Margaret is a wreck, hitting Nucky in a rage and storming off. Now, Nucky realizes that Margaret’s relationship with Owen was much deeper than he thought.
I can understand why the writers did not show Owen’s death, because it creates the surprise at the end of the episode. But part of me wanted to see the deed being done. It’s all ambiguous as to the details, and Sawicki’s fate is left up in the air.
In the final scene, we flash back to the conversation earlier in the episode between Margaret and Owen. Before Owen is called into Nucky’s office, Margaret reveals that she is pregnant with Owen’s child. This stunning revelation changes everything.
It’s war, and there are only two episodes left this season. Who will survive? Will Torrio come with help for Nucky? Find out next week.
Chances of dying:
Nucky-35 percent (it’s war, his odds go up)
Gyp-95 percent (he’s the main villain, he has to die)
Gillian-35 percent (her odds stay the same, she wasn’t in this episode)
Margaret-20 percent (find it hard to believe that she would be killed while pregnant)
Nelson-35 percent (being caught in the middle between Capone and O’Banion isn’t exactly ideal)