We open on Skid Row in Ocean City, NJ (which, Wikipedia alert, remains a dry county to this day). This is Agent Van Alden's boarding house, where poor Lucy is wasting her legendary charisma while Van Alden loudly butters his toast and chastises her about calling the baby in her belly "it." He also gets mad to hear that she spoke to a neighbor lady earlier. All Lucy wants is some company, some conversation, maybe some music. The family across the way has a Victrola to play Jolson with, for Pete's sake. Boy, it's really been from penthouse to outhouse for Lucy since Season 1. And vice-versa for Margaret. Would that ever drive Lucy nuts to think about. Lucy says she feels jailed, that she used to be out every night. Van Alden scoffs that, for a murdering election-rigger, Nucky probably showed her a great time. "I can't live like this!" Lucy whines. Van Alden assures her that once the child is born, she won't have to. That was the agreement. "Say what you want about Nucky," she whimpers at him. "At least he was fun."
Right now, Fun Nucky is pondering matters in his bathrobe. Margaret approaches him to say that she returned some of her clothes to La Belle Femme, in order to be thrifty in these challenging times. Nucky frowns at this -- they have to keep up appearances now more than ever. Plus he wants her in fancy things that he buys for her. He tells her to go buy them back and that they're fine. After Nucky leaves, Margaret checks the mail and sees one letter of particular interest: something from the Pinkertons. PINKERTONS! I made reference to this on Twitter and nobody really knew what I was talking about but: Deadwood connection! I may be the only person who remembers huge chunks of the first two seasons being Al Swearengen fretting about the Pinkertons getting all up in his biz.
At one of Atlantic City's fine casinos, Fleming has come to collect the weekly kickback from proprietor Lolly, played by Broadway's Danny Buerstein, who I just saw deliver an amazing performance in Follies, so I'm already predisposed to him. We also see that Owen Slater is wiping down glasses in the background. Guess Nucky found him that job. After engaging in some casual anti-Chinese racism (another Deadwood connection!), Lolly hands over his envelope, which he admits is light. "Light?!" Fleming goggles, "it's a damn dirigible!" Lolly's like, "You making that joke a lot lately, huh?" He doesn't even bother to be abashed about the short payment. Instead, he gives Fleming a tutorial on how the casino biz works: players lose money, get mad, get free drinks, get happy, win money, get more free drinks, get drunk, lose it all back. It's the economy, stupid. And the whole fucking equation depends on alcohol. Fleming gets testy, says Lolly just got a shipment of alcohol. "Yeah," Lolly returns, "the cheap shit!" Fleming snaps back that times are tough. "Nucky's fightin' for his life!" Lolly: "Ah, we're all fightin' for our lives!" Boy, ain't that the truth. As one famously lightweight drinker once said, they're ignoring your pain because they're too busy dealing with their own. Anyway, now that I've done the impossible and tied Boardwalk Empire to Buffy, Lolly says he's gonna need the booze from Nucky ... or from somebody else.