Boardwalk Empire

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Warren G. Harding: An American Compromise

At the Post Office/makeshift FBI office, Agent Van Alden is putting more pins in his map of Atlantic City when one of his underlings comes in with a letter, saying, "We've got another one." This would be another letter addressed to Angela Darmody. I guess it's not surprising to see that Van Alden's been the one intercepting these parcels. His perch at the post office gives him ample opportunity. He opens the letter to reveal a pretty hefty wad of cash. Rather than pocket it, Van Alden opens a drawer, revealing weeks upon weeks' worth of similar cash-filled envelopes Jimmy has sent. He adds this new one to the pile.

In NYC, Arnold Rothstein is meeting with his attorney, and much like the last time we saw them, they're discussing the 1919 World Series, and the scandal that's been drummed up around it. It seems the scandal hasn't gone away as they'd hoped, and now Rothstein is practicing answers he's prepared to give to investigators. The story he's going with is that gamblers -- including the boxer Abe Atell -- approached him to get in on fixing the Series and he turned them down. Furthermore -- he says while summoning his most righteously indignant tone -- he has too much respect for the game as a national institution to besmirch it in such a way. His only crime is in being the kind of man people come to with harebrained ideas. "Certainly suffering fools can't be illegal," he appeals. The lawyer is impressed. Says Arnold should be a lawyer. Rothstein pulls a line out of the hackiest "Bon Mots and Lawyer Jokes, 1879" pamphlet and says he prefers to make his living legally. Because he's a criminal, see!

Nucky makes it to the Harding party and it's like For Stuffy White Guys Who Considered the Freemasons when the Republican Party Was Enuf. Nucky doesn't waste much time introducing himself to Harry Daugherty, who is played by heroic Hey! It's That Guy Christopher McDonald, aka Shooter McGavin aka the game show host from Quiz Show. Nucky conveys Edge's regrets, but Daugherty says the word is that Nucky's the man to see anyway. This may not just be simple flattery either -- Daugherty has heard that as Nucky goes, so goes the New Jersey delegation. He also thinks Harding/Edge sounds like a winning ticket, but Nucky dubious. Because first of all, who the eff is Harding? Daugherty does some electoral tap-dancing around the weak-seeming front-runners and comes up with a scenario where Harding would seem like the best of a bad bunch. Nucky looks across the room and notes that Harding "certainly looks like a President," which Daugherty says is "half the battle," especially if women get the vote. That's true -- women would've never let a fatty like Taft in the White House. Daugherty goes to fetch Harding, and while he does Nucky is distracted by a woman and her baby trying (and failing) to get into the room to see "Warren." Nucky is, of course, drawn like a moth to a flame. If Nucky were a superhero, his Batsignal would be a silhouette of a destitute woman and her barefoot and undersized toddler. Daugherty eventually does return with Harding, who has much to say about getting America "back to normal," and pushing things like stability and prosperity. You can see why this guy inspired such a frenzy.

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Boardwalk Empire

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