Boardwalk Empire 2.9 – Battle of the Century

Some people are born stupid and will die stupid (see left, not this week sadly). Other people will die thinking they are brilliant with a bullet or a cleaver to the brain (this week).

Some people will make out with strangers and some will have sex with coworkers (this week). Some people will be intimidated by the people getting the sex.

And some people will mourn the loss of a loved one while others prepare for loss (this week). To find out who these people are, read on.

We open in Belfast with loads of arriving passengers. Nucky and Owen present their passports at customs. He’s got his dad’s coffin to bury his dad in the land of his birth. The customs agent asks if it was an accident, but he’s referring to Nucky’s hand not his deceased father. Nucky replies that he got caught in the wrong cookie jar. Customs dude is not amused.

Customs dude: “Welcome to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.”
Owen (a little surprised and definitely not amused): “God save his majesty George the Fifth.”

Back home Margaret receives a telegram delivery that the men have arrived safely. Katie thinks it’s miraculous that in only 6 days he’s there. Yes, Kate. The miracle of the steam engine. (Was the Titanic a miracle?) Nanny comes down to say that Emily won’t get out of bed. Margaret goes upstairs and Emily says she can’t move her legs. I’m guessing polio. Margaret tries touching her and Emily says she can’t feel anything. And she can’t wiggle her toes. Margaret yells for Katie to get the doctor immediately. Margaret holds her little girl and rocks her saying “it’s nothing.”

At the Darmody home, George Remus has come to visit. He comments about them meeting in a house and Jimmy says he’s looking for an office. Meyer and Lucky are there. So are Capone and old Mickey Doyle — in a neck brace. (Would you hang out with someone who threw you off a balcony? This guy just gets dumber and dumber. It’s like he bumped his head or something.)

Remus continues to use the third person. Jimmy wants to buy booze and gets the response, “Remus has permits that allow him to sell this alcohol to legitimate drug companies only.” However, once it’s sold and then loaded onto a truck it’s out of his hands. Yay, hijacking. Jimmy asks how he could learn where to find Remus’s trucks. It will cost him. “Remus needs the money up front.”

Remember how Remus got pissed at Nucky about the phone charges when he last visited AC? ell, this trip he makes sure to confirm that the weekend in AC is on Jimmy. I can’t wait to see what kind of stuff Jimmy’s left to pay for. And where will he be staying? Certainly can’t be at the Ritz.

They’ve got to pay $300k for 500 cases. Up front. Good grief. Meyer brings up Manny. They still need to pay him (or kill him). Jimmy says he’ll take care of it. Lucky and Meyer are going to Jersey City to see Dempsey fight. They invite Jimmy to go with, but he declines.

At the funeral parlor in Ireland, Nucky stares at some lovely device with blood in it. Then the funeral director (I assume) asks about the upcoming Dempsey fight. He’s up against some Frenchman. They chat a bit and then McGarrigle shows up: “Long way to come to bury the dead.” But there’s no dead in the casket. Just a dozen Thompson machine guns plus drum magazines — his donation to the rebellion. McGarrigle says one hundred would be better and Nucky replies that there are 3,000 sitting in the cellar of the Atlantic City Armory. He wants Irish whiskey in exchange — that’s the kind of deal I can get behind.

 

 

 

 

 

 

McGarrigle turns to Owen and says, “And that’s the kind of man you bring me.” Nucky reminds him that he was good enough for him in Atlantic City and that he was in want of weapons, which Nucky’s able to supply. Get off your Catholic high horse asshole (that’s my response, not Nucky’s — at least not Nucky’s verbal response, but I can tell he’s thinking it). Nucky wants to speak to the real man in charge if McGarrigle needs to check with other people.

Back in New Jersey, Eli, his wife, and their dozen or so kids are burying dear old dad as one of the AUSA lackey Lathrope (the one Nucky sent the peaches to)  looks on from his car a hundred feet away. Sheriff’s deputies are in attendance as well, along with other people.

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Margaret is not at the funeral, she’s home with Emily and the doctor is checking her out. He wiggles her foot then asks her to do the same. Nothing happens, but he’s got a good bedside manner and tells her “very good” before he turns to Margaret. Since Teddy sleeps in the same room, he needs to be removed and examined. She sends him out with the nanny.

Margaret asks if it’s polio and the doctor confirms that she has all the symptoms. They’ll have to quarantine her at the children’s hospital. Margaret is devastated. Then she says she cannot drive, he’ll have to take them.

In the Ritz kitchen a white manager tells one of the black men, whom he calls “boy” to be careful with the plates. The man says he has a name and the manager says he doesn’t “have to remember it, now do as you’re told.” They get a 10-minute break for lunch and the cook slops out some gruel for each of them in lovely gold-trimmed bowls. Our man from a minute ago is stabbing his food with a spoon and then turns to the cook (also black) and says, “I ever bite you, friend?” The cook is confused. The man asserts that they’re getting fed dog food, that they’d be better fed with the leftovers from room service (I’ve stayed at a Ritz and I would agree).

He comments to the others that they’re Uncle Toms for working like this and it’s then that I finally realize… it’s Dunn Pernsley. Apparently they didn’t beat him to death in that cell after all. He challenges that they’re working 12-hour days, 6 days a week, and that he got fed better and worked less when he was in jail. The manager comes back and asks if there’s a problem. Manager says one more word from Pernsley, and he’s fired. We get a closeup on the food and it looks like they got a blend of mashed potatoes and peas. I hate peas. Revolt, men! Revolt!

At the hospital, Emily’s on her side about to get a spinal tap. They won’t let her into the room with Emily because polio is so contagious. Emily starts to cry for her mom and then when they stick her, she screams. Poor girl. (If you haven’t had or witnessed a tap, it’s very painful.)

We’re in a dark bedroom now with a couple in bed. The woman says, “Your toenails are like talons” and the man replies, “So you’re saying I’m like an eagle.”  Ha! It takes a second to realize who it is and then the light comes on to confirm it. It’s Esther Randolph and Clifford Lathrope She’s smoking and then starts reviewing a file on Nucky. There’s evidence in there about Nucky killing Margaret’s husband.

“I’m your boss, Clifford,” she says as she gets out of bed. He held out on her about the funeral and she’s not pleased. Randolph’s the one who gave Nucky permission to take dad to Ireland. She wants to know why Clifford didn’t tell her about this earlier. Well, dear, he wanted to get laid. Duh. Randolph wants answers. “Belfast? God only knows what he’s doing over there.”

Well, it turns out that at this moment he’s demonstrating the Thompson gun. On a defenseless grandfather clock. 50 rounds per magazine. One of the men observing asks if he invented it, since it’s the Thompson. Just a happy coincidence, he says. Another asks how he happens to have so many of them. His non-answer is that they’re American made and and he’s American.

McGarrigle shows up late to say that the English have proposed a truce. They’re offering an independent state. Some of the men counter that that’s not freedom. They argue amongst themselves about whether to keep fighting or make peace, about what their goals really are. We find out McGarrigle lost his youngest a month ago — shot to the head.

Jimmy’s home with Richard. Before Richard even speaks, Jimmy says, “Yes.” He knows Richard is thinking something.  He asks about Jimmy’s assertion that he’ll find a nice girl and settle down. Jimmy still says it’ll happen. Jimmy’s looking out the window as some people arrive. Before they go to meet them Richard asks, “You’re my friend?” and Jimmy says yes. Richard asks if so, why did he make fun of him. Jimmy says he wasn’t and there’s sincerity there and a little sadness. Oh boys. The men outside are yelling and interfere before they can say more.

It’s Waxy Gordon and a body guard. They’ve got Manny as a common frienemy. Jimmy tells him that Manny killed his boy during the hijacking a few weeks earlier. He knows because he was standing next to him. Waxy asks about Herman (the guy Jimmy killed in Manny’s fridge) and Jimmy replies he should be careful where he gets his cutlets (mmmm, cannibal jokes).

They have drinks and settle down to chat. Waxy says last time he was in AC he dealt with Nucky. Jimmy says now he deals with him. Waxy’s man will take care of Manny and he asks Jimmy if that’s a problem. Jimmy says not for him.

At the Schroeder home they’re gathering all the children’s effects into baskets. Everything gets burned in the backyard. Katie and the nanny wear masks, but Margaret does not. Watching through the window, Tommy asks if Emily is going to die like Daddy. The other housekeeper/cook is leaving — she’s got her own children to be concerned about. The camera pans back to Emily’s doll burning on the top of the pile.

Slainte! Nucky and Owen are in a whiskey cellar having a taste along with another man. Nucky says it was worth the trip. The crates in the back say “Fitzgerald Malt Whiskey”. It’s a family-run business that’s in financial trouble in large part because of the Volstead Act. America was 85% of their business. Nucky asks for 10,000 cases on consignment and Fitzgerald says if there’s peace then he’ll see about making a deal, but that’ll be December at the earliest. Remember, it’s summertime right now. Nucky says that timeframe doesn’t help him. But Fitzgerald won’t go against McGarrigle and trade for the guns right now.

At the post office backroom, Randolph is dismissing someone, but not before bitching him out for being late getting there. There’s a sheriff’s deputy waiting for her. It’s Halloran. He comes in and makes a comment about “lady lawyers” and what’ll they think of next as though it’s something amazing. Randolph says “horeseless carriages” with a straight face and he responds that those already exist, totally missing her point. Halloran is not the sharpest deputy, but then he works for Eli so I guess he doesn’t have to be.

Lathrope comes in and reassures Halloran that they’ve asked to speak to Eli as well. Of course, it’s not really that reassuring. They ask him about his relationship with Eli — friendship as well as employee — and why he was ousted as sheriff the year before. Halloran says because Nucky’s the boss. Oops.

Randolph changes direction and asks if he was keeping the peace on the night of a domestic disturbance at the Schroeder home. He doesn’t remember, he’d “have to check the files.” He’s boxed in and finally cries out, “I know the law and I don’t have to go on sittin’ here if I don’t want to… Do I?” Randolph says they’ll be sure to let Sheriff Thompson know that Halloran stood up for him. Haha.

Chalky! He’s sharpening a knife in his shed when Pernsley shows up, politely addressing him as Mr. White. They banter a little that everything is good between them now and at the end of the summer Pernsley’s going back to Baltimore with a wad of green in his pocket. Pernsley’s brought an update from the kitchen. He says he’s pushing his luck with the bossman. It looks like Chalky planted him there to start a work stoppage, as Nucky had previously suggested. Pernsley says the other men are simmering, waiting on him to give them the word. Chalky says, “So go on, give it to ’em.”

Nucky and McGarrigle are having dinner. I’m assuming no hooved beasts this time around, though I’m not really paying attention to the food on their plate. “Arms for whiskey” is not McGarrigle’s preference. Nucky says he’d buy the booze outright if he had the money, but he doesn’t. Nucky asks if Britain has released any imprisoned men and what they’ve actually offered. He comments that they’ve just landed more troops and threatened martial law. McGarrigle, however, won’t budge; he’s taking a chance with the Brits. He challenges Nucky — what do the Irish really mean to him. Nucky says men like McGarrigle always end up turning to men like Nucky, then he excuses himself.

Nucky leaves the room but before Owen follows, McGarrigle requests a word with him. He asks what he’s been up to now that he’s not fighting the good fight. Owen says Nucky fights for money, but it keeps him busy. And Owen asserts that he has not changed, despite McGarrigle’s opinion otherwise. McGarrigle wants him to say and Owen seems disinterested (of course he’s not interested, he’s got Katie and Margaret both shagging him under one roof). He agrees, however, to continue helping in the fight.

At Manny’s shop in Philly, our favorite butcher is counting money. Someone knocks at the door, saying they have an emergency. Manny says he’s closed. The man speaks in Yiddish (I think) through the door about a burst pipe and needing two chickens for dinner. Manny tries to send him elsewhere but the guy won’t give up and finally he goes to let him in. As soon as he opens the door, the man runs away and someone steps out from behind a car and shoots Manny in the chest with a shotgun. Then the man comes running in and they struggle until Manny grabs a cleaver and splits his head in half. Once the man’s on the ground we can see that it’s Waxy’s guy from Atlantic City. Manny rifles through his pockets and comes up with a matchbox from a club there. Uh oh. And the shot to Manny? Just barely caught the top of his shoulder. I foresee a little revenge action coming up.

Maybe Manny thought he should part his hair in the middle.

In the kitchen at the Ritz all the staff are eating their crappy lunch again. Pernsley asks one man to tell him if he’s happy to eat the meal. The man says he’s happy to get paid. Pernsley gets the guys talking about how much money the men upstairs make compared to them. A bell rings and “happy to be paid” says they have to get back to work. Pernsley asks, “Says who?” The man says the manager will be around. There’s more complaining going around about their jobs and their pay and happy man isn’t buying into it. He says if they cry and complain, they’ll just get replaced. Pernsley asks what if they <I>all</I> refuse to work. Not just here but everywhere.

The manager comes in and fires Pernsley for not working and for complaining about the food again. Pernsley doesn’t move, though. “I said you’re fired, boy.” Pernsley says they all want a raise and a lunch that the manager himself would eat.

The manager urges the other men back to work, tells them get moving, but they refuse. Happy man finally loses it and throws his plate on the floor. Then everyone’s dropping their plates. The manager mutters “ignorant coon” and in response he gets pelted with food from all around. It’s a mini riot. It’s awesome.

Nucky thanks his host for the hospitality. He’s heading home. McGarrigle assures him he’ll land on his feet. Nucky’s not so sure.

McGarrigle: I was told you’re all optimists over there.
Nucky: Not the Irish ones.

He gets into the back of a car with one of the older Irish men who’d been a host. As they drive away there’s a gunshot in the background and McGarrigle falls to the ground. “You’ll deal with me now,” the old man says. He wants one thousand machine guns, Nucky will get ten thousand cases of whiskey in return. The man is grim. Owen intentionally doesn’t look back from the driver’s seat.

People are gathered in a theater listening to the Demsey fight on the radio. Jimmy and Richard are there. People keep looking back at Jimmy and then a man comes up the aisle and passes him a note that says <I>watching you closely</I>. Jimmy passes it to Richard and takes a look around as the fight goes to round three. They’ve got a ring girl with a sign walking across the stage in front of the radio. It’s kind of awesome.

A couple of girls catch Jimmy’s eye and then come over and get the man next to Jimmy to change seats. Where is Angela this week?

At the hospital the doctors and some nuns are listening to the fight as well when someone comes running down the hall to them, past Margaret who is sitting and waiting. While everyone’s focused on the fight, she gets up and goes into the restricted room to see Emily. There are other children in there as well, all motionless, presumably sleeping. Margaret sits at the edge of Emily’s bed, stroking her hair and asking forgiveness as she weeps. She bends over and presses a kiss to her temple and Emily never moves. Margaret lays down behind her and wraps her self around Emily’s tiny body. It’s an interesting contrast to the Demsey fight.

The scene shifts back to the theater. The redhead girl tells Jimmy that “everyone knows who the new king is” then the brunette kisses him. “You’re a little drunk,” he says. Then the redhead leans across and kisses him too. Then redhead sees Richard over Jimmy’s shoulder and pulls back, seeming a little nervous. Jimmy says Richard’s with him and puts his arm around him.

After a moment redhead says “what the hell” and makes her way around to Richard. Jimmy starts making out with the brunette girl who guides his hand right up her skirt. Classy! The redhead sits in Richard’s lap and kisses him. (This is not the kind of lovin’ I was hoping for Richard to get.) I don’t care about the infidelity, but Jimmy can do so much better than this nameless girl.

At the port, Nucky looks around at everything around him while waiting for Owen to come back from the telegram office. When he gets there, Nucky asks how long he knew McGarrigle. Owe says since he was young, and he’d turned Owen down for a job multiple times. Nucky asks if Owen knew what they were going to do to him and says he doesn’t like secrets.

Owen reads the first telegram — it’s from Nucky’s attorney with an update on the case. The other is from Margaret: “Come home–” He freezes. “Emily has polio.” Nucky is clearly shocked and then the scene goes to the credits with radio play of the Dempsey fight and Irish music in the background. Demspey has knocked out his opponent and remains heavyweight champion of the world.

Next week: Margaret praying and Eli in jail. There’s only three episodes left. There’s lots of tension coming.

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  • I was sad it wasn’t influenza, then I wanted it to be meningitis because I’d been pushing for brain fever. So I’m 0 for 2 on Emily. Microbes have betrayed me once again!

    Love that Randolph’s totally banging her secretary. Also love Owen’s anti-English IRISH RAGE, but just because he’s playing up to a stereotype doesn’t mean it’s not a totally hot historically accurate one. Also love the riot/strike by the kitchen workers, yeah! That’s how you write a period piece with minorities, folks.

    • Sally R

      I’m sorry it wasn’t the microbe of your choice. ;-) I was pretty excited though to see polio brought into the story. It’s something Westerners don’t typically think about these days.

      Owen and the kitchen workers are the kinds of storylines I’m really enjoying as secondary plotlines on the show. I like that we’re getting some ISSUES and not just the basic bootlegging and gangsters storyline I’d expected when the show first started. (Not that I don’t enjoy scenes like Jimmy throwing Doyle over the balcony and showing what a badass he is or Manny putting a cleaver in somebody’s head.)