- Main article: Margaret Thompson
- "Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it.” ("The Ivory Tower")
Boardwalk Empire (pilot)[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Boardwalk Empire
Pregnant with her third child, Margaret attends a meeting of the Atlantic City branch of the Women’s Temperance League on the eve of nationwide Prohibition in the United States. The League's leader, Mrs. McGarry, reads a poem she has written about the evils of liquor, Owed to Liquor. She reminds the audience that Prohibition begins tomorrow and announces their guest speaker – Atlantic County Treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. Margaret is moved when Nucky tells the audience the tale of a family driven to desperation in the winter of 1888 by the father's drinking: He describes the family's young son searching for food and resorting to killing wharf rats, then ends the story with the reveal that he was that young boy drawing cries of sympathy from his audience. Nucky's driver, Jimmy Darmody, watches from outside the room waiting for his cue as Nucky heralds the arrival of the woman’s right to vote, to call Nucky away on "urgent county business". Nucky ends by saying that good women like those in the league are responsible for the success of men like him.
The next day Margaret goes to visit Nucky, worried about her husband's lack of employment. Margaret flicks through a Vogue magazine as she waits for Nucky outside his suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Once inside, Nucky invites Margaret to sit and offers drinks and food. She awkwardly declines. Nucky notices her Irish accent and she admits that her husband says she sounds like an immigrant. Nucky says that all Americans are immigrants and pauses when he notices that she has a faded black eye. He asks what he can do to help and Margaret says that she would not normally ask for anything but was moved by his speech to the Temperance League. Nucky asks if it is her first pregnancy and learns that she has two children already, Teddy and Emily. Margaret asks if Nucky has a family and he points to a picture of his wife, Mabel Thompson, and says that he lost her to consumption before they could have children. Nucky's lover Lucy emerges from the bedroom and Nucky introduces her but does not know how to politely describe their relationship. Nucky asks about Hans and learns that he is a baker's helper but is out of work until the tourist season; Margaret asks Nucky to give her husband a job. He says he cannot until tourist season but gives her cash instead. She offers to name her child after him in thanks and he says no-one could be so cruel as to burden a child with the name Enoch. Downstairs, Nucky asks Jimmy to drive Margaret home.
The arrival of the limousine is greeted with excitement by the children in Margaret’s neighbourhood. She asks Jimmy to drop her off before her own home. She is angrily met by Hans on the porch, who interrogates her about the car and her chauffer.
Hans continues to quiz Margaret about the limousine as she prepares dinner. She has made up a story involving fainting outside a church where Nucky Thompson saw her and offered to have his driver escort her home. He feigns sympathy and then grabs her hair and asks her where the cash he found under the mattress is from. He accuses her of prostituting herself and backhands her in front of their children. Hans pockets the money and eats his dinner as his wife and daughter cry.
Hans later takes the money to Lolly Steinman's casino, where he encounters the owner - Nucky. Hans confronts Nucky revealing he knows Nucky is familiar with his wife. Nucky realizes Hans is using the money he gave to Margaret to gamble. Hans insults Nucky by throwing the money at him claiming he doesn't need it anymore because he is winning, Nucky grabs Hans by his head and slams him against the craps table repeatedly before having him thrown out. When Hans returns home he severely beats Margaret and she loses her baby.
She is later taken to the hospital. Nucky finds out about the beating from Mrs McGarry. Nucky has Hans framed for the Hammonton hijacking and orders his brother Sheriff Eli Thompson to dispose of Hans. Eli enlists Deputy Sheriff Raymond Halloran and they take Hans out to sea on a boat and beat him to death, dumping his corpse into the ocean. It later washes ashore and is caught in a fishing net.
Nucky visits Margaret in the hospital, surprising her with flowers. She is unaware of his role in Hans' death.
The Ivory Tower[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The Ivory Tower
In the hospital, Margaret reads The Ivory Tower by Henry James. A nurse tells Margaret that a Mr Thompson has come to visit her and she says she will be ready for him in a moment. Margaret ties her hair in a ribbon and is visibly disappointed when it is Eli and not Nucky the one that enters. Eli has been sent by Nucky to prepare Margaret for questioning by Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden. The agent had come to interrogate Nucky earlier and asked where Margaret was, revealing that she was not at home. Eli introduces himself and says that Margaret is looking well. Eli has "offically" come to question Margaret about Hans' involvement in bootlegging. She tells Eli that Hans was not involved in any way. Eli reminds her that Hans beat her and she counters that he was not a murderer. Eli reminds Margaret that she lost her baby after Hans beat her. Eli asks Margaret if she ever followed Hans when he went out at night or questioned who his friends were and she admits that she did not. Eli insists that Hans could have been involved without Margaret's knowledge and primes Margaret to tell any investigator so. Eli implies that Margaret could lose custody of her children, Theodore and Emily. She apologises to him and tells him that she did not mean any disrespect. He shushes her and leaves her with an envelope full of cash from Nucky. He asks her to keep their discussion in mind.
The next day Margaret returns home, still bruised from Hans' assault. She takes off her hat and removes the ribbon from her hair. Van Alden arrives at the door seconds after she gets in. She lets him in and he asks if it is a bad time. She tells him that she has just been discharged from the hospital. She offers him a seat and clears the dishes from the table. Van Alden offers his condolences on Hans' death and tells her that he is sure that Hans was a good man. Van Alden tells her that he believes Hans was set up for the Hammonton hijacking. Margaret notices her ribbon is missing. Van Alden lights a cigarette and asks Margaret to explain her relationship to Nucky. It is later revealed that Van Alden has taken the ribbon and is attracted to Margaret.
That night Margaret sits alone at her dinner table in a dressing gown. She is lost in thought as her children, Emily and Teddy play with their late father's shoes. Margaret goes to see Nucky later that night. She apologises for the hour and he asks who is caring for her children, learning it is her neighbour, Edith Mauer. Margaret gives back the money Eli gave her. She tells Nucky she did not know what the money was for and that it weighed on her conscience. Margaret expresses concern about losing Hans. Nucky tells her he understands and takes her hand. Margaret asks if Nucky’s wife, Mabel, was very young when he lost her. He is taken aback and then tells her that she was 28 (incidentally, barely a year older than Margaret) and recalls her good qualities. Margaret promises to pray for Mabel and then asks for a job rather than for charity. She quotes George Sand to illustrate her point, saying that “Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it”. Nucky does not recognise the quote and Margaret tells him that it was by Sand, actually a pen name for a Baroness, and that she learned it while working as a parlour maid for a barrister, Mr. Walton. The barrister’s home was filled with books; Nucky believes that she would have read them all. Margaret asks what Nucky wants from her; he hesitates before saying that he only wants her to vote Republican.
Broadway Limited[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Broadway Limited
Margaret serves fried eggs to her neighbour, Edith Mauer, and her children, Teddy and Emily. Edith asks why Margaret is not eating and tells her she needs to get her strength back. Margaret says she is stronger than she looks and Edith concedes that Margaret would have to be to get through her recent experiences. Margaret mentions that she is considering renting out a room and Edith worries that she would end up with a burlesque performer as a tenant. Edith suggests that Margaret and the children could move into her house but Margaret says she couldn’t. Edith asks about the possibility of Margaret going home to live with family and Margaret says she came to America for a better life. Emily asks Margaret when her baby will be born, unaware that she lost it. Margaret smiles sadly and tells Emily that the stork must have gotten lost. Edith promises to make a brisket for the family. There is a knock at the door and Edith answers. Alderman Jim Neary mistakes Edith for Margaret and is corrected. He gives Margaret an address on a piece of paper and tells her that Nucky has found her a job. He offers his condolences for Margaret’s husband and leaves. Margaret reads out the address: La Belle Femme at the Ritz Carlton hotel. Edith asks what it is and Margaret recognises that it is French and correctly surmises that it is a shop. Edith asks how Margaret knows Nucky and Margaret explains that it is through the Women’s Temperance League. She asks Edith to care for the children while she is at work. Edith nods and comments that she has read about the French.
The owner of La Belle Femme, Isabelle Jeunet, explains Margaret’s responsibilities in her dress shop. Margaret is taken aback when Jeunet asks how often she bathes. Jeunet instructs Margaret to bathe weekly and wash her hair and fingernails daily because she will be modelling the clothes for customers. Jeunet asks about Margaret’s experience and finding that Margaret has none complains that Nucky made her sack her last dresser, Rosalie, to give Margaret the job. Jeunet warns Margaret about working extended hours and criticises her for not speaking French. She ends by saying Margaret is to be seen and not heard. Some customers enter and Jeunet dispatches Margaret to get changed while she greets them. Margaret checks that she does not smell and then tries on a dress, smiling at her reflection.
Later, Madame Jeunet (as Isabelle has instructed Margaret to call her) tells Margaret that they have an important customer and gives her a selection of items to take through to the dressing room. Inside, she is met by an impatient Lucy Danziger. Lucy asks Margaret to undress her before recognising Margaret. Margaret introduces herself; Lucy is unimpressed and gives Margaret instructions to take a cloak to the tailors. Once nude, Lucy demands a “step-in” and is annoyed when Margaret does not recognise the item she means. Pointing it out, Lucy then demands that Margaret bend down to help her into the negligee. Lucy asks Margaret’s opinion; she calls the garment flattering. Lucy reveals that she heard Nucky making the phone call to get Margaret the job. Margaret calls Nucky kind and Lucy subtly insults Margaret by saying that Nucky is susceptible to charity cases.
At home Margaret lies awake in thought, sharing her bed with her sleeping children.
Anastasia[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Anastasia
Margaret listens as her neighbour and babysitter Edith Mauer reads a story from the newspaper while the children play in the room. The story concerns the discovery of amnesia victim Anna Anderson who is claiming to be Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov, the daughter of the last Russian Tsar Nicholas II whose family were murdered by the Bolsheviks. Margaret likens the story to a fairytale. She objects when Edith tells the children to be quiet and then reads the story to the children. Edith jokes that she is the Queen of England when Margaret calls Emily a princess. Margaret asks Edith where her sense of romance is and Edith says that it left with her husband. Teddy asks Margaret to read the funny pages and Edith reminds him to say please. Margaret then reads the Mutt and Jeff strip.
In La Belle Femme, Madame Jeunet insists that Margaret work the evening. Margaret says she will need to arrange someone to care for her children. Jeunet regretfully compares Margaret to her predecessor, Rosalie, who had no children. Jeunet explains that she needs Margaret to deliver a dress to Lucy at Babette’s during Nucky’s birthday party. She instructs Margaret to arrive before 10 p.m. and to wait until Lucy has given Nucky a surprise. Margaret is to help Lucy dress because of the delicate stitching and bead work on the dress. Margaret asks what the surprise is and Jeunet cannot tell her.
The drinks flow freely at Nucky’s party while he smokes alone at the bar. Margaret arrives with the dress and is stunned by the scene. Nucky spots her in the doorway and goes to welcome her. Babette approaches and Margaret explains that she is delivering the dress to Lucy. Babette goes to put it in the dressing room and before Margaret can follow, Nucky asks how she is being treated by “Isabelle”. Margaret realises he means Madame Jeunet and says that she is being treated well. Nucky is amused that her employer insists on such formality. Senator Edge and Mayor Hague approach and Nucky introduces Margaret. Edge offers a drink and Margaret declines, admitting that she is teetotaler. Nucky explains that she is a member of the Women’s Temperance League. The politicians nod and Edge notes the awkwardness. Hague asks if Margaret is a suffragette and she says that she is not officially one since she comes from Ireland, where women already have the right to vote as in "most civilized countries". Nucky is impressed with her argument. Edge says that they are trying to protect women from the hard truths of life in America. Margaret suggests that this is illogical as women are being denied a meaningful part in their own lives. Edge believes it is a shame Margaret has this attitude and she points out that most women feel the same way. Margaret jokingly suggests that the politicians must have experienced that withholding a woman’s desire must surely result in the woman withholding something the man desires. Edge smiles and asks for clarification. Margaret says that she means alcohol and Edge says the women have not done a good job, raising his glass. Margaret says the party has just begun and Hague tells Edge that he has met his match. Nucky offers to show Margaret to the dressing room.
Singer Edith Day is announced by the band leader. As she begins to sing Nucky hopes that Margaret does not mind the drinking and says that old habits die hard. Margaret observes that they might not die at all and Nucky calls this a practical perspective. Margaret says she is very practical, and Nucky, having led her onto the dance floor, says that they should dance. Margaret complies but is a little uncomfortable initially. As the song continues a smile blossoms on her face and their dancing becomes more elaborate, even amusing Nucky’s guests. As the song finishes Nucky bows and thanks her for the dance. From the bandstand, Babette asks for attention as a cake is brought in. Lucy emerges from the top tier of the cake as the revellers sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”. She dances for Nucky as Margaret looks on from the balcony. Nucky stares past Lucy at Margaret but does blow Lucy a kiss when she is finished.
The following day Margaret notices that the papers are reporting that Anna Anderson’s claims to be Anastasia were fraudulent. She is saddened by the news.
Margaret returns her work wear as she prepares to leave La Belle Femme. She watches through the shop window as Nucky walks Lucy through the Ritz Carlton lobby. Madame Jeunet asks her to return at 9 a.m. and returns to her book-keeping. While her employer is distracted Margaret steals a negligee.
Nights in Ballygran[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Nights in Ballygran
Margaret, Emily and Teddy sleep at their home. Margaret is woken by the sound of men unloading kegs of alcohol from a truck at the neighboring Hiawatha Garage. She watches from her window and recognizes Jim Neary, her Alderman, sampling the product. She starts to prepare soda bread in the kitchen, taking out milk and sieving flour.
On her arrival at La Belle Femme, she sees Nucky having morning tea with his brother, Eli, across the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. She approaches Nucky and offers him the gift wrapped soda bread. Nucky dismissively asks her to leave it with the bellhop. She begins to say that he must have had many gifts on his birthday but he interrupts, late for a meeting. Margaret goes back into the shop and puts the bread into the waste basket.
Mrs. McGarry hosts a meeting of the Women’s Temperance League and notes Margaret’s late arrival and recent absences. Margaret explains to Bridget Walsh that she has been working while a neighbour cares for her children. McGarry introduces Bettyanne Mulhaney who describes receiving a letter from a cousin in Nebraska whose neighbour, a poor widow, attempted to mix gin in her bathtub for sale. While attending other matters her child climbed into the bathub and was poisoned to death. Irene Davis comments the prevalence of stills in town and notes that Ettinger’s is a speakeasy posing as a cafe. Walsh agrees that there are other places too and Mulhaney mentions Abe Klein’s bar. Mrs. McGarry elucidates a lack of interest or ability from local government and suggests that with their membership dwindling they need to increase their efforts. Davis notes the easy availability of prescriptions for medicinal whiskey and Walsh agrees that one needs not even be ill to get one. McGarry calls for action and Davis suggests a rally. Mrs. McGarry believes this is worthwhile but it would be better to target the alcohol at its source. Margaret reveals observing men unloading barrels at the garage behind her house that morning. Margaret suggests asking Mr Thompson for help. Davis is disparaging of the idea, thinking she means Eli. Margaret clarifies that she means Nucky and calls him a friend, eliciting a murmur of appreciation from the others. Margaret clarifies that Nucky has been of great assistance since the death of Hans. McGarry tasks Margaret with arranging a meeting.
Margaret is successful. Nucky offers them a seat and Margaret asks if he enjoyed the soda bread. He is initially confused and then lies that he did. McGarry begins by saying that Margaret has seen something that Nucky should know about. Margaret relays her story about the garage saying that she found the supervisor of the unloading familiar but does not name him. Nucky feigns concern that she must have been uncomfortable at his birthday party. Embarrassed, she explains to McGarry that she was making a delivery for the dress shop. Nucky clarifies that there was some drinking and McGarry comments that she is sure that people of his class drink in moderation. Nucky asks Eddie to put Margaret on the phone with the Sheriff and says they will take care of the garage. Margaret thanks him and Nucky says that it is not a personal favour. She coldly tells him she knows.
That night Margaret is again awakened by more noise from the garage. She goes out to ask what they are doing and one of the workers explains that they are unloading the beer for it to be turned green for St. Patrick’s Day. She asks who is in charge, the worker calls and Neary emerges from the garage. He recognises her and comments on the mild evening, comparing it to Wicklow County in Ireland. Margaret points out that she comes from Kerry and Neary recalls the “lofty peak of Carrauntoohil.” (The highest point in Ireland, which is in Kerry.) Margaret asks if he has spoken with Mr Thompson about his business at the garage. He has not but offers to keep the noise down. He offers Margaret a drink and she goes back inside.
The next morning Margaret dresses up and returns to Nucky’s suite but is kept waiting. When Neary arrives he goes straight through and she can hear Nucky in good spirits inside. Eddie comes out and announces that Nucky is unavailable. Margaret checks that he knows that she is waiting and Eddie says Nucky has urgent business. At home, Margaret tears the negligee she stole into pieces.
At his ad hoc post office headquarters Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden reads off places and volumes of liquor while his partner Eric Sebso marks them on a map. Margaret arrives and Van Alden stands to greet her and introduces Sebso. She lightheartedly asks if the post office runs Prohibition, Van Alden does not see the humor. She reminds Van Alden that he asked her to come forward if she had information. He orders Sebso to make Margaret comfortable and then block the entrance so that they can talk in private; Sebso complies, slowly. Margaret explains that the Hiawatha Garage at 2727 Caspian is being used to store a large quantity of alcohol and asks Van Alden to close it down. Van Alden refers her to the map and says he lacks the resources to close even 10% of the businesses involved in alcohol. He goes on to elucidate that the role of Atlantic City as a port for illegally importing liquor is the greater problem. He says that there is a growing criminal class who see murder as a way of doing business and subtly mentions Hans’ death as being connected to bootlegging. She asks if he is trying to be cruel and he says he is just being honest. She asks about the law that creates these criminals and he says that it is the very law she asked him to enforce. She says that she has been lectured enough by men who do not act for one day and goes to leave. Van Alden has Sebso block her path and asks who else has lectured her. She says it is not his business and asks if she is to be arrested. He responds by wondering if she has committed a crime; she capitulates, naming Neary. He asks her to confirm that she means James Neary, Alderman of the 4th Ward. She says she does not know but that he works for Nucky Thompson.
Van Alden uses her testimony to obtain an arrest warrant for Neary. He arranges to raid the annual dinner of the Order of Ancient Celts to arrest and publicly humiliate Neary and the other members. He informs the press and the Temperance League of the impending arrest and has them waiting outside. When he makes the raid he closes down the dinner and forces the Celts to face the gathering outside. The women of the Temperance League sing a song in support of prohibition in an attempt to shame the Celts as they exit. From the steps Nucky notices Margaret amongst the singers and meets her stare. Van Alden has his agents lock the doors of the assembly hall.
Later that night, Margaret lies awake next to her children. There is a knock at her door. She finds Nucky waiting. He tells her that he has no time for games and then kisses her passionately, lifting her nightgown and pinning her against the wall.
Family Limitation[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Family Limitation
Margaret 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 Sanger (Sixth Edition, published 1917) and tells her that it contains useful knowledge.
Hours later, Nucky shares a post-coital embrace 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 scratches on his chest and he says it was a hunting accident. She wonders who was hunting whom (in truth the scratches came from a possessive Lucy Danziger). 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.
At La Belle Femme Lucy frustrates Madame Jeunet with her choosiness regarding lingerie while Margaret tidies the stock. 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 she 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 that “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; she continues claiming that she can easily seduce Nucky away from this thinking. Margaret responds by telling her a story about 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 then exits the dressing room and quits her job, accepting Nucky's early offer to become her sole provider.
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.
Hours later, 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 if she knows who Hardeen is and then explains that he is Harry Houdini’s brother. He invites Margaret to come with him to see his new act at the Globe Theater and then for a light dinner with Hardeen himself 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.
Later, 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 one with three bedrooms and Margaret confirms it. Annabelle says that Nucky must be very keen on Margaret.
Nucky spends the evening partying with Frank Hague while Margaret sits alone in her new house; the phone silent behind her.
Home[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Home
Annabelle has come to visit Margaret at her home. Margaret tells her that she is unsure what Nucky wants from her and Annabelle suggestively wonders why they have a big bed. They share a laugh and Margaret clarifies that she means what he wants besides sex. Ruby and Emily skip around the dining room table as their mothers talk. Annabelle tells Margaret that it is more important what she wants from Nucky. Margaret says that she does not want to lose her new home and Annabelle warns her that Nucky will never marry her. Margaret agrees with this and Annabelle tells her about Nucky’s long relationship with Lucy. Margaret says that she would like certainty about her future. Annabelle says that she has been with her partner Harry Prince for three years and that she obtains certainty by stashing money from him under the floorboards in her bedroom, revealing that she has saved almost $4,000. Margaret wonders if Annabelle makes Harry pay her and Annabelle laughs and explains that she steals the money while he is sleeping. Margaret says that she could not do this and Annabelle says that she might surprise herself some day. Annabelle wonders if Margaret loves Nucky and Margaret answers that she is fond of him. Annabelle asks if Nucky is in love with Margaret and she muses that he is not yet over his wife. Annabelle wonders what Nucky has said about Mabel and Margaret says that it is just an impression describing Nucky as “parsimonious with his sentiments.” Annabelle claims this fact to be lucky, as a man who talks too much will reveal his weakness and see the woman he confided in as a constant disappointment. Emily runs in and asks Margaret to play with her. Margaret lifts Emily onto her knee and Annabelle compliments her appearance, disconcerting Margaret when she tells Emily that she will have no trouble finding a man.
Nucky brings Margaret, Teddy and Emily to see his childhood home which he has gifted to Alderman Damien Fleming after his old father, Ethan Thompson moved in with Eli. Fleming is outside paying Fire Chief Sweeney for the help of his men in renovating the property. Nucky jokes with Sweeney if he brought all of his men and Sweeney says that half of ladder 38 is there. Nucky asks Fleming if they can look around. Nucky passes an oil drum, smoking with burning detritus. Fleming tells him that it is all things that Ethan did not want. Atop the drum is a placard of demonstration knots from Nucky’s time in the Atlantic City Junior Beach Patrol in 1881. Inside, the kitchen has been cleared and the walls have been repainted. Margaret asks if this is it and Nucky notes her surprised tone. She admits that the house is nicer than she expected from Nucky’s description. Nucky says that the house is better now but was previously filthy and shameful. He says that he once dreamt of fixing the place up. Margaret calls it cosy and Nucky notes that it seemed bigger when he was a child. Margaret points out that Nucky was smaller himself then. Nucky compares his frail elderly father now to the giant he seemed when Nucky was a boy. Margaret realises that Ethan frightened Nucky. He tells her that it was with good reason and Margaret wonders if he is still afraid of him. He says that there is nothing to be frightened of anymore. He notices the fire poker on the boiler and picks it up. He shows her a scar on his right palm and tells her a story of his father burning him with the poker when he reached for a piece of bread at the dinner table on his ninth birthday. His father told Nucky that he always eats first. Margaret says that she wondered where the scar came from. Nucky begins to tell Margaret that he has sleepless nights thinking of his father’s treatment of him. She interrupts, saying that she is no stranger to cruelty and says that is sometimes better to forget the past. Nucky blinks and is silent, shut down by her words. She says that she needs to check on the children.
Nucky and Margaret go to a North Side speakeasy for the evening with Annabelle and Harry. The two Caucasian couples stand out among the largely African American crowd. Mamie Smith sings next to the piano and there are several people dancing. While the women are in the bathroom Harry tells Nucky that he has invested in International Reply Coupons via an Italian man in Boston who claims to buy the coupons in bulk abroad and then sell them in the USA at face value to make a profit. While Nucky wonders why everyone is not doing this if it is such an easy way to turn a profit, Harry says that he has made a 50% return in 45 days twice so far and that now he has invested all of his savings. The women return to the table and Annabelle asks what they were talking about. Margaret guesses that it was business, Harry asks what else there is. Nucky suggests that he is also interested in politics. Margaret says that those are Nucky’s two favourite subjects and Annabelle jokes that they are Harry’s only two. Harry disagrees pointing out that he is always willing to talk baseball. Nucky remembers that he had a catcher’s mitt signed by Hardy Richardson when he was a child, calling it his prized possession. Annabelle drags Harry up to dance, promising that they can lie down later if he wants to. Nucky observes that they are a mismatch and Margaret says that Annabelle seems to like Harry. Nucky says that she seemed to like her last partner too. Margaret wonders what happened to the glove and Nucky says that it was stolen. When she asks for more details he says that it was taken by a group of kids who beat him up. She asks if he was hurt and he tells her that he does not want to talk about it, remembering her earlier admonition about leaving the past behind. The couple is left in an awkward silence, staring at nothing in particular.
At the dinner table Nucky recites a poem about indigestion; it cautions against germs in food and everywhere else. The children are amused and clap with Margaret afterwards. Margaret offers coffee and Nucky declines. Teddy asks to be excused and Margaret lets the children leave. She confesses regret about what she said in his father’s house, explaining that she took bad advice. She says that it was selfish of her and urges Nucky to feel safe to confide in her. She desires emotional intimacy. Nucky finishes his earlier story about the mitt. His father made him confront the group of four older thieves and they beat him so badly that he was in hospital for 11 days. Margaret says that it is horrible and Nucky observes that life can be that way.
The phone rings and Nucky answers. Teddy asks Margaret who it is and she tells him that it is a friend of Nucky’s. Eddie is calling to say that Sweeney and his men have finished work on the house. Nucky asks Eddie to pick him up so that they can see it and to invite Fleming to join them. Nucky invites Margaret to join him and she declines, saying that she needs to get Emily to bed for her nap. Teddy asks if he can come and Nucky agrees over Margaret’s protestations that he is busy. Nucky says that they should call him “Uncle Nucky”. Margaret smiles at him as Teddy goes to get his coat. Though Margaret never gets to know about it, Nucky burns down his childhood home in the presence of Teddy, who becomes fascinated with fire as a result.
Hold Me in Paradise[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Hold Me in Paradise
Margaret and Annabelle have tea in the lobby of the Ritz-Carlton. Annabelle admires the bracelet Margaret is wearing, telling her that the stone is peridot, which is not as valuable as emerald but still valuable. Annabelle asks if Nucky chose it himself and Margaret admits that she does not know. Annabelle jokes that either Nucky has better taste in jewellery than he should or someone is helping with his shopping; Margaret suggests Eddie Kessler as a possibility and Annabelle laughs. Margaret asks about Annabelle’s boyfriend Harry Prince and she says that he is fine. Annabelle suggests more cream cakes and then notes that life is good.
Madame Jeunet approaches them from her store opposite and asks Margaret for help. Margaret wonders what she needs her help for as Lucy Danziger walks out of La Belle Femme calling after Jeunet. Annabelle tries a polite greeting but Lucy shuts her down, revealing that they used to be best friends just like she is being now with Margaret. Jeunet whispers to Margaret that Lucy is trying to use Nucky’s credit in the store despite his instruction to the contrary. Lucy haughtily tells the two foreign women that Americans do not whisper. Jeunet tells Lucy that she has asked Margaret for help and Lucy sarcastically notes that she is very helpful, calling her Mrs MacDougal. Margaret says that her name is Schroeder and Lucy loudly wonders if that is the Irish word for "bitch", shocking the customers around. Margaret stands and tries to placate Lucy, who refuses to leave. Annabelle interjects and Lucy replies that she is a friend as false as the whig she is wearing. Lucy tells Margaret that she is stupid if she thinks that Nucky is her friend or that she understands him. Margaret slaps her hard across the face and tells her that their next conversation will be less pleasant before leaving.
Nucky later calls Margaret at home in the middle of the night, waking her; he is at the 1920 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. He tells her that his brother Eli has been shot and she assumes that he wants her to go to the hospital. He says that he wants her to go to his suite and safeguard his records. She wonders why he cannot rely on an Alderman and he says he prefers to put his trust solely in her until he knows what is going on. He describes the position of a hidden compartment in his closet and instructs her to conceal his ledger book there. He asks her to stay in the suite with the children until he returns. She wonders when that will be and he says that he plans to take the first train the next morning. She asks if he is alright and he admits that he doesn’t know.
Before leaving Chicago, Nucky arranges with Harry Daugherty to support his candidate, Warren Harding for the presidential nomination, and offers to sequester Harding's mistress Nan Britton and her bastard daughter Elizabeth Ann with Margaret in Atlantic City until the 1920 presidential election is over, avoiding a possible scandal.
Margaret kisses Emily as she sleeps in Nucky’s bedroom next to her brother Teddy. She walks back to Nucky’s office and retrieves the ledger, placing it in front of her on the desk. The phone rings and she jumps before answering it. She announces herself with "This is Mrs Schroeder" and the caller hangs up without saying anything.
Margaret sits at Nucky’s desk, the ledger in front of her. She taps the leather bound book as she looks around the room. She open it and finds it full of figures relating to bootlegging.
Belle Femme[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Belle Femme
Margaret and Nan Britton stroll along the Boardwalk together, looking over a beach packed with tourists. Britton asks Margaret if she believes in love at first sight. Britton says it happened to her when she first saw Warren Harding: she was 16 at the time and he was running the local newspaper in Marion, Ohio. Margaret confesses that when she first heard that Harding was a presidential candidate she though that it was the stage magician Hardeen who was running. Britton continues on her own track saying that she loves Harding and that he loves her, but she must sacrifice because the country needs him. Margaret smiles and turns away from the beach. Britton follows her and they pass a billboard advertising Fletcher’s Mayoral candidacy.
Margaret shows Britton into La Belle Femme and is greeted by Madame Jeunet. Margaret introduces Britton, explaining that she needs clothes for the season. Jeunet calls for her new assistant, Maryska, and claps her hands when she does not respond. Maryska emerges then, still chewing food, and Jeunet tells her to take Britton to the dressing room. Once they are gone she complains about Maryska, likening her to a cow and saying that she has neither grace nor charm. Margaret says that Maryska must still be learning. Jeunet complains that she cannot afford better staff and Margaret asks if business is slow. Jeunet pauses before telling Margaret that she has blossomed and that Nucky is generous with his attentions. Margaret confirms that she is treated well and Jeunet says that she supplies fine things for fine ladies but cannot afford the cost. She complains that Nucky has doubled her protection fees and Margaret wonders if Jeunet could speak to her alderman. Jeunet asks Margaret to plead her case with Nucky personally. Margaret says that she would not know what to say and Jeunet suggests telling him that she needs La Belle Femme to make herself pretty for him. She tells Margaret that she has greater power than she suspects.
Later, Margaret comes downstairs and says that her children are finally asleep. Nucky is reading The Road to Oz and suggests that he could have read them more of the story. Margaret observes that he seems to be enjoying it himself. He quotes a passage about the “wonderful love magnet”, an item that draws affection from others. Margaret jokes that it would be useful in the elections. Nucky notes that it would make winning cheaper and Margaret wonders about the cost of campaigning. Nucky jokes that winning is cheaper than losing. Margaret then asks about Harding’s chance of election. Nucky says that it depends and asks if Margaret is going to vote for him. She smiles and says that she has seen him in an unflattering light since meeting Nan. Nucky says that if only good men were elected there would be no leaders. Margaret wonders what qualities a leader should have if he is not good, Nucky tells her that they must be useful to their supporters.
Margaret then brings up her conversation with Jeunet. Nucky says that Belle Femme is in a pricey location. Margaret presses on and Nucky recommends that Jeunet speak to her alderman. Margaret says that Jeunet already has done so, to no avail. Margaret asks if there is something Nucky could do as the Atlantic County Treasurer, causing him to sigh and shut his book. He asks if Jeunet requested Margaret bring the matter up, which she denies. He wonders why they are discussing it and Margaret replies that Jeunet did her a kindness. Nucky points out that he made Jeunet give Margaret the job rather than it being an act of kindness. Margaret counters that he needs to recompense Jeunet for the burden he forced on her. Nucky asks what exactly Jeunet has said, Margaret explains that she cannot afford the increased payments. Nucky asserts that the payments are simply the cost of doing business in Atlantic City. Margaret observes that it is Nucky that sets the price and he interrupts, saying that it is not a suitable topic for them to discuss. Margaret says that she was not aware of the restriction. Nucky checks his watch and says that she is aware now. He goes to put on his jacket as she considers his dismissal. She asks if he is not staying and he says that he has an early meeting.
At night, Nucky and Margaret embrace in bed, discussing the election. Nucky says that in the past you could count on voters to follow the party line. Margaret notes his concern and he says that he takes nothing for granted. She offers to help and he says that she can help to secure the women’s vote. She cautions him to wait until women have it, and he says that he is an eternal optimist. He encourages her to speak to her contacts in the Women’s Temperance League and other women’s organizations. She modestly claims not to be much of an orator and he reminds her that he has heard her make cogent arguments to political dignitaries including Walter Edge, complimenting the way she comported herself. Margaret dismisses it as banter and Nucky says that she wiped the floor with the US Senator. She examines herself in the bathroom mirror as he lights a cigarette. He asks her to speak on behalf of the Republican Party and she hesitantly agrees, asking if he wants her to dress well. Eddie knocks on the door, announcing a phone call, as Margaret poses in the doorway. Margaret follows Jeunet’s advice and tells Nucky that Jeunet knows what suits her. Nucky wonders why Margaret did not put it this way earlier and she claims that she did not want to show her selfishness as she sits on the bed. Nucky caresses her cheek and says that he never holds selfishness against anyone before picking up the phone. Margaret purses her lips, thoughtful.
The next day Margaret and Jeunet watch as Britton tries on outfits. Jeunet compliments Britton as Maryska helps her to dress. Britton complains that the styles are all plain and asks for something special for the inaugural ball, convinced that Harding will leave his wife for her as soon as he is elected president. Margaret urges practicality, reminding her that she needs something for everyday to wear first. Britton handles a dress, saying that she loves it and Jeunet compliments her taste. Britton wonders about the cost and Jeunet says that it is $480. Britton suggests trying an alternative again. Margaret and Jeunet give her privacy. Outside Jeunet grabs Margaret’s hand and then kisses her on both cheeks, thanking her for intervening over her rising payments to Nucky. Jeunet claims that she was instantly impressed on meeting Margaret. Margaret reminds Jeunet that she told her to bathe more often and that in her eyes she was as useless as Maryska. Jeunet blames the language barrier and produces a thank you gift for Margaret; a dress for Emily. Margaret says nothing and Jeunet adds an ivory hairbrush. Margaret tells Jeunet that it was not Emily that helped her - it was Margaret. Britton emerges from the dressing room in the $480 dress, confessing that she couldn't resist to try it. Margaret pointedly says that it is beautiful and looks back at Jeunet.
The following night, Sophie Tucker entertains the crowd at Babette’s Supper Club with a risqué routine. Nucky and Margaret are there having dinner with construction magnate Edward Bader and his wife, Katheryn. Nucky talks about opportunism as a positive quality and reminds Bader of his success exercising good timing in the building industry. Nucky lists Bader’s positive qualities: he is a churchgoer, a family man and well liked in the community. Margaret calls Bader impressive. Bader stares up at the ceiling and Katheryn wonders what he is looking for. He jokes that he is wondering when the other shoe will drop drawing a laugh from his companions. Tucker announces a song, Some Of These Days. Nucky suggests that Margaret take Kathryn to get a better view. When they stand he complements her dress; the blue $480 number from La Belle Femme. Margaret admits that it was a gift from Madame Jeunet and leaves Nucky to consider the implication. Bader asks Nucky the purpose of the dinner and Nucky asks Bader if he wants to be Mayor. Bader jokes that with Nucky as boss he would have more authority as a street sweeper. Nucky says that being Mayor would give him more time to handle his business. Nucky says that it is time for a change and Bader wonders what will happen to Harry Bacharach. Nucky says that Bacharach is ill and will not seek re-election. Bader wonders what the problem is and Nucky says that he will produce a diagnosis as soon as Bader answers. Bader says that he needs to discuss it with his wife and Nucky urges him to be decisive. Nucky promises the opportunity to build roads, hospitals, a convention center and a stadium if Bader works with him. Bader observes that it is 1920 and the world belongs to the young. Nucky says they will let them think that it does. Bader tries on the title verbally. Nucky stands and offers a handshake urging Bader to consider the proposal. At the bar Eddie flirts with Babette until he notices that Nucky is ready to leave.
On the Boardwalk a barker introduces "Mumbo the Zulu Warrior" to the crowd drawing gasps of shock from his audience. Nucky leads Margaret by the arm and Eddie trails behind them as they promenade throngs of tourists watching entertainers. Margaret smiles at the sight and Nucky tells her that they need to go to the Ambassador Hotel to meet Jim Neary. Margaret wonders at the hour as Nucky is greeted by a passerby. Lucien D’Alessio spots them from a side street and calls out to Nucky, pointing at him and repeating his name. Lucien keeps Nucky’s attention by approaching with a hand outstretched. From the other side Sixtus D’Alessio emerges from the crowd with a gun in hand. He aims at Nucky but Eddie spots him before he fires, grabs his arm and causes his shot to go astray. He hits a woman standing near Margaret in the back and she collapses into Margaret’s arms as her blood leaks across her new dress. Nucky takes hold of them both. Lucien flees while Eddie struggles with Sixtus. Margaret is pulled to the floor by the injured woman and Nucky kneels beside her. Sixtus decides to run away and Eddie gives chase, ordering him to stop before firing at him with his own gun, a small 1866 Derringer. The bullet hits him in the back of his left leg but he is able to limp around the corner and exit the Boardwalk. Eddie returns to Nucky’s side, concerned for Margaret when he sees the blood. She is visibly shaken and the wounded bystander has lost consciousness.
The Emerald City[edit | edit source]
- Main article: The Emerald City
Nucky reads the morning paper at the breakfast table. The sporting section includes a report on the convening of a grand jury in the Black Sox series fixing investigation. Margaret begins to clear away the dishes and asks if there is anything about the ratification of the women's right to vote. She is excited at the prospect and reminds him that they need just one more state, Tennessee. She notes that he looks doubtful. He says that he does not want her to be disappointed and worries that the South is not known to be forward thinking.
Richard Harrow knocks at the door frame and announces the arrival of Nucky's driver, Eddie Kessler. Nucky instructs Richard that he will be out in five minutes and Richard leaves to deliver the message. Margaret states her concern about Richard's scars upsetting the children. Nucky says that Richard is a war hero and is there to protect both Margaret and the children. Margaret asks if Nucky has done anything about the men who are pursuing him. He says that it is being handled. She wonders if he means by the Sheriff. Nucky expands that his deputies are also involved. Margaret wonders if she should take the children away for a while. Nucky says that it will not be necessary and he would miss them too much. He stands and puts on his jacket. Margaret asks if people shooting at him is part of being in charge; Nucky explains that "success breeds enemies" and jokes that Margaret will discover that after women win the right to vote. He kisses her on the head as he picks up his hat.
Margaret reads Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum to her children at bedtime. Harrow listens to her and she stops when she notices him. Seeing the children's grimaces he apologizes and goes to leave. Margaret invites him to join them instead. The children are uneasy at first but Margaret compares him to the tin woodsman, and he continues tapping his mask and eliciting a laugh by saying that he needs some oil. Emily asks if he is the real tin woodsman and Margaret confirms it, saying that they are lucky to have the mighty tin woodsman in their home.
Nucky opens a bottle of champagne as Margaret readies herself for bed. He says that he will not insult her by offering her a glass but hopes that she will not mind if he has a taste because good news is not the same without it. Margaret confides that Annabelle offered her some earlier. Nucky asks if he should try again to persuade her. She concedes that it is a special occasion and takes a glass. Nucky offers a toast to the women's vote. Margaret snipes that America has caught up with Ireland at last. Nucky counters that America is her country too. He reminds her that the Republican Party supported the women's right to vote and she calls this opportunism. He says that a simple thank you would be fine and she smiles and complies before taking a sip. Nucky asks Margaret to speak on behalf of Edward Bader at the women's luncheon on Sunday. He tells her that Harry Bacharach will be stepping down as Mayor so Bader can run for the office. Margaret asks why Bader should be Mayor and Nucky says that he is the right man for the job. Margaret wonders how owning a construction business qualifies him and Nucky adds that Bader is going to help him build great things for the people of the city. Margaret again questions his suitability and Nucky cites Andrew Johnson's example, who went from tailor to president. Margaret counters that Johnson was impeached. Nucky says that that is beside the point before getting up to refill his glass. Margaret asks what she should say. Nucky offers promises of reform with the new candidate. Margaret wonders if there will be any real change. Nucky argues that he is providing necessary continuity of leadership. Margaret says that Nucky is asking her to lie about Bader's qualifications. Nucky challenges that he is asking her to be realistic and that it is sometimes necessary to tell the people what they want to hear to ensure the smooth running of government. He reminds Margaret that the election is important both to the Republican Party and her personally.
The next day, Margaret answers the door to her home, finding Agent Van Alden there to question her. He asks if he can come in and she allows him inside. She introduces Richard and Van Alden explains that he needs to speak to Margaret privately. She shows him through to her sitting room.
He says that he has brought a photograph and wants her to tell him if she recognizes the girl in it, withdrawing her 1909 immigration file picture from his pocket. She asks if he is trying to make a joke but he insists on his seriousness. She identifies herself, saying that the photo was taken on her arrival at Ellis Island. Van Alden says that he sees hope and longing when he looks at the photo. He asks what happened to the girl who came seeking a new life in America. She asks if she is going to be deported and says that she is a citizen of the United States now. Van Alden says that she is consorting with a criminal, adding that Nucky killed the father of her children. She says that his accusations are untrue. He insists that Nucky is a panderer and a criminal. Margaret tries to stand up for Nucky but Van Alden interrupts her to say that her life could be different and he knows she wants it to be. Margaret challenges his presumptuousness, saying that he does not know her at all. He continues that he can see into her soul, taking hold of her arm, and confiding that he looks at her picture at night. Margaret orders him to give her the photo but he pulls it away. He tells her to listen but she stands up. She admonishes him for trying to lecture her and accuses him of using the pretense of official business to gain entrance to her home when his true intentions are obviously quite different. He asks her if she is living the life that she wants and claims to offer salvation. She says that she wants him to leave. He turns to go but then rounds on her to shout that he came to save her, not from prosecution but from the fires of Hell that await her should she fail to repent. He leaves her stunned, holding her mantle for support.
The current Mayor, Harry Bacharach, announces his decision not to seek re-election at the League of Women Voters luncheon. Nucky prepares Margaret for her own speech at their table, telling her that it is natural to be nervous. He confides that he was a wreck when he first gave a speech but now feels that he could get up and sell snake oil. Margaret is perturbed by his unflinching dishonesty. Bacharach introduces Margaret and she takes her place at the podium. She thanks Bacharach and says that he will be missed. She begins nervously but delivers a rousing introduction for Bader, spinning his construction background as a major positive. She speaks of his ability to see potential in an empty lot and draws a parallel with his respect for women voters. She urges the assembly to vote wisely and elect a worthy man to office. Nucky claps enthusiastically as Bader takes the stage. Bader thanks Margaret and then launches his own speech. As she seats next to him, Margaret watches Nucky's ward bosses jovially congratulating him with a look of sadness.
Deputy Halloran shows Margaret home. She thanks him and he tells her that he could be Sheriff Halloran in November, if Eli does not get better. He leaves and she goes through to her sitting room. Richard emerges to tell her that the children are asleep and Mrs. Charlton has left. He reports that the children were very obedient and begins to draw the curtains. Margaret apologizes for treating him harshly because she was frightened by his appearance. He notes that people find it disconcerting. She says that it was unfair and wishes that they would judge the person on the inside. He confides that he sometimes forgets what he looks like until he sees himself in a mirror: he would look at himself and find himself unable to recall how he looked before. Margaret goes upstairs.
Nucky returns to Margaret, who is already in bed. She asks him what time it is. He says that it is late and asks why she is up. She says that she couldn't sleep. Nucky excuses himself saying that he had business down town. She questions what he was doing and he claims that they were planning election strategy. He compliments her speech at the luncheon before going to the bathroom; as he disappears behind the door she gets up to open a window and then catches herself in the mirror, disturbed by her reflection.
Paris Green[edit | edit source]
- Main article: Paris Green
Hardeen struggles during an escape act attended by Nucky, Margaret, Harry Prince and Annabelle. Nucky is impatient when he takes over six minutes to perform the feat, but Margaret remains enthralled throughout. The trick far exceeds the musical cues prepared by the orchestra and an audience member calls out for Hardeen's brother - Harry Houdini. Annabelle notices that something is wrong with Harry but he claims that he is just nervous about the trick. Hardeen finally completes the escape to lukewarm applause.
Hardeen shows Margaret a magic trick in Nucky's suite, distracting her while he shifts a bracelet from her wrist to Annabelle's. Margaret says that she knew that Hardeen was misleading her but he succeeded regardless. He tells her that deception requires complicity, and that people want to be deceived. Annabelle jokingly asks if she can keep the jewellery. Hardeen says that he is a magician, not a thief, and returns the bracelet to Margaret. Nucky jokes that Hardeen has given them all a useful excuse.
Nucky tells Hardeen that he saw Houdini do the straight jacket escape once. Ward Boss Damien Fleming adds that Houdini was hanging from a pier at the time. Hardeen says that the principle is the same at any height. Nucky counters that Hardeen's assertion only holds until the rope snaps. Hardeen tells them that Houdini used to do the escape behind a screen and that doing it in the open was his idea. Margaret says that it is a great improvement. Hardeen also claims responsibility for another trick: the milk can escape. He performs a sleight of hand card tricks for Margaret as he says that it is no small feat for a man to fit into the milk container. Annabelle jokes that he should try a corset and heels. Nucky dryly comments that he is sure that Hardeen has had occasion to help many women escape from those. Hardeen calls it the most challenging trick of all. Harry angrily asks them if they read the newspaper. He says that he is ruined. Nucky realizes that he is talking about Charles Ponzi. Harry confirms that he was in up to the limit. Hardeen unsympathetically says that every trick needs a mark. Nucky says that no real investment could guarantee the returns Ponzi was offering. Harry says that he is dead. Annabelle is disturbed by the news and storms out, calling Harry a fat, worthless fool. Harry chases after her. Nucky asks Hardeen what other tricks he knows.
Margaret finds Nucky in his suite, giving $300 to Annabelle and asking her if they can skip to the part where she says she will do anything for him. She agrees that she would and suggests that if he were to draw the curtains they could do it there and then. Nucky notices that she is not crying anymore. She smiles and promises to soak the pillow through if he rides her like he used to. Nucky caresses her cheek and says that he will keep that one in his pocket. Margaret speaks up then from the doorway, announcing her presence. She says that he will and that his gift is never forgetting who owes him what. Nucky says that it is a good principle to have and explains that Harry found and stole Annabelle's stash. Margaret reveals that she already knows and asks Annabelle if she mentioned that Margaret had already given her $50. Nucky says they are both a soft touch. Annabelle stands and thanks Nucky before leaving.
Margaret explains that she came to tell Nucky that the League of Women Voters has decided to formally endorse Edward Bader for Mayor. Nucky calls the news wonderful and Margaret coldly says that she is glad to have been of use to him before leaving herself.
In the house, Margaret talks with Nucky while preparing to go out. She wonders what the purpose of the gathering they are attending is. Nucky says that she does not have to go if she does not want to. He warns that most of the women in the Daughters of the American Revolution are against suffrage and also not keen on immigrants. Margaret pointedly wonders how their own ancestors reached America. Nucky jokes that they grew in the ground like pumpkins and marched off with George Washington to Valley Forge. Margaret says that she will do what is required of her. Nucky says that is not really the right answer and she asks what he would prefer. Nucky changes the subject, knowing what is on her mind. He says that the encounter she witnessed with Annabelle was not what she thinks and could not have been more innocent. Margaret smiles and counters that Annabelle is far from innocent while Nucky has some experience himself. Nucky admits that they had a relationship years ago. He expands that it meant nothing and he was just helping her. Margaret wonders if it is the same way he helped her. Nucky counters that he thought Margaret was friends with Annabelle. Margaret challenges "so you wouldn't fuck her". Nucky says that the bad language does not suit her.
Margaret responds that he prefers her demure but he says he wants her to be rational. She asks if she is supposed to say nothing about what she sees and hears. Nucky wonders what she is referring to. She says that Van Alden told her that Nucky is capable of anything. Nucky says that the encounter could not have been very upsetting as she did not tell him about it. Margaret says that it made her sick in the stomach, as does their arrangement, standing and walking away. Nucky asks what arrangement she means. She explains that she feels that she is expected to accept what she is told and ask nothing while aiding him in his business and saying nothing about what the business really is. Nucky challenges that she has never said no to the things he provides and just makes a little noise every now and then to remind herself that she is a good person. He says that a good person would not be there with him. Margaret asserts that he does not know what she is. Nucky is disbelieving and goes into the bathroom to fetch Margaret's concealed bottle of Lysol. He reveals that he knows that she has been using it as a contraceptive, comparing her to a whore.
Margaret asserts her refusal to have another child. Nucky wonders if she means by him and she explains that she means by any man. Nucky shouts that it is not her right to decide. Margaret asks why he cares, pointing out that they are not married and asking what he is expecting. Nucky says that he thought she needed saving. Margaret asks if that was why Nucky chose to frame her husband and Nucky suspiciously asks what she is talking about. Margaret rants that Nucky knew nothing about Hans before she came to him and asks why Nucky made her a widow. Nucky warns her to be careful. She asks if he is threatening her. He responds that he is advising her. She raises Eli bringing her money and Nucky says that he was trying to help her. She counters that it was to keep her quiet. Nucky points out that she has been quiet about Hans, saying nothing about the man who beat her and murdered her baby. He says that he has lost no sleep over what was done and neither has she. She slaps him. He rounds on her, and then throws the Lysol against the mirror, smashing both. He says that she will not be needing it any more and storms out.
After a full day out (which includes an argument with Eli where he criticizes his relationship with Margaret) Nucky comes home to find that Margaret has left. He questions Harrow about her departure and says that when he arrived the day before she said that she did not need him and said that Nucky knew. When he arrived in the morning she had her bags packed, then she sent him to run an errand, and when he returned she was gone. Nucky finds the bracelet he gave her on the table.
A Return to Normalcy[edit | edit source]
- Main article: A Return to Normalcy
Margaret bakes a cake while she recites a poem about ghosts to her children. They have stayed with Nan Britton since they left Nucky. Nan plays with her own daughter Elizabeth Ann in the next room while Margaret sends her children to clean themselves up while she finishes baking. Nan asks if the poem is from Frost and Margaret informs her that it is from Robert Burns, adding that her grandmother used to read it every All Hallow's Eve. Nan asks if they will recite it too in the church yard. Margaret explains that the evening gathering is more of a religious service to pray for the souls of the dead and Nan says that Catholics have a flair for the dramatic. Margaret rolls her eyes but agrees.
Nan wistfully comments that Harding loves poetry. She then asks if Margaret has thought about where they will go after the election, since she is convinced that Harding will move her into the White House when he wins the presidency. Margaret responds that she could move to Margate and work in a shop. Or she might be rich, she adds, depending of what the "brack" says. Nan is confused and Margaret explains that she means the cake, which is called Barmbrack. She tells that it is baked with a sixpence, a ring, and a small piece of rag inside: if the slice has the money you will be rich, if it is the ring you will marry, and if it is the rag you will be destitute. Nan practices the sound of "President Warren Harding" and then asks Margaret to visit her at the White House, receiving a doubtful look in response.
Margaret and Nan attend All Hallow's Eve mass in the church graveyard. As the priest leads the congregation through the cemetery, Nan asks if Margaret prays much. Margaret confides that she prays for her children, including the ones she lost, and also for forgiveness. Nan asks what she needs to be forgiven for and Margaret says only "for my own sins". Margaret is then stopped in her tracks by the inscription on a tombstone. Nan reflects on the peacefulness of the setting before realizing that Margaret is distracted. She joins her and reads the carved stone - Margaret has just found the grave of Mabel Thompson and her newborn son, Enoch Jr. The inscription shows that the baby lived for just a week from December 15 through 22, 1912 and that Mabel died a month later on January 19, 1913. Nan observes that Margaret and Nucky have the loss of a child in common and she looks back at her, surprised. Nan explains that Nucky told her that he lost a child when he first met her in Chicago.
Nucky puts on his jacket and a mask for the party. Eddie announces a visitor and shows Margaret in. Nucky is shocked to see her and slowly removes the mask. She says that he should keep it on as it suits him, likening him to a dapper villain in a Sunday serial. Nucky bitterly asks what she has come as: a devoted wife, a temperance firebrand or a crusading suffragette. Margaret notes that he left out "kept woman". Nucky quips that there is nothing keeping her. Margaret recalls that she was pregnant when they first met before losing the baby. She says that she knows that Nucky lost an infant son and his wife. Nucky tells her that it is a bit late to play that game. Margaret asks what he means and he explains that he believes she is looking for him to tell him her sorrows so that she can pretend to be sympathetic before they wind up in bed together. Margaret assures him that that will not happen.
She sits on the couch and Nucky asks why she has come. She says that she wants to find out who Nucky really is. He sighs deeply and then begins to reveal his tale. He begins seven to eight years earlier, having just become treasurer, and says that he was very busy. He says that Margaret had just given birth and they named the baby Enoch since Mabel wanted to name the baby after Nucky. Enoch Jr. was sickly and underweight. Mabel was determined to nurse him to health but she had little support from her husband, who was terrified of the frail baby, afraid to hold him or even look at him. Nucky avoided them completely and put everything into his new job as county treasurer. A week after the birth, Nucky returned home late and finally found the courage to look at his son, at which point he immediately realized that the baby was dead. It was the only time he ever hold him. According to Nucky, Mabel had “completely broken with reality", washing, dressing and changing the diapers of the infant's corpse for days as if he was still alive. Mabel was diagnosed with melancholia shortly before or after Enoch Jr.'s burial. The doctors assured Nucky that she would recover with time, but Nucky knew better. Nucky admits that he knew Mabel needed him, but he was "so very, very busy.” Mabel, left alone once again while her husband worked, slashed her wrists with his shaving razor a few weeks after the baby's burial.
Margaret is overcome with empathy for Nucky's sad story and wipes away a tear. Nucky tells her that the times he spent with her and her children in the house are the happiest and most terrifying in his life. He says that she now knows more about him than any other person. Margaret wonders how he could think that she was the one in need of saving. He asks if she didn't and she answers "not the way you chose." Nucky asks if she plans to leave Atlantic City and she says that it might be for the best. Nucky reaches for his bankroll but she quickly stops him. She tells him that there is kindness in him and wonders how he can do what he does. He tells her that "we all have to decide for ourselves how much sin we can live with." Margaret pronounces Nucky's name formally and tells him that she is pleased to have finally made his acquaintance.
Two days later, Nucky electioneers among the crowd waiting to vote on the Boardwalk, shaking hands and greeting them. He calls out to people he knows but is taken aback when he sees Margaret in line, wearing a Harding badge. He pauses to smile at her but moves on without saying anything.
Nan, Margaret and the children eat the Barmbrack. Nan reminds them to look for the prizes inside before she finds the ring in her own slice, pleased that it signifies marriage. She imagines herself as the First Lady of the United States. Margaret asks what she will do if Harding does not send for her, but Nan refuses to consider the possibility, blindly trusting in his promise. Emily complains that she has not had a prize and Margaret reassures her that there is more cake left. Margaret then finds the rag in her own slice. Emily asks what it means and Margaret asserts that it is just a silly superstition.
Margaret goes to the election party in Babette's. Nucky notices her standing inside the door, and they share a look across the dance floor. Nucky excuses himself and approaches her. He greets her and says that it is a pleasant surprise to see her. She says that she heard the news about Bader having been elected Mayor and congratulates Nucky, who says that he owes her a debt of gratitude. He also asks if champagne is OK; Margaret quotes his own assertion that "good news just isn't the same without it." They chime their glasses together. He asks about the children and she tells him that they miss their "Uncle Nucky".
Babette interrupts the proceedings to announce that they have news on the wireless. The announcer lists states have declared for Harding. He repeats his name, Frank Conrad, and says that he is broadcasting live from Pittsburgh. A woman exclaims surprise at how far away he is and Babette shushes her. Conrad calls the election for Harding with 60% of the popular vote and announces that his opponent has conceded moments ago. The crowd break into applause. Nucky puts his arm around Margaret as the announcer recites the president's acceptance speech calling for "a return to normalcy." The crowd claps the sentiment and Margaret kisses Nucky.
Babette's band strike up again and Eddie Cantor sings "Life's a funny proposition, after all." The guests exit as the sun comes up. Nucky and Margaret walk to the Boardwalk rail and stare out over the ocean together.