Previously on Boardwalk Empire: Those beautiful ignorant bastards made liquor illegal in the United States, making Nucky Thompson the head of a vast criminal enterprise in Atlantic City. Jimmy Darmody ran afoul of Nucky, exiled himself to Chicago, got hardened, returned, and tucked himself under the wing of his father, the Commodore. The Commodore was dying and forced to watch Nucky take over his old fiefdom without anything so much as a tip of the hat in the 'Dore's direction, which made the old man angry. He got angrier when it was discovered that his maid was slowly poisoning him to death and Nucky elected to let her leave town rather than punish her, but hey, at least he wasn't dying anymore. Margaret made Nucky smile, so he killed her abusive husband. He also installed Chalky as a capo, of sorts, as he played the part of Friend of the Negro without upsetting Whitey too much, a very fine line to walk indeed. In making the moves on Margaret, Nucky spurned Lucy Danziger, his baby-voiced, clothing-averse paramour. Lucy embarrassed herself in several ways, then went and slid on up to IRS agent Nelson Van Alden, who was busy investigating the illegal liquor racket in Atlantic City in the most clearly unbalanced way possible. Lucy ended up pregnant with the world's craziest, most over-acting baby, genetically-speaking. Meanwhile, Nucky had locked horns with notorious World-Series-fixing Arnold Rothstein, who tasked the nogoodnik D'Allessio brothers with, among other things, shooting Nucky's brother Eli. But when Rothstein needed Nucky's help to get him out of an indictment for fixing the Series, they struck a deal, which left the D'Allessios out in the cold. And also murdered by Jimmy and Jimmy's new best pal Richard "Half-Face" Harrow. But Nucky had left too many hard feelings over the course of the season, leading to the secret alliance of the Commodore, his son Jimmy, and Nucky's disgruntled brother Eli, who decided to take control of Atlantic City for themselves. Caught up!
We open the season with a scene reminiscent of the show's (terrible) credits: bottles washing ashore in Atlantic City. While the show's version of Sophie Tucker (holla, Kathy Brier!) sings, "When you get what you want/You don't want what you get," on the soundtrack, we get a montage of the goings-on in Atlantic City. Nucky and his city-council brethren are carousing until all hours. Jimmy and Richard are patrolling the liquor deliveries from the boats. Chalky receiving that sweet Canadian Club at his warehouse, grimacing his usual grimace. Eli checking out his giant awful scar in the mirror. The Commodore, newly invigorated now that he doesn't have poison coursing through his veins anymore, is practicing combat with hilarious spear-like weapons in his room with all the taxidermied big game in it.