Nucky Thompson wants out, but that was never going to happen. To think what fun Nucky and Sally’s Cuban Vacation could have been in Season 5. So it’s not that surprising that this episode would be a little less of a season-capping resolution that ties up most loose ends. It’s a little more open-ended than that…at least, for some.
So, the body count, then: Agent Knox (Jim Tolliver), Maybelle White, Richard Harrow.
Knox: killed by an enraged Eli Thompson in a fight that makes the Purnsley-Chalky Brawl look like a pillow fight. Eli used a fucking saw, for god’s sake. Knox -- feeling squeezed by Hoover and pissed that the meeting Eli was supposed to set up didn’t happen -- shows up at the Thompson house and threatens Eli with Willie being raped in prison. Eli has to go into hiding (in Chicago, escorted by former crazy lawman Van Alden). Willie’s in charge of the family (and a little less naïve about the family business) given that he walked in on his Uncle Nucky holding a gun to the forehead of his kneeling father. Willie’s appearance is what stays Nucky’s hand (also partly because Eli reveals he knows about the murder Willie committed) and shatters whatever illusion Willie has about his uncle. I suppose the rest of the family is wondering if Eli’s insurance policy is voided when he murders the man who sold it to him.
Maybelle White: collateral damage in the showdown (although not final, as both men lived to the end of Season 4) between Chalky and Narcisse. Chalky begins the episode getting to Nucky, who convinces Chalky of his honorable intentions. Chalky confronts Narcisse at the Onyx Club, which is where we learn for certain that Narcisse had captured Maybelle. Chalky didn’t know that. He didn’t even know Maybelle’s wedding was off, having assumed that his future son-in-law’s family was always fully on board with their son marrying the daughter of a gangster who fled town after being wounded in a shootout with a heroin dealer.
You know who else didn’t know Narcisse had Maybelle? Richard Harrow, perched up high in the Onyx, his rifle pressed back into service to take out Narcisse. But he hesitates (no more killing for Richard, right?) and that hesitation puts the bullet through the skull of Maybelle, who happened to step in the line of fire at the last second. Chalky’s men -- Oscar Boneau’s old crew -- manage to haul him out of there just as federal agents raid the place, arresting Narcisse, and in a final indignity to Knox’s work and ambition, Hoover cuts a deal with Narcisse to have him inform on Marcus Garvey instead.
Richard doesn’t have to live with what he’s done very long. Wounded when Narcisse’s men opened return fire at the Onyx, he stumbles along under the boardwalk. After some intervening scenes, we see him traveling home, a bookend to the season premiere. Only instead of the cold stark winter of his last return, the family home is bathed in a golden glow enveloping his sister and her child on the porch, as well as the Sagorskys, with Tommy. If that’s not enough to tell you what’s going on, we see Richard look at the home, his face un-ruined by war, and while Daughter sings the blues in a dingy club somewhere, Richard dies under the boardwalk.
Daniel is a writer in Newfoundland with a wife and a daughter. Here’s hoping Paul F. Tompkins continues to get work, even with Richard Harrow gone. Follow him on Twitter (@DanMacEachern) or email him at email@example.com.
Lightning flashes in the distance, wind rustles the grass, and men guard the Albatross, while Nucky and Sarah are, as usual, flirting over the phone. Only I guess the men aren’t doing such a hot job guarding the place, as they seem to have been overtaken by some other men, who make them lie face down on the sand. While Sid is led, hands up at gunpoint into the Albatross, Nucky and Sally are speaking Spanish to each other. Sally’s is much better than Nucky’s, so he says he thinks he’ll let Sally do the talking "down there." She asks what he plans to do, and he says after today -- the last business he needs to take care of -- he doesn’t want to make any plans. That’s when Sid meekly calls to him from the doorway, and after an annoyed rebuke from Nucky doesn’t send Sid scurrying, Nucky turns in time to see Chalky marching him at gunpoint into the room, where he makes Sid lie down on the floor.
Nucky tells Sally he’ll call her back and hangs up ("Sorry, honey, but a former business partner hell-bent on revenge is here") and tries to tell Chalky that he looked all over for him. "You find me?" asks Chalky. Don’t answer, Nucky. It’s rhetorical! Nucky tries to explain, but Chalky’s in no mood, because "Narcisse" is the answer to two questions: "Who’s sitting in my club?" and “Who you cutting’ deals with?" Nucky admits it looks bad. "So he your nigger now, that right?” asks Chalky, and Nucky says, "Not right." (He thankfully doesn’t follow up with "You still my nigger.") But Chalky thinks he likes the idea of Nucky being Narcisse’s nigger even better, and gets angrier as Nucky tries to explain, because he’s wearing another man’s clothes and skulking around his house, unable to go in and see his family.
Nucky says Chalky has to trust him. "I don’t have to do nothing you ask, no how, nowhere," says Chalky. Nucky asks what he wants. "Narcisse", says Chalky. "You gotta believe me, Chalky. We want the same thing," says Nucky, and Chalky seems to be of the opinion that Nucky wants Narcisse now mainly because Chalky’s got a gun in his face.
In Washington, Director Hoover -- barely paying attention to Knox nipping at his heels -- tells the agent he can have his regular team plus eight additional agents. However, unlike the classic television show, eight isn’t enough for Knox, who points out that the men he’s going after are dangerous: Four of them, each with at least one armed guard. Knox also bristles when Hoover seems surprised he’s actually pulled this off. "Organized crime? I’m merely exhibiting healthy skepticism," says Hoover.