S02E03: Returning to its true form after last week, Boardwalk Empire‘s episode “A Dangerous Maid” is back to an excess of storylines (several interconnecting) as opposed to detailed focus on one. Although, we do see an interesting personal development with Nucky this week.
Maggie is concerned that the household is stretched beyond its means, but Nucky insists that they do not appear wanting, and is more insistent that Maggie is denied nothing she might desire. However, this is made difficult by several issues.
First, Nucky’s associate, Damien — one of the few remaining — delivers a pretty light envelope of money to Nucky from the casino, to which Nucky supplies alcohol. The casino explains that without ample (and good) alcohol, people gamble less, thus less they make less money and have less to pay Nucky. It’s knd of a vicious cycle.
“It’s important to always have something to look forward to.” – Nucky
More bad news for Nucky: he is visited by Al Capone, who delivers the news that Mr. Torrio no longer wishes to purchase alcohol from Nucky. He instead is dealing with George Remus of Ohio, and a Canadian organization. Nucky is notably displeased. But, he keeps his head up. At home, he talks with Maggie about a letter she received: information on her siblings, who are all now in America. Maggie is unsure about contacting them. Nucky tries to make her happy by promising to take her and her children to Paris someday, saying, “It’s important to always have something to look forward to.”
Nucky’s bad news continues, however. He calls in a favor with the attorney general, whom he helped by bailing the President out of a paternity jam (fans of Season One will recall this storyline). The attorney general is unwilling to help Nucky avoid jail time, however, furthering his displeasure (naturally).
But Nucky gets a little bit of good news: Owen Slater comes to visit him, offering his ‘services’ as someone who is good at ‘deterring antagonism.’ Nucky isn’t exactly open to the idea of hiring Slater, but he does seem a little intrigued by the man’s offer. Slater comes in handy later on when he stops an alcohol sale between the casino, for whom he works, and the Commodore, who is being represented by the only reasonable man on Boardwalk Empire, Richard. The sale is terminated on the grounds that only Nucky Thompson supplies alcohol to the casino.
“I keep my promises, James. And now I’ll make you one. I will…ruin you.” – Nucky
Nucky decides to take Maggie out to dinner. Maggie has had her own bad day. She found out one of her sisters passed away twelve years ago, and only one of the maids knows. Maggie enters the maids’ liesure time, wishing to drink with them. This is when Nucky comes home, inviting her out to dinner. The two of them and another couple go to the prominently featured fancy restaurant, where Nucky sees Jimmy, the Commodore and Governor Edwards talking business. At first, Nucky tries to ignore this. However, once he is told that lobster, which he has ordered for Maggie, is no longer available, Nucky snaps. He storms over to their table and throws the Commodore’s lobster on the ground. He and Jimmy get face to face; Nucky challenges Jimmy by calling him disloyal, and threatening to destroy him.
The whole ordeal thrills Maggie — enough to launch her to behaving “above” the hired help when the two return home. The maid reveals that she knows that Maggie is the sister who is presumed dead, but Maggie rejects her kindness and sends her off.
At home, Jimmy laments his situation. He is truly conflicted over betraying Nucky, who he acknowledges openly was more of a father to him than his real father ever was.
“I can’t live like this.” – Lucy
“And once the child is born, you won’t have to.” – Van Alden
Due to their unintended pregnancy, Nelson Van Alden is keeping Lucy Danziger in his Atlantic City apartment. He pays her, keeps her fed, but does not allow her to leave (nor to have much of any type of enjoyment). We can see this eating away at the lust-for-life character Lucy, who seems like a shell of a human being now. She requests a simple dinner with the neighbors, some conversation and music, but Van Alden denies her this, causing Lucy to comment, “Say what you will about Nucky Thompson. At least he was fun.” Van Alden apparently takes issue.
While Nelson is out, Lucy has company: Eddie Cantor the (real life) comedian/song performer with whom she appears to have a good friendship. Cantor introduces her to a play script that has a lead role for which Cantor believes Lucy would be perfect. Van Alden comes home to Lucy practicing the role in front of a mirror, and, as one would imagine, reviles the whole idea of plays and actors (there isn’t a whole lot that this guy doesn’t have a problem with). He takes the script from her possession, leaving her again defeated. However, Van Alden does issue a rare apology for his actions this time around.
Van Alden’s investigation takes him to Mickey Doyle, from whom he extracts some information. The scene ends with Van Alden, apparently having had taken Lucy’s words to heart, asking Doyle if he would consider Nucky “fun.”
The next time we see Lucy, she is examining her pregnant body in the mirror sadly. The next time after that, she is standing at the top of a long, ominous flight of stairs, considering a very drastic move. As she tries to bring herself to step over the edge, a package delivery arrives: it appears that Mr. Mueller (the alias Van Alden is using for the apartment to keep his extramarital pregnancy a secret) has ordered her a record player so that she may enjoy music while kept alone in the apartment. Van Alden arrives home to see Lucy dancing hypnotically to the music, apparently very pleased.
“We already pay half the take of that game to you.” – Meyer
“Yes, and now you boys know why.” – Rothstein
A meeting occurs between Rothstein, Lucky, Meyer Lansky and Masseria, who is taking issue with the fact that two of his nephews died (in last week’s episode, at the hand of Jimmy) right after a card game attributed to his name, executed by Lucky and Meyer. Rothstein, to settle the bad blood, institutes that Lucky and Meyer will pay Masseria a flat fee as well as a percent of their intake from the games to come, which appeases Masseria. Then, in Italian, he invites Lucky to leave Rothstein and Meyer (whose Judaism he apparently also takes issue with) to join him. Lucky denies this invitation, and Masseria goes back to insulting him as well.
The episode’s greatest accomplishments are throwing Nucky a bit further over the edge and cementing Jimmy’s guilt. It’s uncertain whether or not Jimmy will return to Nucky’s side; he’d have to do a lot to right his wrongs if he did indeed wish to. It doesn’t seem like Jimmy, regardless of what he now acknowledges, would be able to bring himself to do that sort of thing.
But perhaps the most interesting development is, subtly, in Richard. Al Capone visits Jimmy’s house, singing in Italian to his son, earning silent stares from Richard (who he insults twice: first by calling him Frankenstein, second by referring to Odette as a ‘whore’ and nothing more). Something is brewing with Richard. It’s mysterious as to what it is, but that makes it all the more exciting.