Boardwalk Empire: 3.03 — Bone for Tuna

If you don’t know the meaning of the title, don’t worry. Neither did I. But the writers tell us in the episode, so you’ll have to wait until we get there. This week opens with Nucky having a nightmare – he can’t reach Billie on the phone, he sees a young boy in front of him who he starts to cook up some back for and ends up shooting when the frying pan turns into a gun. It’s unsettling to me and worse for Nucky. Eddie wakes him to say Margaret’s on the phone, that the Bishop’s representative is there to go over the plans for his award ceremony and she’s not letting Nucky out of it. After hanging up with her, he asks Eddie if Billie has called and she has not. Foreshadowing? Maybe.

At the Thompson homestead, Margaret tells the Bishop’s dude that Nucky’s busy working. He goes over the plans with her and she comments that the schedule hasn’t included a private meeting with the Bishop. Assistant dude says the bishops busy, but Margaret plays him like a violin suggesting the Bishop is avoiding them and suggests she call the Bishop’s secretary directly. Assistant dude will take care of it. Score: Margaret 1, Catholic Church 0.

Over in Illinois, Van Alden/George is at his desk having pen difficulties that end with a skirt in his face. His coworkers laugh at him but he’s not amused. As he’s cleaning up the manager comes in and gives a little pep talk about how “we sell confidence and opportunity” and they have the chance to “make the world smooth for me” by peddling their electric irons to lonely housewives. He’s got sales contacts and everyone goes running but Van Alden. The poor guy is just not cut out for this job.

At the Tabor Heights diner renowned for their spaghetti and coffee, Nucky pops in to meet with Rosetti and he’s got the sheriff behind him. They have a little chat in which Rosetti says Nucky has jeopardized his livelihood by not selling to him and says he’ll have a hard time selling his goods now because he won’t be able to get his goods to New York. Nucky says he’ll go through the Pine Barrens if he has to and Rosetti doesn’t know what that means but he knows enough to know that it’ll be a pain for Nucky. They agree to make a one-time sale between them – Nucky will sell a one-month supply and then Rosetti’s on his own.

If you were wondering how Gillian’s managed to get her business going, it’s because she has a partner: Lucky Luciano. She’s on the phone with him telling him about problems like the leaky roof at the house and that he’s partly responsible. Lucky mentions that the place doesn’t belong to Gillian because it’s Jimmy’s name on the deed and she says he’ll sign it over when he gets home. So now I’m again wondering if he’s maybe alive after all and in a hospital somewhere. Surely if he were really dead, Lucky would know that, right? But it’s hard to say.

Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano send their boy Benjamin Siegel (the future “Bugsy”) out with heroin and directions for where to deliver. He wants cab money and I don’t blame him. If the deal doesn’t go right, he’s to walk away. After he’s gone, Meyer and Lucky talk about bringing Masseria in on their dealing. Lucky is reluctant but Meyer says if they make the approach, they’ll look better in the end.

Margaret’s at the hospital and runs into Drs. Landau and Mason. She asks Dr. Landau if he’ll be coming to Nucky’s award ceremony and he tries to smooth things over about their little tiff at the party about women’s health. She’s smooth about and says she’s there to deal with the landscaping – something that is apparently far more important to the man than prenatal care. She agrees that “Flowers make everyone cheery.” I’ve got a feeling there’ll be more between these two before the episode is over.

At Doyle’s warehouse, there’s a guy picking up booze who was expecting to pay only $40/case when Doyle wants $60. It seems Doyle has raised Manny Horvitz’s price on him and regarding Manny’s demise says, “”How do you think he got that way? By arguing with me.” Uh… Doyle’s taking credit for this? Interesting.

Anyway… the guy coughs up the extra cash and gets his booze while one of Doyle’s delivery boys overhears the whole thing. The boy is then sent to deliver to Gillian’s place.

Nucky’s in the private dining room at Babette’s and thinking back to being there when Jimmy returned from the war. Rosetti arrives for dinner and is his usual not-so-charming self. He talks about the “cave” he grew up in and about the only thing these two have in common when you really look at them is being in far different places than they grew up in. Nucky points this out, but Rosetti is thick and easily offended and doesn’t fully get it I don’t think. He does, however get that he wants to bang Babette though when she comes in to take their order. She smoothly brushes him off (and can we get her story some day? Please, writers?) and then he suggests Nucky join him at Gillian’s.

Nucky says next time, when they’re in Rosetti’s “neck of the woods.” Rosetti stares blankly and Nucky jumps in to say he didn’t mean to suggest Rosetti lives among trees. And I start laughing before it even gets good. With a straight face Rosetti asks, “What? Like a monkey or something?” Nucky’s worried that all this unintentionally offended crap is starting again but then Rosetti starts making monkey noises and it’s one of the funniest moments ever on this show.

Back in NYC Meyer’s sending Siegel out for another deal but he gets attacked by a couple of Masseria’s men just down the block. A gunfight ensues in the road when Meyer comes out to help him. The other men speed away with Siegel screaming, “You’re dead! I’ll kill you!” behind them. And that’s not foreshadowing, that’s a promise.

At home in bed with his wife, we learn that Van Alden’s baby boy is teething and Sigrid is a randy young woman. She’s cleaning his ink-stained shirt, but encourages him to buy a new one; the customers must look at him and see “confidence and opportunity.” She wants him to share his troubles with her and to cheer him up tells him to think of something that makes him happy before shoving her hand down his pants. Subtle? No. Especially not when she then straddles him and strips and rides her stallion.

Rosetti has something in common with my hubby – he’s hot for hot redheads. As he walks inside, greeted at the door by Gillian, the proprietress glares out at Nucky in his car. I want to know what’s gone down between them these last months.

Doyle’s delivery boy sets a case of liquor on the bar for Richard who is bartending at Gillian’s.  The boy asks Richard if he likes working there and does he get to screw the girls? Even if he could, that’s not really Richard’s thing, but he’s friendly enough with the boy who says, “I’d walk around with a stiffy all day” if he worked there. He then tells Richard a secret — Mickey Doyle shot Manny — he heard it from Mickey himself. Uh oh.

Nucky’s at home – not the Ritz, but the house – on the phone. Throughout the ep, he’s been trying and trying to reach Billie (since the dream) and there’s still no answer. Margaret walks in and asks if he’s staying the night. He says yes, so they can all go to the church together in the morning. Then he tells her he’s been having trouble sleeping. Her solution is “some warm milk, perhaps.” Ouch. I love her so much.

Rosetti’s sitting with a girl at his side listening to another recite poetry that he cannot understand. He’s getting bored fast and finally just tells Gillian that it’s time they speak in private. She says that’s not what he came here for, but finally leads him into another room where she pours them drinks. He knows Luciano is her business partner and nudges her about her connection to Nucky. Like Nucky earlier, she doesn’t give anything about their relationship other than admitting she pays Nucky off as a cost of doing business.

He’s not satisfied so she finally tells him she’s not the only one Nucky has a difficult relationship with, “that his own brother tried to have him killed… That’s what they say.”

Rosetti:  Lose your own flesh and blood, what do you have?
Gillian (after a pained pause): You don’t have anything

Dead or not dead, dammit!?!? This is killing me. (For the record, I absolutely loathed Michael Pitt on Dawson’s Creek and in that movie with Sandra Bullock that I’m too lazy to look up, but I would love love love love LOVE to have Jimmy back on this show.)


Nucky’s uncomfortable at church. Because of his suit, of course. He thinks it must have shrunk. They follow the canonically conical-shaped Bishop into the back of the room and he asks Margaret if she knows the last time he was in a church. “On our wedding day,” is her reply and I think he forgot about that because he was certainly thinking back much further. They follow the bishop up to the front and sit in the first pew.  Nucky looks over at the boys’ choir and sees the kid he shot in his dream with blood on his face. Then the vision goes back to normal. He’s clearly upset and his insomnia and hallucinations seem to be feeding each other.

Nucky is called forward and genuflects before stepping up onto the altar area. As the bishop speaks of Nucky’s greatness, he looks at the choir and again sees the bleeding kid. He gets his medal of the Order of St. Gregory and I don’t think he’s ever looked stiffer.

Back in Chi-town, the guys invite Van Alden out with them to a speakeasy. They tease him about not drinking and explain that the pen trick was part of their initiation into their brotherhood. He’s so freaking uptight, but finally concedes that there’s nothing wrong with relaxing a little. Is he actually going to go with them?

There’s a reception after the award ceremony and Nucky can’t stop staring at the one boy as he gets food. Margaret knows something is off and asks if he’s not feeling well and he excuses himself to the restroom. While he’s gone Margaret finally gets her moment with the Bishop. Meanwhile in the back, Nucky is again trying to reach Billie on the phone. Margaret introduces the Bishop to Dr. Landau and then says, “Dr. Landau is trying to convince my husband and I to sponsor a women’s health clinic at the hospital.” Landau and his wife look like their eyes are going to pop out of their skulls. The Bishop is interested in what the clinic would cover.

Landau struggles to answer the Bishop and Margaret generously helps him out by mentioning seminars, nutrition, and oh yeah, prenatal care. The Bishop points out that there are delicate topics to be avoided (*cough*birth control, abortion*cough*), but Margaret says it would be a benefit and she has clearly won the Bishop over. As long as they share the Bishop’s “concerns” they’ve got his blessing. After he leaves, Landau glares at Margaret but she just smiles and says, “You’ve finally trapped me. We’ll sponsor the clinic as you wish.”  Balls. She’s got ’em.

It’s truck loading time at Doye’s. Again. Rosetti’s there to pick up his $10k of booze and he’s pissed that Nucky’s not there (he’s still at the awards ceremony). Eli and Rosetti finally meet and Eli tells him his booze is loaded and he can go. Owen steps in to say Nucky had a message for him: Bone for tuna. It’s pretty clear that Rosetti knows what that means and he almost looks like he might cry before he storms out.

Van Alden’s gone to the speakeasy after all, and boy does he look uncomfortable. He wanted sarsaparilla but they’re all out.  A drunk woman tells him to have a real drink that’ll “put some hair on your chest” and stumbles into him spilling her drink on his chest. (There’s another shirt for Sigrid to clean before “cheering him up.”) He gets up and heads for the door only to be stopped by a raid. Treasury agents bust in and announce that everyone is under arrest. Uh oh.

Doyle stumbles home drunk with an equally drunk girl and there’s lewd conversation and then half-undressing. Doyle switches on the light and the lady starts screaming. It seems Richard is behind Doyle sitting in a chair with a gun. Doyle’s standing there with his pants around his ankles, top half still fully clothed and Richard tells him to put his hat on. It’s brilliant. He reaches for his hat and starts pulling his pants up before Richard forces him out the front door.

Back at the speak, Van Alden identifies himself as George Mueller (he’s even got papers in that name) and says this is his first time at the establishment. He’s questioned and the agent in charge recognizes him. Both Van Alden and I worry he’s busted, but the agent knows him because they live in the same neighborhood. He tells “George” that if he pays the fine direct to him, he’ll let him go. Van Alden’s still got an agent mentality and he doesn’t want to do it. After all, he may have killed another agent but he’d never take a bribe… oh wait. Nevermind. He pays the man.

Rosetti’s driving home, his driver telling a story while he stares out the window. “Bone for tuna, the fuck’s that supposed to mean.” The driver says the pronunciation was probably off because of Owen’s Irish accent but Rosetti cuts him off with, “I know what he meant. Who the fuck is Nucky Thompson to wish me good luck. In Italian no less. It’s like he’s mocking me.” He is mocking you, Rosetti. (And the explanation of the title is clear — buona fortuna means good luck and it had been spelled out phonetically for Owen.)

Rosetti is pissed. And there’s going to be a vendetta now. No doubt about it. I predict much bloodshed coming up. (Not that that’s unusual for this show, but I’m still calling it.)

At his office, Nucky’s on the phone again. He tells Eddie to bring the car around. At this point even I’m starting to wonder if something has happened to Billie. While he sits at his desk, Richard walks Doyle in at gunpoint and has him on his knees. He tells him to admit that he didn’t kill Manny Horvitz. Richard gets him to admit that he was running his mouth off and Richard says it’s true. Nucky asks how he knows and Richard replies, “How do you think?” without any snark in his voice at all. I’m wondering if Doyle has pissed himself yet, but when he stands there’s no obvious wet spot. He does, however, run out as soon as he can.

With Doyle gone, Richard gives Nucky details on how he did it. Nucky asks why.

Richard:  Angela Darmody.
Nucky:  Not her husband?
Richard: Jimmy was a soldier, he fought, he lost.

Nucky asks if he and his family are safe and Richard says they’ve nothing to fear, they were also good to Richard. We also learn that Richard has killed 63 people.

Nucky:  Do you think about any of them?
Richard: You know the answer to that yourself.

Given he knows exactly how many kills he has, I know everything I need to know about him. And I love him even more.

Margaret goes to the hospital to inform Dr. Mason of her success with Dr. Landau. They’re walking down a hall  to a specific room. Dr. Mason changed his pipe and has kindly switched his tobacco. (They are so going to have sex before the season is over.) Finally Margaret unlocks a door and opens the room to their new clinic. It’s being used for storage and is full of junk, but will make a perfectly good women’s clinic when fixed up.

Rosetti’s crew is getting gas at the station in Tabor Heights when the Sheriff pulls up. This does not look good. “I understand you boys are heading back to New York,” he says, having heard the news from Owen. Rosetti’s leaning against a pump and smoking a cigarette and the sheriff reminds him not to smoke there because it’s flammable. He then wishes Rosetti good luck and starts to walk away. Rosetti is done being wished good luck by people who don’t know him and pulls out the pump and douses the guy in gasoline. Then he tosses his lighter on him and watches him scream and struggle. He’s such a nice guy, right? Looks like he and his crew are sticking around for a while. Like I said… vendetta.

Nucky’s done waiting for Billie to answer her phone. He goes to her apartment and knocks on Billie’s door. When there’s no answer, he finds her spare key under a potted plant and lets himself in. She’s not there but it looks like someone’s still living there. (I breathe a sigh of relief that he doesn’t find her dead body.) He sits down on her sofa and quickly falls asleep. The next morning he’s stretched out on the couch and wakes to sounds from the kitchen. He walks in to find Billie frying bacon. She got home a little while ago but didn’t want to wake him. She’s clearly a little uncomfortable with his maudlin state but plays along with him. He’s worried about being alone. She says he’s not alone now, but we all know that’s not exactly true. He is alone. He will always be alone for so many reasons, first (to me) being that he doesn’t really let anyone in. I wonder if he’s going to let Billie in and if she’ll break him.

Next week: Capone. Guns. Rosetti. Guns. Rothstein. And somebody bleeding. A lot.


Finally – sorry for the delay folks. This week has been crazy. I can’t wait for next Monday because even my weekend coming up is going to suck. But I promise to be on time the rest of the season. So stick with me. Please.