War has broken out in Atlantic City, the streets are red with the blood of gangsters, et cetera. Morale is low among Gyp's men at the Maison Derriere, and at Nucky's Lumber Yard, the Chicagoans and the Blacks are brawling like every other minute. This can't go on much longer. The big break in the case actually starts with Mickey Doyle, infuriatingly enough. He's been stationed at Overholt (Andrew Mellon's distillery) and the place looks lucrative as hell. Nucky's not exactly in a position to capitalize on it, so Mickey gives Arnold Rothstein a call and floats the idea that intervening on Nucky's behalf could be an easy way to get his hands on such a profitable enterprise. Rothstein makes Nucky an offer, and Nucky agrees.
Now, by this point, Rothstein and Masseria have already screwed Luciano and Lansky out of their heroin business (those cops last week were Rothstein's guys) and are suddenly business associates. So Rothstein is easily able to convince Masseria to pull his men out of Atlantic City. In exchange, Nucky agrees to give him 99% of Overholt. So Masseria pulls his men, on the same night that Gillian's plan to use S&M tactics to get the jump on Rosetti goes awry (he ends up shooting HER full of heroin). With Masseria's men, gone, the Maison Derriere is left wide open. But it's not Nucky's men who take out Rosetti's -- it's Richard Harrow, storming the castle to save Tommy, which he does, in spectacular fashion. Richard then drops Tommy off at Julia's, before leaving to walk the earth and live the solitary life of a killer. Or something.
Nucky and Eli are pretty happy that they don't have to shoot through any of Gyp's men at the Maison. But Rosetti's already flown the coop. Meantime, Capone and Chalky's guys ambush Masseria's men on their way out of town. Gyp makes it out alive with three flunkies in tow, one being Tonino, who escaped Atlantic City despite being hidden in a closet when the Thompsons arrive. Rosetti decides he's done with Atlantic City, and the whole east coast really. He kind of loses his mind, in a very Daffy Duck way, but he intends to head West. Until Tonino stabs him dead, at Nucky's request. Tonino then heads back to NYC to deliver an "are we done with this shit or what?" message to Masseria.
Oh, also, Nucky gets Gaston Means to blow the whistle on Rothstein's control of Overholt to Andrew Mellon, who places a call to Esther Randolph and asks her to kindly head on down to Pennsylvania and shut Overholt down.
Meantime, Margaret seeks out an abortion in Brooklyn and then refuses money from Nucky to come back to Atlantic City. So Nucky doesn't have everything back. And in the best news of the night: not a single word about Nelson Van Alden. Happy off-season!
Previously: there were about nineteen different story threads going on at once all season, and by the time Gyp Rosetti and Joe Masseria killed first Nucky's and then Margaret's piece on the side, things started to come together. Nucky fled, then regrouped, backed up by Chalky White and Al Capone's guys from Chicago.
Here's the thing: I hate Al Capone's smug fucking face, is the thing. I hate this go-nowhere storylines, his deaf kid, his hotheaded temper reminiscent of so many Sopranos jerkoffs before him. But mostly I hate his face. So it's not exactly great news that he's back in the game.
Hey so remember that movie trailer for Gangster Squad that never actually became a movie, at least not yet? Well I think they may have just sold that movie for parts because the opening scene of this episode is just that trailer. Cool-looking, starkly lit shots of gangsters wiping each other out indiscriminately. On loading docks, in alleys, at the casino, daytime, nighttime, on the Boardwalk, in the woods. It's a war of attrition, and it's tough to tell which side is winning.
Interspersed with these gorgeous images of violence are scenes of the press hounding Mayor Bader, asking him if he's lost control of the city. He stresses that this is just gang-on-gang violence, so the law-abiding people have nothing to fear. Sound reasoning, Mayor! I know I'm reassured. At one point, the reporters all start asking to hear about Nucky Thomspon so insistently that Bader finally snaps, "Let's get something straight: Nucky Thompson doesn't run this city! I do!" Followed by a textbook pause for effect, then deafening laughter from the reporters. Very cute, yes, everybody's in on the premise of this TV show, then. Bader then stomps off in a huff like he's in a Looney Tunes cartoon. It won't be the first time that comparison is made tonight.
And Mickey Doyle doesn't really count, as he's always a cartoon. But he's on the phone with Nucky and being infuriatingly glib about things given how hairy things are back in Atlantic City. Mickey's in Pennsylvania, Nucky having sent him to go take care of the Overholt distillery that he's running for Andrew Mellon. Mickey keeps hinting that Nucky should come down and take a look, before Nucky's like, "Asshole. I'm under threat of death every time I open a window. Maybe just tell me?"
All the while, Nucky's looking out to the lumber yard outside, as Chalky's men and Capone's men are getting into a series of scuffles. It's a loose coalition, I guess. Mickey finally spells it out for Nucky: Overholt is major. If he can get it up and running, Nucky will be the top bootlegger on the whole country. Nucky can't even concentrate on the implications with the fight outside getting more serious.