A melancholy Nucky waits in the train station cafe for someone. With each passing train, his coffee cup and saucer vibrate, moving slowly away from him. The waiter explains that it’s the trains and Nucky distractedly wonders, “…you go your whole life without noticing things…” When he looks up Margaret is walking towards him.
The return of Margaret is transient and fleeting, much like their relationship. The scene is awkward and slow. Margaret explains that she works in an office making an honest living while Nucky tries to reconnect through the death of Eddie. Margaret bristles at the gift he’s brought for her to give to Teddy but assures her he, “Wouldn’t put something living in a box.” So, there you have it. I wonder if we’re meant to believe that this illustrates the death of Nucky and Margaret’s relationship, neatly wrapped up in a box with a bow.
In the wake of Eddie’s suicide, Eli and Mickey Doyle go searching for Nucky’s safety deposit box key. Mickey rudely picks at Eddie’s things, but Eli is more remorseful and seems saddened by the situation. He realizes that they really didn’t know anything about this man who spent so much time at Nucky’s side. While searching Eddie’s suit pocket, he finds the receipt from his business lunch with Ralph Capone — the day of his undoing. It seems like this is the first time Eli is seeing how the gangster life can chew someone up and spit them out the other side.
In a stressful meeting with J.Edgar Hoover, Agent hayseed asks Hoover for one last shot at taking Thompson and the network down. Without his informant and now with the boss breathing down his neck, hayseed has to make something happen, and soon. He visits Mickey and Eli under the guise of getting his cut but Eli puts him in charge of using his badge to get at the safety deposit box under Eddie’s name.
Eli is in rare sentimental form throughout the episode, even struggling to sleep as he worries about Willy’s “situation with his roommate.” When Agent hayseed brings him the untouched envelope of money, Eli asks him to read the suicide note. He tells him it says, simply, that Eddie found out that day that he has a grandson and he is overjoyed. (But, do we believe that’s what it says?) Eli breaks down in tears in front of hayseed, giving him another weak link in the Thompson chain.
In Native American folklore, it is the courageous Na-gah’s father that turns him into the fixed star for people to set their journey on. In Boardwalk Empire, Julia’s father has exalted Richard who has finally returned after an eight month absence since the almost coup at Artemis House. After running into him at the hospital, he tells Richard that he’s dying of cirrhosis and calls him a hero for killing all of those people to protect Tommy in the almost coup. With this blessing and a new role to fill, Richard returns to Julia and Tommy. An imperfect, perfect family Richard has always dreamed of.
The episode’s other North Star, Daughter Maitland, the star of the North side of Atlantic city, is once again getting Chalky all fired up. He’s channelled his obvious sexual attraction for her into anger. Each lithe step and smart comment she makes only angers him more. They disagree over her sense of entitlement and later that night, she sings a soulful and sexy blues number that is a far cry from the pop standards that the white patrons are used to. We know Chalky thinks Daughter is a temptress, and it’s only a matter of time until he can’t hold on any longer. He watches on in lustful anger, his resolve failing him with each note.
He summons her to scold her for choosing that song to sing. After an exchange of words, each of them accusing the other on their lowly upbringings, they kiss and the inevitable is done. Right before Chalky breaks, he threatens to send Daughter back to Dr. Narcisse who he calls “just a [N-word] with a dictionary,” but, as soon as they touch, it’s hard not to see that Dr. Narcisse is a man with a vocabulary and a plan.
While Chalky and Eli get bested in Atlantic City, Nucky works to seal the swamp land deal in Tampa. He sits across a table in Sally’s with old Coconut McCoy (who I guess is good at cleaning up a mess), who’s got another investor for the deal. And, after episode four’s late night handshake, Lansky and Luciano join the men.
But later, during a gator fight hosted by Sally’s new investor, Petrucelli suggests to a surprised Luciano that Masseria (his boss and Petrucelli’s friend) probably wouldn’t love to know that Luciano was down here, making a deal that he won’t get a cut of. Fearing the result of that news being shared, he walks out on the deal, leaving Lansky responsible. In this scene, a bloodsport takes place (literally) behind a business deal.
Hours later, Nucky is lit up and drinking moonshine with Sally. He starts to wax poetic, but Sally promptly puts an end to that by punching him, twice, and saying she hates a whiner. Nucky repays the favor by punching her back. The two drunkenly wrestle themselves into passionate making out and are eventually fucking, a humid storm raging behind them.
Like I mentioned in episode one, he can’t resist a smart woman. Nucky tells McCoy that Sally is the proprietor of his business while he’s not around. But as we’ve seen, Sally doesn’t pull punches. She might just be willing to turn this business into a bloodsport.
This is a dangerous game for Nucky. One that has us wondering if he’ll heed his own realization from earlier: “…You go your whole life without noticing things…” When will Nucky notice that his need for a smart partner combines with a fear of being emasculated only leads to problems with Sally?