Nucky's feeling the pressure of the upcoming election, of the demands of his various hangers-on, and of an increasingly dissatisfied Margaret. He's not even able to properly enjoy the showmanship of the great Hardeen! Margaret walks in on Nucky promising a handout (and maybe more, wink-wink) to Anabelle, which gives her an excuse to unload on Nucky about how he's been using her. He, in turn, throws her Lysol birth control back in her face, and then moves on to her late husband, leading to the truth about his ugly demise coming out. Margaret may have a hell of a lot of nerve acting surprised by this, but regardless, she smacks Nucky and ends up moving out of his suite.
Nucky takes his concerns to Eli, who is livid that so many of their secrets -- secrets that could cost their regime the elections -- rest in Margaret's pissed-off hands. They have another of their blowup fights, and later on, while he's bitching out his inner circle of morons, he announces that Eli is out as sheriff and Halloran is in.
Jimmy gets word that his father, our great unknown of the series so far, is dying and Gillian wants Jimmy to go see him. Turns out, Jimmy's dad is the Commodore! So we fill in a few more blanks: Commodore impregnated Gillian when she was thirteen, and since Nucky was the one who procured her, he's always felt protective of her and her offspring. Meanwhile, Jimmy quite sensibly can't stand his father and sees him as a monster. The Commodore does ask Jimmy to hear him out on one point: the wrong man is currently running Atlantic City. Jimmy has another revelation of his own, though this one he only tells his Ma: seems Gillian has been poisoning the Commodore all this time.
Meanwhile, Angela is planning on running away with Tommy and Mary -- even going so far as to leave the note for Jimmy -- but she finds that Mary packed up the night before and left with her husband.
Van Alden is being super-obvious about how he doesn't quite believe Sebso's account of the Billy Winslow shooting. It's not entirely clear if this is because he's onto Sebso's connection with Nucky or if he's merely judging Sebso as spiritually wanting. Well, he is a Jew, after all. Nucky suggests Sebso lead Van Alden to a small-potatoes bust that will keep his mind off his suspicions. Instead, they come across a congregation of black revivalists doing baptisms in the water. After some Christian dick-measuring between Van Alden and the pastor, Van Alden leaves them alone, but when his suspicions about Sebso persist, he brings his junior agent back to the river, where the same congregation watches Van Alden "baptize" an unwilling Sebso, which adds up to Van Alden drowning his Jew ass in the river. It's a shocking moment whose audacity nearly masks the fact that it's the dumbest fucking thing this show has done in eleven episodes.
Discuss this episode in our forums, then see why our vloggers think this show is like Gangster Babies, below!
Want to immediately access TWoP content no matter where you are online? Download the free TWoP toolbar for your web browser. Already have a customized toolbar? Then just add our free toolbar app to get updated on our content as soon it's published.
A man hangs upside-down, his face red with anguish as he struggles against unseen restraints. We're supposed to be thinking this is perhaps the latest D'Alessio brother to be cut down on Nucky's slash-and-burn march to the sea, but no, it's merely The Great Hardeen, brother to Houdini, trying to escape from a straight jacket while hanging upside down. He's actually not very good at it, taking about seven minutes to do what Houdini could probably do in half that time. Margaret and Anabelle applaud him anyway, while a sour Nucky sits on his hands and Harry Price sweats over some unspoken turmoil.
At the Darmody What's-the-Opposite-of-Love Shack, Jimmy and Angela poke at their dinner in silence, before he gets a phone call from Gillian. "My father's dying," he explains to Angela. He's promised his mother he'll go visit him tomorrow.
Agents Van Alden and Sebso are dining out at the local Chinese restaurant (cue the appropriate Asian harp plucking). At this point, Van Alden is just throwing shade at everything Sebso does, from his proficiency with chopsticks to his claims of regret about the Winslow shooting -- it's all suspicious to Van Alden. He tries to go over the incident moment by moment, his eyes getting crazier and his vocab drifting closer to that faux-scripture cadence he favors ("under the pretext of his need to micturate"??). I just realized: replace Van Alden's Christianity with beets or arcane survivalist knowledge and Nelson Van Alden becomes Dwight Schrute. This doesn't help my increasing weariness with his antics. I can't say it's entirely due to my Michael Shannon ambivalence, either. I actually get a kick out of how it seems to both offend and obsess Van Alden to have to talk about Winslow whipping it out to take a roadside pee. As the character has gotten more manic, he's gotten miles less interesting, and this episode -- what's to come -- really takes him past a point of no return. And really, did we need another story about Christian repression manifesting itself in violence and perversion? Anyway, Sebso repeats his story once again, and Van Alden bluntly (predictably) refuses to eat the dirty, heathen Chinese soup.
Up in Nucky's apartment, Hardeen uses his dubious illusion skills to pull some sleight-of-hand on Margaret and Anabelle. The ladies eat it up, which perturbs Nucky all the more. Not that Hardeen isn't a puffed-up gasbag. When Nucky notes that Houdini managed to pull off the straight-jacket trick while hanging off the Garden Pier, Hardeen defensively smirks that the principle of the escape is the same whether hanging five feet or fifty. Which seems to sum up Hardeen just fine: smug in his conviction that he's just as clever as his brother, but he's not half the showman. So who gets remembered? Anyway, all this time, Harry's been sweating and fidgeting and very obviously anguished about something. When all that fishing doesn't elicit one bite, he finally blurts out in frustration and asks if anybody even reads the paper. Apparently he's in financial ruin, swindled by a New York money-making scheme run by one Charles Ponzi. Don't these people know anyone who isn't historically significant? Nucky doesn't so much empathize with his friend as he chides him for believing such a return on investment was possible. Anabelle, however, is more concerned. "You're completely broke?" she asks. At this, Harry's woe-is-me routine morphs into some very unconvincing "We'll be okay, baby!" bright-siding. She doesn't buy it, as she shouldn't. "You fat, worthless fool!" she shouts before storming out, Harry panting and waddling out behind her. These two are delightful, the Gold-Digger and the Fat One. I'm really glad they've arrived to brighten up the canvass. Remind me of these guys the next time someone compares this ensemble of characters to Deadwood.