This sixth episode of Boardwalk Empire
season three raises a number of questions, the first - and least consequential - of which is why the hell
is Mickey Doyle still alive? Seriously, despite directly defying Nucky's orders and eleven men dying as a result there Mickey is pretty much right off the top, checking in with the Tabor Heights sheriff on the consequences of last week's violent confrontation with Gyp Rosetti. The end result of which is learning both that Rosetti has fled Tabor Heights - presumably to plan some sort of retaliation - and that Eli is reclaiming his position within Nucky's empire. Sure, Eli's appearance is brief, but he is clearly regaining a voice within the organization.
Another question: Just how big a mess is Margaret's son Teddy going to turn out to be? Firebug much?
Another question, this one quickly answered: Is there any possible way that they could make Gillian Darmody even more icky? Answer: Oh, hell yes. Good lord. Does anybody know what the reverse of an Oedipal complex is called, because that is is ragingly full effect here.
Yet another question: What is the show going to do with Harrow? Clearly they intend to keep him around but, as was the case with Margaret until they brought her back into the main storyline in fine fashion this week, Harrow is now in danger of simply spinning out to the sidelines. Yes, his subplot takes an interesting and heartfelt turn this week but it is disconnected from the rest of the main plot and he's simply too good a character to not keep him involved.
But enough of the side issues, the meat of this episode belongs one hundred percent to Nucky and Margaret. Margaret first.
The episode begins with Margaret woken from her sleep by Teddy, who informs her that the greenhouse is on fire. Which would be traumatic at the best of times but is particularly so now given that Nucky has sent guards to watch over the house in the aftermath of his violent - and failed - attempt to eliminate Gyp Rosetti. Is this an act of retaliation aimed at Nucky's family? Nobody knows, really, and all that Owen can get out of Teddy is a sketchy comment about having seen a gypsy in the neighborhood earlier in the day. Really, Teddy? That's the best you can do?
The very next day Teddy is found in their neighbor's garage with a can of kerosene and box of matches - he's clearly reacting to the marital strife in the home by acting out Nucky's arson of his childhood home - a fact that Margaret keeps to herself after administering a fairly pathetic spanking. But the long and short of it all is this: A late night encounter between Margaret and Owen in which their repressed feelings are allowed out in public. "Surely," says Margaret, "We can both keep a secret." Well, yes, but kissing a man in your back yard before having sex with him in a glass greenhouse in plain view of both your children's bedroom and your neighbor's porch is hardly the best way to do so. How long will it be before Nucky finds out his wife is having an affair with his right hand man? I'm betting not long and the fact that Nucky is having a public affair of his own is remarkably unlikely to make that news go down any easier.
And then there's Nucky himself. When the Attorney General's bagman, Means, fails to turn up for a scheduled payoff Nucky surmises - correctly - that the game is up and that the Attorney General, under extreme pressure from a congressional investigation, is planning to turn in one of the bootleggers he's been protecting. A shouting match in the Attorney General's office leads only to Nucky being busted on a petty charge but the message intended to be delivered by that fact - i.e. Dear Mr Thompson, I own you so don't mess with me - goes badly awry when the charge leads to the re-introduction of Esther Randolf.
Remember Ms Randolf? Nucky certainly does, she was the prosecutor who tried to bring him down in Atlantic City and the fact that she is now trying cases in night court makes it very clear how the Attorney General's office has treated her since. And in the land of gangster math, a bootlegger screwed by the Attorney General plus a prosecutor screwed by the Attorney General equals opportunity. And so: Breakfast, and an offer put on the table that Nucky will deliver Randolf the entire operation Remus runs out of Ohio. An operation which, coincidentally, will lead directly back to the Attorney General's office.
So, where are we now? After last week it seemed safe to assume that Gyp Rosetti would loom large over the rest of the season and while I'm still confident he will it's clear that Rosetti is only one front of what is shaping up to be a massive, multi faceted fight for Nucky. Rosetti, Remus and the US Attorney General are all now in Nucky's sights and he's got a domestic fight on the horizon as well. Game on.
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