As I’m writing this, Atlantic City is being battered by Hurricane Sandy. But 89 years ago, the world of Boardwalk Empire was enjoying calm Easter weather. Yesterday’s episode, titled “Sunday Best,” is essentially about family relationships. Nucky’s relationship with his brother Eli is explored, and even Gyp’s family life is shown.
The episode begins on Easter morning, with Eli hiding eggs for the Easter egg hunt. We then quickly cut to Gillian being awoken by Richard. Gillian allows Richard to take Tommy to Easter dinner at Julia’s. When Richard asks Gillian how she is feeling, she replies, “murderous,” foreshadowing what is to come later in the episode.
Richard is attracted to Julia, and brings her flowers to show his appreciation for having Tommy and him over. However, her father, the veteran who got beaten up at the Legion Hall and who Richard helped, is rude and abrasive throughout dinner. Julia feels badly and prepares a dinner for Richard to eat alone because his mask gets in the way of him eating.
Tommy goes upstairs to the bathroom, and out of a natural curiosity that all kids have, starts to explore. He goes into the bedroom of Julia’s brother, who was killed during World War I and is the reason for Julia’s father’s anger. The father, in a drunken rage, finds Tommy playing with his son’s toy soldiers and pulls him by the ear out of the room. Richard threatens to kill him if he doesn’t let Tommy go. Everyone gets kicked out after this, and Richard, Julia and Tommy go to the boardwalk. The three take a picture together, something that Richard holds special because he never had this family experience since the War.
While Richard and Tommy are out, Gillian has Roger come over. They fool around and eat together. Then, Gillian blindfolds Roger and leads him to the basement, where there is a bathtub. Roger goes in, and starts to relax. However, Gillian injects him with heroin and drowns him, signifying that she has finally come to grips with Jimmy’s death.
Nucky, Margaret and the kids head over to Eli’s house for Easter. Eli’s wife and children are extremely welcoming to Nucky’s family, especially his daughter Emily. Margaret attempts to open up about Nucky’s infidelities to Eli’s wife, but she does not seem to understand her concerns, only seeing Nucky in a positive light.
At the same time, Nucky and Eli go off to drink in the garage, and Eli vents his frustrations about being in jail for sixteen months and losing his sheriff’s badge. Especially in light of Eli’s betrayal last season, Nucky feels that since Eli has a job and a house, he should not have anything to complain about. Eli melodramatically takes out a revolver and asks Nucky to kill him, but Nucky knows that he is bluffing and takes the bullets out of the gun. After the Easter egg hunt, the family gathers in the living room for a talent show, where Nucky does a juggling routine and Margaret sings an old Irish folk song.
In New York, Gyp Rossetti is in his bedroom having a meeting with a representative from Joe Masseria. Rossetti’s mother is banging on the door, trying to get him to come out for dinner. Gyp is trying to put on his suit, but relents and comes out wearing just a wifebeater. As he sits down and tries to grab a piece of food before grace, his mother slaps his hand and asks him if they are cats in an alley. This is actually somewhat funny considering that Gyp talks about how he was born and raised in a cave in Sicily. This scene also shows that Gyp's mother has control over him and that he respects her.
After dinner, Gyp goes to a church and starts to pray to Jesus to help him, but ends up yelling at him and cursing his own existence. A priest tries to calm him down, but Gyp ends up punching him in the face and taking money from the Church in order to pay the money that he owes to Joe Masseria. He then goes to meet with Masseria who, in a brilliant psychological move, tells Gyp that he is unable to control him and cannot rely on him.
At the same time, Masseria’s men menacingly stand up and insinuate that Gyp will be killed. Gyp, enraged and somewhat intimidated, pledges his loyalty to Masseria and vows to kill Nucky, Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano on Masseria’s behalf. Masseria, satisfied that he has Gyp under his thumb and that he will get rid of his enemies, agrees.
That night, Nucky calls Eli and tells him that he realizes that he has been loyal to him and recognizes that he tried to prevent the massacre in Tabor Heights. He promotes Eli to be Mickey Doyle’s partner in managing the warehouse. However, not all is well between Nucky and Margaret. Nucky offers to teach her how to juggle, but she says that it is too late for that.
The episode ends with Gillian coming in to see Richard in his room. She starts to cry and tells Richard that her son is dead. We then hear screams from the prostitutes because they find Roger’s lifeless body in the bathtub.
Will Richard find happiness with Julia? Will Nucky and Margaret reconcile? What will be Gyp’s next move? Find out next week.