Commodore Louis Kaestner (played by Dabney Coleman and in flashbacks by John Ellison Conlee), was an Atlantic City power broker and the originator of a system tying together politicians and racketeers in the city. He was the mentor of Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson. Everything Nucky knows about "the business" - he learned from Kaestner. Nucky inherited all that he now controls from the Commodore in a deal the two made together for the Commodore to retire. The Commodore later decides to reclaim his power from Nucky and attempts a political coup making him the main antagonist of Season 2. His plans are interrupted by a stroke causing right sided paralysis and speech difficulties.
The Commodore once controlled Atlantic City before handing over the reins to his protégé, Nucky Thompson. While his former position of power has granted him great wealth, he seems bored and dissatisfied with his current routine. Being the top dog, it seems, is much more gratifying than having once been the top dog. The Commodore is clearly proud of the empire he built, and proud of Nucky for continuing his legacy, but also comes across as bitter and resentful of the status Nucky now enjoys, which was once his.
Boardwalk Empire (pilot)
- Main article: Boardwalk Empire
Nucky visits The Commodore at his home for advice. Jimmy Darmody has hijacked a shipment of liquor Nucky sold to Arnold Rothstein. Nucky's arrival is announced by The Commodore's maid Louanne. The Commodore has worked out that the story in the paper relates to Rothstein’s men. Kaestner shows Nucky a copy of Henry Ford’s The International Jew and blames Rothstein for their problems. Nucky tells Kaestner that his problems go beyond world finance and confesses that it is the anniversary of his wife’s death. Kaestner recalls that he had just been released from prison then. Nucky worries about a federal investigation and Kaestner tells him to set someone up. Nucky tells Kaestner that Jimmy is responsible and he is amused by the notion. Nucky does follow The Commodore's advice and frames Hans Schroeder for the hijacking. ("Boardwalk Empire")
The Ivory Tower
- Main article: The Ivory Tower
Nucky visits The Commodore at his home to deliver his share of the collection money. As Kaestner counts the money he wonders aloud why it is cold. Nucky explains that it was in his coat and that he walked over having let Jimmy go. Nucky explains that he thinks it is time for Jimmy to find his own way. The Commodore thinks it might be good for Jimmy. The commodore complains about his stomach and asks for a cognac. The Commodore asks about the news from Trenton, New Jersey’s legislative capital. Nucky tells him that Senator Walter Edge and Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague will be visiting Atlantic City for Nucky’s birthday. The Commodore laughs at the idea of Nucky throwing his own birthday party and Nucky jokingly asks if he should cancel the prostitute he has booked for The Commodore for the occasion. Nucky tells The Commodore that he is hoping to convince Senator Edge to commit road appropriation funds to Atlantic City. The Commodore believes that Edge will be open to a deal because he is looking to advance in the next election and Nucky could help him. Nucky believes Edge has potential particularly given his popularity with women and the impending women’s vote. The Commodore finds women voting a frightening prospect. Nucky sees a vote as a vote. The Commodore calls for his maid, Louanne, and is irritated when she does not come. He rings a hand bell, annoying Nucky. Louanne eventually arrives and The Commodore berates her for being slow to respond. The Commodore asks Louanne to tell Nucky her thoughts about the League of Nations and she is unable to comment. The Commodore moves on to the Halliday Act and she apologizes for not being versed in such matters. The Commodore was using Louanne to make a point to Nucky about how ill informed he believes female voters are.
- Main article: Broadway Limited
- Main article: Anastasia
The Commodore attends Nucky Thompson's birthday party at Babette's Supper Club. With the band in full swing and the dance floor busy Nucky and The Commodore eat dinner with Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague and New Jersey Senator Walter Edge and their dates. Hague tells a sexist joke involving domestic abuse. Edge turns the subject to Women’s suffrage and Nucky recalls Edge as a supporter of the movement. Edge says that he is in public. Kaestner says he is for suffrage so long as women vote Republican. Hague says the Democrats have a similar attitude. Alderman Damien Fleming stands behind the guests of honour, also with a date. Nucky believes the movement will succeed with 32 states having ratified already. Kaestner believes the suffragettes all need sex; his date says that she does. Nucky says that they should not be afraid and just need to fulfil women voters' wants. Edge wonders what it is that women want and Hague says it does not matter. Hague jokes that Edge is assuming that women have minds at all. Lucy says she has brains and Nucky tries to quiet her. The Commodore asks for Lucy’s opinion on the League of Nations. Nucky explains that it was an international political summit in Paris three weeks prior. Lucy has no opinion but likes the sound of Paris and asks Nucky to take her. Edge observes that she is a thinking woman. Nucky asks Lucy to fetch him a drink and glares at Kaestner before saying Lucy may not be the best example of woman voters. Later, Kaestner notices Nucky taking Margaret Schroeder onto the dance floor. At the end of the evening Nucky negotiates with Edge and Hague regarding the road appropriations funding.
Nights in Ballygran
- Main article: Nights in Ballygran
At the Order of Ancient Celts annual St. Patrick's Day dinner Duncan O'Connor sings “Carickfergus”. The Commodore, Nucky Thompson, Jim Neary, Alderman Boyd and Ethan Thompson are seated at the top table alongside the vocalist. Ethan shouts over O'Connor to ask Nucky where Eli Thompson is just before Eli arrives late, blaming his children playing Tarzan with his sash. The audience joins in with the ballad. As the crowd applauds Mayor Harry Bacharach thanks O’Connor and introduces Nucky. Eli asks when he can speak and Nucky asks if it is necessary. Nevertheless, at the podium Nucky explains that Eli wants to give a speech. Eli is heckled by the audience as he unfolds his notes. His opening mangles a quote from Julius Caesar and is ridiculed. He seems to get the audience on side with anti-English sentiment and lists the names of Irish revolutionaries. He makes a mistake with one name and is criticised for having been born in America. The Celts begin to argue about the difference between first and second generation immigrants and Eli cannot regain their attention. The Commodore warns Nucky that a riot could erupt and Jimmy announces the end of the speech. He entertains the audience with patriotic jokes about Irishman and then brings on bagpipers and the leprechauns, saying they are carrying pots of gold. The crowd finds the leprechauns carrying bottled beer and complains about the absence of the traditional green beer. Nucky explains that the stash of beer was seized by federal agents.
Later, Neary tells a dirty joke as Prohibition Agents burst in and announce a raid. Ethan is furious but Nucky restrains him. An attorney from the crowd of Celts states that consumption of alcohol is not a crime. Agent Van Alden knocks him out with a single punch and asks if there are further objections. Eli shifts in his seat and Nucky tells him to stand down. Van Alden orders his men to shoot anyone that tries to flee and then announces an arrest warrant for Neary. He has men take Neary away, ignoring his protestations of innocence. He announces the end of the dinner and tells the Celts to leave.
Outside the press and the members of the Women's Temperance League are waiting for the diners. The women sing a song in support of prohibition and attempt to shame the Celts as they exit. On the steps outside The Commodore urges Eli to do something. Van Alden has his agents lock the doors of the assembly hall. Eli tells Nucky that it was a great night and that he has surely impressed his friends in the Republican Party. Nucky tells Eli to go home to his wife, June. Eli says that he will, asks where Nucky will go and then throws a punch, missing by a wide margin. Nucky angrily asks what the swing was for as Boyd ushers Eli away.
- Main article: Home
The Commodore, disheveled and wearing a dressing gown, walks into his dining room and asks his maid Louanne if his medicine is ready yet. He puts down a full plate and Louanne complains that he has barely touched his meal. The Commodore calls over his dog, Jerry, to eat the leftovers. Louanne says that the food is unsuitable for a dog while continuing to grind pills using a pestle and mortar. The Commodore complains about his stomach then wonders what she is doing and she urges patience and begins to remind him about advice from Dr Surran. The Commodore insists that she does not mention doctors. She theorizes that he has worms and he dismisses this. He believes that he is dying. He asks if Nucky has been to visit and Louanne tells him that Nucky sent Al Boyd with his envelope. He complains that Nucky is getting ideas above his station. He complains that he put Nucky in charge and that Nucky then put him in jail. Louanne says that the envelope is on his desk and serves his drink, an unpleasant green liquid that he downs in one go. She offers to make a porridge paste to rub onto his belly. He goes to ready himself but has to steady himself when he stands. He rushes to a brass jug and vomits into it.
Hold Me in Paradise
- Main article: Hold Me in Paradise
- Main article: Belle Femme
The political ramifications of the robbery are significant. Democrat and reform Mayoral candidate Derwood Fletcher gives an interview alleging widespread corruption in the local government. Nucky visits The Commodore, who is in his dressing gown and coughing heavily. His housemaid Louanne Pratt tends to him and Nucky suggests that he see a doctor. Louanne says that he is stubborn and The Commodore tells her to get Nucky a drink. Nucky declines, thanking her. Nucky comments on The Commodore’s ailing appearance and The Commodore says that when the time comes you have to accept your situation. Nucky wonders who he is referring to. The Commodore angrily bemoans Fletcher and the Democrats and complains about the Sheriff being incapacitated. He then says that it is not so easy being the boss. Nucky sarcastically says that is nice that The Commodore can still find joy. The Commodore reminds Nucky that he spent five years in prison following his time in the throne. Nucky counters that he knew that one of them had to go. The Commodore shakes his head and says that he had no choice. Nucky asserts that he also had none and that was the reason they made their deal, he asks if they can drop the subject. Nucky says that the party is in trouble and that Bacharach is weak and losing ground. The dog moans and The Commodore complains that the animal is sick as well. The Commodore wonders what Nucky has on Fletcher and Nucky admits that he has nothing. The Commodore wonders what Fletcher’s motivation is and Nucky says that he obviously wants to be Mayor. The Commodore laughs and calls Fletcher a boy scout. The Commodore says they need to replace their candidates for Mayor and Sheriff to appease the desire for change. Nucky balks at the idea of replacing Eli. The Commodore says that he is dying and it is no time to be sentimental. Nucky later meets with Edward Bader to propose that he run for Mayor on the Republican ticket.
The Emerald City
- Main article: The Emerald City
The Commodore helps Jimmy to take over Atlantic city. He uses his influence and orders the Ku Klux Klan to kill Chalky, but they fail. Chalky is arrested and Jimmy robs Chalky's warehouse. Then the Commodore takes Nucky's Aldermen: Jim Neary, Al Boyd, George O'Neil, but fails to take Damien Fleming. Then Commodore tries to buy alcohol from Bill McCoy but fails. Then he calls to Tony Dennehy at the coast guard to rob McCoy's ships. Later he and Jimmy go to meet Governor Edward at the Babette's Super Club, where Nucky and Bader later appears. Commodore tries to sell the liquor to Lolly's casino but Owen Slater stop's that.
Then Commodore suffers a severe stroke causing right sided paralysis and speech difficulties. He is cared for by Gillian Darmody and Gillian and Jimmy continue to act against Nucky. Gillian assaults the now helpless commodore as revenge for their first meeting, when the commodore raped her. ("What Does the Bee Do?")
At The Commodore’s home his long-time lawyer Leander Cephas Whitlock reads aloud a quotation from Alexander The Great “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well”. His audience consists of Jimmy Darmody and his parents Gillian and The Commodore. Jimmy recognizes the quote and gives the source. Whitlock points out that Alexander was the son of a king and hands the book to Jimmy. Gillian jokes that Jimmy is the same as Alexander and says that The Commodore is proud of Jimmy. Jimmy asks about his own teacher; Whitlock realizes he means Nucky and says that Nucky is a great strategist. Whitlock is envious of Nucky’s ploy with the Attorney General and admits that he would not have thought of it. The Commodore tries to speak but is still unable to make himself understood after his stroke. Whitlock tells The Commodore that he should give Nucky due respect. Gillian tries to calm The Commodore, telling him that it is time for his medicine. Jimmy calls over Langston, The Commodore’s butler, and Langston wheels The Commodore out of the room. Whitlock calls The Commodore a tough old bird and Jimmy jokes that he thought Whitlock was referring to Gillian. Jimmy continues to work against Nucky and forms alliances with Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky from New York, Manny Horvitz from Philadelphia and Al Capone from Chicago. ("The Age of Reason")
Gillian, Eli Thompson and Jimmy's new partners convince him that Nucky must be killed. Jimmy talks to Nucky immediately before the assassination is supposed to happen. Capone's gunman shoots Nucky in the hand and is killed by Department of Justice investigator Clifford Lathrop before he can fire again. ("Peg of Old")
Gillian, Jimmy, The Commodore and Whitlock are in conference at The Commodore’s home. Langston shows in Nucky and his bodyguard Owen Sleater. Nucky thanks them for seeing him. Gillian offers a drink and he declines with awkward formality. He says that he is acutely aware of the finite nature of life following his father’s death and that he is going to end their difficulties. The Commodore offers condolences, his speech still marred by weakness after his stroke, and Whitlock joins him. Nucky says his brush with his own mortality has also provoked thinking. He says that his love for Margaret and her children is more important than his power and claims that he plans to retire. He believes that he will have adequate funds after selling property and plans to do so once his legal problems are resolved. Nucky addresses The Commodore telling him that he built Atlantic City and can now have it back. Nucky tells Jimmy that Atlantic City Mayor Edward Bader is aware of his decision and will be cooperative. Whitlock wonders if Nucky will step down as Atlantic County Treasurer and Nucky confirms that he will. He gives his word that he will not stand in their way and offers them the chance to chose his successor. He turns and begins to walk out of the room and Jimmy stops him by calling his name. Jimmy pauses, swallows and then wishes Nucky luck. Nucky reciprocates and exits. ("Two Boats and a Lifeguard")
Jimmy partners with a group of young bootleggers. They meet to buy medicinal alcohol from Cincinnati bootlegger George Remus on July 1, 1921. Nucky continues to act against his rivals by provoking a strike by African American workers through his association with Chalky White and importing Irish whiskey into the USA. ("Battle of the Century")
Jimmy holds court in The Commodore’s home on July 23, 1921. Meeting with Jimmy and The Commodore are Eli, new Treasurer Jim Neary, Bader, Whitlock and three hotel owners. Langston is attending to guests and hosts alike. The hoteliers have come to discuss ending the citywide strike by African American workers. They all complain vociferously about the situation and suggest that it should have already been dealt with. They suggest involving the Ku Klux Klan as The Commodore once did to handle Chalky. Eli dismisses this suggestion, saying that he does not want to be indebted to the Klan. Jimmy asks the businessmen why they are having this problem in the first place and they resort to racism as an explanation for their workers demands. Neary jokes along with them and The Commodore bangs his walking stick against the ground. Jimmy tells his father not to get worked up and Whitlock says that he is trying to speak. Jimmy reassures The Commodore that he will handle the problem. Jimmy suggests negotiating and one of the businessmen turns to Bader as though this is insanity. Bader urges the hotelier to listen, calling him Dan. Jimmy suggests offering a 5 cent raise to all the workers and points out that they can afford it. Neary observes that no-one negotiates with the African Americans and Jimmy elucidates that the cost of a raise is nothing compared to the profits lost in the strike. The hoteliers wonder what will happen next year and foresee never ending pay rises. They tell Jimmy that their window to make money lasts from Memorial Day to Labour Day. The Commodore again interrupts, furiously banging his walking stick and repeating no. Jimmy tells the business men that his father needs to rest, over protestations from The Commodore himself. One of the hoteliers angrily instructs Jimmy to do what he is paid to do and end the strike on his way out. ("Georgia Peaches")
Bader says that Jimmy is handling things in the right way and Eli says that he is lying. Eli suggests using strike breakers; fifty men armed with billy clubs. Neary agrees and Jimmy wonders if they are serious. Eli says that violence is how strikes are handled and Neary recalls a strike in 1909 where workers were thrown into the sea. Jimmy worries that this will cause a riot and Eli claims otherwise. Eli asks for The Commodore’s opinion and he shrugs. Neary asks who Eli has on the strike and he says that Ray Halloran is watching the boardwalk. Neary reveals that he saw Halloran meeting with Esther Randolph. Eli says that he instructed Halloran not to speak with Randolph. Neary relates instructing Halloran to blame any actions related to election rigging on Nucky. Whitlock asks Jimmy if he will follow their strategy and Jimmy sarcastically wonders if he means the billy clubs or the pier. Whitlock tells Jimmy that his predecessor kept the African American community happy and Jimmy angrily asserts that he is not Nucky and still needs a plan to end the strike peacefully. The Commodore profanely calls Jimmy a woman and instructs him to show the workers his female genitals. The room is confused so The Commodore stands up, using his weakened right side and repeats the statement cowing Jimmy. Whitlock is impressed at the action, having thought The Commodore paralyzed. The Commodore instructs Neary to get him a drink and he does so. Eli is lost in thought, tapping his finger against his closed lips. Neither the strike breakers nor Jimmy's negotiations are successful in ending the strike. Eli instructs the strike breakers to beat Halloran as a warning not to co-operate with Randolph's investigation. This backfires and Eli is arrested when Halloran agrees to testify against him. Jimmy's wife Angela Darmody and her lover Louise are murdered by Jimmy's enemy Manny Horwitz while Jimmy is bootlegging in Princeton. ("Georgia Peaches")
Jimmy holes up in Princeton and is convinced to return by Gillian. When he gets back she brazenly claims that Tommy will forget Angela in a month. Jimmy rushes across the room and chokes Gillian, repeating over and over that he will remember. She claws at his chest and gasps for breath. The Commodore stabs him in the shoulder with an antique spear. Jimmy falls to the floor and Gillian sucks in air. The Commodore pulls back the spear and Jimmy flips over and grabs it as he tries to drive it into his chest. They grapple with the weapon and Jimmy gets to his feet before being pushed back against the wall. The Commodore attempts to choke Jimmy with the weapon as Gillian screams no from her seat. Jimmy stabs his father in the abdomen with his trench knife. The Commodore drops the spear and stumbles backwards, the blade still in place. Gillian shouts at Jimmy to finish it after he rips the weapon free. Jimmy stabs his father in the chest and he collapses to the floor, twitching. Jimmy limps into the next room and then drops to the ground, unconscious. Jimmy awakes to find Richard Harrow tidying the crime scene and his wound dressed. ("Under God's Power She Flourishes")
- Gillian Darmody: Lover/Mother of his illegitimate son
- Jimmy Darmody: Illegitimate Son/Murderer (deceased)
- Tommy Darmody: Grandson
- Nucky Thompson: Protégé (deceased)
- Leander Cephas Whitlock: Friend and adviser
- Louanne Pratt: Housemaid
- Jerry: Dog (deceased)
- Unnamed Brother (deceased)
- "The wrong man is running this town." ("Paris Green")
- "Nucky was like a son to me. But you're my flesh and blood, boy." "So we are going to take back this city, for the both of us." ("A Return to Normalcy")
- "Look around, boy. I didn't get any of this by being stupid."
- "Nucky Thompson was weaned on my teat!"
- "Get your ass over here."
- "c-cock...Cock... ... ...COCKFUCK!" (post stroke in "What Does the Bee Do?")
- "Why dont you just, show'em your cunt?"
|Season one appearances|
|Boardwalk Empire||The Ivory Tower||Broadway Limited||Anastasia|
|Nights in Ballygran||Family Limitation||Home||Hold Me in Paradise|
|Belle Femme||The Emerald City||Paris Green||A Return to Normalcy|
|Season two appearances|
|21||Ourselves Alone||A Dangerous Maid||What Does the Bee Do?|
|Gimcrack & Bunkum||The Age of Reason||Peg of Old||Two Boats and a Lifeguard|
|Battle of the Century||Georgia Peaches||Under God's Power She Flourishes||To the Lost|
|Season five appearances|
|Golden Days for Boys and Girls||The Good Listener||What Jesus Said||Cuanto|
|King of Norway||Devil You Know||Friendless Child||Eldorado|
Louis Kaestner bears similarities to the historical person Louis Kuehnle, an Atlantic City businessman and power broker for the Republican party who was known as The Commodore due to his chairmanship of a yacht club. He was sent to prison in 1913 for awarding his own firm contracts as chairman of the Water Commission. Considering his surname and Kuehnle's heritage, it can be inferred that he is of German ancestry. This would make James Darmody half German.
- The Efficient Drinker (September 21st, 2010). Boardwalk Empire Characters. The Efficient Drinker blog.