Sorry for the delay. There was Sunday Night Football. And replacement refs. And much crying.
We open to an unknown (and mostly unseen) man drilling a hole in a door and then dumping a fishbowl out into a sink. At the last second, he saves the poor goldfish flopping by the drain by scooping it into a glass of water. I have no idea what’s going on, but I don’t think he’s just cleaning the bowl.
It’s get out of jail free day for Eli. The only problem is that his ride home… is Idiot Doyle. Eli reluctantly gets in the car and one of the most realistic dialogue conversations ever on television happens:
Eli: How the fuck are you still alive?
Doyle: Because I’m valuable. I bring people together. [blah blah Nucky blah blah]
Eli: You backstabbing shit. No wonder we get along.
It all ends with the proclamation that Eli works for Doyle now. Uh, say what? Eli gets out of the car and starts walking. The boys love/hate each other though and finally Eli gets back in the car. A 60+ mile trip is more enjoyable in a car than on foot.
Rosetti’s hanging out at a hotel in Tabor Heights (where he beat the old dude to death last week), figuring out what to do next. He looks up the street and sees a gas station with a sign proclaiming it the last place for gas in New Jersey before New York (with about 70 miles to get to Staten Island). He walks over and talks to the station attendant and you can pretty much see the gears turning in his head.
Margaret is hanging with her peeps having tea with some respectable lady and telling her about the woman who had the miscarriage last week. If you weren’t convinced last week that this will be her project for the season, it’s confirmed here. She mentions the E. coli in the milk as the other lady is pouring some and freaking out. No worries, ma’am, this stuff’s been pasteurized.
Owen Slater pops in on them (and if they don’t have sex again soon, I’m going to get really annoyed) and Margaret asks him to remind Nucky about some award he’s won from the Church and the importance of being at the ceremony. Owen promises to relay the message. He then offers her a ride to the hospital but she declines. She can’t control herself when alone with him and doesn’t have time for some backseat sex this morning. She’s got a driver.
Billie Kent is pale everywhere. Not a tan line in sight as she walks naked to the radiator to get the drip pan below the leaking pipe. Nucky says he’ll talk to her landlord about it. She may not want to annoy Mr. Rothstein, but lives for the opportunity. Billie gets a phone call and tells the person on the other end that she’s “pickling some peppers” and Nucky’s not amused. He goes into the bathroom and sees a razor in the medicine cabinet. He looks really sad in this moment, but doesn’t let on to what’s up.
Chalky!!! (I missed you last week.) Maybelle’s beau Samuel – the aspiring doctor who made Chalky feel a bit insecure in the past – is visiting. He wants to make a life for himself… with Maybelle at his side. Chalky asks him about becoming a doctor and has him assess him. He’s not sure if anything’s wrong; he’s not a doctor. I’m not sure this is going to go well at first, but Samuel is very professional and polite (and has a great bedside manner and understands personal space VERY well). He checks Chalky’s pulse, listens to his lungs, and so on. When he sees spots on Chalky’s nailbeds he suggests more leafy greens in his diet and Chalky has Purnsley (who seems to be his right hand now) go get him a plate of greens. (Yum!) “Welcome to the family, son,” Chalky finally says. Aww. He’s not going to slice him and dice him. Yet.
Margaret’s at the hospital and she greets the lady from last week who isn’t really that thrilled to see her. We learn that she’s had nine children already – five who have lived. Margaret asks more questions and the lady gets pissed. It’s none of Margaret’s business, she’ll pay her bill. Ouch. Margaret doesn’t know how to talk to her. She’s rich now. She’s not the girl she used to be and she’s clearly put her past behind her.
Nucky enters the room with the fishbowl. There’s nobody there, but there’s a $100 bill in the bowl and a voice from the adjoining room says “put the money in the bowl.” Nucky says no way is he leaving forty grand in a bowl without seeing who he’s doing business with. As he turns to leave, the door to the other room (with the hole in it) is unlatched. Nucky walks over and enters to meet Gaston Bullock Means, special investigator from the US Department of Justice. He’s the new link to Harry Daugherty. During this encounter we learn that Rothstein and George Remus are also paying for protection as Remus comes into the other room and drops his money in the fishbowl.
Back at St. Theresa’s Margaret goes to see Dr. Mason, the doctor who gave her shit last week about helping women in the community. He’s got attitude and I love it. If Maggie’s not going to hook up with Owen anymore, Dr. Mason would be a suitable substitute. She deserves to be getting it somewhere, since Nucky’s getting it from Billie instead of at home. Right? Right.
Anyway… Dr. Mason is difficult with her, pushing all her buttons and she storms out only to see Dr. Landau (the asshole administrator) in the hallway. She comes back in and tells Mason that if he’s got a real proposal for her then to spit it out. He reminds her this is a Catholic hospital and asks how she would persuade Landau. She won’t be bothering with that. And by the way… get some better pipe tobacco. I think he likes the insult and the way she then dismisses him and heads out the door.
Eli and Doyle have stopped in Tabor Heights and are watching the same gas station Rosetti was at earlier. They watch the sheriff pull into the station and Doyle gets out and goes to pay him off for a convoy that will be passing through the next day. It turns out Eli knows the sheriff as he tried to get a job in AC 10 years prior. They don’t seem to have much respect for one another and that never bodes well on this show.
Maybelle and Chalky’s older son Lester (who plays the piano) are talking about music and joking about how “jazz is the devil’s music” and they wouldn’t dare listen to or play music like that when Chlaky comes in. He tells Maybelle that Samuel came to see him and she already knows. And she doesn’t want to marry him because he’s not “interesting” like her father. She strongly implies that she’s interested in the family business and Chalky is Not. Pleased. At. All. She’s gonna marry that boy, end of story.
Doyle drops Eli off at home and dear god, you can hear all 57 of his children through the front door. He stands on the porch a moment and then knocks on the door. One of his boys opens and then all the kids are crashing into him with hugs except for his oldest boy, Will, who shakes his hand and lets Dear Old Dad know he’s the man of the house now. Will’s been working at the lumber yard and taking care of the family. He might as well slap Eli across the face, but then Baby Mama’s there hugging and kissing her dear husband whom she’s missed (because when you have that many kids, a woman needs some help, dammit!).
Back in Tabor Heights, Rosetti and his second in command enter a diner and ask what’s good. The waitress (who doesn’t seem to be even 1% Italian) says everything and Rosetti asks her to tell him about the spaghetti and meatballs. (I’m terrified for a moment that he’s going to end up shoving a meatball down her throat and strangling her with some noodles.) She explains how it’s like “noodles” with some sauce – but you can get butter instead if you want (*I’m dying*) – and “balls of meat” (and she holds her hand up to show the size of the meatballs). I’m more afraid for the girl by the second, but he simply says he’ll try it and so does his 2IC. Then Rosetti says he’d really like some wine with his pasta and she says they can’t, it’s illegal. He suggests they’ve got some hidden in the back but then in comes the sheriff who strongly recommends they try the excellent coffee the diner has to offer instead and then suggests they go “back to New York.”
Rosetti asks how he knows they’re from New York and asshole sheriff says, “Call it a hunch.” (Note: I do NOT like this sheriff. And for once I’m rooting for Rosetti to beat someone with a tire iron.) Their spaghetti then arrives and Rosetti manages not to spit out the first bite before saying “Better than mama’s, huh?” to his buddy. Yeah, I’m sure it is. Not. (There’s authentic, there’s non-authentic but edible, and then there’s 1923 diner almost 90 years before Jersey Shore.)
Arnold Rothstein is shooting billiards (and that man can chalk my stick anytime. Ahem) and chatting with Nucky about Special Investigator Means and his fishbowl. AR thinks it’s all good, though Nucky still doesn’t seem fully convinced. When AR mentions the “ongoing volatility in the marketplace” there’s no doubt he’s referring to Manny’s murder last week and wondering if Nucky was involved. (For now it seems Richard’s the only one who knows what happened.) The two banter about business for a bit and then Nucky mentions Billie’s apartment. AR asks if he’s thinking of renting and suggests the he might prefer the east side of the park. When Nucky asks what AR’s suggesting, the response “She’s a charming and vivacious young woman” tells me exactly what he’s suggesting.
Back at the Thompson home, Margaret reads a letter from the Bishop stating that Pope Pius XI has bestowed the title of “Knight Commander of the Papal Order of Saint Gregory the Great” upon Nucky and he’s to be knighted on January 9, 1923 (for those tracking the timeline). She asks the maid to have a specific suit cleaned and pressed for the event. The maid says she was informed that Nucky will not be going, but Maggie begs to differ.
Over at the other Thompson home, Eli’s puttering around the garage and pulls out an unopened gift he had sent to his son Will. A model airplane with a note reading, “We’ll build this together.” I don’t think Will’s waiting for that day. Eli unpacks the model and the next morning has it assembled and sitting on the dining table when Will comes downstairs to leave for work. Eli tells his son that he’s proud of him but he’s home and Will won’t have to work anymore. Will can go back to school. He gives him the plane wishing him “happy two birthdays ago” and while Will replies “pretty keen” he’s ready to get out the door. His boss is there to pick him up.
Doyle oversees the loading of trucks for the liquor delivery to AR that night. Eli was supposed to be report at 8am but is late. Doyle makes a comment about it, but Eli pretty much shrugs it off. He does, however, start loading crates.
Nucky and Billie are out for dinner and drinks with another showgirl who is about 98 cents short of a dollar in the brains department. Billie is telling her all about this plan she has for a hummingbird act. Billie then gets up to go to the ladies room but instead goes to chat with another man. Nucky’s not pleased, and he zones out as Billie’s dingy friend talks to him about superficial (to him) matters. Billie comes back to say she ran into “the spider of Wall Street” then sits down and strokes Nucky through his pants to put him at ease while resuming the inane conversation.
Owen explains how the convoy will go. They will make two stops only – the gas station in Tabor Heights and the destination in New York. He chats up Eli a bit, who asks if Owen is now Nucky’s “golden boy”. Owen keeps things running smoothly. He offers Eli $50 extra which Eli refuses. He doesn’t refuse a gun though.
It’s the devil’s music being played in a speakeasy. The place is filled with black men and women dancing and drinking and having a good time. We see Chalky and Purnsley at the bar and then who do we see at a table off to the side? Maybelle and Samuel. If anyone ever looked more out of place than Samuel does, I can’t even imagine. Maybelle asks him why he doesn’t drink; after all, she’s tossing back the hooch. She’s pushy with him, telling him to speak louder when he asks her to just tell him if she doesn’t want to marry him. A man who is dancing next to them bumps the table a few times and Samuel yells at him to watch it. The guy whips around and slashes Samuel’s cheek open with a knife but before Samuel can even react, Purnsley has the man on the ground and proceeds to kick the crap out of him.
Chalky comes over and asks Maybelle what she’s doing there. He hands Samuel a handkerchief for his face and tells him to go home and take Maybelle with him. Samuel, of course, wants to offer medical care to the man because he’s book smart but street stupid a doctor. Chalky looks at Maybelle and asks, “Am I interesting now?” She’s on the verge of tears, but cannot answer. (You know she’s thinking hell yeah! though.)
Owen and Eli pull into the gas station in Tabor Heights with the other trucks behind them. The pumps are locked off and Owen’s going to break in to get the key because they’d arranged for this. As he busts the window, the sheriff pops up asking what’s in the trucks.
Owen: Same as always.
Sheriff: If it’s liquor, there’s a problem.”
Doyle: Since when?
Rosetti coming from the shadows: Since he read the Constitution.
It’s a nice twist on the conversation between him and the sheriff in the diner. Rosetti says he owns the station now and says he’s not Rosetti but a Mr. Collingsworth. Owen says they’ll pay for the gas, they’re good for it, but Rosetti pulls a gun and other gun-weilding men step out of the shadows.
Rosetti lifts a gas pump and starts to the gas flow onto the ground. The boys won’t be making it to New York, there’s not enough gas. Tell Nucky “Old Pop Collingsworth” (the old owner) says hello.
Nucky’s at Billie’s run down apartment. He’s cooked dinner for her and she’s impressed. He tells a story about how he cooked for his mother, brother, and sister when he was younger. The phone rings and he says not to answer it. He wants to know who keeps calling though – “I said I’d never tell, and you said you’d never ask.” The phone rings again.
Scene shift to Owen hanging up a phone in a house at the shore. He comes out and asks Eli how many men there were and Eli says at least twelve. Owen then asks if Eli trusts their men in a gun fight. That would be a negative. Doyle steps in to say that Rothstein expects to get his delivery and Owen says, “He won’t be getting it tonight.”
Everyone loads up and Eli asks Doyle, “What’s your pleasure… Boss?” And they head back to Atlantic City.