Now that a year and a half have gone by, things in Atlantic City have changed and so have its gangsters. Nucky (Steve Buscemi) carries a gun now and is suspicious of everything in sight, including his mistress Billie who receives calls from anonymous men in her apartment. Nucky meets Gaston Means to pay his federal ‘tax’ and is put off by the fishbowl payment methods.
Gyp Rosetti could blow his top at any moment and decides to pay back Nucky for denying him business by blocking the road from Atlantic City to New York, where Thompson delivers his booze to Arnold Rothstein. He takes over the gas pumps and the local police force. Luckily, one of the best characters of the series is back and has become much more of a badass since he was in the slammer.
Nucky’s brother Eli has taken the fall for many of Thompson’s faults and has been betrayed and belittled by his brother since birth. When we see him exit those prison doors, Eli is a much different man than two years ago. He is tired looking. He has lost weight and seems slightly emaciated. Actor Shae Whigham is certainly dedicated to this role. Eli is such a complicated character because he is a good man, with good values, who places his family higher than the rest of life. This includes his loyalty to Nucky.
Owen Slater is grateful for Eli when they are stopped by Rosetti. Instead of consulting moron Micky Doyle about whether or not they should take on Rosetti and his men, he asks Eli what to do. Assessing the situation, they turn around and head home. Eli won’t be on the bottom wrung for long as he is extremely knowledgeable and savvy when it comes to this lifestyle, especially after siding with Jimmy and the Commodore last season. Eli is a seasoned veteran now. He attempts to connect with his oldest son, who has been providing for the family by working in a lumber yard, but to no avail.
Speaking of parenting, Chalky White made his first appearance of this season also and boy have we missed him! Chalky is another fascinating character. Last season we saw him in turmoil as his family excelled above his education level and quality of life. They speak better than him, they act refined, and they see him as rough and uncouth. A doctor named Samuel comes to ask for Chalky’s daughter’s hand in marriage. Chalky tests his knowledge of medicine by allowing him to perform a mini physical.
Samuel passes the test, but Maybelle says she wants to marry someone ‘interesting’ like her father. She goes to a local jazz club, which she and her brother joked about earlier as low class entertainment, and she witnesses someone slash Samuel’s face before her father’s assistant beats the man senseless. Samuel attends to the wounded man immediately despite his own injury and Chalky gives his daughter the ‘I told ya so’ talk.
Margaret is still having a sexual tension face-off with Owen Slater and damn them for not sleeping together yet this season. Their one time encounter was the hottest subtle sex scene on HBO in years. Yet she is more worried about the local hospital educating pregnant women and approaches Doctor Mason to discuss making some changes. He may be a future conquest as he attempts to defy her and they also have a little flirty argument. In the meantime, we miss Paz de la Huerta!