Welcome back to Chicago! Yep, looks like my suspicion at the end of last episode was on the money: Jimmy’s first stop in Chi-Town was to get back into Al Capone’s good graces, although it’s pretty evident from Al’s idea of a prank that he’s more than a little bit of a loose cannon. Firing a gun off at that range is likely to cause permanent hearing loss, wouldn’t you think? Still, it’s true: opium is good for what ails you. Not that Jimmy’s interested in pursuing that particular line of medication. His focus is more on his new female companion and nursemaid, Pearl, and after seeing how violently Al deals with his “clients,” it was all too easy to imagine Jimmy following Pearl to California. Al reminds him that he’s got some pretty big coattails that he’s welcome to ride on, but Jimmy shrugs, tells him he’s only passing through, and then offers the kind of advice which reveals that he could have his own criminal empire if he’d just put his mind to it. The difference between their styles of business only becomes more evident during their meeting with Charlie Sheridan (not to mention when they’re getting fitted for new suits), but I can’t blame Jimmy for wanting to let Al be hoisted with his own petard: the dude asked for it with his boorish manner. I mean, I know how history ultimately turns out, but surely Al needs to learn when to be a thug and when to be a businessman. On a related note, though, as soon as Sheridan’s boy came back into the whorehouse, I knew Pearl was in trouble, but I didn’t know exactly what was going to go down. Rough stuff, that. Come to think of it, it probably couldn’t hurt Jimmy to know when to be a businessman and when to be a thug.
Nucky’s practicing to look surprised for an upcoming birthday party when the ever-gorgeous Lucy pops by to inform him that she’s going shopping…which, of course, means that she needs money. After she departs, he chats further with Eddie about the guest list for the party, talking about how he’s anticipating to pull in some funds from an upcoming road appropriations bill. The fact that he’s pointedly underlined this fact leads me to believe that things aren’t going to go quite how he’s hoping they will. Nucky seems to be the only one in his camp who cares about finding out who Chalky’s man last week, but as he loudly reminds them, “Chalky cares, so that means I cares, and you can bet your ass, come Election Day, you’re gonna care, too.” It looks like Nucky’s chances at reelection are directly tied to whether or not he pulls in the African-American vote, but you’ll notice that Nucky has no ego about his situation and makes the very important distinction that it’s not that the populace in that community are doing what he tells them, it’s that he tells Chalky, and they do what Chalky tells them. Eli’s got a good point – Chalky’s not going to want to give up what he’s got – but better safe than sorry. Nucky’s getting positively anal about making sure everything’s right for the party and is stressed out to the Nth degree, leaving Eddie trying to maintain his good-cop persona and save face, but even he seems a little nervous about how crazy Nucky’s getting. It’s clear that he won’t be calming down until things have been smoothed over in Chalky’s community.
I’m sure a lot of people laughed at Gillian’s discomfort over being called Grandma (“not while the peaches are still in season”), but I mostly laughed because I know someone who feels the exact same way, and although it’s been a decade since I first met her, unless something has changed dramatically in her personality, I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t allow her grandkids to call her “Grandma.” But with that said, there’s clearly still a lot of love in their relationship, which is the exact opposite of what exists between her and Leo D’Alessio. I wouldn’t have imagined that charming encounter resulting in anything good happening, but I guess we’ll see if it ultimately leads to something interesting.
Just when you think they can’t make a guy in the KKK come off any worse than he would by wearing the traditional white robe and hood of the organization, they put the Grand Poobah in a purple robe and give him a Hitler mustache. I’m not really sure that Eli’s doing a whole lot for equality between the races by using the word “darkies,” but at least he’s making good on Nucky’s request to seek out the individual responsible for murdering Chalky’s man. I didn’t know what he was planning to do when he pulled the hood over his face, but I figured it was so that he wouldn’t see it coming when he got the shit beat out of him. Instead, it was used to surprise him before an encounter before Chalky himself. It’s about time they gave Michael Kenneth Williams a chance at a menacing monologue, and he hit it out of the park long before he pulled out his tools and offered that killer scene-ending line which gives us our title this week. Even better, though, was his grin when he told Eli, “We passed that point about 10 minutes ago.”
How lovely to see Gretchen Mol getting topless this week.
Before this week, I’d spent some time wondering about how clever a girl Lucy is. It seemed pretty clear that she wasn’t a rocket scientist, but she certainly knows what to say and do to keep herself in Nucky’s good graces. After her comments to Senator Edge and Mayor Hague, however, it’s obvious that there’s no acting involved: no matter how dedicated she may be to Nucky, she’s definitely all looks and little or no brains. By the way, speaking of those two gentlemen of power, talk about your perfect casting: when it comes to character actors playing slimy politicians, you don’t get much better than Geoff Pierson and Chris Mulkey. I enjoyed both the smile on Nucky’s face when he spotted Margaret at the party and his reaction to Margaret’s name for her boss (don’t think he won’t have something to say to her about that), along with her comments to Edge and Hague. The dance between Margaret and Nucky was divine. I hate to check into the history books for a spoiler to find out if they end up together, but either way, it’s clearly an inevitability that Margaret and Lucy are destined to square off in a big way at some point. By the way, I have to admit that I already knew about Lucy’s “surprise” before watching the episode, thanks to the promo photos on HBO’s media website, but that didn’t make me any less excited about seeing it actually come to fruition onscreen.
In the end, Nucky’s meeting with the political bigwigs didn’t go as well as he might’ve hoped – I can’t imagine he was really happy about having to come right out and ask how much it was going to cost him – and the party ultimately cost him more that he probably would have liked on a couple of levels. Still, he flipped the situation around somewhat with that shipment of Pimm’s Cup to the Senator. Nice note, eh? And given that Margaret and her neighbor were hanging out early in the episode, bonding over child-rearing and the news, I thought sure that, as Margaret’s boss told her that she’d have to work late (bemoaning how her last employee didn’t have any incredibly inconvenient children), I figured her neighbor would have something to say about having to watch the kids that late into the evening. But, no, it never came up. What did come back around, however, was their conversation from early in the episode about the supposed Russian princess. For a moment, Margaret believed that fairytales really do some true sometimes, but with one headline, that belief came crashing down…and, hey, since it’s down, why not go even deeper and start shoplifting from your employer, right? Makes sense.
Guess we’ll find out more about Mickey Doyle’s plans next week…