Margate Sands Recap: Season 3 Finale of Boardwalk Empire
Triumph, the second imposter from Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” made its appearance in Nucky’s favor in “Margate Sands,” the Season 3 Finale (12/2/2012) of Boardwalk Empire. But it clearly felt hollow to Nucky and didn’t carry over to his love life, if you can call his arrangement with Margaret that. Probably not, so let’s rephrase that and say it didn’t carry over to his marriage.
Murders are rife in Atlantic City as the gangland war commences while reporters hound Mayor Ed Bader for answers. Al Capone’s forces coupled with Chalky White’s manpower put Nucky in a much better position to take on Gyp Rosetti, who has exactly 31 out of 43 of Joe Masseria’s men left by the time Joe “the Boss” shows up and demands to know what the deal is. Gyp also has his own men, minus 9. Gyp vastly underestimates Nucky Thompson as well as his manpower, dismissing Chalky’s men despite Masseria’s warning that they are fighting for their own turf.
Mickey Doyle, for once, supplies Nucky with some information that is immensely useful as a means to finally get some help from Arnold Rothstein by exploiting his greed, and later, as revenge for Rothstein’s abandonment. (“I won’t forget this, Arnold. Arnold, Arnold, Arnold?”) Team Capone and Team Chalky don’t exactly get off on the good foot at first, really the last thing Nucky needs last
When Gillian Darmody tries to tend to her grandson Tommy, the boy rebuffs her because he misses Richard Harrow so much. Gillian makes a futile appeal to Gyp to allow her and her grandson, Tommy, to go somewhere else where they won’t distract him from his business. But Gyp likes having Gillian around and the intuitive redhead divines what Gyp likes in no time at all. Gillian does her best to give Gyp exactly what he deserves when Gyp decides to indulge in his fondness for tight leather neck accessories, with a redhead behind him adjusting the fit. Sorry if you don’t agree, but this had to be the funniest line in the whole finale:
You need to be held down so you don’t run off into the jungle.
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Eli assures Nucky that they will be on top again. Nucky points out that he will be persona non grata no matter how the war pans out. But we think Eli has finally learned his place. Nucky is the man with all the angles and he is the muscle.
After Mickey Doyle dangles the Overholt distillery bait, Rothstein places a call to Nucky and demands 99% of the operation in exchange for persuading Masseria to withdraw his support from Gyp. 99%! Vulture, we exclaim but, after agreeing, Nucky hangs up and we find out that Rothstein is really a rat. A big rat who just bit on the big bait Nucky set out for him.
At the same time, Lucky Luciano is being shaken down by a pair of crooked cops. Gaetano roughs him up, after informing Luciano that “pricks like you — they come and go. Nobody remembers them.” Luciano has to turn over “50 pounds of white” in order to stay out of jail. Meyer Lansky is livid when he finds out, but not half as livid as Luciano gets when he finds out that Arnold Rothstein set him up. Rothstein uses the heroin to induce Masseria to recall his men from Atlantic City.
Back to the bedroom, Gillian tries to inject Gyp with a syringe of heroin, stashed under the pillow for the occasion, but her timing is bad. Gyp still has his wits about him, he overpowers her and she is the one who ends up with the unexpected rush through her veins. This is when he finds out that Masseria’s men are deserting ship and this is when the Army of One arrives.
As Gyp demands an explanation from his men, Richard Harrow bursts through the door and begins to methodically take out anyone in his path. It was difficult to count and you couldn’t go by the shots fired, because some shots were being fired at Harrow, but it’s safe to say that Harrow took out over 2 dozen men single-handed, plus the thug tasked with watching Tommy. With a gun pointed right at Tommy’s cute little head, the thug ordered Harrow to disarm. While Harrow was putting his rifle down, he told Tommy to shut his eyes and by some magic sleight of hand fired one deadly shot into the would-be child killer.
Al Capone, Chalky White and their respective teams lay in wait on the road out of town for Masseria’s convoy. They all died in a hail of machine gun fire while Al Capone puffed on his cigar at the same time he was taking them out. He and Chalky had a good laugh at the therapeutic effect of decimating your enemies and Capone headed back to Chicago.
Eli and Nucky arrived at Club Artemis to find the horrifying aftermath of Harrow’s rescue mission. Gyp is nowhere in sight but Nucky comes upon Gillian lying in a drugged haze in the hall. “Who did this?” Nucky demands to know, as well as where Rosetti is. But Gillian has regressed to her youth and repeats words to Nucky that he undoubtedly heard before when Gillian was a 12-year-old child, plied with liquor and raped by the Commodore. As Nucky’s confusion gives way to shocked realization, Gyp’s lieutenant, Tonino, accidentally knocks a pail over in the closet his is hiding in with a gun drawn. But Eli and Nucky make Tonino an offer he can’t refuse — if he wants to live.
Richard Harrow delivers Tommy, who is sleeping in his arms, to Julia Sagorsky’s house. A horrified Julia tries to get an explanation as to why her mild-mannered wounded war veteran is splattered with blood, but her father, Paul Sagorsky, appears, assesses what went down and takes control. He tells Julia to take Tommy and put him to bed in her brother’s old room. The old man, previously a bitter foe to Richard, now offers to clear things up with Julia. Perhaps the brave soldier he sees before him is now a new son to him, but all that matters to Harrow at the moment is the fact that Tommy is now safe.
Andrew Mellon puts in a call to Esther Randolph who thinks the Secretary of the Treasury has his gangsters mixed up. He tells her to shutter the Overholt Distillery and apprehend and indict anyone associated with its illegal operation. Mellon informs Randolph that it was Nucky who tipped him off to the problem. Gaston Means is on hand to remind Mellon that Arnold Rothstein is the guy they are after.
In the morning, we find Gyp Rosetti on the beach with two men when Tonino drives up and explains how he got out. His suggestion of heading out to the Poconos is interrupted by Gyp launching into an impersonation of Nucky from the first episode, “Resolution.” Talk about holding a grudge, huh?
This probably seemed totally gratuitous and insane to have Gyp suddenly talking in a completely different voice, but to Sopranos fans, it may have been funny on another level. Buscemi did an impersonation of comedian Jackie Gleason in the Sopranos, as Reginald Van Gleason, but it wasn’t right before he died.
Gyp insists that Toninio guess who he is impersonating and when Tonino says “Nucky Thompson,” Gyp launches into more insanity, saying he’s “Barney Google With the Goo-Goo-Googly Eyes,” a popular comic strip character the 1923 song was based on. Gyp takes a leak on the beach (ewwww!) while loudly launching into more of the song’s lyrics than just the chorus, and Tonino comes up behind him and stabs him in the back. As he gasps for breath, Tonino comes around the front and finishes him off, saying he is sorry.
Now we know a lot of people saw this a partial revenge for Cousin Franco, but we did not see that at all. If Tonino had gotten out without running into Eli and Nucky, he’d still be working for Gyp in our humble opinion. He didn’t mention a damn thing about Franco, just made sure Gyp didn’t get back up. Tonino reports back to Nucky and Eli, waiting in the blue Rolls-Royce, that the job is done. Nucky tells him to take Rosetti back to Masseria (he didn’t mention a crate), and to let Masseria know that this will either be the end of their problems or the beginning. Either way, he’s ready. Nucky assures Tonino if he ever sees him in Atlantic City again, it’s curtains. Alone with Eli again, Nucky says they are going to run a much tighter ship from now on: “I don’t want anyone coming near us who we don’t already trust,” he says. “OK, brother,” Eli replies.
Where Oh Where is Poor Little Peggy
Margaret, as we almost correctly surmised, hightailed it Brooklyn — but near, not where, the Rohan Clan resides. She has not revealed her presence in their fine town to them yet since she has a bit of business to take care of first. Now that the Barm Brack cake’s prediction has come to pass and she will be destitute, it would be most unwise to bring another mouth to feed into the world. She seeks the help of Dr. Hollis who has helped many women out in a similar situation. Later, in bed with Teddy and Emily, she discovers she is spotting and goes to the shared bathroom in the tenement’s hall. When she comes out, Nucky is coming down the hall. Far from the beaten man she may have wished, there he is with his red carnation in his lapel, waving around a stack of dough like the devil in disguise. He offers forgiveness but not love. He tells Margaret that he is her husband and the only father her children have known. He tells her that she is spoiled for anyone else and shows his distaste for both her current living situation and her moral struggle or her spite, whatever the case – her life is with him. Nucky urges her to take the money he is holding out for her children, for herself. It doesn’t matter, he says. No one is watching, no one is judging. It’s only money and it doesn’t mean anything. Margaret finally finds her voice. “Yes, it does,” she says and goes back to her room, shutting the door on Nucky. With that, has Margaret made the first step toward becoming an honest lass and obtaining her brother Eamonn’s forgiveness?
Back in his town on the boardwalk, a couple recognize Nucky by his red carnation. This is exactly what he doesn’t want anymore. Nucky takes the carnation out of his lapel and drops it on the boardwalk. There’ll be no more sartorial identifications in Nucky Thompson’s new regime.