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Boardwalk Empire Watch: Hold Me In Paradise

Wake me when something good happens to Nucky Thompson. Time and again, episode after episode, we see shit falling from Nucky’s sky. When does it stop? When does he realize that it’s more than the usual trouble he has faced for years?

Atlantic City

When the episode begins with Eli sitting at Nucky’s desk, we know something is out of the ordinary. In this case, Nucky is merely in Chicago, but considering the seemingly ever-present tension between the two brothers, the scene is momentarily startling.

Eli’s big problem for the time being is solving how he to cover two collection routes this coming Friday. We see him and his cronies discussing the matter while watching some early era porn movie. Despite Eli’s claim that he could do what Nucky does, Nucky never participates in such hooligans with friends – he always maintains an image of controlled superiority and discipline, instilling fear – not laughter – in those around him. There’s a reason Eli is treated differently.

Eli himself has decided to collect the casino’s take on Friday, and we all remember what the D’Alessio brothers – backed by Rothstein – are plotting for the casino. Immediately when Eli walks in, we know something is awry. We don’t have to wait long, because they soon ambush the scene, shoot Eli in the gut, and make off with the approximate $150,000. Did Eli’s wife see who it was before they got in the car? Well…Nucky has to find out who it somehow, so my guess is yes.

Meanwhile, Margaret is left on her own in Atlantic City as well. I wasn’t sure how she would react to the realization that she could consider herself a concubine of sorts, but she seems to be taking it in stride and getting on quite well with her new lifestyle. However, Lucy drunkenly crashes Margaret and Annabelle dining at the Ritz, and things get a little heated. When Lucy accuses Margaret of not seeing all the angles, Margaret slaps the liquor of Lucy’s breath and tells her next time she sees her, she won’t be so nice. While I definitely like the Margaret and Nucky relationship, I can’t help but think that Lucy is right – if Margaret ever finds out about Nucky’s real life, she might be mortified.

Later, when Eli gets shot, we get a chance to see just how far Nucky has come in trusting Margaret; he asks her to take care of a few things at his office – in particular, getting the ledger out, keeping it closed, and hiding it in his closet. When she expresses some apprehension, Nucky tells her that he doesn’t know what is going on in AC, and until he knows more, he only trusts her. Margaret is suspicious, and one of the lasting images of this episode is Margaret Schroeder fearfully sitting over the unopened ledger, deciding whether to look inside. When she finally does, she sees all the evidence of Nucky’s real life – bootlegging, gambling, etc. – that Agent Nelson could ever want.

Speaking of Agent Nelson, it turns out that Jimmy did send Angela the money in the envelope. In fact, he’s written to her every week and – from the looks of it – has sent her and Tommy a lot of money. However, Nelson has been intercepting the letters and stowing the cash in the top drawer of his desk. We later see him praying intently with his wife before dinner – how can such a man of Christian faith justify such actions? His wife, we find out, is medically unable to conceive, and she is begging Nelson for $270 to get surgery that can fix this. Exactly what I thought, too…but in the end, he sends the money on to Angela and sends his wife a letter telling her that her struggle is in God’s plans for them. Agent Nelson is certainly a strange duck; I haven’t quite figured him out just yet, but I think that’s the idea. He’s cryptic and creepy, and we just don’t know him that well. He’s a wildcard, and when he’s on the screen, anything can happen.

Chicago Nucky is in Chicago for the Republican National Convention, where they are prepping for elections and nominating a presidential and vice presidential candidate. Of course, Nucky’s old friend Senator Edge is in town. Nucky has had a lot of shit happen to him, but we haven’t really seen him squash an enemy yet, so I am looking forward to this.

Senator Edge has his eye on VP, and he wants Nucky to help him get there. Little does he realize that Nucky knows about his backdoor deal with Frank Hague in Jersey City regarding the funding for roads. Instead of throwing his weight behind Senator Edge, Nucky meets all the right people – Senator Warren Harding and his campaign manager Harry Daugherty – and when the time comes, he wheels and deals with Daugherty to ensure the Senator Edge will not be the VP. Daugherty is surprised, but we learn about Nucky here: he carries a lot of clout in the political realm, yet all he truly gives a shit about is his own enterprising self – screw political advancement; he just wants money for his roads, and he plans on getting from Harding/Daugherty after Harding champions the ballots.

The other major happening in Chicago is that Nucky runs into Jimmy while visiting Torrio. Still holding the grudge, Nucky treats him like shit at first. Only after he finds out that his brother has been shot does he realize that he needs Jimmy back in Atlantic City to help – Jimmy will do things that he can’t ask anyone else to do. At first, Jimmy blows him off, but by the end of the episode, we know he’s going back – from feeling like an outsider amongst the Italians to calling his mother and having a creepy conversation worthy of Oedipus – Jimmy’s home is in Atlantic City. Personally, I’m looking forward to the hell with which Jimmy and Richard Harrow shower Atlantic City and the Rothstein-backed crew once he’s able to track them down. Of course, all of this is going to cost Nucky some serious money, but he needs Jimmy to be his gangster. In the meantime, he’ll take care of the Agent Nelson problem, whatever that means.

Other Notes/Takeaways

• Rothstein might be facing some heat for the Black Sox Scandal. We see him practicing public statements with his attorney. I don’t know how it all fits in, but somehow, this is going to be relevant going forward.

• Gillian, Jimmy’s mom, seems to be rather suspicious of Angela’s “friendship” with Mary. Quite frankly, she doesn’t seem that fond of Angela at all, but she keeps an eye on her because of Tommy and Jimmy. Angela’s financial situation had been dire, but she should be fine now that Agent Nelson coughed up the money Jimmy was sending her.

• It appears as if our time in Chicago is winding down. With Jimmy heading back to Atlantic City soon, there won’t be too much reason to follow Torrio and his lackeys around any more. No doubt we haven’t seen the last of them, though.

• Am I the only one who was shocked to find out that Nucky had a son that died? Why was this never mentioned before?

• Nucky takes one of Warren Harding’s women with him back to Atlantic City. His plan is to keep her and Harding’s lovechild a secret until after the elections and then demand his money for roads.

• Best scene of the night: Nucky in the lobby of the hotel. When Senator Edge approaches him about leaving early, Nucky calls him out for being a disloyal backstabber. He’s already cut his deal with Daugherty, and he says, “The only chance you’ll have of entering the White House is on a guided fucking tour.” Nucky gets his revenge, and it’s fantastic to see him take action.

• Nucky visits Eli upon returning to Atlantic City, and it’s an important scene. Despite all the tension between them, Nucky and Eli are on the same team. They might resent each other at times, but neither could be where they are without the other. Now it’s a different world, though, and it’s necessary to bring Jimmy in to handle the dirty work.

• Shooter McGavin lives!

“Hold Me In Paradise” was one of the lesser episodes of the series so far, but still great television. It’s quite obvious that storms are approaching in Atlantic City with Rothstein – if they haven’t arrived already. Nucky might have accidently portrayed weakness before, but somebody is going to pay the piper when he finds out who’s behind all the chaos. When and whom he unearths are the only unknowns, and that shall be answered soon enough.