Hey! It's New Year's Eve, 1922, and 1923 is shaping up to be full of the same old shit for the various bootleggers of America. Bobby Cannavale is on the show now as a Sicilian bootlegger named Gyp Rosetti, and right away he beats an old man to death for insulting his intelligence and steals his little Uggie dog. Good start!
Nucky running things in Atlantic City with an inner circle of dunce-y Mickey Doyle, lurking Manny Horvitz, and brooding sex machine Owen Sleater. He finds out some yutz from Philly has been stealing from him and commissions Manny to go take care of him, which Manny does in exchange for his own slice of the business. Before Manny can get to the murdering, though, he's met by an out-for-a-stroll Richard Harrow, who shotguns him through the skull as payback for Angela Darmody and I guess maybe Jimmy too. (Richard, meanwhile, is living in the Commodore's old mansion, which is now Gillian's brothel, where she's convincing Tommy that she's his mother and glowering at Richard to do the same.)
There's trouble in Chicago between the Irish and the Italians, and after Torrio keeps Capone from avenging an insult on his son made by one Dean O'Banion, Capone heads to Irish-town for some vengeance. But when he gets to O'Banion's flower shop (don't ask), who randomly bumbles in the door but Agent Van Alden, a.k.a. George Meuller, door-to-door salesman. O'Banion gets Van Alden to pretend to be his muscle and scare Capone off, and it looks like this is the beginning of maybe Van Alden getting in with the Irish mob? He could use the cash, as the salesman thing isn't exactly keeping him and Sigrid and baby Abigal flush.
Margaret's donation of land to the Church has led to a pediatric care wing named after Mr. and Mrs. Thompson, and while touring the place, Margaret witnesses a miscarriage at the hospital and informed by a cute if opinionated doctor about the hospital's shameful state of prenatal care. At her and Nucky's insanely extravagant New Year's Eve party, Margaret brings this up with Dr. Landau, who gets defensive and tells Nucky that Margaret is accusing him of malpractice. Nucky manages to smooth things over, but later, after all the guests leave, we see that Nucky and Margaret's marriage is basically only keeping up appearances. He yells at her about the dustup with Dr. Landau, and then he goes back to his bachelor pad and his grand new mistress.
Before that, though, at the party, Nucky holds a meeting with Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, George Remus, and Gyp Rosetti, where he announces that, due to political pressure, he'll only be selling his liquor to one buyer from now on: Mr. Rothstein. This pisses Rosetti right off, and he basically blazes a trail of threats and recriminations on his way out the door. So I guess we have an antagonist.
Previously: Some shit went down. Jimmy Darmody bit off way more of Atlantic City than he could chew, pissed off Manny Horvath to the point that Manny went and killed Jimmy's wife, and then was finally done in by Nucky in the finale. Nucky, meanwhile, married Margaret and -- more importantly -- signed the deed for valuable highway land over to Margaret to keep it away from the Fed... only when Nucky was cleared, Margaret signed it back not to Nucky but to the Church, because marrying a murdering gangster is one thing, but you probably ought to hedge your bets with God while you're doing it. Oh, and Agent Van Alden had a baby with Lucy Danziger (who's not in the cast anymore, FYI) and then went on the run for murdering Agent Sebso, settling down with his daughter and nanny/wife Sigrid in Al Capone's neck of the woods.
We kick things off in Tabor Heights, in the great state of New Jersey, where the recognizable mug of Bobby Cannavale looks out over the ocean. He's traveling with something of an entourage and his car's got a flat and they can't change the tire because the lugs are stuck. An old man stops his car behind them and gets out with his Uggie dog and approaches them. He's appraised of the stuck-lug situation and says he's got some "3-in-1" in the glove box of his car that might help. Bobby looks annoyed and says he doesn't know what that is. "It's oil," says the old man, almost reflexively, "what else?" He retrieves the oil and gets to work on the wheel.
From behind him, Bobby butts in: "It could have been a tool?" The old man is confused. "Could have been a wrench." He means the 3-in-1. The old man doesn't know he's in an HBO show about gangsters, where even the most unintended slight against one of the main characters will get your head caved in, without exception, so he actually says he doesn't see how "3-in-1" could imply "wrench" to someone. Bobby says maybe a solvent, then. The point isn't what it might have been. The point is that he wants it clear to everybody that not knowing 3-in-1 oil is not the mark of an imbecile. He explains some more, this time saying he grew up in Sicily, where they had olive oil, not this bullshit 3-in-1 business. Finally, the old man twigs to his insult and apologizes, saying he didn't mean anything by it.
Bobby's face breaks into a most unconvincing smile as he says he was pulling the old man's leg. He pets the dog, whose name is Regina. "It means queen," the guy says. Boy, you just don't know when to slink away quietly, do you, old timer? Obviously, Bobby Cannavale knows Regina means queen! How dare you? The old man returns to his car, and of course Bobby runs up from behind him and bashes his head in with the tire iron, hollering about "What else?"