We're then spirited away from the Boardwalk to a Federal training facility where the boys Jimmy might've gone to Princeton with are training to uphold and defend the laws of the nation. "The first line of defense in the war against illegal liquor," says the speaker at their graduation ceremony. While the boys are being sworn in, a stone-faced Michael Shannon looks out over them. How that mere fact doesn't scare even one of them into running for their lives, I will never know. Michael Shannon scares me.
Over in Nucky's hotel room, we're treated to a close-up of a photo of Nucky's late wife, quite clearly portrayed by Deadwood alum Molly Parker. Clever one-off nod to HBO's programming history, or are we due some flashback action soon? Anyway, the ideal of Nucky's romantic past gives way to his tawdry present, as he wakes up alongside Floozy Lucy from last night. That awakening comes from a jittery Eddie, who tells Nucky that there is a pregnant woman here to see him. After Nucky's heart attack subsides, Eddie elaborates that she's one of the "Tempermance League" woman, which calms Nucky down some.
Down in the hotel lobby, a fairly important contingent is being welcomed to the hotel. As the men -- "Big" Jim Colosimo, Johnny Torrio, Arnold Rothstein, and Charles "Lucky" Luciano" make their introductions, Michael Shannon glowers at them from across the room as he gets his shoes shined.
Elsewhere in the hotel, Kelly MacDonald pages through an issue of Vogue (!) for a few pages before the flapper fashions bewilder her into closing the magazine. It's not hard to understand why. The 1920 equivalent of Anna Wintour would not have approved of such heavy wool garments nor the fact that she's monstrously fat. Or pregnant, whatever. While Eddie ushers her in to see Nucky, an impatient Omar from The Wire says to tell Nucky he ain't got all day. Hope you liked this week's installment of Hey! That's Omar From The Wire! Inside Nucky's office, Eddie introduces "Miss Schroeder" and pantomimes a pregnant belly, just in case Nucky forgot. Here's the dynamic: Margaret Schroeder is nervous and ashamed to be coming to Nucky hat in hand, while Nucky is extremely polite, with absolutely no trace of the concealed malice that earlier HBO anti-heroes (Tony Soprano, Al Swearengen) have exhibited. It was about here that I started to think we had something new with this guy. He puts her at ease, talking about her lingering Irish accent and his late wife (she died of consumption, leaving him no children). Margaret confesses that her husband is a drinker and a gambler and he's left their family broke. After shooing away an interrupting Lucy (whose disheveled slattern image could not be in starker contrast to Margaret's buttoned-upedness), Nucky elicits that Margaret is looking for employment for her lout of a husband. He's a baker's assistant, but only during tourist season. Nucky instead hands her a wad of cash, which of course she refuses at first. TV characters are always doing that. I would make the worst TV character. Anyway, Nucky insists and puts the money in her hand. Margaret is moved and offers to name her child after him. "Enoch? You couldn't possibly be so cruel," Nucky smirks with what again seems like genuine good humor. Look, I'm not saying the guy's a saint, but I'm intrigued that the show's designated criminal boss is still holding on to a core decency that, for example, Tony Soprano never had and Al Swearengen needed time to develop.