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Boardwalk Empire – Recap & Review – Nights in Ballygran

photo: hbo
Boardwalk Empire
Nights in Ballygran

Original Air Date: Oct 17, 2010

Sara M. – Sr. Reviewer

Of all the holidays that would be difficult to enjoy in the era of prohibition, Saint Patrick’s Day would probably be at the top of the list. The holiday is even more challenging if you hate it like Nucky does. Being the public figure he is, he has to play host at the Celtic Dinner. In addition to his social duties, Nucky is turning the cold shoulder to Margaret. While over in Chicago, Jimmy is dealing with a familiar problem, trying to deal with his new position and his recently injured lady friend, Pearl. This is a week of relationships; struggles, endings, and beginnings.

Margaret Schroder’s house is in an interesting location. Across from her back yard there’s a garage, which is being used for the storage of beer. When Margaret is woken from her sleep, it’s the men across the way unloading barrels. She seems rather unaffected by this and goes to the kitchen to cook something. Later that morning, when the sun is actually out, Nucky and Eli stop at the hotel café for a coffee. Eli seems rather perturbed at the way his brother is treated so much better and picks this moment to ask a favor. He wants to give a reelection speech at the Celtic Dinner. Nucky seems hesitant about it and tries to side step until later, getting up to leave just as Margaret approaches. She’s made him soda bread, a belated birthday present. But is surprised when Nucky gives her the brush off, telling her that he has some where to be and to just give it to his butler.

Dejected, Margaret heads into the store, throwing the bread away. She isn’t the only one feeling unhappy. At another spot on the boardwalk the midget boxers are rifling through costume boxes; they’ve been hired to play leprechauns at the Celtic Dinner. The spokesman for the group, Carl Healy, is told that they’re not going to do it. While Carl agrees that it’s degrading he talks the guys into doing it if he can talk Nucky into a raise. At the meeting Nucky refuses quickly, but Carl makes it clear that five dollars a man is not worth it for the humiliation. Nucky talks him into seven dollars per man, with a twelve-dollar kickback for Carl. He agrees, the Celtic dinner will have leprechauns.

Over in Chicago, Jimmy is taking care of Pearl. Fixing her orange juice, which she convinces him needs a little opium for the pain. Her face is still bandaged and her nerves are shot, jumping with the simple slam of the door. Jimmy promises to take care of her. And seems to be staying true to this, staying with her when he can. Later on, Johnny interrupts, he pulls Jimmy out into the hall and tells him that Pearl is going to have to leave. It’s a cathouse and she isn’t capable of bringing in money any more. He tells Jimmy that she has until Friday. She doesn’t improve over the week, while Jimmy is downstairs talking business with Al, she stumbles down. Her bandage is gone, revealing her stitched wound, which is nothing short of ghastly. It’s clear that she’s never going to be able to work in this profession, let alone any other. Jimmy rushes her back up stairs, reassuring her that the laughs aren’t about her. A few days later he’s making her another opium laced orange juice, telling her that she needs to lay off the stuff. She asks him to tell her a story, he tells her about a happy day from when he was a child. As he finishes he gets orange on his suit, with a kiss he leaves the room to clean up. From down the hall he hears a gun shot. Returning to the room, Jimmy finds Pearl dead on the floor.

Margaret arrives at a temperance league meeting, only to find that half of the attendance has depleted. The women are incredibly aware that alcohol is still present in the city and are discussing what they can do about it. Someone suggests that they march like in the old days. Margaret finds herself offering information about the garage across the street and goes on to suggest that they go speak to Nucky. The leader of the league and Margaret arrive at his office, she asks if he enjoyed the soda bread, which he, being a politician, tells her that he enjoyed it very much. They sit down and Margaret tells him about what she saw. Nucky agrees to take care of it, when Margaret says “thank you,” he tells her that it’s not a personal favor.

That night, James Neary, the owner of the garage, is still unloading barrels. Margaret goes out to confront him, only to be given the brush off. The next day she gets all dolled up and goes to see Nucky. While waiting, Neary goes by, entering the office without hesitation. Eddy appears and tells everyone in the waiting room that Mr. Thompson will not be able to see any of them today. Margaret retaliates by going to see federal agent Nelson. There she tells him about the beer garage. Nelson tells her that there isn’t much he can do, there are 117 locations that need to be raided but he doesn’t have the resources. Now angry, she leaves.

The night of the Celtic Dinner, Nucky is trying to handle his obnoxiously loud father and a tardy brother. Eli arrives after the festivities already began, still asking Nucky about being aloud to give his speech. Nucky gets up to begin his comments, but turns things over to Eli, who proceeds to bomb and insight a fight between American-born Irishmen and native Irishmen. Quickly, Nucky jumps in, keeping the dinner from going downhill. Part way through, Nelson arrives with a warrant for Neary’s arrest. The party disperses as the feds chain the doors to the building. Outside the press is waiting, as is the temperance league. Across the crowd, Nucky spots Margaret, both have expressions that are difficult to read.

Later that night, Nelson is outside the garage, watching as his men break the barrels open, letting green beer flood the street. Margaret is lying awake, startled by hurried knocks on her door. Rushing to the door, making sure her children are asleep, she pauses to ask who’s there. It’s Nucky. She opens the door and he comes in, closing the door behind him. Margaret asks what she can do for him, he tells her no more games. Within seconds, he’s kissing her.

Great episode! There was such a great build to the end with Nucky and Margaret that I audibly gasped when they kissed. There were actually a lot of great moments tonight and I think that Margaret has made it clear that she is not a woman to cross. Thoughts on the episode? Think that Eli is going to break and just loose it on Nucky? Will the Nucky and Margaret relationship work out? Does this mean he’s done with Lucy? Nelson, the creepy, possibly unstable, federal agent has returned, how do you think this will turn out? Is Jimmy going to stay in Chicago? Share your Two Cents below.

Next Week: Family Limitation

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