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“I am not seeking forgiveness.”
We open this week with two masked men capturing several members of the Ku Klux Klan. Who else would be doing such a thing but Jimmy and his ever faithful partner, Richard. The men involved in the shoot up of Chalky's distillery are brought to justice at last, finally making Chalky happy enough to call off the strike in the Boardwalk's kitchens. Once again, Darmody Enterprises is taking it to the streets, and what's more Jimmy wants Chalky to set up a meeting...with Nucky.
At that time Nucky is currently preoccupied with, what else, his impending legal proceedings. And who better to get involved than Margaret Schroder herself, who ends up on the IRS's doorstep, along with Father Brennan who is acting as a sort of informal legal counsel. Esther Randolph continues to try and implore Margaret to be a witness against her lover, her ace in the hole being Margaret's good old fashioned Catholic guilt. The appeal she uses: turn in the man your children will soon enough realize is a crook. Of course, it isn't long before said crook proposes to Margaret out of convenience and love. (Which is more heavily loaded? We'll probably start to find that out in Season 3.)
We see Nucky get as religious as he'll probably ever get when he professes his love of Margaret and her family, claiming that there's “more God in [his] love” than any of the churches in Rahway. While he plays the convenience angle, it certainly does look like he loves Margaret enough that he legitimately wants to marry her. He certainly cares about her family as he starts to help Emily walk again in her braces. It is this act that seems to sell Margaret on the idea of marrying Nucky. While he may not be the best lover to her, at least he's a loving father to her children, which carries more weight with her than anything this point.
Jimmy's meeting with Nucky lead to a temporary reunion of forces, and also named Eli as the man behind the failed hit on Nucky. While Margaret and Nucky engage in their short engagement and sudden marriage, Jimmy and Richard start taking care of business by making sure the Interim Treasurer is out of the way. After a signed confession fingering Eli for wrongdoings, the boys make sure the Treasurer can't rethink his decision... by blowing his brains out against the wall and making it look a “suicide”. At the same time, Esther Randolph is going over her opening statement whilst getting dressed and ready for her big court date. A court date that in the end is all for naught, considering the Interim Treasurer was the big witness of the day. After a “suicide”, a wedding, and seven recanted confessions; the Judge offers Randolph two choices: proceed or have the case dismissed and be allowed a chance to regroup. Esther takes the dismissal, which frees Eli but sends Halloran to jail for the murder of Hans Schroder.
But just as Eli thinks he's escaped the clink, Nucky confronts him about the assassination attempt and in the end tells him to surrender himself to two years in jail, maximum. His family will be taken care of, and it's implied that all will be well between the brothers Thompson after such a deal. Eli seems to be in agreement, and thus his incarceration will probably be one of our major story points for next year. Meanwhile, Van Alden moves to Cicero with Sigrid, his nanny. Registered as Mr. and Mrs. Muller, they seem ready to begin a life together, but it's hard to tell for how little they are shown. One last B story that sets itself up for next season's taking is the Luciano/Lansky Heroine trade, which is now pitched to Arnold Rothstein. He seems keen on the idea, and the fact that he was “the first” they'd come to with the idea.
However, what would a season finale be without a major plot resolution? This season's massive reveal: the season that looked to be about The Rise and Fall of Nucky Thompson turned out to really be a detailed account of The Rise and Fall of Jimmy Darmody. The funny thing is: we're set up to think everything's going to be peaches and gravy for Jimmy and Nucky. Why else would Nucky ask Arnold Rothstein if it was ok to kill Horvitz, after taking a meeting with him to discuss business? As it turns out, Horvitz isn't the target of the climactic summit at the War Memorial, it's Jimmy. Unsurprised, Jimmy faces his fate down like a man and goes out reflecting on his time in the trenches, the place where he truly died.
Jimmy, in retrospect, spent the last half of the episode preparing himself for his own demise. He spent some time with his son, he told Richard it was time to come home from the war, and he even tries to prepare Nucky for the act he's about to undertake. In the end, any sort of hope for Jimmy's reprieve is lost as Nucky shoots him twice in the head. He knows what he has to do, and he does it without compunction. Sad as it may be, it's his business. A business that's going to become rather complicated when he finds out that the land that he and his friends were going to make a windfall on was signed over to Margaret's local parish.
In a sense, it's no surprise Jimmy is dead and at the same time it's incredibly surprising. On one hand, Nucky has killed his “son” for all intents and purposes, and this is something that could really screw him up if he thinks about it in the coming season. On the other hand, if Nucky didn't kill Jimmy, he would never have been able to start regaining his empire. Jimmy needed to be made an example of, and it's a shame because Jimmy really had something going there. Darmody's empire, however short a reign it had, was an empire to rival Nucky's; provided it actually worked the way it was supposed to. But Jimmy helped lead the way for The Young Guard to carve a niche in the Old School's way of business, and that's going to give Nucky a lot of Hell when trying to bring himself back up by his spats and into the High Life again.
Next Year: Season 3 of Boardwalk Empire!
* See Nucky's return to power!
* See The Young Guard on the rise!
* See Gillian becomes a Mom...again!
* See Van Alden loosen up!