In “Georgia Peaches,” Nucky is back in the U.S., and thanks to Sleater‘s IRA connections, flush with alcohol, giving Jimmy and his cronies some serious competition. But the idea that Nucky could go to jail for election-rigging remains a very real possibility, leaving plenty to still be resolved in the next couple of weeks. And with only two more episodes left in the season, the writers are pulling out the big, shocking death scenes that leave us on the edge of our seats. We’ll miss you, Angela.
Act of Devotion
Nucky has returned from Belfast with enough whiskey to quench Atlantic City’s thirst, but his federal case is still a thorn in his side. At this point, his sad sack of a lawyer, Isaac “Icky” Ginsberg, predicts a five-year sentence for his client. Fed up with Icky’s inability to guarantee a dismissal, Nucky fires him. The next day, Nucky goes to New York to meet with Arnold Rothstein‘s lawyer (he got the idea from seeing a “Black Sox Trial Begins” newspaper headline), William Fallon. Fallon seems more likely to help exonerate Nucky (as he did Rothstein in real life), but Nucky’s fate remains a giant question mark because he doesn’t have enough cash to fund the bribes Fallon requires to sway the judge and jury.
Despite his never-ending legal troubles, Nucky is keeping a pretty cool head when it comes to Emily‘s health, which is more than we can say for his mistress. After receiving a disappointing prognosis, a distraught Margaret goes to church to pray for her daughter. She tells Father Brennan about her misfortune, and predictably, he brings up her recent “temptation”-tinged confession. When she refuses to discuss it, he says that’s her problem: She asks so much of God yet she gives Him nothing in return. She insists she gives her devotion, but Brennan ambiguously explains that devotion is “an act. It is something you demonstrate.”
A confused Margaret then offers her jewelry and the wad of cash she’s been hoarding to Brennan as a donation to the church. Question: What was she hoarding the money for in the first place? Brennan accepts it, but the fact he doesn’t offer any compassion is disappointing. Margaret’s desperation for a clear conscience is so upsetting, because it appears she wants to rid herself of her guilt more than she wants her daughter to be well: “It’s a weight on me. On my soul. I want to be free of it.”
But all of Margaret’s praying and “acts of devotion” can’t change the truth: The doctor confirms that Emily’s paralysis, like so many other polio sufferers of the time, will be permanent.
Caught in the Crossfire
Jimmy meets with his associates at the Commodore‘s mansion to discuss the impact of the African-American workers’ strike. Everyone is losing business and Jimmy is torn between his inclination to negotiate with the blacks and his racist cronies’ desire to beat them into submission. Not helping matters are Leander Whitlock, who constantly reminds a frustrated Jimmy of how his “predecessor knew how to keep the coloreds happy,” and the still-incapacitated Commodore garbling that his son lacks a pair. Afraid of appearing weak, Jimmy yields to Eli‘s idea of having a group of men attack the strikers with billy clubs.
Also during this meeting, ward boss Jim Neary squeals to Eli that he saw his deputy, Raymond Halloran, about to meet with Esther Randolph. So the following day, while the blacks strike peacefully on the boardwalk, the promised 50 men with billy clubs stage a brutal assault. But there is one extra victim. Halloran, who had been patrolling the area, is approached by two men, just as his fellow police officers discreetly step away. When Eli visits the recuperating Halloran, who suffered a broken arm and a busted jaw, Halloran is confused as to why Eli shows little sympathy – until the sheriff calls him out for being a rat. But Halloran isn’t the namby-pamby he presents himself to be. As soon as Eli leaves, Halloran telephones Randolph’s office. A couple of scenes later, Randolph visits a now-incarcerated Eli, and she calmly explains that he is a suspect in the murder of Hans Schroeder, Margaret’s husband – and he has Halloran to thank for it. Karma’s a bitch, Eli.
In an attempt to assuage the striking workers, Jimmy secretly meets with Chalky. He offers to make Chalky’s murder charge disappear by speaking to his friend, the governor. But Chalky wants more: $3,000 apiece to the families of the men killed in the Klan attack, and the identities of “them three hooded crackers who did the shooting.” Jimmy agrees to the money, but he refuses the latter demand. It’s always remained vague, but it’s possible that the three Klansmen in question are Jimmy, Eli and the Commodore. Whoever they are, it’s all or nothing for Chalky, and he walks.
Between the failed strike negotiations and being undercut by Nucky in alcohol distribution, Jimmy is starting to unravel – as we expected him to. At his warehouse, he meets with Al Capone, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and Mickey Doyle. All are discouraged because they can’t unload any of the liquor they purchased from George Remus. Lansky suggests they fan out and sell the booze individually.
Doyle visits Manny Horvitz, who is still reeling from last week’s assassination attempt. Doyle offers $5,000 worth of whiskey to settle Jimmy’s debt, but an incensed Horvitz refuses, all the while scraping off the scabs from his gunshot wound with the matches he found in his assassin’s pocket. Ew. Doyle tries to reason with the unbalanced Horvitz, but the butcher won’t listen to the truth, which is that Jimmy did not orchestrate the hit on him. The scene ends with Horvitz choking Doyle to learn Jimmy’s whereabouts. Whether Doyle survived remains to be seen.
In an unusually tender scene, a humbled Jimmy, his kingdom having fallen, expresses remorse to Angela over how much he’s hurt her, and he promises to make it up to her. They kiss, and she persuades her husband to stick around for a quick frolic before he heads off to sell his whiskey surplus. Even though Angela likes the company of the ladies, it was encouraging to see Jimmy recognize that he’s been neglecting his wife and son (who is staying with Gillian), and that he wants to do right by them. If only he had come to this realization sooner.
That night, a shadowy figure enters the house, gun in hand. The only sound comes from the bathroom, where someone is showering. Horvitz walks slowly into the bedroom, passing Angela’s naked leg, and covering her mouth. She awakens in fright as Horvitz yanks her out of bed. The bathroom door opens, and instead of Jimmy – who is en route to Princeton – a naked woman emerges (Angela’s new friend Louise?). While Horvitz is all WTF? after shooting Louise, Angela begs him for mercy as she crouches over her dead lover’s body. But her pleas do nothing to soften the evil butcher’s heart: “Your husband did this to you,” Horvitz says before emptying three bullets into her head and chest. Of all the assholes that populate the Boardwalk Empire universe, it’s incredibly devastating to see one of the gentle souls taken down (Richard Harrow, you better watch your back).
Wrap-Up: We always knew after the failed assassination attempt on Manny Horvitz last week that Jimmy’s life was in danger, but no one anticipated this kind of outcome – proving that, like in True Blood, no character is safe. Angela’s death is also unfortunate in the sense the writers may have hit a wall with her. Since lesbianism was taboo in the 1920s, Angela’s destiny would most likely have been a loveless marriage with a few Sapphic romps interspersed, making her not so much a victim of circumstance, but of the time period.
Last Episode: Whiskey Is a Go-Go