Two Imposters Recap: Boardwalk Empire
Kipling’s poem “If” provided the title of Episode 11 of Boardwalk Empire’s Season 3, with its Two Impostors: Triumph and Disaster, although they are surely not appearing in that order. Nucky is in the midst a genuine disaster.
In the wake of Owen’s murder, Margaret isn’t putting in an appearance at all for that long-awaited confrontation we don’t even get to see. Instead, Nucky questions his manservant, Eddie Kessler. as to whether he knew what was going on between Owen and his wife. Eddie had no idea even if “the husband is always the last to know,” an expression that probably began in the Roaring Twenties.
Gyp! Speaking of which, Gyp Rosetti and his men invade Nucky’s suite at the Ritz-Carlton but Nucky and Kessler manage to get out alive, unlike the man assigned the unfortunate task of guarding the door. A frightened young man throws his car keys to Nucky, ignoring the $500 the crime boss is offering him, and when Kessler almost crashes the vehicle, Nucky discovers his manservant has been shot in the stomach. Nucky tries to get help at the hospital but, on Gyp’s order, Masseria’s men have fanned out across Atlantic City and are at the hospital, guns blazing.
Nucky goes to Chicken Bone Beach to get help from Chalky White, who is still a bit peeved over the dividing line conversation. But Chalky decides to help Nucky and brings in his daughter’s medical school boyfriend, Samuel Crawford. As “Master Samuel” does his best to get the bullet deeply lodged in Kessler out, Gyp Rosetti and his men show up. Gyp tries to schmooze Chalky into turning Nucky over to him for $25K, and lets it be known that the offer is not a Chalky exclusive. Anyone who delivers Nucky to him can claim it. Chalky tries to get Nucky out of town now that he has that target on his back, but they run into a little problem on the road. Dun Purnsley and Chalky have to take out some more of Gyp’s men.
Nucky refuses to leave Atlantic City and enlists the help of Eli’s oldest son, Willie, who hides him out at his boss’s warehouse. Chalky is still with him. When they hear many cars converging all at once on the warehouse, Nucky moves outside to protect his nephew and face whatever is coming, but it’s the cavalry on his side. His brother, Eli, has arrived with reinforcements and Al Capone. As Eli tries to make sense of his son’s presence in this dangerous situation, Capone tells Nucky that after a bath and some chow, he will be ready for a sitdown where they will discuss who dies.
Gyp Rosetti has pitched his tent at Gillian Darmody’s brothel, much to her dismay. After sitting at Nucky’s desk at the Ritz and seeing the book Ragged Dick which Nucky’s mother presented to him on his 12th birthday, Gyp even has that dragged over to Gillian’s. Clearly frightened but determined to find a way to control the situation, Gillian is both cool and gracious in her conversation with Gyp, fully aware that he is attracted to her by his continual references to her fiery tresses (red and strawberry). To a woman like Gillian, that would be his Achilles heel. Gillian is not as gracious with Gyp’s thugs who are so crude as to have sex right in the parlor to the tune of Barney Google. She whacks one man engaged in the act of intercourse right on his bare ass with a broom.
She is not so gracious with Richard Harrow either. She snooped around in his personal things, informing him that his aspirations of a love affair with Julia are a fantasy. When Harrow attempts to get little Tommy off the premises, Gillian catches him and gets the truth out of where they are going from the child. She meanly points out that Harrow’s girlfriend is pretty and doesn’t appear to be blind, meaning Julia can probably have her pick of men — why would she want Harrow. She tells Gyp’s men to escort Harrow off the premises, but they are not eager to comply. Back in his room, Harrow begins assembling his army issue weaponry.
Meyer Lansky warns Lucky Luciano that selling heroin to the Maggodino guys is a bad idea, even if they are from Buffalo. They need to be very careful about their choice of business partners. (Check out the 2 bottles of Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray on the table.) Luciano goes ahead with his deal but it’s a set-up and he winds up in handcuffs.
More points to ponder:
Eddie Kessler also warned Nucky to be careful who he trusts: “They are only men that you pay. How can you trust them?” Unlike Luciano, Nucky listened. The poem Eddie is reciting is called “If” and was written by Rudyard Kipling. The poet’s son was killed in action during World War I when a shell exploded, tearing his face off.
That is not the only relation to Boardwalk Empire in this choice of poem. Rudyard Kipling based the characteristics he describes on British statesman, Leander Starr Jameson, and BE has a character with that same first name, although we haven’t seen Leander Whitlock in quite a few episodes
Nucky’s mom wrote this inscription in the copy of “Ragged Dick” — “To my brave Enoch on the occasion of his 12th birthday from his doting mother” in her fancy handwriting and yes! People really did write that way back in the day. Nucky’s cherished gift from his mother also appeared in S1 E3 “Broadway Limited,” when Nucky tells Jimmy Darmody that when he was young, Jimmy reminded him of the young shoe-shine boy, Dick.
Next week’s episode, Margate Sands, promises to serve up more dead bodies than we’ll probably be able to keep track of. And who’s that up at the top of the stair on the landing? Why, it looks like Margaret Thompson and she appears to be at the home of the Rohan Clan.