Boardwalk Empire

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Warren G. Harding: An American Compromise

Up in Nucky's office, Eli and the aldermen are watching a movie reel of priest/nun fetish porn. Because even back in the 1920s, adult male sexuality was deeply confusing. The men hoot and holler and crack jokes, and it's generally what I expect Entourage episodes to be like, so nice try with the sneaky marketing, HBO! When the film goes off the reel, Neri and the boys talk show -- collections and all. Eli announces that he'll be taking the collection at the casino, filling in for O'Neill. The men (well ... "men") continue to watch and drink and grunt semi-literate sounds of appreciation at the friar tagging Sister Mary Frances in the ass, until suddenly the film catches fire. Too hot for TV indeed.

Chicago. Nucky (with Eddie) enters Johnny Torrio's good-time club with all the grim determination of a man on the way to a dentist appointment. Nucky's annoyed by the heightened security (in the wake of the Irish massacre), and don't think he doesn't notice that Torrio doesn't call off the pat-down until after his goons have been satisfied. Torrio makes like he's going to offer Nucky a drink, but he can't because the liquor shipment Nucky promised isn't in yet. And his natives are getting restless, particularly the whores, who are all over something called a "Mary Pickford cocktail" (rum and grenadine, if you're feeling curious ... or if you have whores coming over, I suppose). Nucky does his best to calm Johnny's nerves, then changes the subject to politics. He asks about Daugherty and Harding from Ohio, and while Torrio hasn't heard either of their names before, Ohio gives him the idea to call over Judge Graves, an apparently nine-foot-tall good-natured man with a taste for black ladies. Graves's take on Harding: "He's a puppet for the fast-money boys in Cleveland." Atlantic City, Cleveland -- gotta love the loci of power in 1920s America. Graves may not think much of Harding, but he thinks quite a bit of Daugherty. "These Ohio fellas know what they're doing. Five Presidents since the civil war." Nucky takes it in, while Graves takes off to be with his specially-delivered dark lady of the evening. Meanwhile, Nucky is distracted -- surprisingly enough, it's not by an unwed mother this time. It's Jimmy.

Jimmy's throwing out some pervert who went too far with one of the ladies. Between the new suit and the confident demeanor, Jimmy's clearly come into his own here, and Nucky sees it immediately. Jimmy spots Nucky sitting with Torrio, and so commences a suuuuper awkward conversation, where the dynamic seems to be Jimmy trying to make pleasant conversation and Nucky giving short, condescending answers. What's he doing in Chicago? "I've been coming to Chicago since before you were born, James." (Torrio: "Who do you think lit that fire?" Heh.) After rolling his eyes at Jimmy's new suit (awfully Eli of you, Nucky), Nucky calls over to Eddie (who's been having his crotch massaged by a hooker for the last five minutes) and says to call them a cab. Jimmy offers to drive them himself, but Nucky uses that as an excuse to tell Jimmy that they've all been getting along just fine without him in Atlantic City -- even his wife and kid. He says the next time he feels like buying himself an expensive wristwatch, send the money home instead. Jimmy takes offense, saying he writes home every week, it's Angela who never writes back. Both men are too pissed at each other now to investigate further into this discrepancy, and Nucky just storms off.

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Boardwalk Empire

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