Boardwalk Empire 3.05 – You’d Be Surprised

We open with a scene not for children that blows my mind in all the right ways…

Rosetti is jerking off while a redhead yanks on a belt strapped around his throat. Why am I not surprised asphyxiation is his thing? He finally achieves orgasm then collapses forward onto the bed. The redhead is rightly concerned at first that he’s unconscious or dead. But he’s fine. Better than fine. He smiles and tells her to bring him a towel.


Eli is explaining to Rothstein what happened to his delivery. Rothstein says there are other routes they could be taking and Lucky mentions the million dollar highway. Nucky says the highway is not his, is two years away, and the other routes are unmanageable between police and weather issues. It’s mentioned here that Rosetti is kicking money up to Masseria. Lovely, right? Finally the room clears and it’s just Rothstein and Nucky who discuss what’s “bad for business”—Nucky says Rosetti, Rothstein says everything Nucky does. Outside the room Lucky and Owen sit in silence and a fangirl wishes for some hot action.


Van Alden’s looking at a catalog of prefabricated homes. The poor guy is still bummed about that New Year’s bonus that was going to pay for a house for him and Sigrid. One of the guys says the boss wants to see him and that it “sounds like the Feds finally caught up with [him].” Uh oh. Well… the boss wants to know where George worked before because someone called from Internal Revenue. Double Uh oh. His tax forms were incomplete. (Even Capone couldn’t escape the IRS.) Also? Someone who met him in a “speak” left something for him—a business card. Uh oh. Spaghettios.


Muttonchops! I had almost forgotten all about our dear old, nearly dead white dude, Leander. But there he is at Gillian’s and he seems to be her financial advisor. He’s come to tell her that her costs are exceeding her revenue and something better change. Of course, she can’t be constrained to a budget when the roof needs fixing and the sewage system is in trouble and… and… and. Muttonchops doesn’t give a shit. She wants him to help her get a loan and he’s polite enough not to literally laugh in her face. She’s got a partner, right? Well… it seems she and Lucky aren’t always on the same page. She wants her place to be a dream come to life for all who enter. Muttonchops says she needs to move on. And we finally get the answer to the Jimmy question — he’s been missing and not yet declared dead. Gillian insists he’s been prone to wandering at times. She’s not ready to admit he’s gone. Muttonchops says until he’s dead she doesn’t own shit.


Margaret’s at home with her friend from the past few weeks and they’re discussing the clinic flyer and how they can change it to get attendance at the classes. Owen comes in with Nucky behind him. Nucky is stopping by to let Margaret know that he’ll be out of town. She doesn’t think this warrants a visit, but he insists on checking in. “Are there to be bodyguards again?” she asks as she senses there’s something he’s not telling her.


Congress is holding some hearings on prohibition. They’ve called Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon and want to know his views on the state of prohibition. He says the cost of effectively policing the Act is $28 million a year and they’re getting one-fifth of that in the annual budget. He’s grumpy. There’s discussion about whether the focus shouldn’t be on prosecution and the question arises as to the Department of Justice (and our attorney general friend Daugherty) impeding enforcement of the law. Is it corruption or incompetence? You know Mellon has the answer to that but simply suggests that both are possible. Out in the hallway a man comes out of the hearing and talks to Gaston Means about his boss and how the attorney general’s going to be in the spotlight.


Billie’s rehearsing her new stage show and it’s horrible. Nucky thinks it’s horrible. Eddie Cantor aka Showbiz Eddie thinks it’s horrible. It’s pretty much horrible, folks. Not gonna lie.


Back in Chicago Van Alden is home with Sigrid and there’s a hilarious little bit where they work on her English. Among other things, she has learned the expression “hunky-dory” (and yes, that’s the correct spelling per Merriam-Webster, I checked). There’s a knock on the door that wakes the baby. Van Alden goes over and listens and then a note is slipped under the door. We hear footsteps receding and through the peephole see someone going down the stairs. Van Alden picks up the note and it’s a business card from Emmett L. Coughlin, Special Agent with the prohibition unit. On the back of the card he’s drawn a large question mark. How many more business cards will he get, I wonder.

Sigrid: Is everything hunky dorry?
Van Alden: We need to talk. I have not been completely honest about my past.
Sigird: I know.
Van Alden: You can’t know, dear.

But she does know. Except she doesn’t. She thinks he’s been falsely accused of bad things. “That is exactly what I was going to say,” he says after she describes her take on things. Nice one, George. At least it’s closer to the truth? I don’t know.


At the women’s clinic Dr. Mason is discussing pregnancy with the ladies, one of whom wishes she’d received this information much earlier in life. Our friendly nun is in attendance, and the overall class size is fairly small. But they’re getting more flyers out, so we’ll see. After the others leave, Hot Doc apologizes to Margaret for having misjudged her and I am so ready for these two to get it on. However… he’s engaged! His fiancee Helen Russell arrives and Hot Doc introduces them. *sigh* I think Magz’ heart drops just like mine.


Owen has a tell for when he’s nervous and Nucky has caught on—he rubs his middle finger with his thumb. Fortunately before this can go anywhere, Eddie Kessler brings Billie in for a visit and Owen leaves. She tells Nucky that the show is over at the end of the week because it sucks so much. Nucky suggests they replace the lead actor; he can talk to the people in charge. But Billie doesn’t want that, she’s doing this on her own.


In Tabor Heights, Rosetti is meeting with Rothstein and Lucky at the diner. Rothstein says he needs a new supplier and Rosetti is 60 miles closer to New York than Nucky. Rothstein, however, wants to make sure he’s getting the real deal. Rosetti’s got 600 cases arriving the next night and invites him to come and sample the goods. During this, they’re interrupted by a paperboy and Rosetti gives the kid shit about today’s paper containing yesterday’s news. It’s tense for a second and I worry about the kid but then our resident psychopath laughs. His sense of humor sucks more than Billie’s show. The Joker (in his most insane versions) are funnier than this guy.


Nucky meets with Showbiz Eddie in a private room at Babette’s. He’s brought a gift—Passover vodka. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. After Eddie tells Nucky that L’Chaim means “to life”, he jokes, “I’ve got an uncle doing ten years L’Chaim up in SingSing.” Nice. Moving on… Billie’s show needs a star and Nucky’s pretty intent that Eddie take the part. He can talk to Shubert (the man in charge). But Eddie’s signed a contract for a show in the city. Would you give up Broadway for Atlantic City? I sure wouldn’t and I don’t even like musical theater.


Meyer Lansky is unpacking Buddha statues filled with heroin while Benny Seigel files the serial number off a gun. There’s nothing else to say here except the statues cracked me up.


Margaret’s back on the boardwalk handing out more flyers, but there’s a guy next to her handing out flyers for something more interesting. She sighs and walks over the dress shop where she used to work. Madame Jinnet is there but says they’re closed. She’s happy to take the flyers if Margaret will just leave. And then we find out why… Nucky’s there. Awkward. With Billie. More awkward. Shopping for dresses. Super. Awkward. But Margaret is f-ing awesome as we all know and after she starts to leave she turns around and gives Billie a flyer. I might have  fist pumped and shout “Yes!” at the television.


Showbiz Eddie is packing his things when there’s a knock on his hotel room door. Pernsley is standing there and Eddie says he didn’t call for a cab yet. Then Chalky moves into the doorframe and Eddie gets it. He lets them in as they tell him they’ve heard he’s great but they’ve never seen him perform because of the “rules” in AC at the places he’s played. Nucky told them to stop by for a show. Poor Eddie calls Chalky “Milky” at first. It’s hilarious except for how I wonder if Pernsley’s gonna beat the crap out of the guy. But they don’t.

Even as Eddie insists he has a contract, the two men sit down waiting for their show. It’s more awkward than the dress shop as Pernsley says, “Make it something funny.” Dear god, somebody put Eddie out of his misery. Please. He  blunders through most of a song, stopping and starting and trying not to pee himself then finally stops mid-lyric and says, “Tell the son of a bitch I’ll do it.” Oh baby. *hugs*


In a fancy coatroom that screams government building, Means (the man who got info in the hallway earlier) blocks the door and corners one of Daugherty’s other men (Smith) about what Mellon said in the hearings. Smith doesn’t really say much other than he wishes he’d stayed in Ohio. Somebody’s going down in the attorney general’s office and there’s not going to be a happy ending involved, if you know what I mean.


Margaret’s at home looking through her check register when Nucky comes in. He sits on the end of the bed and looks at her, finally opening his mouth to say, “I’m sorry. I am sorry. For demonstrating bad form.” Bad form? Ha! Margaret says of course that’s what he’d apologize for. Then she gives him shit for choosing a woman who can supposedly take care of herself, because everyone knows that’s not Nucky’s type. (And it’s so true. He doesn’t know what to do with Billie when she refuses his help.) He then offers to check in on the kids regularly and she pretty much tells him to fuck off. Go Magz!


Van Alden comes home to work to the sound of a man’s voice through the apartment door. He hesitates as he enters and finds Sigrid talking to Agent Coughlin. Sigrid excuses herself and Van Alden asks, “Do you intend to extort money from me?” Uh… no. The dude bought an iron from him back in December and it’s a piece of junk. He leans down to pull it out of his bag and Sigrid clocks him over the head from behind. Van Alden says he wasn’t there to arrest him. Oops.

In an amazing moment of true marital commitment, Sigrid looks up and says, “I’ll hold his legs.” I could die. (My hubby and I have been together twenty years and only in the past few have we been this tight, I’m just saying.) She gets down and really does hold his legs while Van Alden has her avert her eyes as he smothers the guy with his handkerchief. Dude! He’s now killed another federal agent. This is not good, man. Not good at all. (Though highly entertaining.)


At Gillian’s house, the squeeze is on to make some money. The parlor is pretty much ladies only so she tells them, “Get out on the porch and attract some customers”—a position totally contrary to how she had been running things in her fancy establishment. In her desperation she then writes a letter to Jimmy, ending it with, “Please, please come home. Your eternally devoted mother.” I almost feel bad for her. Almost. (I also wonder where she intends to mail this letter to.)


At another session of the women’s health classes, they’ve lost a participant. Sister Bitchy thinks this is proof the class isn’t needed; Margaret knows otherwise and asks the ladies about it. One of them says mornings would be better. After the kids are at school says another. Well, that’s all fine and dandy but doesn’t suit Sister Bitchy’s schedule. A nurse comes in to say that Dr. Mason has been held up with an emergency on the ward and won’t make it. So Margaret takes over the class!!! Sister Bitchy is appalled, but Magz is so take charge that it doesn’t really matter what SB thinks.


Oh. Em. Gee. Van Alden is at O’Banion’s flower shop! I think we all know where this is going. It’s after hours, but OB’s man let’s him in.

VA:  I need some help.
OB: Flowers?
VA: I must dispose of a body.

Ahahahaha!!! Subtle, baby. Smooth. Subtle and smooth. Not.


Back in Tabor Heights, a new paperboy comes to the hotel with Rosetti’s paper. He’s let through, goes upstairs, and shoots the guard outside Rosetti’s room. Inside the room Gyp is banging the redhead while he’s got the belt strapped around his neck and tied to the footboard so that when he thrusts forward he chokes himself. That’s dedication. Anyway… when the shooting starts he’s all, “untie me bitch!!” The door is knocked down and it’s none other than Benny Siegel. He shoots and Rosetti manages to use the woman to block the shot and then drop down behind the bed to get his own gun. A gunfight ensues with Benny and Rosetti missing each other then Benny fleeing. He shoots the real paperboy downstairs before a blood-splattered Rosetti follows him naked (with the belt still around his neck and some full-frontal camera action from above) down the hall. It’s kind of awesome.

Benny runs outside whooping with joy and jumps into a running car that then speeds off. This was definitely planned. No doubt about it.


Backstage at the theater Billie wants to know what happened that got her Eddie as a costar. Nucky pretends he has no idea and that he did nothing, but the show is being rewritten.

At the edge of the stage she joins Eddie and thanks him for joining the cast.

Eddie: Lucy Danziger. Ever heard of her?
Billie: shakes her head no
Eddie: The next one won’t know a goddamn thing about you either.


The episode ends with them singing “You’d Be Surprised” and doing the choreography on-stage as Owen comes up to Nucky out in the audience. He’s got news from Rothstein—four fatalities, none Rosetti. See? Planned.


Next week: the congressional stuff amps up and Magz walks around the house with a shotgun. Should be kickass.