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.