Before I get to my recap: last night during the airing of the episode, entitled “Spaghetti and Coffee”, Boardwalk Empire was awarded the Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series. This award was given to Tim Van Patten, for last year’s season finale. This award was well-deserved, and the show should have won more Emmys last night.
But I digress. The episode last night was a change of pace from the season premiere, which allowed for the further character development of Gyp Rossetti and a welcome catch-up with Chalky White and Nucky’s brother, Eli. Although there was a fair amount of violence, no one was killed. Conspicuously absent from last night’s episode were Richard Harrow and Gillian, Nelson Van Alden and Al Capone. I suspect that the different subplots will be rotated in and out every week until, undoubtedly, paths collide later in the season.
We begin with Eli’s release from jail. The former sheriff of Atlantic County, he was sent to prison in last season’s finale as a result of the cover-up of Nucky’s corruption case. Mickey Doyle picks him up from prison, and offers him work at his bootlegging operation, but at first Eli refuses the offer, believing that it is beneath him. Once he realizes that he needs the money and the job to reclaim his former status, however, he relents.
Gyp Rossetti is in the process of taking over Tabor Heights, a seaside town on the route between New York City and Atlantic City. Upon conversing with a gas station attendant, he realizes that the town possesses the one and only gas station between the two cities. Rossetti plays this to advantage, as he stops Mickey Doyle’s bootlegging convoy to New York at gunpoint, presenting a significant threat to the Nucky-Arnold Rothstein alliance. Here we see a different dimension of Rossetti’s character: he can be cold and calculating in addition to having a hotheaded temper.
Chalky White is warming up to his daughter Maybelle’s boyfriend, Samuel, who is training to become a doctor. In an unusual act of trust, Chalky allows Samuel to give him a check-up and find out what has been making him feel under the weather lately. Chalky then gives Samuel his blessing on his marriage proposal to Maybelle. However, as we see, Maybelle is having second thoughts about marriage and this causes considerable tensions later on.
Nucky is sleeping around with a flapper named Billie that he met at his New Year’s Eve party and is beginning to develop feelings for her. This unsettles Billie, who wants to have more of a no-strings-attached, don’t ask, don’t tell lifestyle. In addition, Nucky is still continuing his corrupt politician ways, bribing Gaston Means, who works for the Attorney General, to keep a blind eye to his criminal activities. Later on he meets with Rothstein to discuss the shipment of alcohol that is being sent to New York. Rothstein expresses his desire for the shipment to be on time, which, of course, will be thwarted by Rossetti.
Margaret is having conflicts with the hospital that she has donated money to. She feels that the medical care being provided to women is woefully inadequate and the doctors she tries to appeal to are not interested in what she has to say.
Although not an action-packed episode by any means, the episode has plenty of intrigue and delivers in suspense. It is good for any series worth its salt to have episodes that provide depth and strengthen the plot in a nuanced, subtle way. Next week, we will see how Nucky and Rothstein react to Rossetti’s growing influence and threat to their interests, how Nelson Van Alden will tie into the Capone-O’Banion feud out in Chicago and how Harrow will tie in to the greater story.