This episode had it all! All of the things that have been making Boardwalk Empire increasingly excruciating. We've got a side plot that absolutely nobody is interested in (Gillian's having trouble staying above water at the Maison Derriere!), a random act of violence in order to goose a flagging storyline (Van Alden thinks the prohie he met in the raid is onto his secret identity, so when the guy comes by the house, Sigrid cracks his head open with a wooden beam or something, so Van Alden has to approach O'Banion in order to dispose of the body), and Jimmy James acting like a weirdo while being asked to care about rooting out corruption in Washington. Oh, and as a bonus, the show gets some laughs out of pitting the black guys against the coded-gay-guy when Nucky sends Chalky and Purnsley to intimidate Eddie Cantor into saving Billie's Broadway show. It's really such a charming show.
Nucky's busy on a lot of fronts this week, as Rothstein is furious about the Rosetti blockade and questioning whether Nucky's head is even in the game. It appears that Rothstein goes to Tabor Heights and strikes a backroom deal with Rosetti to change suppliers. But it turns out to be all a ruse in order to ambush Rosetti in his hotel room (where he's taken to choke play with the local waitress). Only they put Benny Siegel in charge of the assassination, and Rosetti made it out alive. Unfortunately.
Meanwhile, Margaret is having trouble getting Atlantic City women to actually avail themselves of the women's clinic's free services. She also is clearly growing ever more fond of Dr. Mason, so of course this is the week we meet his wife. Her week goes from bad to worse when, on a flyer-delivering trip to the Belle Femme, she runs into Nucky, who is buying a dress for Billie, who emerges from the dressing room and has a meeting with Margaret that would chill your bones. Then Margaret hands her a flyer for the women's clinic, because she's still pretty gangster this season.
For the second consecutive week, we're reminded at the outset just what network we're watching by an explicit sex scene. This time, we're in Tabor Heights and it seems that Rosetti was indeed able to bed that redheaded waitress he had his eye on. Of course, Gyp Rosetti can't just have regular sex. Gyp Rosetti is a quirky gangster whose every gesture exudes an odd and off-kilter air. So while a guard sits outside his room, Gyp engages in super-freaky sex wherein the lady is choking him out with a leather belt from behind, while he -- deprived of oxygen -- rubs one out. When she starts to let up, out of a concern that she's perhaps choking him to death, he yells at her not to stop. He ends up passing out, but he's not dead. He's so hardcore and crazy and dangerous and unpredictable, you guys! This is why we watch cable dramas!
In Atlantic City, Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano are meeting with Nucky and Sleater and Eli to discuss the Rosetti problem. Eli gives his account of the ambush and he even snaps back at Rothstein when the latter starts to intimate that Eli showed cowardice by just hanging back while it happened. Nucky actually lets him continue, showing that he's probably thawing on his wayward brother and Eli explains how, with Rosetting choking off the road through Tabor Heights and the backroads essentially impassable in the wintertime, there is no way to ship the booze to New York. Nucky even has to defend his million-dollar highway, which is still in development, though he manages to avoid the part where his wife signed the deed for the land over to her pastor. Nucky thanks Eli for his input and excuses him. Rothstein is just suuuper pissed about this state of affairs. He can't make a move against Rosetti without upsetting the delicate relationship he has with the guy Rosetti kicks up to: Joe Masseria. Rosetti doesn't have any respect for rules and is basically a mad dog, Nucky declares. That makes him bad for business. Rothstein asks Luciano and Sleater to give him and Nucky the room alone, and that's when shit stops being polite and starts getting real. Rothstein basically calls Nucky an amateur. Nucky's a convenience of geography and supply, nothing more. So when Nucky stops being able to handle his business in New Jersey ("a state I have little interest in or affection for..."), does he actually expect him to start a war in New York, "where things actually matter?!" A+ shade there, Arnold. Nucky tries to once again make the case that Rosetti is a problem for everyone, but Rothstein stays on the offensive, accusing Nucky of running off to New York at a moment's notice "to rut with a showgirl." Nucky warns him to leave Miss Kent out of this, but Rothstein's like, "You can't." The accusations still fly: Nucky calls Rothstein "dead below the waist" and a "little weasel with a good poker face." Bam! Bam!