Young Gillian and Young Eli in Devil You Know Flashbacks: Boardwalk Empire

Ryan Dinning and Madeleine Rose YenMadeleine Rose Yen appeared as young Gillian Darmody in the flashbacks of “Devil You Know”; and Ryan Dinning appeared as Eli Thompson, younger brother of Deputy Sheriff Nucky Thompson.

Last week, we were introduced to Deputy Sheriff Enoch Thompson, played by Marc Pickering, and his bride-to-be, Mabel Jeffries (Maya Kazan) in the flashbacks during “King of Norway”

Nucky and Mabel are now married and she is pregnant. As Mabel stays up late to make a strawberry pie (the berries are turning), Nucky gets up and tells her about his speech at a banquet to make Jim Neary an alderman because the Commodore wants it that way. Mabel likes the speech but Nucky says he never liked Jim Neary and later tells Eli that “the Honorable James Frances Neary” doesn’t have an honest bone in his body. Nucky complains that everyone still calls him by his nickname and Mabel teases him asking if he wants a “see-gar” in a hillbilly accent. We can tell that it’s not an easy pregnancy for Mabel when she has a moment of pain and Nucky asks if he should fetch the doctor. We can also see how happy and in love Nucky is with Mabel. He tells her that the Commodore’s failure to give him his due recognition doesn’t matter. “I have you and I’m going to be a father”, he says, “I know what I’m doing it for.” Mabel teases him about the “see-gar’ again and he laughs, something we have rarely seen the grown-up Nucky do.

Gauloises CaporalWhen Nucky goes to collect the Commodore’s take from Mr. Glass, a tobacco shop owner, the man tells him the color of the ocean is “hurricane water”. It’s a bad sign for the 3-1/2 month tourist season, the only time he and the other businesses have to turn a profit, not that the Commodore gives a rap. Mr. Glass complains that “a sneaky little monkey” has come into his store twice “right behind the customer” and made off twice with a box of Caporals, a brand name of Gauloises French cigarettes.

Nucky’s attention has been focused down the street on a mother bringing her young daughter to see the Commodore. The child and the Commodore bow in a formal manner to each other and he leads the girl into his hotel. He gets a description of a dirty little 10 or 11-year-old boy from Glass and says he’ll keep an eye out. Not good enough for the money Mr. Glass is paying. “I vow to bring that rascal to justice,” Nucky says and notices the mother still waiting for her daughter outside the Corner Store Hotel when he leaves.

On the boardwalk, Eli wants a chance to work for the Commodore and is telling Nucky about his romantic adventures with June in the grasses on the Brigantine beach. Nucky hears a voice selling Caporals for a penny each on the boardwalk. He chases the little monkey under the boardwalk but only finds a box of stolen loot under the sand.

He enlists Eli to help him catch the little monkey and as they lay in wait under the boardwalk, Eli tells Nucky that their father, Ethan, talks about him all the time and wants to see him. “F*ck him,” Nucky says succinctly and tells Eli that Mabel is pregnant. “Well, that’s bully,” Eli says and just then the thief arrives and is caught by Eli. Nucky tries to assure the child that the situation is not as bad as it may seem, while looking over the latest haul, which includes a Nellie Bly book. The child identifies as Nellie Bly and Nucky says “Don’t cut shines with me. That’s the name on the book.” Nucky thinks the child is a boy and doesn’t believe her when she says her name is Gillian. “I’m not a boy”, she says.

The Nellie Bly bit harkens back to the letter Nucky received in “What Jesus Said” (S5 E3), which everyone suspected was from Gillian. Well, that pretty much clinches it was from Gillian. These flashback bits almost make those of us who like them wish they had made a little prequel mini-series out of them.

Add this to your Boardwalk Empire trivia: Nellie Bly also made an appearance in “Two Boats and a Lifeguard” (S2 E8) when Nucky played a board game called “Round the world with Nellie Bly” with Margaret’s kids, Emily and Teddy.

Also in the Flashback Cast:
John Ellison Conlee – Commodore Louis Kaestner
Jordan Lage – Leander Whitlock
Shaun O’Hagan – Mr. Glass

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