”It's a special kind of fool who relies on the promise of a drunkard.” This week was about control, and through our various main story-lines we see men losing it, men trying to keep it, and women about to take it. With Jimmy and The Commodore's bootlegging operation starting to require expansion, Nucky has to do something about this and pronto. So he decides to react with two key moves: he partners with Arnold Rothstein to move booze more freely into the country and he hires Owen Sleater to pay a little visit to Mickey Doyle's operation.
Meanwhile, Chalky seems to be losing his grip on his constituency, who are as fed up as he is with the “wait and see” attitude that he's forced to filter down thanks to Nucky's inability to do anything at the moment. As if that weren't enough, The Commodore suffers a stroke, leaving Jimmy, presumably in the driver's seat. (At least, he will be if Jillian has anything to say about it.) Alliances are just one step away from all out war, and Nucky wants to keep everyone in line and on his side. Even his servants are getting a little extra from the pot, though Margaret scuttles that quite effectively in a bid to shore up her own hidden nest egg. But perhaps the greatest advantage Nucky scored this week was thanks to a little S&M birthday party being thrown for Mayor Bader.
While cavorting with various women of ill repute, the subject of last November's election comes up. As it turns out the ladies of the evening were brought in from Philadelphia to sway votes, which puts Nucky in violation of the Mann act. This being a Federal offense and all, the case would become a federal indictment and would be in the jurisdiction of Attorney General Daugherty, who still owes Nucky a favor.
Meanwhile, in the Darmody camp, The Commodore's stroke leaves him disabled and Elias in a state of panic. Gillian tries to calm Elias down, in a scene which cleverly places them in front of the elephant tusk that The Commodore used to prove his strength just weeks before. (I saw what you did there, Boardwalk Empire). Jimmy heads off to Philly to meet with Manny Horvitz, a competitor to Nucky and Arnold's man in PA, who's just itching to head them off at the pass. A deal is struck, and now Philadelphia becomes yet another spot on the map for the Mob to play out its war games. Which look to have just started at the end of the episode, when Mickey Doyle's warehouse explodes. As if that weren't enough, we see Gillian recall the first time she'd made Commodore Louis' acquaintance. It wasn't a fond recollection, seeing as he raped her and made sure she couldn't scream for help. She returns the favor by beating him senseless while paralyzed from his condition.
This week's highlight involves the character that continues to be one of my quiet favorites: Richard Darrow. In the time we've seen him very little of his story has been fleshed out. But last night's episode gave him the depth and heartache I was hoping they would, turning him into a sympathetic figure as opposed to disfigured monster. The most crushing moment of all was after a day of talking and sitting for Angela's sketches, he has to sink back to the background as Jimmy and wife show him yet another scene in the “perfect life” he so desperately yearns for.
The pieces are set on the board, and things look like they're going to get a lot more complicated, and a whole lot bloodier. It'll be interesting to see just how the Attorney General weasels his way out of trying to fulfill his end of the bargain with Nucky, as he clearly doesn't want to play this round of ball. Also, the Young Mob continues to clash with the Old Mob, and it's only a matter of time before Luciano snaps and decides to go rogue. And if Van Alden's underlings, who are snooping around his dealings with Mickey Doyle, aren't careful, they might both wind up in the hospital.
Nucky seems to think that his troubles are coming to a close, but for those of us on the other end history (and the television), we know better. The stage is set for a good old fashioned street war, and the first casualties look to be coming really soon. Next week looks to bring us two deaths: one expected and one unexpected until this week's preview reel. The former could be written off as Nature taking its course (and a testimony to Gillian's backhand), while the latter could spark the war we've been waiting for.
Next Week's Installment: Gimcrack and Bunkum
*See Jimmy become a full fledged Corleone!
*See Elias hit the bottle hard!
*See Margaret take aim with a shotgun!
*See Eddie Kessler team up with Eddie Cantor on Vaudeville with "The Kaiser and The Kid"!
*See RICHARD GET WHACKED?! (Seriously, watch that trailer for next week and tell me that's not what it looks like is going to happen.)