Boardwalk Empire ‘The North Star’ Recap – Episode 4.06

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Breakdown

The episode opens with Nucky at a restaurant that is over train tracks. Despite having been at the restaurant many times, this is the first time Nucky notices that his coffee is shaking from the vibrations of the trains below.

The North StarNucky looks up and Margaret is there and she sits down.  They have a very awkward conversation.  It’s clear that Margaret doesn’t want Nucky to know too much about her personal life.  She tells him she has a good job and the children are fine.  When he asks her where she works she tells him she works in an office, but not where.  Nucky informs her that Eddie is dead.  She complains that he can’t just show up and lay things like that on her.  He gives her a belated birthday present for Teddy.  She’s worried it’s something alive and he assures her he would not put anything alive in a box.

Although she really isn’t interested in what happens to Nucky now, and just wants to get on with her life, she tells him, “I really am sorry, no one knew how to take care of you like Mr. Kessler.”  She cuts the meeting short and tells Nucky she has to go to work, then leaves.

Agent Knox is sitting in a conference room with J. Edgar Hoover.  They discuss the loss of Eddie, and Hoover tells Knox his investigation is over.  He wants him to concentrate on anarchists, and to forget his silly theory about an organized crime syndicate spanning the East Coast and Midwest.  Knox implores him to let him try one more time to gather information about Thompson’s operation.  He wants to find out what, if anything, Eddie told Nucky about the FBI’s interest in him before he died.

Eli is in Eddie’s room with Mickey Doyle searching for the key to the safety deposit box where Eddie stashed the money Nucky gave him to hold for safe keeping.  Doyle, commenting on how depressing the small room is says, “If this was my room, I’d kill myself.”  Eli spots a photograph of two boys and is surprised that Eddie had kids.  He also notices a note written in German. Eli sees a bird cage and when he goes to feed the birds, he discovers the safety deposit key hidden in the bird seed.

The North StarChalky is watching his son and Mr. Coats, the club piano player, messing around on stage at the piano.  Daughter Maitland enters and Chalky tells her the kid at the piano is his son.  She is surprised and asks, “You let him sit with the help?”  Chalky, in his usual I just sucked on a lemon cheerfulness ignores the question and says, “I thought you folk slept through the afternoon.”  Maitland explains that Coats and her are working on something new. When Chalky complains that the people come expecting one thing and questions why she’s trying something else, she tells him she’s bored and asks him if he ever gets bored. He responds with, “If I do, I keep it to myself.”  She gets the last word in as she walks away telling him, “That doesn’t stop you from feeling it.” Then she walks up to the stage and sings a song while Chalky’s son accompanies her on the piano.

Paul Sagorsky is at the doctor and a lifetime of drinking has taken its toll.  He tells the doctor he has cut down on his drinking lately for the sake of Tommy, but it’s really too late.  He’s been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, and has a short time to live. After leaving the doctor’s office he spots Richard Harrow in the hall.  Harrow takes off with Paul chasing behind, yelling he needs to talk to him.  Suddenly, Paul collapses, and Richard comes back and asks, “You alright?”  When Paul tells him, “I’m dying,” Richard asks, “Right now?” Paul doesn’t know.

Eli is at the bank with Eddie’s driver’s license posing as Eddie to get access to the safety deposit box.  Back then licenses didn’t have photos on them.  The clerk excuses himself and the bank manager comes over and he knows Eli.  He tells him he needs a death certificate, as well as either a will or a court order before he let Eli touch the box.  When the manager explains “I have a fiduciary duty,” Eli tells him, “Cut the crap”.  But the manager apparently left his crap-cutting knife at home and explains to Eli that they could all go to jail if he doesn’t follow the letter of the law in this matter.  A frustrated Eli leaves the bank.

The North StarThe family is at the dinner table at Chez Chalky, including his oldest daughter and her fiancée.  Chalky appears to defer all family decisions to his wife, who seems to have not just a stick up her butt, but a full sized telephone pole.  She’s upset the Chalkster took his son to the club.  When his son tells the family how awesome a piano player Coats is, she rebuffs the idea that he should play at the daughter’s wedding reception.  She says, “I think the setting will be unusual enough for our guests without becoming primitive.”

The youngest daughter Abby suggests her brother play some piano and wants to leave the table.  When she asks Chalky for permission he says, “It’s yo momma’s table.”  She asks the mother and she says she may be excused.  Everyone but Chalky and her leave to go into the other room.  When everyone is out of the room she complains about Chalky taking the son to the club and says, “It puts ideas in his head,” and asks, “The way he goes on about it – is that what you want?”  Now we know where the lemons come from that Chalky seems to suck on – his wife apparently has a grove out back.  Chalky responds, “What it matter what ah want?”  After a quick exchange of mutual “stink eyes” Chalky gets up and leaves his wife all alone at the table.

Paul and Richard are at a bar drinking.  By way of explanation why he left, Richard tells Paul he couldn’t face them after what he did at Gillian’s.  Paul says both he and Julia know that he killed all of the gangsters in the house, but that getting Tommy out of there makes him a hero.  Richard says, “I’ve done other things.”  Paul says, “I’ll see your multiple homicides and raise you a child killing,”  He then tells Richard that while he was in the Philippines, acting on orders from the top, he shot a 13 year old girl in the face after she failed to produce proper ID while he was a sentry.  (Probably a good thing Paul didn’t get a job as a bouncer at Studio 54 when he got back to the states).  Paul tells him he came home, met his wife, had two kids. He basically tells Richard he needs to get on with his life and put the past behind him, and, oh yeah, buy him another round.

The North StarEli is wide awake in bed and his wife wakes up from all of Eli’s flopping around.  They have a brief conversation about Willie.  Eli wants to drive up to Philadelphia to see him.  The wife doesn’t think that’s a good idea, that Willie will thinks he’s prying.  She tells Eli “he’ll talk when he wants to talk.”  The scene closes with Eli asking her, “You know anybody that speaks German?”

Down in Florida, Bill tells Nucky he is sorry about Eli.  Nucky corrects Bill and tells him it was Eddie, not his brother, that died.  Two rough looking men approach the table. One them named Cal walks up and asks Bill about Auggie Tucker.  Bill claims he took off and Nucky asks if there is a problem.  It seems Auggie disappeared after seeing Bill.  They threaten him and it looks like there’s going to be trouble until Sally pulls out a rifle from under the bar.

The men leave, and then Bill admits that Tucker is gone but he has a new investor from up North named Pierce.  Nucky agrees to meet him and that’s all he’s going to commit to right now.  Sally comes over to refresh their drinks.  Nucky apologizes to her for the disturbance, to which she replies, “It’s as good as a box of chocolates.” Lansky and Luciano enter and Nucky tells Bill, “I’ll do the explaining.”

Agent Knox is at the liquor warehouse nosing around. He asks Eli and Doyle if something is wrong.  Eli thinks he is there for money and gives him some.  Knox asks why they are closed for inventory and Mickey tells him there was a death in the family.

When Knox asks if there is anything he can do Eli asks to see his badge.  Then he tells him there is something he can do.

In the next scene Knox is at the bank.  He bullshits the manager with a made up story about how Eddie was involved in un-American activities and demands access to Eddie’s safety deposit box.  He threatens to charge the manager with obstruction if he doesn’t comply.

Julie is upstairs when she hears Tommy talking to someone at the front door.  She goes down and discovers it’s Richard.

Nucky is at an alligator fight with Sally, Lansky, and Luciano.  Nucky observes that Sally enjoys the alligator fight.  She explains to him how the alligators are prepped for the fight. Mr. Pierce (Petrucelli) walks in and Nucky introduces him to Lansky and Luciano. After Pierce indicates he knows why he’s there,  Nucky tells him he has to think about everything.

Pierce is Joe Masseria’s cousin and knows Luciano.  He pulls him aside and asks him why he is so far from home?  He suggests that Luciano tell Joe to join them the next time he comes down to Florida so they can all make money.  Luciano doesn’t look happy about that.

Daughter is singing at Chalky’s club as Chalky watches.  He’s not happy with her choice of blues music or the somber monologue she recites before she sings.

The North StarAt Eddie’s apartment, Agent Warren Knox arrives and gives Eli what he got out of the safety deposit box.  Eli is surprised everything he expected is there.  Knox asks if he thought Eddie stole the money, to which Eli speculates that he assumed that was the reason Eddie killed himself.

Eli gives Knox Eddie’s account book as a thank you for delivering him the safety deposit box contents.   Eli asks Knox if he speaks German and Knox says he took a year of German in high school. Eli shows him Eddie’s letter.  Knox tells him it’s a note from Eddie to his son, expressing joy over the birth of his son’s child.

Eli shows him the photo of Eddie’s kids.  He confides in Knox that a parent always worries about his kids and then he breaks down.  Knox hands him a handkerchief, and Eli notices it is monogrammed with the initials JTM.

Luciano is worried that Petrucelli (Pierce) is going to tell Masseria that Luciano is dealing behind his back and wants to kill him before he can do that. Lansky doesn’t want to spoil the deal.  They argue a bit and then dissolve their partnership on this deal, with Lansky intending to pursue the deal alone.  Luciano doesn’t think he has the cash to do it, but Lansky tells him he does. Luciano is angry and when Lansky tells him, “You don’t touch Petrucelli,” responds with, “Fuck you.”

Nucky is having a drink with Sally.  She gives him some foul tasting liquor he says tastes like battery acid.  Nucky asks her what she knows about Vincenzo Petrucelli, and tells her he hasn’t made up his mind about the deal.  He talks about his compulsion to build things, yet feeling sometimes he’d be happier just leaving things as they are. He’s not feeling very certain about things lately.

Nucky tells Sally he lost a friend who lived for him and all he can think of is whether he knew everything about him and whether he should have been worried.

He keeps on babbling until Sally tells him to stop his whining and punches him in the face hard enough for him to hit the ground.  This appears to be some type of Florida foreplay, because she hits him again, he hits her back, and then they make mad passionate love.

Richard, Julia, and Tommy are on a wharf.  Tommy is looking at the stars through a telescope.  Julia tells Richard that Gillian came to Tommy’s school a few days earlier, and it was peculiar.  She says Gillian is trying to sell her house.  She explains that there’s a hearing next month where the judge will decide who gets custody of Tommy.

The North StarJulia says it’s difficult because she can’t discuss the circumstances at the house because she’s trying to protect Richard.  He tells her not to worry about him.  She complains about Richard turning her life upside down by bringing Tommy to them and then vanishing.  She says, “I don’t want to do all this by myself, but how can I trust you?”  She and Tommy start to walk home and Tommy asks Richard, “Are you coming?” Richard hesitates until Julia says, “He’s coming,” and then he takes Tommy’s hand and they walk together to Julia.

Nucky joins Lansky and Bill at Sally’s bar.  Bill sees Nucky’s black eye and asks, “What the hell happened to you?”  Nucky replies, “A rogue possum.”  Sally pipes in, “Keep an eye out, they can pounce at any time.”  Lansky tells Nucky that Luciano is out, but that he can cover the money by himself.

Nucky gives Bill his finder’s fee and tells him that Sally is going to watch over his part of the business.  He directs Sally to give them, “a snort for the road.”  Lansky offers his condolences for the loss of Eddie, and Nucky, apparently taking Sally’s advice to stop whining about it, just says, “That all happened somewhere else.”

Chalky isn’t happy with Daughter’s latest performance.  She tells him she wasn’t in the mood to sing a happier song.  He didn’t like the monologue because it was such a downer. They argue and she walks out of the room, telling him Dr. Narcisse has other singers.  Chalky says, “He ain’t nothing but a nigger with a dictionary.”  Daughter tells him, “Take that up with him.”  Chalky answers, “You think I won’t?”  She tells him, “I think I’d like to leave.”  They exchange a few more words and end up making mad passionate love.

Analysis

For the first time this season, no one was killed in this episode, but we did have two hot sex scenes.  Both of them were preceded by non-conventional foreplay.  In the case of Sally and Nucky, they slap each other around a few times before getting down to business.  With Chalky and Daughter, it’s not a physical slap down, but they do exchange heated words and then make mad animalistic love.  What is it with people in the 20’s – doesn’t anyone use a bed anymore?

New seeds were sewn for future violence.  Luciano, worried about his boss Masseria finding out from Pierce that he’s going behind his back to do deals, seems intent on killing Pierce before that can happen.  That, of course, is at mixed purposes to Lansky’s business arrangement with Pierce and Nucky, and may signal the end of the partnership between Lansky and Luciano.

When Knox offered his hanky to Eli in Eddie’s room, the monogram didn’t match up to Knox’s initials, so now Eli is suspicious about who and what exactly Knox is?

That scene with Margaret and Nucky at the beginning of the episode was so awkward that if Nucky has any sense, he’ll just forget about her and move on.  It’s always a no win situation for him when he tries to be friendly or helpful with her.  She even gave him a hard time about the birthday gift he brought Teddy.

Based on this episode it seems like Nucky and Sally have forged a new relationship that is both business and pleasure.  He respects her judgment and values her knowledge of Florida and the characters that inhabit it that he may encounter.

Sally is a welcomed addition to the cast.  She is not only a tough old broad, but she’s often funny and seems to be every bit of Nucky’s equal.

Reluctantly, Julia is taking Richard back, and it’s with her father’s blessings.  I hope this doesn’t mean he’s going to give up killing – he’s so good at it.

Maybe Chalky will be a little less sour now that he finally got what we know he’s wanted for weeks, namely, a roll in the hay with Daughter.  How this translates in terms of his former semi-hostile attitude towards her will be interesting to see.  When you’re inside another person’s body, it’s hard to stay angry with them.

We didn’t know Eli was so sentimental about his family, but he seems genuinely concerned about Willie.  It’s hard to tell if Nucky told him what happened, or it’s just general parental worry.

At first I was going to give this episode a 7 because on the surface it seemed to have less action then previous episodes.  However, upon further analysis I decided it rates an 8 due to some significant events and seeds that were sown for future conflict among major players.

Nucky and Chalky both got laid, altering their relationships with the layees.  Paul is dying, but both he and Julia – after chastising him for leaving them – encouraged Richard to stay.

Agent Knox may be in trouble with both his boss Hoover and Eli.

The deal in Florida is moving forward despite lots of shifts in the players involved.  We know a storm is brewing with Luciano, who is completely freaked about Pierce and his boss finding out he’s doing deals without him.  Somebody is going to get hurt, we just don’t know who right now.

Worst of all, who is going to sort Nucky’s socks properly now that Eddie is gone?

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About the Author

Stu Cassell
was a stand-up comic and joke writer for Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. Former weekly columnist for HIghlands Today. Free lance writer, author of Comic's Bedpan: A Lobotomy Patient's Guide To Joke Writing, Performing, and Selling - available CHEAP at amazon.com (shameless plug). Reformed chocoholic.
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