"Things just can't go on being every which way, can they?"
In many ways the title Boardwalk Empire has lost all meaning. The HBO drama doesn't seem all that concerned with who's in control of the the illegal booze business in Atlantic City as much as painting a broad picture of bootlegging history on the entire East Coast. After the vignette-based, location-hopping "You'd Be Surprised," "Bootleg Empires" might be a better name for the series. Not that the show didn't often extend itself outside Atlantic City throughout the first two seasons but it was mostly in service of the conflict at the heart of the drama, namely, who should rule the Boardwalk Empire. Sure, every action that Nucky takes still puts his place on top in jeopardy but these dangerous trappings (whether the law or outside mobsters) all existed on top of the two-season-long arc that eventually pitted the protege against his pseudo-father. There are still great scenes littered throughout every episode of Season 3 so far, and "Ging Gang Goolie" is no exception, but without that central bond the series feels (to the) lost.
"One more question. Is it true Rosetti was wearing a dog collar?"
Gyp Rosetti is supposed to be the primary replacement for Jimmy, filling the void left by the main protagonist (or antagonist depending on whose side you were on), but it only took one kid with a good tip and a handgun to make him run back to NYC. I know it's not for good, the unleashed dog will certainly reenter the frey and possibly create a full on war between Masseria and Rothstein but all we can do at the moment is peculate because the major player was absent from the entire episode. Not just him, the entire New York conflict was missing with almost no mention of the what is surely one of the main threads of the season. We do get one scene of Eli, who seems to have reasserted his authority over Mickey (whether officially or not), acting tough for the new sheriff of Tabor Heights who's free to talk, not to mention reopen the routes, now that Gyp has flew the coop. And that's it for street side of the bootlegging business for the week. New York, however, isn't completely missing from the episode, just most of the familiar faces and volatile conflicts.
"I finally got you convicted."
Nucky arrives to the usual drop on the right date but instead of finding Means' empty fish-bowl, he finds, well, a fish. And George Remus. Nucky suspects that something is amiss (obviously) and assumes that Daugherty might try to use him to get out of his legal pinch. We also see that Remus is closer to the Attorney General since he's able to produce the phone number. Too bad the maid manages to kick the two gangsters out of the flophouse despite Remus' Cincinnati charms. The action cuts to the Nation's capitol for a Boy Scouts of America meeting where Daugherty's right hand Jess Smith starts sobbing like a baby as the troop leader talks about moral fibre. I wonder if he's a weak link in the illegal operation's chain? Nuck bursts in on the politicos conspiring against him and despite all the threats he can muster, Daugherty doesn't flinch. Not only is the Attorney General going after him, but he instructs a hiding Means to teach Nucky a lesson in civics. A lesson that starts with a comfy prison cell and ends up working against those who put him there.
And not just because he meets big time bootlegger Alby Gold. Okay, so the dude got caught with 5 cases, not exactly Roland Smith but while Nucky's in line with the small fries he does happen to cross someone we haven't seen in a while. It would be an understatement to say that the return of Julianne Nicholson's Esther Randolph was the highlight of "Ging Gang Goolie," saving grace might be more like it. The former Assistant DA is now working a small courtroom where offenders are ushered through as fast as possible with five dollar fines and the Judge doesn't mind taking shots at an attorney desperately trying to put a big fish behind bars. Nucky's 'Jesus Christ' after hearing her courtroom spiel was a great moment but surely bested by his request for change. Nucky was also right that the diner date between him and Esther was indeed interesting and probably my favorite moment of the entire episode. A superbly written exchange, acted with extreme charisma. And what do you know, when he's stuck listening to Billie yammer about her show later, he finds out that he's got another unlikely and valuable friend in Gaston Means.
"Dreams are where we should live but we have to live in life."
Nobody is missing Jimmy quite like Gillian and we get to experience her crazy for a large part of "Ging Gang Goolie." There's something extra unnerving about her actions when you consider how a popular Boy Scouts of America song is the source of the episode's title. Oh, I forgot that we do get to see one of the New York boys as Lucky makes an appearance to bang one of the girls at his and Gillians, sorry Jimmy's place and make the madam jealous. I also find it hard to believe that Lucky, in his line of work, would think there's even a chance that Jimmy's still alive. Maybe him bringing Jimmy up is his way of forcing Gillian to finally deal with his disappearance and it almost works as she spends time taking down all his photos. The healthy step in the grieving process is soon followed by a not so healthy step, spotting and seducing a Jimmy-alike. I'd say Gillian had lost is, especially with all the dream world-real world bullshit, but that would mean she had it together at some point. The sex scene is incredibly awkward and tell me you didn't cringe at her new nickname for Plain-Roger.