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Main: Family Limitation

This recap of "Family Limitation" features a detailed section on each scene of the episode.

Alderman George O'Neill makes his collection rounds along the boardwalk. He visits a Chinese restaurant near to the Cafe Beaux-Arts, counts the money into a leather pouch and then crosses it off his list. He is approached by Pius D'Alessio who insults him, spits in his face and then runs off. O’Neill gives chase and as he rounds a corner Ignacious D'Alessio steps out and hits him in the head knocking him out. Ignacious steals the pouch full of money and leaves O’Neill to wake up to seagulls circling above him.

Nucky Thompson and Lucy Danziger share a poscoital embrace at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. He is dozing as she asks him what makes him feel good and worries about his faithfulness. She describes herself as a little tiger cub and rakes her nails down his chest, drawing blood. The pain brings Nucky to annoyed wakefulness. He tells her to calm down, puts on a robe and goes to the bathroom. She smokes a cigarette, alone.

Margaret Schroeder goes to see Mrs McGarry at her office. She asks if they can discuss a private matter and mentions that she has received an offer from a man. McGarry wonders of what nature and Margaret replies yes to all three of the options given; domestic, financial and sexual. McGarry wonders who the man is and Margaret says only that he runs things. Margaret believes she and her children will be provided for. McGarry wonders if they will marry and Margaret confesses her doubts. McGarry delicately says that there are many unpleasant words for that sort of woman. Margaret reasserts that he will provide. McGarry tells Margaret the story of how she came to live in Atlantic City. Her husband made a fortune selling a share in an oil field which he used to build a mansion. He died shortly after it was completed and she sold the house and bought a smaller residence, using the remaining funds to live. This allows her to devote time to her interests – temperance, suffrage and women’s welfare. Margaret points out that she does not have a mansion to sell and McGarry says that this is why Margaret must follow her conscience. She says that Margaret owes no-one an explanation. Margaret nods and gets up to leave. McGarry gives her a pamphlet, Family Limitation by Margaret H. Sanger (Sixth Edition published 1917) and tells her that it contains useful knowledge.

Lucky Luciano and Gillian Darmody have vigorous sex in a hotel room. Afterwards they share a cigarette. He asks her to call in sick to work and she marvels at his energy. He confesses that she has been the first partner in years to relieve his impotence since recovering from an illness. They kiss and the phone rings. Luciano answers “yeah” and Arnold Rothstein criticises his telephone manner. Rothstein observes that Luciano is obviously not in Saratoga as planned. Luciano confirms and asks how Rothstein knew; Rothstein says he used his crystal ball and goes on to, correctly, predict that Luciano is not wearing his trousers. Luciano laughs and asks why Rothstein is calling. Rothstein hands a letter to his assistant as Luciano says that he cannot speak freely. Luciano asks if he can call Rothstein back as he is with Jimmy Darmody’s wife. Rothstein enlightens Luciano that Gillian is actually Jimmy’s mother and hangs up. Luciano stares at Gillian and she smiles back as she puts on stockings.

In his office, Nucky quizzes O’Neill about the robbery. O’Neill cannot believe the audacity of his attackers. Atlantic County Sheriff Eli Thompson asks O’Neill if the muggers were from his own ward. O’Neill says they were not and asserts his in depth knowledge of his constituents. He suggests that they might have come from Alderman Boyd’s ward because they looked Italian American, using a racial epithet. Nucky asks for more detail and O’Neill says only that they looked feeble minded. He promises to have his people looking for the perpetrators. Nucky says they should let Eli handle it and recommends that O’Neill apply a steak to the swelling on his forehead. O’Neill leaves and Nucky worries about the appearance of the robbery occurring so close to home. Eli realises that the assailants must have known O’Neill’s route because they struck after his last collection, maximizing the amount taken. Nucky believes they must be from outside Atlantic City, Eli says that the Italians do not respect the rules. Nucky wonders if Luciano is still in town and has to explain who he is to Eli. Nucky believes Eli is either behind the robbery or that knows who is. He is annoyed that Eli has not kept track of Luciano while he is in town. He rants about the robbery as his assistant, Eddie Kessler, knocks and enters. Nucky berates Eddie because he did not hear him knock and instructs him to knock more loudly. Eddie has a message from Jersey City Mayor Frank Hague who is annoyed at staying at the Shelburne Hotel to meet with Nucky regarding Road Appropriations funding. Nucky instructs Eddie to set up a dinner and dispatches Eli to bring Luciano in for questioning.

At the Four Deuces brothel in Chicago Jimmy plays five finger filet with his trench knife while Kitty and other prostitutes watch. Al Capone approaches and asks if Jimmy is crazy. Jimmy wonders if Capone played the game during the war and Capone claims that he did but refuses to participate, saying that Johnny Torrio is on his way. Jimmy returns the knife to its sheath in his boot and covers it with his trouser leg. Torrio enters, eating a soft boiled egg and complaining about a cracked molar. Jimmy asks if he has seen a dentist and Capone says that it is easier to remove a bad tooth yourself. Torrio does not comment and then says that he has arranged a sit-down with Irish American gangster Charlie Sheridan to arrange to withdraw from Greek Town. Jimmy is shocked and glances at Capone, who asks why. Torrio says that Capone had a chance to develop business in the area but that he has caused too much aggravation by provoking Sheridan into a feud over the territory. Capone calls his errors in negotiating with Sheridan an oversight. Torrio asks if Capone wants to get them into a war and wonders why he brought Capone to Chicago from Brooklyn. He reminds Capone that he is supposed to be a driver and doorman. He wonders about Jimmy’s intelligence and then sends Capone to clean his car.

With Capone gone Torrio complains further about Sheridan’s attack on the brothel and blames it on Capone. Jimmy diplomatically says that abandoning the territory could be a mistake because it will appear weak. He reminds Torrio that they are now supplying Anastos’ bar. Jimmy says they should talk to Sheridan and reach an understanding. Torrio wonders what Jimmy means and Jimmy raises his eyebrows.

Supervisor Elliot conducts a surprise field office review of Nelson Van Alden’s team at their post office headquarters. Eric Sebso complains that his desk has been covered with bags of post and Van Alden instructs the postal workers to clear the room. Van Alden gives Elliot a recently completed report that he had planned to post. Agent Keener, one of Elliot’s team, jokes that Van Alden has plenty of stamps. Elliot leafs through the report and summarises its content. Van Alden details Nucky’s criminal organization throughout the County. Elliot wonders where Van Alden’s financial records and witnesses are and points out that they have no evidence to present to the district attorney. Van Alden says that he is requesting resources to build a case against Nucky. Elliot tells him to concentrate on seizing large quantities of alcohol, telling him that his performance will be judged by the numbers. Van Alden says that his file ties Nucky to a capital crime – the murders involved in the Hammonton hijacking and the use of Hans Schroeder as a scapegoat. Elliot observes that Van Alden is obsessed with the Schroeder family and notes that he requisitioned Margaret’s immigration file. Sebso looks away as Van Alden weakly offers that he is being thorough. Elliot reminds Van Alden that he is employed as a Prohibition Agent and not a private investigator like the fictional character Bulldog Drummond and again orders him to focus on numbers.

Nucky again shares a post-coital embrace, this time with Margaret in her home. He asks her the time and then corrects her proper English response. She jokingly feigns a strong American accent and he says not to go overboard. She wonders if he wants an Irish maiden and he asks what it is that she wants. She says that she has not thought about it but he believes that she must have considered his offer. She admits that she is concerned about gossiping neighbours and he says that she will have new neighbours anyway. She notices the scratches on his chest and he says it was a hunting accident. She wonders who was hunting whom. She says she needs to pick up her children and go back to work. Nucky says she doesn’t have to but she worries what she will be if she does not. She runs the taps in her bathroom while she reads about using Lysol as a spermicide. She reaches behind the toilet and retrieves a bottle.

Jimmy goes to Capone’s house for a meal. Jimmy offers to chop something and Capone says that he cannot let a guest help with the cooking. Capone’s mother, Teresina, asks him to translate as she only speaks Italian. Capone’s wife Mae offers condolences about Pearl. Capone is quick to mention the details he embellished so that Jimmy does not give him away – he has told Mae that they work in a restaurant and that Pearl was a waitress killed in a streetcar accident. He suggests they should talk to the driver. Capone asks how many sausages Jimmy wants and Jimmy asks for one. Capone insists on giving him three and Mae says that Jimmy can make up his own mind. Capone calls his son, Sonny, to the table but gets no response until he kicks him. Capone complains about the boy being stupid and Mae goes to bring him to the table. Capone tells his mother to make coffee and she complains about Mae. Mae recognises fragments of the Italian and realises she has been insulted. Capone disparages his household, commenting on the ethnicities of his mother and wife and calling his son stupid again. Jimmy mentions his own son, Tommy, and describes him to Mae. Capone wonders if Tommy comes when called and Jimmy says that Tommy has a mind of his own. Jimmy tries to speak to Sonny but gets no response; Capone calls him dopey. Mrs Capone trips and spills the coffee; her family help her clean up but Sonny just eats his dinner. Jimmy clicks his fingers behind Sonny and the boy does not move. He repeats the action and Capone notices; they share a look.

At La Belle Femme dress shop Lucy frustrates Madame Jeunet with her choosiness regarding lingerie. Jeunet asks Lucy to describe what she wants. Lucy asks why anyone buys underwear and Jeunet offers that some want to conceal while others want to reveal. Lucy is the latter, requesting a vampy, sheer number with a cut-out crotch. Jeunet goes to fetch a suitable item and Lucy turns to Margaret and criticises her job. Margaret says that she has done worse and Lucy says that she believes her. Jeunet produces an item and Lucy insists on Margaret modelling it.

In the dressing room Lucy critiques Margaret’s figure as she disrobes. She wonders why Margaret doesn’t wear a bra and says that you can tell that she has had children. Lucy says Margaret has the appearance of a servant, only suitable for a “quickie bent over the kitchen table”. Margaret says the “he” doesn’t seem to mind. Lucy says that Margaret is ignorant and gives an insight into Nucky’s Catholic upbringing and occasional desire to change. Lucy says she can easily seduce Nucky away from this thinking. Margaret tells a story of a beggar who had trained a bantam rooster to play a song on a miniature piano. She describes how she was initially fascinated but soon became bored with the performance. Lucy asks what the point is and Margaret tells her not to put too much faith in her powers of seduction. Margaret exits the dressing room and her job.

Eddie drives Margaret and her children, Emily and Teddy, to their new home. He helps them out of Nucky’s Rolls Royce and carries their suitcases into the house. Inside the children explore and Margaret frets about breakages; Eddie reassures that if anything is broken it will soon be fixed. He tells her that the kitchen is stocked and that there are three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. She gazes around in wonder and calls the house beautiful. Eddie says that he needs to go and Margaret wonders how she will contact Nucky. Eddie points out the telephone and says that Nucky will call her. Margaret asks Eddie if Nucky is nice to him and Eddie says that he is.

Nucky rudely interrogates Luciano about the boardwalk mugging. Luciano says that he thought Nucky believed in good manners and Nucky says that he treats people as gentleman until their behaviour proves otherwise. He says that Luciano has passed that point and continues to show up where he doesn’t belong. Luciano asks if he now needs permission to look at the ocean and Nucky says that Luciano does for his ocean since Rothstein demanded $100,000 for nothing. Luciano comments that Rothstein has a different view and Eli interjects that Rothstein does not run Atlantic City. Luciano counters that Rothstein runs New York and sarcastically wonders if Eli has heard of it. Eli points out that Luciano seems to prefer it in Atlantic City and Luciano crudely says that he likes Gillian. Nucky slaps Luciano on the head. Luciano makes to stand and Eli restrains him with a billy club. Nucky tells Luciano that Gillian is a free woman but that he should treat her with respect. He reminds Luciano that he runs the city and warns him about the consequences of stealing. Nucky begins a message for Luciano’s travelling companions and Rothstein but Luciano says that he doesn’t know what Nucky means. Eddie knocks very loudly on the door, annoying Nucky again. He announces that Margaret is happy with her new accommodation. Nucky is pleased and dismisses Luciano. Luciano thanks Nucky for showing him how things are done in Atlantic City.

Jimmy sends an envelope full of cash to Angela with a short note telling her to use it as she sees fit. Kitty comes in and offers Jimmy her company. He declines and she gives him a copy of “Free Air” by Sinclair Lewis that Pearl left in her room. She asks Jimmy to come downstairs with her and he says that he will later. After she leaves, he flicks through the book and finds a postcard advertising oranges. Pearl has drawn a caricature of herself kissing Jimmy onto the fruit. Jimmy retrieves his dog tags from his desk drawer.

Van Alden goes to Margaret’s old house in the Fourth Ward. He knocks several times and eventually Edith Mauer emerges from the house next door. She tells him that Margaret has left. He asks where Margaret is and she speculates that she will be off drinking champagne. Van Alden wonders what she means and she explains that Margaret was working all hours for French people leaving Edith to care for the children. Van Alden mentions the Ritz and Edith says Margaret wanted the best. Sensing Edith’s animosity Van Alden comments that Margaret must have had a high opinion of herself. Edith agrees and comments on Hans’ recent death saying that he was a lovely man and brought them leftovers from the bakery. She tells him that Margaret left in a blue limousine. He confirms that it was a Rolls Royce, at first confusing her with the name. She guesses that Margaret has done something wrong. He does not respond but asks if there is any other information Edith has. Her final comment; “She’s a whore.”

Sheridan flirts with the blonde coat check girl at a hotel, surrounded by three bodyguards. Torrio, Capone and Jimmy enter. Sheridan’s men stop them while Sheridan tells them about his success and being able to own the hotel which used to bar pets and Irishman in his childhood. Torrio sarcastically calls him an inspiration and Sheridan instructs his men to search them. Torrio complains that Sheridan is not showing more trust given that Sheridan attacked Torrio’s business. Once given the all clear Torrio’s group hand their overcoats and hats to the coat checker. Sheridan tells them to tip her well because of her beauty. Jimmy pauses when he hands over his things and then thanks her, she tells him anytime. Capone asks to search Sheridan and his men and Sheridan refuses, saying that they are all carrying weapons and will not proceed without them. Capone is unhappy with the situation but Torrio agrees to continue. Jimmy tells Capone to relax.

Sheridan apologises for the attack but says that he will not be threatened. Torrio characterises their actions as expansion not threats. Jimmy tells Sheridan that Pearl was only eighteen. Sheridan counters that Capone broke the jaw of George Anastos. Torrio asks if they can agree to call it all a misunderstanding. Sheridan accepts and apologises to Jimmy. Jimy looks around at Sheridan’s men and asks why Liam is not there to apologise. Sheridan says that Liam acted on his orders and that he takes responsibility for Liam’s actions. Torrio says that it is over and asks to move on. Sheridan opens with an offer of a three block territory in Greek Town. Jimmy shifts in his chair, crosses his legs and exposes his trench knife in its holster. One of Sheridan’s men notices and shouts, they all draw their weapons. Sheridan’s second retrieves the knife and Sheridan chastises his other men for their inattention in the search. Jimmy apologises and claims he forgot that the knife was there. Sheridan holds the knife to Jimmy’s throat and threatens to give him a reminder. Sheridan notices a metal stud on the base of the handle. Jimmy elucidates that it is called a skull crusher and can be used to crack walnuts. Sheridan says that he will try it out and pockets the knife. He puts his guns away and returns to discussing business.

The meeting over, Torrio says he needs to use the bathroom. Capone says that they will bring the car around. Sheridan tips the coat checker and notes that the blonde has been replaced. The new girl says that the blonde is on a coffee break and then hands Capone and Jimmy their coats, revealing her face; it is Kitty from the Four Deuces. She nods to Jimmy and he thanks her. She ducks behind the counter as he turns and shoots two of Sheridan’s men. Sheridan’s second moves to draw a pistol and Capone pulls a shotgun from under his coat and kills him. Jimmy shoots Sheridan and the abdomen and Torrio emerges, telling them to wrap it up. Sheridan feebly grabs Torrio’s coat on his way past but Torrio shakes him off. Jimmy tells the other’s to go and then grabs Sheridan and puts his pistol under his chin. He tells Sheridan that Greek Town belongs to them now and then fires. He retrieves his knife from the corpse and then gets into the car. Capone cackles as he runs out of the hotel.

Nucky dresses himself in the master bedroom of the new house. Margaret comes out of the bathroom and he wonders what she was doing in there for so long. She claims that she was luxuriating and he says that he enjoys her happiness. She fastens his shirt and thanks him with a kiss for each button. She is startled by the phone ringing. He answers it and is annoyed, saying he will be there soon and ending the call. She is concerned but he says it is only business. He asks f she knows who Hardeen is and then explains that he is Harold Houdini’s brother. He invites Margaret to come with him to see his new act at the Globe Theatre and then for a light dinner with Hardeen at the Marlboro hotel. She is thrilled by the idea and asks if Hardeen is also an escapist. Nucky jokes that he will escape from the dinner bill and she helps to fasten his collar.

Scozione is back on the door at the four deuces after being shot in the shoulder, behind him some of the prostitutes are singing a song. He tells two customers that the bar is closed for a private party. Inside Torrio is singing Jimmy’s praises. Jimmy says that the Irish would have come for revenge if they had not killed them. Torrio is pleased that Jimmy is going to stay in Chicago and says he needs more men like Jimmy, complimenting his courage and comparing him to the character Rugierro from the opera “La Liberazione de Rugierro”. Capone makes a toast to Jimmy but then tells the story of frightening Jimmy by shooting his pillow. He goes on to say that Jimmy was famous for scrubbing latrines in the war. Jimmy counters by asking how Capone got his scars and jokes about the Lost Battalion that Capone was part of. The two share a hate filled stare as their audience laughs.

Nucky eats dinner with Hague. Hague complains about his long wait and Nucky reminds him that he was being put up in a deluxe sweet at the Shelburne Hotel. Hague says that he is a simple man and lists his needs as a bed, a woman, and an envelope full of cash. Nucky says that he delivered all three and asks if Hague plans to fight him on the Road Appropriations Bill. Hague says that he needs to look after his constituents and Nucky argues that there is enough for both of them. Hague wonders why Nucky cannot get his share guaranteed by supporters in Trenton. Nucky points out that Senator Walter Edge is on his way to the white house. Hague jokes about Edge being “the green thumb of the Garden State”. Nucky says that while Edge is not a great emancipator he will be a useful friend. Nucky suggests that if Hague is accommodating regarding the road money then Edge will be Hague’s friend too. Hague asks where they are going next and appears disappointed when Nucky is reluctant. Nucky offers to take Hague to see Hardeen.

Jimmy is reading in Pearl’s bedroom and is interrupted by a knock at the door. He asks who it is but only draws another knock. He picks up his pistol from the bed and goes to the door. He finds Capone waiting for him, he makes Capone show his hands before lowering the gun. Capone has brought a package of steaks remembering that Jimmy told him that he liked them when they first met. Jimmy invites Capone in and offers him a drink. Capone says that he can say foolish things if he drinks too much. Capone asks Jimmy not to talk about his service in front of their associates and says that friends should treat each other better. Jimmy asks if they are really friends and Capone asks how Jimmy would describe their relationship. Jimmy says that they are accomplices. Capone sees it as the same thing and gives Jimmy advice on preparing the steaks. Capone invites Jimmy back to his house and Jimmy thanks him for the gift. Capone goes to leave but then turns and announces that Sonny is deaf. Capone believes that Sonny is being punished for his sins. Jimmy urges Capone to take Sonny to a doctor but Capone says that it is hereditary. Capone describes singing to his son and putting Sonny’s hand on his throat to feel the vibrations. He tearfully says that Sonny does not understand and Jimmy encourages Capone to be patient, saying that there are new medical developments all the time. Capone tells Jimmy a joke he has thought of about Sheridan; he is a like a flat beer, no head. Jimmy smiles and Capone leaves.

Hague and Nucky listen to a naked girl playing the ukulele while eating oysters, smoking cigars and drinking champagne. Nucky observes that it is a lot of noise from a little box and Hague asks which box. Nucky calls him a devil. Hague draws on the cigar and asks Nucky what he wants. Nucky asks for his highway, two lanes from Newark and another road to the Pennsylvania border. Hague notes that this will connect Atlantic City to Philadelphia and New York. Nucky asks if they can make an agreement. Hague defers, warning Nucky that he may be investing too much in Edge. Hague tells Nucky that Edge is a partner in a paving company in Jersey City and will therefore direct the money that Nucky wants to his own company. Nucky wonders why Hague is giving him the information. Hague believes that his relationship with Nucky is more important because it will last longer. He describes them both as bosses and more secure than ambitious politicians like Edge.

At home Margaret reads to her children while meeting a babysitter, Mrs Charlton. Charlton tells her that she also works for the other women in the street. Margaret is embarrassed and says that she would not usually leave the children but that she is going to see Hardeen. The phone rings; Eddie is calling to give Nucky’s apologies and says that Nucky will call later, disappointing Margaret. Charlton answers the door while Margaret is on the phone. Her neighbour opposite, Annabelle, has come to introduce herself. She has also brought her daughter Ruby to ask if Mrs Charlton could care for her too. She tells Margaret that the girls often help each other out in this way. Margaret is confused and asks which girls she means. Annabelle says that they are all concubines. She explains that her partner surprised her and that she did not have time to make arrangements. She asks Margaret if the house is the three bedroom and Margaret confirms it. Annabelle says that Nucky must be very keen on Margaret.

At his boarding house Van Alden reads through Margaret’s immigration file. A card details the circumstances of her arrival; she came on the Haverford from Galway, her maiden name was Rohan and she lived in Templenoe before coming to America. The card is dated 27 September 1909 and the medical inspection section notes that Margaret was pregnant. A second sheet details the medical; on arrival in America Margaret was vomiting and suffering vaginal bleeding, a miscarriage was diagnosed. She was otherwise normal 5’ 3” tall and weighed 115 lbs. Van Alden takes a photo of Margaret at the time out of the file and runs his fingers across the image. On the back her age is noted. He cracks his knuckles and stubs out his cigarette.

Hague has sex with two prostitutes, One pours champagne into his mouth while the other spanks her. Nucky watches from across the room, still dressed, while the ukulele player is kneeling before him toying with his clothes. She asks him what he is thinking about and he says that he tries to be good. She tells him that it is too late for the night and undoes his waistcoat.

Margaret sits alone in her new house; the phone is silent behind her.

Van Alden takes off his shirt and turns his photo of Rose face down. He takes the leather strap from his suitcase and places the photo of Margaret on his bedside table. He removes his vest, revealing a scarred back. He ties a knot in the strap and then begins to whip himself with it while staring at the photo of Margaret. He continues, crying out in pain with each lash and eventually breaking the skin of his back.