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“We began in Sin. We will end in it, unless we change.”
The “A” story of “Under God's Power She Flourishes” is, fittingly so, Jimmy's. Season 2 has been more about the Rise of James Darmody, Prince of Atlantic City. We get a couple peeks into his life throughout College, seeing him fall in love with Angela for the first time. (Much to the chagrin of his mother.) As it turns out, Jimmy struggled a little through school because of his perceived inadequacies as compared to those of means who could easily buy said grades. But the one thing he seems to get right in his life is Angela, the woman he dates and eventually marries after he finds out that she's with child. However, someone's kind of jealous and this leads to a moment so weird and wrong that you could call it after last week's trailer.
Back in the present, both sides of the Nucky Thompson trial are feverishly preparing for the ultimate legal showdown, which promises to (at the very least) get started in the season finale. It starts with Fallon warning Nucky that it would probably be a wise move to get his financials in order, in case there is some sort of conviction and the Feds try to seize his assets. Luckily for Nuck, a trump card lands right in his lap in the form of one of his man-servants, Harlan. Apparently Harlan was at last season's baptism and he saw a certain Federal Agent murder his deputy in the waters. A certain Agent who has a file as thick as a pig's neck on Nucky, and started all of this unpleasantness.
Meanwhile, on Esther Randolph's side, Eli Thompson continues to be the key to nailing Nucky on the stand. The Van Alden file is actually a resource for Randolph and her crew, who even ask the author for his input into the investigation. Meanwhile, Van Alden signs the divorce papers that he was served from his wife, which is probably a good thing considering his fate. Just when it looks like Van Alden might get the chance to take on Nucky Thompson on the stand, the Deacon of the woodland congregation comes in and fingers Nelson for the murder we were reminded of in Act I. With a gunshot to his would be captor's foot, Van Alden escapes custody and runs off.
The investigation to Angela's death begins, and of course Jillian will be as much help as she can be. And all the help she can offer is keeping Richard quiet and tell the cops that her son's dead wife was a habitual lesbian. (Poor Richard gets an emotional moment at the scene of the crime, as he touches the dried blood pool and is about to weep.) We start to see more of the Jillian themed pieces of Jimmy's back story and we learn that she pretty much swam in the same social circles that Jimmy did back in Princeton, thanks to her youthful appearance. She even picks up Jimmy's English professor at a party, which leads to Jimmy beating said professor after an allegation of impropriety is made. (He tries to make time with Jimmy's mom, Jimmy introduces him to his watch.) The evening ends with an awkward, drunken hook up between Jimmy and his mother that haunts him so much, he decides to join the Army.
The Young Guard take a backseat to this week's frivolities, but not without first solidifying their position of taking Jimmy's share of the loot they're trying to make. Mickey Doyle, surprisingly enough, doesn't seem to approve of such methods. This inspires him to speak to Agent Van Alden (before his great escape) and to try and broker a deal for the Government to seize the alcohol and pay him in the process. Another back-seated (but worthy of note) character is Eli, who is threatened with the Electric Chair unless he testifies his part in the murder of Hans Schroder. At this point, it's really a toss up as to whether Eli is going to testify or not. He and Nucky hate each others guts at times, but it still looks like the brothers Thompson might have each others backs.
Meanwhile, Margaret Schroder is looking for a miracle, and no price is too steep for her. Indeed, when she is thanked for her generous donation to the Church (and a new construction project is off-handedly mentioned) she automatically jumps at the chance to help fund said project. She's definitely Nucky's girl, because only a girl of Nucky's would look to buy themselves some positive favor above. In fact, the notion of the great above brings some unwanted tension to the Schroder/Thompson household as Nucky disagrees that poor Emily's polio is a case of divine retribution. This prompts Margaret to list off the laundry list of sins she's committed in the last season or so, all eventually being used to support her want to testify against Nucky's criminal affairs.
Unlike Ms. Schroder, Jillian Darmody's mothering style is much more manipulative. (Not to mention looser with the rules of society and God.) In fact, she's taking Angela's death as the perfect time to work her way into a bigger role in her son and grandson's lives. She has an alibi all plotted out for Angela's departure, so she and Jimmy look like the good guys. She pretty much tells the child to think of her as his mother, which just further amps the crazy. So much in fact that Jimmy can't take it, which sees him throttling his mother's throat and screaming about how he'd always remember his wife's existence. Which then in turn leads to The Commodore stabbing his own son in the shoulder with a trident. A struggle ensues, and Jimmy ends up shanking his father with a combat knife. With a cry of “Finish it!”, Jillian orders Jimmy to kill his father and he complies. His father dispatched and his mother usurping wifely duties, Jimmy ends our episode in a rather peculiar place.
This week's episode may not have been the best in terms of story, but after what we witnessed last week it is kind of hard to top the events. Still, this looks like a nice set up for next week's finale, which promises to be as bloody as it will be dramatic. Van Alden is on the loose, and since the man is a loose cannon to begin with we don't even know what to expect. Also, Jimmy continues to be a dream for Freud's couch as he not only slept with his mother, but killed his father this week. (And he's already working on the drinking himself blind bit too!) Most importantly, the question remains: will Margaret testify in order to try and smooth things over with Jesus?
Next Week, the thrilling conclusion to Season 2: “To The Lost”.
* See Nucky goes to court!
* See Chalky and his men fixing for a fight!
* See Jimmy prepare to make things right!
* See all hell break loose!