The Tabor Heights bloodbath I heralded last week happened. Off camera. And no major players were lost in the scuffle. It could have been avoided, too: Eli even went on a solo recon trip and saw that local police enforcement were in league with the state troopers, not to take care of Rosetti (like Doyle believed) but to hijack Nucky’s convoy. The fact that Doyle hasn’t learned anything from his encounter with Harrow is unsurprising. The more salient issue here is that Rothstein had to call him in person – visibly disgusted, and peeved – to ensure that his booze would be delivered. Doyle has served pretty consistently as a punching bag in this series, and considering that other characters have died for being much less annoying, we can honestly say that he has outstayed his welcome. This latest mistake is extremely grievous: he disregarded Nucky’s orders, he questioned his authority by referring to Sleater AND did not follow Eli’s urging to avoid Tabor Heights. Blood was spilled, sure; they also lost a few good men, some money and 80 crates of alcohol. Eli already reported back to Nucky, who is going to have to drop his pants for Rothstein in order remedy the situation.
Old Boy Enoch was notably absent from this whole hullaballoo, though not of his own fault this time, but he still endured some losses, on his own scale. While investigating on the activities of a certain Rowland Smith (who Manny was heading out to kill in the season opener), he finds himself trapped in a literally shitty basement while the Philadelphia prohibition officers raid the home of the swindler and confiscate A LOT of booze. Rowland Smith presents himself as a frail but clever 16-year-old who tried to do Nucky over, and failed half-gracefully. Very affably, he tries to charm his way into Nucky’s team, and for a second we think that Nucky has found a new Jimmy Darmody (he was so close, too!). Until he reveals that he is 19, turns his back and gets shot in the head. The lesson here is don’t double-cross Nucky, and also, Sleater, he knows you’re on his side, but still don’t double-cross Nucky. Things are never quite what they seem.
I’m going to tie in here with Margaret’s arc, whose women’s clinic has already opened. She is passing out fliers on the Boardwalk without much success – the fliers have been censored by the Mother Superior who did not condone the use of salacious language such as “vagina” and “pregnant” and she barely escapes blundering as she is pushing her ideas down the throat of a lady who’s already suffered a miscarriage, at least 5 pregnancies and a rather abrupt husband. And there’s another callback: aviatrix Carrie Duncan, has crashed her plane near Yosemite (she was so close, too!). Of course that’s not her fault, but still, she’s dead, chances are her body won’t be found. If Margaret were to crash and burn, it’s a wonder who would come and rescue – and if she’d even make it to the papers.
Newspapers were a special motive in this episode: Owen wakes up from playing hanky panky with Katie to learn that the sheriff of Tabor Heights was burned to death. It is also how Margaret learns of the demise of her season opener hero; and when Rowland Smith is stroking Nucky’s ego, he says that “in the paper you’re having a jolly good time.” A Google search on the names of Carrie Duncan and Rowland Smith doesn’t lead to any real-life results. They’re likeable here, but we can legitimately ask: Were those characters created by the showrunners? Or does their failure to achieve what they set out to do put them in the category of fallen soldiers? History certainly doesn’t remember Jimmy Darmody. Nucky Johnson (tl;dr: whose character Nucky Thompson was based off of) made some headlines, locally. But he’s no Rosetti, he’s no Capone or Masseria. Whose stories took up the rest of the episode.
In Chicago, Al Capone’s son (who’s reading the paper) is getting bullied at school – and Al tries to bully him into fighting back. Doesn’t work too well, but as his wife puts it “boys will be boys whether they can hear each other or not.” Capone meets his associate Guzik in a fancy parlor where Chicago goes to play boob golf. I guess that’s what it’s called? Anyway, Guzik smells like sardine twat, and on his collection round he stops to drink a beer and gets roughed up by Joe Miller, introduced earlier as Dean O’Bannion’s capo. Now, going back to the season opener, Guzik had complained to Torrio that O’Bannion was selling beer in the South Side (Torrio’s territory) although his territory is the North Side, leading to a skirmish between Capone and O’Bannion. Well, boys will be boys, and Capone goes to take care of Joe Miller with a bar stool, then comes home to play the mandolin with his kid’s hands on his throat so he can feel his singing (awwwww!).
Also in Chicago, Lucky Luciano meets with Masseria to negotiate a cut of his heroin income. Lansky’s advice: “stay away from windows.” Lucky’s seat? His back to the window. Italian humor! The exchange is pretty intense, but it can only be summarized by Masseria’s emphasis of Italy’s bloodline and antisemitism. They’re so close ethnically, ethically, physically…. but so far economically, busisnessly. It’s a toughie for Luciano, who just trying to make it here in these streets, and turning his back on Italians would not be the best idea. Jews have a cold heart Masseria says, they won’t be there to rescue him when the shit hits the fan. Do Masseria’s words apply to Rothstein too? We know he’s pissed, he’s far too, all the way up in New York and we’ll have to wait until next week to know just how pissed and how dirty his hands are going to get.
Gyp Rosetti on the other hand, still gives not a crap, and he is going to rape himself a redhead. The Sicilian (so close to Italy, yet so far) is building a stronghold in Tabor Heights that will only be taken by trench warfare (paging Mr. Harrow). Eli (so close to Nucky, yet so far) is now in a position to advise him and gain some of his balls back. Nucky was so close to being able to retire into politics, but it’s not going to happen anytime soon… Didn’t really understand the title of this episode besides a reference to this nursery rhyme – which could apply to either Rowland or Nucky. Did you see that Boardwalk Empire was renewed for a fourth season? The geographer in me creamed his pants during this episode, in case you didn’t notice. Get yourself a load of a theme song for this episode.- Gnou