Episode Title: "Blue Bell Boy"
Writer: David Stenn
Director: Kari Skogland
Previously on "Boardwalk Empire"
Nucky (Steve Buscemi) shows up at Mickey Doyle's warehouse to let his men know that in the wake of Gyp Rosetti's murder of the sheriff, they are not to go through Tabor Heights when delivering to Arnold Rothstein. Seeing the increasing authority Owen Slater (Charlie Cox) has over his men, Nucky asks Owen if he's found Roland Smith, the driver for the liquor thief who robbed Nucky.
Out in Chicago, Al Capone (Stephen Graham) learns from his wife that his deaf son is being bullied in school. At first, he thinks it's due to his disability but his wife explains that the boy was picked on by another deaf child.
At St. Theresa's hospital, Margaret (Kelly MacDonald)and Dr. Mason (Patrick Kennedy) talk to one of the nuns about the pre-natal care program. The sister is disturbed by the language used in the hospital's materials but Margaret and the doctor press forward with their plans.
At Roland Smith's place, Nucky and Owen find a houseful of stolen liquor. When Roland (Nick Robinson) finally returns, Nucky and Owen are surprised to see he's just a teenager. He tells them he's been stealing from Waxy Gordon as well. Soon after, federal agents arrive from Philly. Nucky, Owen and Roland hide in the basement.
At a bar in Chicago, Jake Guzik (Joe Caniano)picks up money for Torrio when he's spotted by Joe Miller (Lucas Caleb Rooney), one of O'Bannion's men. Miller makes fun of Guzik's large size and then beats him.
Over in New York, Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) is summoned by Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi), who wants a cut of Lucky and Mayer's heroin trade on his turf. Lucky offers three percent but Masseria demands thirty and warns Lucky about working with Lansky.
In Atlantic City, Eli (Shea Whigham) tries to warn Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) about the dangerous conditions on the backroads. He advices Doyle to hold on the shipment but Mickey won't hear it. Meanwhile, Guzik tells Capone what happened at the bar and Capone pays the place a visit. He finds Miller and beats him to death.
With Nucky still waiting out the feds at Roland's house, Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) tells Doyle he's frustrated with the delay and the fact that he can't reach Nucky. Mickey makes plans to send the shipment through Tabor Heights despite Eli's repeated warnings.
Eli heads out ahead of Doyle's men and spots Gyp Rosetti's crew setting up an ambush. When the truck approaches, Eli tries to stop it, screaming about the ambush but it passes him by.
After the feds leave, Roland asks to join Nucky's crew. Both Owen and Nucky are impressed with the ambitious young hustler. But just as Eddie Kessler pulls up outside, Nucky shoots Roland dead. Owen is shocked, as he thought Nucky would let the boy live. Nucky tells Owen he must have misunderstood. That night on the boardwalk, Eli meets with Nucky to tell him about Rosetti's ambush on the shipment to New York.
For a moment there, Roland Smith looked like second coming of Jimmy Darmody. Then Nucky shot him dead. So much for that.
That's merely because Nucky had a bone to pick and by now we know that usually means someone is going to die. In this case, that bone was with Owen Slater, who has become a little too big for his britches. Did Owen's insubordination cost young Roland his life? It seems Nucky wants him to think so.
Roland's tale really sums up Nucky's character trajectory. The benevolent city treasurer and bootlegger who once sent Roland's family a turkey for Thanksgiving becomes the hardened gangster who ultimately kills him. When your own hitman is shocked by your murderous ways, you've definitely leveled up as a ruthless gangster.
Much of this episode dealt with the teaching of lessons. While Nucky taught Owen to stay in line, Al Capone took out his anger related to the bullying of his son on Irish mobster, Joe Miller, who bullied hygenically-challenged, Jake Guzik. And Margaret Schroeder attempted to educate the sisters of St. Theresa hospital on proper pre-natal care. Despite their reluctance to talk about lady parts, Margaret stayed the course, even going as far as handing out some new fangled feminine products. Like Nucky, Margaret doesn't take no for an answer. Maybe it's just me but there seemed to be a bit of flirting going on between Mrs. Thompson and her doctor accomplice. While Owen's pre-occupied with Katie, the budding romance between Nucky's enforcer and his wife seems to have stalled. It would be nice to see Margaret get tangled up with someone new.
However, it might make for too much story to handle. It seems we only check in with Van Alden and Chalky every third episode or so. Both these characters deserve more screen time but with so much story to tell each week, the show seems to have a hard time fitting them in. This episode alone spent much time with Al Capone, another great character. However, it told a story that was pretty much wrapped up in one hour while adding some layers to his character. There's a lot more going on with Van Alden and Chalky that I'd like to see.
"Blue Bell Boy" was one of the stronger character episodes this season. When Nucky tells Owen to buy a personality, I had to laugh considering how flat his character tends to be. Still, there were lots of interesting developments, both with Nucky and his crew as well as out in Chicago. He may not be the show's most interesting character, but Nucky certainly got our attention in this episode.