Sunday Best Recap: Boardwalk Empire

Spring is a time of new beginnings, as Eli’s wife pointed out in “Sunday Best” (Boardwalk Empire, S3, E7). And there were a few beginnings on this 1923 Easter Sunday in Atlantic City, but there was also quite a send-off.

Each Easter dinner we visited gave us more insight into the Boardwalk Empire characters, but more than anything, highlighted the duplicity of their lives. Everybody might have guns on Boardwalk Empire, but everybody also says grace — even Gyp, who is planning on robbing the church after dinner. But as cold-blooded goes, Gyp ain’t got nothing on Gillian Darmody who clears out the Club Artemis and allows Richard Harris to take her grandson, Tommy, to Easter dinner with his comrades, with strict instructions to cut that short if there is any vulgar language. That little tidbit was hilarious in retrospect.

The Thompson Easter: It’s been a while since we’ve seen Nucky sit down to dinner with Margaret, Teddy and Emily. In “Sunday Best,” the whole family has dinner with Eli’s family. We get to know June a bit better and little Emily supplies us with the names of Eli’s adorable 8 kids. While June is grateful for Nucky’s help while Eli was in jail, Eli is unhappy with “riding shotgun for $30 a day” and “taking shit from Doyle.” Nucky reminds Eli of their broken bond caused by Eli’s takeover plan, which featuring whacking Nucky. Eli suggests Nucky just shoot him and even gives him a gun.

At their very first tete-a-tete, Margaret feels the need to confide in her sister-in-law that her marriage is not what it seems: Nucky is shtupping the showgirl in New York and doing things she can’t bear to think of. She did not feel the need to confide that she deeded over Nucky’s land to the church and has been shtupping the help, but no matter. June is not comfortable with these revelations and Eli later tells her it’s none of their business anyway.

Still, a brave front is put up to make the day enjoyable for the children. After Eli’s daughter plays “Beautiful Dreamer,” Nucky juggles Easter eggs accompanied by a bit of comedy, to the children’s delight. Reluctant at first to follow that impressive display, Margaret charms Nucky with a a bit of old Ireland, a tune called “Tell Me Ma.”

It may have seemed the ice would thaw between the Thompsons but after some light banter at home, thinly veiling their mutual wishes for togetherness, Nucky suggests that he can teach Margaret to juggle. “It’s too late,” Margaret says.

The Sagorsky Easter: Harrow brings Tommy to Paul Sagorsky’s for dinner where his daughter, Julia, plays lion tamer “with whips and a chair” to no avail. Misery wants company for real and her father, Paul Sagorsky, finds a way to try to make everyone ill at ease. Little Tommy inadvertently helps that endeavor by being a little boy fascinated with war toys. Discovering the child playing with his dead son’s toys in his dead son’s room sends Sagorsky into a rage. He even gets physical with little Tommy. Harrow threatens to kill him unless he takes his hands off the kid and then whisks Tommy and Julia off to the boardwalk. Julia tells Harrow to please not threaten to kill her father even if he is a “horse’s ass,” and the disfigured vet plays it off as trying to be tough. Do we wonder if Julia will find out some day that he wasn’t kidding at all? A photographer mistakes them for a family and takes a picture of Richard, Julia and Tommy. Can this be an omen?

The Rosetti Easter The Rosetti home is a far cry from even Eli’s home. Gyp lives in a dumpy tenement with his wife, her mother and their two teenage daughters, where the only thing that seems out of place is his natty business suit that he won’t even wear to dinner. His wife and her mother aren’t the least bit in awe of Mr. Tough Guy who wouldn’t bother to say grace on Easter unless his wife insists.

After dinner, Gyp goes to church and robs the priest, after loudly haranguing the Lord about his lot in life. We haven’t seen many opinions that Gyp planned this, but that’s what we think. He knew his envelope for Masseria was short when he went in there and he also knew that the church coffers would be a bit fuller this particular Sunday. Masseria is not impressed with getting a bunch of uncounted coins, even less impressed with the mess Gyp created in Tabor Heights. Masseria wants to cut his losses because the bottom line is, he can’t control Gyp. As Masseria’s henchman approach, Gyp quickly offers to put Arnold Rothstein, Nucky Thompson, Luciano “and the cats he runs with” permanently out of business. Masseria has had his own complaints, as we know, about “heebs and micks and backstabbing f*cks that don’t respect where they come from,” so he decides to give Gyp that chance.

Note to Bobby Cannavale: That god-awful attempt at a Sicilian accent needs a lot of work, pal.

Easter at the Artemis Club. Gillian clears the house out with some “time of the month” bull, but she wasn’t bullshitting about feeling murderous! When her date shows up, she sets about executing her plan for Roger McAllister, the young man she met on the boardwalk who so reminded her of her son, Jimmy. Roger has some suggestions of his own but Gillian artfully leads him through her elaborate seduction. Sex, food and a bath that she sets up as a surprise adventure, leading him blindfolded into the sumptuous marble bath. Roger settles down in the steaming water, allowing the “lonely widow” to bathe him, when suddenly, she makes use of that heroin she took away from Lucky Luciano. Roger bolts upright when he feels the needle puncture his arm and threatens to do the same thing to Gillian. But the dosage takes immediate effect and it’s lights out for Roger. Never missing a beat, Gillian sets the scene for an accidental overdose or suicide and lights up a smoke.

Quotes from Sunday Best

Wrap Ups: Nucky might not have gotten anywhere with Margaret, but he does show that June knows him: he has a good heart. He gives his brother a call to tell Eli that he’s being promoted and will co-manage the warehouse with Mickey Doyle. We’re still wondering why Mickey is still alive, too, Eli.

Gillian pops in on Richard Harrow, who has tenderly added the “family photo” to his scrapbook. After she inquires into how his and Tommy’s day went, she lays it on him: “My son is dead,” she says, “and nothing on earth can ever bring him back.” Richard Harrow’s amazement at this proclamation is cut short by screams, as the girls who work at Club Artemis discover the dead body of Roger McAllister.

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