Episode Title: 'You'd Be Surprised'
Writers: Diana Frolov and Andrew Schneider
Director: Tim Van Patten
Previously on "Boardwalk Empire":
Nucky (Steve Buscemi) meets with Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) about what happened in Tabor Heights. Nucky wants Rosetti dealt with but Rothstein is hesitant due to his delicate relationship with Joe Masseria. Rothstein meets with Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale), who offers to take over as his supplier. During their conversation, Rothstein learns where Rosetti is staying and sends Ben Siegal (Michael Zegen) to kill him. However, Rosetti manages to escape though four other men are killed.
Out in Chicago, Van Alden (Michael Shannon) becomes nervous when Agent Coughlin tries to get in touch with him. After telling his wife, Sigrid (Christiane Seidel) the truth about what's going on, Coughlin stops by the apartment. However, he's only there to complain about the iron Van Alden sold him. Fearing for her husband and unaware of Coughlin's true intentions, Sigrid attacks him. The couple kills the badly beaten man and Van Alden goes to O'Banion (Arron Shiver) for help disposing of the body.
In Atlantic City, Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) continues to press on with St. Theresa's pre-natal care program, despite constant complaints from the nuns. While passing out flyers on the boardwalk, Margaret finds Nucky and his mistress, Billie Kent (Meg Chambers) at La Belle Femme. Afterwards, Nucky apologizes and Margaret orders him to stay away from her children. Later, when Dr. Mason is unable to teach one of the classes, Margaret takes over.
Unimpressed with rehearsals for Billie Kent's new show, Nucky has Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) bully Eddie Cantor (Stephen DeRosa) into working on it, after he tells Nucky he's already booked for another show. Over at Gillian Darmody's, Leander Whitlock (Dominic Chianese) pressures her into declaring Jimmy dead so she can take over his estate and secure a loan for her failing business. However, Gillian refuses to believe her son is dead and writes Jimmy a letter, urging him to come home soon.
With questions looming about Attorney General, Harry Daugherty's role at the Justice Department, Gaston Means (Stephen Root) suggests arresting a big time bootlegger to take the heat off.
Lots of exciting stuff went down in "You'd Be Surprised," but none of it was particularly "surprising." Like say the fact that violent gangster, Gyp Rosetti is a fan of erotic asphyxiation. Or that Van Alden has the blood of yet another federal agent on his hands. And, surprise Mrs. Thompson, your bootlegging hubby is banging a show girl.
One unexpected tidbit is the fact that Gillian Darmody thinks her son is still alive. The aftermath of Jimmy's death at the hands of Nucky was never really dealt with, but one would think word would get around to his mother, considering the circles she travels in.
In terms of moving things forward, this hour gave us more friction between Nucky and Rothstein, who considers his New Jersey business partner a mere "convenience," rather than a valued friend. All of this is helped along by the upstart Rosetti, whom Rothstein's men failed to take out despite the fact that Rosetti was naked and tied to a bed.
Probably the biggest development was the pivotal moment for Van Alden when he sought out O'Banion's help with disposing of Agent Coughlin. He's now officially gone over to the darkside. Does this mean we can now look forward to Van Alden versus Al Capone? Or even a rematch between the prohibition agent turned gangster and his old nemesis, Nucky?
As for the business between Margaret and Nucky, the only interesting thing about that was Nucky's apology for his "bad form." With the state of their marriage being what it is, there was no real reason for Margaret to be upset over her husband's adultery, except for the fact that it was going on in her own backyard, which is indeed, "bad form." There's never been much chemistry between Nucky and any of his lovers (except for a brief time with Margaret), thus his fling with Billie Kent is pretty dull. Like Margaret pointed out, she's just another woman in need of rescue.
Aside from his headaches over Rosetti and Rothstein, there's trouble at the Justice Department to contend with. Harry Daugherty is taking some heat and Special Investigator Gaston Means suggests taking down a bootlegger to relieve some of the pressure. How this affects Nucky and/or his associates and rivals remains to be seen.
Despite not being particularly "surprising" there were a few great lines in this episode worth celebrating:
"New Jersey, a state I have little interest in or affection for" – Arnold Rothstein
"I can hardly write 'come discuss your vagina.'" - Margaret Thompson
"It's a symbol of enlightenment" - Meyer Lansky describing a buddha statue before busting it open for the heroin hidden inside.
Unfortunately, no matter how many showgirls he beds or mobsters he brushes up against, Nucky's affairs still don't interest me much. As I've said before, minor players like Chalky White, Nelson Van Alden, Gillian Darmody, Richard Harrow and Al Capone are much more dynamic characters. Thankfully, we spent a little time with a few of them this week, but not enough to make this episode particularly good. Even with Rosetti's kinky sex scenes.