Boardwalk Empire 3.04 — Blue Bell Boy

We open this week with Owen in bed with Katie. I’d rather start with Owen in bed with me. But he’s shirtless, so I’ll go with what I can get. We learn that Katie has a pet name for his manhood — Mr. Poofles. That’s right. Mr. Poofles. I can’t make this stuff up. Nucky calls and interrupts them to tell Owen to read the paper.

Mr. Poofles. *sigh* 

Capone’s kid has stayed home sick today. It seems that even in schools for the deaf there are bullies. And there weren’t any “It Gets Better” newsreels back then. Another kid hit him at school the day before and cut his cheek. We also see that mom’s way of dealing with his hearing problem is to sign to him. Capone’s technique is to yell. One of these is more effective than the other. (Also, I know I shouldn’t joke about bullying because it’s a serious issue. I recognize that and I’m actually pleased to see it included in the storyline.)

Nucky is at the warehouse telling everyone about the Tabor Height’s sheriff and how he died in an “accident.” That’s seriously the story in the paper. An accident. Right.

Nucky then declares that all deliveries to Rothstein must be made via the backroads. Doyle bitches about the roads being icy this time of year and there being nowhere to stop for gas. Nucky doesn’t care. They’re not to go through Tabor Heights. Nucky directs Doyle to head up there and see what’s going on with the sheriff dead. He then asks Owen if there’s been any progress on finding the man who robbed them — Roland Smith. He reminds Owen that they’ve got Agent Zewicki on their payroll; use him. Eli approaches asking for a bigger role in things. “Allowing you to go to jail is the last gift I’ll ever give you,” Nucky tells him. Sounds like Eli’s lucky to have a job at all.

The women’s clinic has been put together and a nun is there to go over things with Margaret and Dr. Mason. She’s not comfortable with words such as vagina, pregnant, or menstruation. She suggests “gravid” for pregnant and Margaret asks if anyone will even know what that means. They’re saved, however, by Dr. Mason’s suggestion of “with child.” (Better than gravid, no doubt. But I agree with Margaret — what’s wrong with medical terminology? Good grief.) Before the nun leaves she asks about some packages on the desk. They’re Kotex sanitary napkins, a new product in the markets. They offer the nun a box and she flees.  Maybe she prefers her Diva Cup.

Nucky, Owen, and another dude meet up with Zewicki outside a house. They kick in the door and find the place filled floor to ceiling of each room with cases of whiskey. Nucky’s not the only one Mr. Smith robbed. Things get tense between Nucky and Owen as Owen offers to wait and take care of things. Nucky comes off as if he thinks Owen’s being pushy, but I don’t get that vibe from Owen. He’s just… ambitious. Nucky gives Zewicki some cash and tells him to “go buy a personality” and he makes like a tree.

Our good pal Rosetti’s still hanging in Tabor Heights. It’s a cozy little beach town, I can totally see the appeal of putting the brakes on Nucky’s delivery route. But right now, we’re not seeing Gyp but rather Eli and Doyle who are there to see the sheriff. Eli asks what really happened and the former deputy, now many in charge, goes with the whole accident story. Eli calls bullshit on him dousing himself in gasoline and accidentally lighting himself on fire. But the deputy sheriff says he can handle it and throws in a dago slur, but no wop jokes.

Capone’s at Torrio’s whorehouse hanging with Guzik (the big guy who’s always counting money). They’ve received a letter from Torrio and there’s chatting until Capone tells the Guzik he needs a shower. Possibly one of the best slams I’ve ever heard: “You smell like a sardine’s twat.” Wow. That’s… vivid. And makes me glad we don’t have smell-o-vision.

Back at Roland Smith’s place, our robber friend finally comes home. And he’s just a kid. He tries to take off running, but they grab him and then he won’t tell them his name until Owen beats on him a bit.

Rosetti and his men are in the diner going over plans to bootleg by sea. One guys smart enough to realize that means they’ll need boats. The combined IQ here is lower than the combined age. I will not, however, make a dago joke here. Rosetti does it for me when he tells the waitress he’s going to teach her how to make sauce some day. And yes, that’s a euphemism (his not mine).

Roland tells Nucky that he’s almost 16. Also, he knows who Nucky is because his family got a turkey from him for Christmas back in 1914. He admires Nucky and didn’t think he’d mind the kid stealing from him. The rest of the whiskey is from Waxy Gordon whom the kid calls a crook.” Owen again broaches his earlier suggestion of being the one to do the dirty work, but as Nucky hands the kid a cigarette (after he said he’s never smoked before and would like to try it), the Feds show up from Philly. Apparently they’ve been following the boy and finally caught up to him. At least one of them — the dude in charge — is said to be on Waxy’s payroll and he shoots Nucky’s driver who stands out front. Nucky, Owen, and Roland hide down in the cellar as the agents come in and search the house. They send one guy to the cellar, but our boys manage to stay out of sight and he’s not interested in spending much time down there with the rats.

Back in Chicago Guzik goes to make a pickup from one of the speaks on the South side. It turns out one of O’Banion’s crew is there having one too many beers. Guzik tries to be friendly but this dude is even worse than Rosetti when it comes to being offended for nothing. Guzik finishes his beer and goes to leave quietly when bam! the dude jumps him and beats on him but good. This poor guy, he’s actually really sweet and I feel so bad for him.

It’s like a party in Roland’s cellar. Except for how it’s icky down there. Nucky watches through a small window as the Feds load up all the booze. One of the agents is looking in his car and Nucky asks Owen if they left anything in the car. He says they’re good and Roland offers them some license plates. He’s got nearly 100 different plates that he uses to keep from getting caught (except it seems to not be working given that he got caught). Oh, and he thinks it’s the Feds that got his partner Nate.

Up in NY Benny Siegel’s cutting heroin with a LOT of laxative. Meyer has to stop him and remind him it’s just one scoop. Not ten. Benny wants in bigger on the business and Lucky looks at him like he’s smoking crack. Meyer and Lucky dismiss the kid so they can talk serious business. Lucky’s got a meeting with Masseria about the business and Meyer lays out his terms. Lucky’s going to the meeting on his own though.

In Tabor Heights, the new sheriff is working out a plan with his men for later that night. I don’t know if this is going to go well.

Capone’s trying to teach his kid to fight and my heart is breaking. The kid’s trying to put his fists up but you can tell he doesn’t want to. Finally he starts crying and Capone is so sweet. He pulls him in and holds him and rocks him and I just love him in that moment.

In Atlantic City, no one knows where Nucky is. He’s still in that cellar. People are calling for him though and since there were no cellphones back then, no one knows why he’s missing. Eli has Eddie call around but to no avail.

Doyle’s got Rothstein’s liquor loaded and he tells one of the boys to go straight through Tabor Heights. Stop nowhere for no one, except to get gas in TH. Eli warns him that’s not a good idea and Doyle just says he’s not going himself so he doesn’t care. Such a nice guy that Mickey Doyle.

It’s the next day and the Feds are still at Roland’s place. The kid’s sleeping curled up in a corner, but Nucky and Owen have spent the night awake. Owen talks a bit about his IRA days — the waiting to execute a plan and stuff. They also talk about their relationship and Nucky asks, “What have I done to earn your loyalty?” Owen’s response is, “You made a place for me.” It’s nice. Nucky doesn’t know what to do with nice and loyal. It makes him suspicious.

At Torrio’s speak, Guzik comes in with clear bruises. Capone asks what happened and he explains about O’Banion’s man being there. “Al… he made fun of me… in front of everybody.” Oh. He goes on to explain that he can’t help it that he smells bad — he showers and within an hour or two the smell is back. (My guess is he has trimethylaminuria, a disorder that even now has no real treatment. The poor guy. He’s so gentle.) He turns around and sees that Capone has walked away while he was talking. Oh, sweetie. He seems hurt that Capone left, but I know it’s not a good thing in a different way than Guzik suspects.

Margaret’s handing out flyers on the boardwalk for the women’s clinic’s first seminar. She runs into Mrs. Sheer — the woman who had the miscarriage. She offers her a flyer and the woman is hesitant, especially after her husband comes out of the store they were in and says they’ll be trying again as soon as she’s up for it. That poor woman. (Both of my grandmas had nine kids who lived and I’m always amazed they didn’t go to bed with a shotgun after the third or fourth.)

Lucky meets up with Masseria and they speak in Italian. Masseria wants his cut of their business and not just in his own territory, but everywhere they’re selling heroin. Lucky says they’ll do two percent in his territory, Masseria counters and by the end, he’s asking for 30 percent in his territory. There’s a lot of slamming of Lucky’s business partners for being Jewish. Apparently Jews are great at business but have no heart like the Italians. They’ll turn on Lucky for sure. What happened to the respectful boy that “Salvatore” used to be? Lucky says he’ll take the offer to his partners and leaves. I’m impressed he got out of there alive and intact.

Speaking of those business savvy Jews… Rothstein calls up Doyle wanting to know where the hell his booze is. “I want what I paid for. I want it now. And I don’t ever want to find myself chatting with you again.” I hear you, AR. I would hate having to deal with Doyle.

Once Doyle’s off the phone, Eli tells him he doesn’t think his plan is a good one. He strongly encourages him NOT to go through Tabor Heights. He even reminds Doyle of Nucky’s orders to take the back roads. But Doyle’s a dick so he blows him off. Not good, Doyle. Not. Good.

As I suspected, Capone’s disappearance during Guzik’s story was not a good thing. He’s in the bar from the night before and O’Banion’s guy is there drinking it up. Capone jumps him and beats the shit out of him, finishing him off with a whack with a bar stool. It’s brutal. Then he pulls money out of his pocket and tosses the bills on the body. “You wanna pick on people who can’t defend themselves? Here. Pay for his funeral.” I kind of love him right now.

It’s night time and the Feds are finally leaving Roland’s place. The guys venture upstairs and Roland offers to cook up some bacon and eggs.

Meanwhile, Eli heads over to Tabor Heights on his own to see what’s going on. There are several of Rosetti’s men at the gas station. And then the sheriff and his men approach them — to join the group in blocking the road. Oh shit.

Owen calls Atlantic City and finds out that Rothstein’s shipment is on the road via Tabor Heights. Oh, and no one asked where he and Nucky are. Roland is young and obnoxious enough to actually ask Nucky for a job. He looks at Owen and says, “He doesn’t like me.” Nucky’s response is, “Can you blame him?” The kid pulls out a cigarette and Nucky remembers him saying earlier that he didn’t smoke. He also cops to being 19, not 15. What else is he lying about? We don’t find out, because when Owen turns to look out the window at Eddie’s arrival, Nucky shoots the kid in the head. His blood flows through the cracks in the floorboard down to the cellar, which is a really nice shot, I have to say.

Eli had driven out of Tabor Heights and stops on the main road into town. He gets out and tries to stop the delivery trucks from going through. He’s waving his arms and screaming at them to stop, but the kid up front says, “Fuck that. Mickey said don’t stop for nobody.”

“Stop! It’s a fucking ambush!” Eli yells over and over but they just keep going. He tries to follow them and his car (thankfully for him) will not start. As he tries again to get the engine to turn over all we hear in the background are gunshots, swerving tires, more gunshots, and then an eerie silence. You tried, Eli.

The scene switches to Tabor Heights and Nucky’s men are on the ground dead. Rosetti’s guys actually take cash out of their pockets before dumping the bodies. Rosetti asks his second which waitress he likes better and he says the one with the bob. So Rosetti’s “gonna fuck the redhead” and he walks away from everything.

Capone comes home and goes into his boy’s room. He’s got his mandolin and he wakes the boy and sits down on the floor next to his bed. His son wraps his arms around him, resting one hand on Capone’s throat so he can feel him singing. Capone plays music and sings and it’s so beautiful and heartbreaking. This episode has really changed my view of this guy. Despite everything else, he loves his child and he cares about his people. It’s really lovely.

Eli meets Nucky on the boardwalk outside the Ritz and says he needs to talk to him. We go out with the sound of Capone singing as the two of them move along the boardwalk and then the camera changes to Margaret at home alone in bed. She’s reading the paper and the aviatrix of week one has crashed her plane.

 

Next week: Rothstein’s pissed. Van Alden has possibly been found out. Rosetti meets with Lucky and Rothstein. And there’s more guns.

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