Things are not going well for Nucky Thompson. One attempt has already been made on his life and there will be more to come. He’s merely rich instead of super-rich after making “legitimate” investments in the stock market. One woman close to him exits his life while another one returns but it’s uncertain for how long. The deal with Joe Kennedy appears to be off but not before the original wolf of wall street flirts with Margaret, offers her oysters and a ride home to New York. I’m pretty sure that ride was a double entendre…
After the break we’ll move on to my weekly random, discursive and sporadically relevant comments:
Cuanto means how much in Spanish. It‘s both the episode title and purt near Sally’s last words. We see her filling in for Nucky, acting as his bag chick since he cannot get to Cuba because of bad weather. The entire Cuba part of the episode it ominous from the get-go as Sally picks up a valise of cash from an oily and flirtatious banker. While she’s there, he’s interrupted by some uniformed men who make a lot of noise before departing. The air is heavy with the stench of betrayal.
On Sally’s next stop, she delivers said cash to the Bacardi dude who lacks his normal suave aplomb. It looks as if he’s fleeing the country because there’s a rebellion brewing. He denies it to Sally but neither she nor the viewers believed him.
Sally is stopped on the way back to Havana by a cadre of soldiers. We saw the commander earlier in the episode, which means the jig is up. She tried to bribe him by asking “cuanto?” He feigns insult but he’s already been bought off. Sally is searched, disarmed and tries tries to defend herself by stealing a soldiers’ gun. That was her last act; she’s shot dead. Charlie Lucky has long arms and this time they extended to Cuba. The assassins were intended for Nucky. To be continued.
“You can rule by love or you can rule by fear” Thus spake Al Capone to a visiting Charlie Lucky after sparing the life of Van Weirdo/Mueller. Luciano remembered the Karlovian Van Weirdo from AC, and tells Scarface there’s a Fed in his midst. With a combination of guile and subtlety, Van Weirdo convinces Capone to spare his life but not before he has an accident. Oopsie.
The entire Chicago segment is an overflowing cup of awesome as we see Capone’s megalomania in full flight. He forces his entourage to watch a newsreel clip about him 97 times, tells bad jokes and threatens his lackeys when his mood swings. Scarface is showing the signs of the syphillis that will kill him, and becomes briefly enraged when Charlie Lucky calls him “the Italian Wallace Beery.” Since Beery was a big star at that point in time, it was meant as a compliment but Scarface is a hard man to please.
After ruling with love in the case of Van Weirdo, he rules with fear by beating one of his yes men to death with the cast iron Empire State Building replica that Luciano brought him as a gift. The corpse’s crime? He called Luciano a jerk after Capone denounced him. Al was a mercurial motherfucker. It’s hard to be a Capone yes man, y’all.
Capone’s problems are about to get much worse. He proposes an alliance against Charlie Lucky to Nucky at the end of the episode. But as we all know it is Luciano who will survive. Additionally, there’s a federal agent among Capone’s yes men who digs up Van Weirdo’s file. He’s still wanted for murdering his partner. I think Van Weirdo has a future as a witness for the prosecution.
That Same Old Feeling: Margaret feels the old chemistry with Nucky as they dine and plot against Mrs. Rothstein. He’s impressed that she successfully shook Redstone/Rothstein down. How could he not be when she tells him that she asked herself what Nucky would do, or WWND as the kids on twitter might put it.
Margaret who once disapproved of drinking, gets tipsy and makes a pass at her estranged husband. He rejects it. What’s in it for him? Nucky is a cold-hearted bastard but that’s one reason he’s still alive.
My favorite moment of the Nucky-Margaret scenes came when he told her that he was initially interested in her because she seemed lost. Margaret, in turn, informed him that she was drawn to him because he seemed so lonely. Lost and lonely. Very little has changed.
Portrait Of The Gangster As A Young Man: There have been a few complaints among my fellow BE recappers about the flashbacks. I like them. It’s fascinating to see how Nucky came from nothing to be a well-respected man about town.
Very little has changed in his relationship with kid brother Eli. The two fight constantly and one physical dust-up reminds me of the time Eli and Nucky duked it out at the former’s house as adults. There really is a thin line between love and hate but the Thompson brothers need one another even more than the Thompson twins…
My favorite moment during the flashback sequence was when Nucky showed a delighted Eli his first flush terlet. The brothers are moving on up, folks.
Next week, Chalky returns to confront Nucky. We’ll see if the latter can work his old white magic, talk Chalky down and enlist him once again as an ally. It’s also way past time for the producers to tell us *exactly* what Chalky went to jail for. I assume it has something to do with bootlegging and/or murder but enquiring minds want to know.
Irving Berlin’s Let’s Face the Music and Dance popped up in this episode so I’ll finish with my favorite version of that classic: