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Nucky 3x04 promo 2

Nucky possibly becomes the biggest bootlegger in the country during the third season. (Promotional photo for "Blue Bell Boy")

Main article: Nucky Thompson
  • "I don't want anyone coming near us, we don't already trust." ("Margate Sands")

Nucky Thompson remains the main character of Boardwalk Empire in the third season. This article details his actions in each episode of the season.


Main article: Resolution

Nucky and Margaret Thompson plan a lavish Egyptian themed party on December 31, 1922 to commemorate the new year 1923. Nucky invites his bootlegging contacts from New York, including the volatile Sicilian gangster Gyp Rosetti. On the way to Atlantic City early in the morning, one of Rosetti's cars has a flat tire in Tabor Heights, New Jersey. His entourage attempts to change it but finds the wheel nuts stuck in place by rust. A passing motorist, Mr. Johansen, offers help, but he inadvertently inflames Rosetti's temper when he acts as though he should know that "3 in 1" refers to oil. Rosetti responds by beating Johansen to death and takes his pet dog, Regina, with him to Atlantic City.

Nucky interrogation 3x01

Nucky interrogates petty thief Nate Honig.

Meanwhile, a Delivery Boy brings a parcel of coffee and donuts to Nucky at a boardwalk flop house. His men have captured Nate, a thief who robbed the warehouse controlled by Mickey Doyle and Manny Horvitz. Owen Sleater stands guard watchfully as Nucky questions the thief in front of the bootleggers he stole from. Nucky tells him that he is not angry at him as he was doing his job as a thief, and blames Mickey for leaving the warehouse unattended. Nate is lulled into a false sense of security and gives up the name of his wheelman, Rowland Smith. Nucky then orders Manny to kill Nate and leaves, ignoring Nate's pleading screams. Manny shoots Nate in the head, admonishing that there are "some men you don't steal from".

Nucky meets with Attorney General Harry Daugherty and his aide, Jess Smith, in his office at the Ritz and expresses concern over the battering the Harding administration have been taking in the press in the last months. Daugherty first diminishes it as the job of an agitator, Samuel Untermyer, but as Nucky insists he counters that Nucky lives in a glass house, selling alcohol to anyone in plain sight and that he should be careful what he throws. Daugherty finishes by saying that it would be wise if Nucky didn't pay the $40,000 a month he demands in terms of protection from prosecution directly to him or to Jess anymore, and says that he will put Nucky in contact with a middleman. Daugherty also reads the news about a woman pilot attempting to do a transcontinental flight and asks for Nucky's opinion, who drily replies that she should "spread her legs and leave the wings to her husband".

In the afternoon, Nucky visits Doyle's bootlegging warehouse and tells Manny that they have information about Rowland Smith being not far from Horvitz's former residence in Philadelphia. Nucky tasks Manny with killing Smith and leaving his body in a visible location as a deterrent to future thiefs. Manny is reluctant to leave his wife on New Year's Eve, however, and barters for a still of his own, independent of Doyle's, before agreeing. Nonetheless, as Manny is about to leave his house to commit the murder that night, he is ambushed and shot death by Richard Harrow, avenging the murder of Angela Darmody.


Nucky and Margaret preside over their lavish Egyptian-themed New Year's Eve party.

Nucky's party is a huge success. The guests are delighted with the themed design, but Nucky declines their greetings saying that all the merit should go to his wife, Margaret. Nucky has Eddie Cantor bring Billie Kent with him to provide musical entertainment for the crowd. They pull him up for a dance, comparing him to King Tutankhamun. Having witnessed an accidental abortion during the day in Saint Theresa's Hospital, of which she is a member of the ruling bureau, and having been told that it was caused by the lack of prenatal care instruction at the same hospital, Margaret proposes a health education program to the medical director and guess to the party, Dr. Landau, but he is deeply offended at the mere implication that the hospital has been negligent. Nucky intervenes and says that they shouldn't be talking shop before introducing Eddie Kessler, who poses as archaeologist Howard Carter to deliver a chest full of valuable jewelry as presents to the guests. Nucky then disapproves as the otherwise distinguished guests throw themselves over the chest to pick a free item. His bootlegging contacts - Arnold Rothstein, Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky, Frankie Yale, George Remus and Gyp Rosetti - notably decline to partake in the activity.


Gyp Rosetti insults Nucky after being snubbed on a liquor deal.

Just before midnight Nucky assembles his bootlegging contacts in the kitchen. He tells them that because of the currently tight attention on the Harding administration he is going to lie lower and supply Arnold Rothstein exclusively. Rosetti is incensed and delivers a tirade of abuse on Nucky and his associates before storming out. On his way to the door he gives the dog to Margaret, telling her that it is for her children. After the party's end, Nucky and Margaret say goodbye to the Landaus and Nucky berates her for taking on another cause. She counters that he doesn't dislike playing the benefactor and he angrily replies that it was her who made him one when she gave all the lands benefited by the Road Appropriation Bill to the Church. She says that she does everything he requires of her (meaning keeping the façade of a marriage to the outside world) and lets him come and go as he pleases. Teddy interrupts the fight to ask if it is the New Year yet, prompting them to pretend once again that they aren't mad at each other. Nucky then hands Margaret some cash to give an extra to the service, and returns to his suite at the Ritz-Carlton to find a naked Billie waiting for him in bed. He jokes with her about sneaking her into the party as an entertainer and how much fun he had doing it before the two have sex. ("Resolution")

Spaghetti and Coffee[]

Main article: Spaghetti and Coffee

Nucky visits New York City to make this month's payoff to Daugherty. During his visit he sleeps with Billie Kent in her apartment. Billie reveals that one of the radiators is leaking but refuses to bother her landlord, Arnold Rothstein, and declines Nucky's offer to intercede in her favor because of her independence. His jealousy is stoked when she answers the phone flirtatiously and again when he finds another man's razor in the bathroom. Billie sees the brooding in his face and nicknames him "Gloomy Gus" because of his demeanor.


Nucky meets Gaston Means.

Nucky heads to the Hotel Astor to deliver the money to Daugherty's middleman as agreed but is perturbed when he finds himself in an empty room with a goldfish bowl of money. A man's voice calls through the door to put the money in the bowl but Nucky refuses to deal with someone without seeing him. As Nucky threats to leave, the door opens to let him into another room and the man reluctantly introduces himself as Gaston Means. Means throws the envelope with the cash on a coach stocked with similar envelopes. Nucky presses Means for information about Daughety's troubles but he refuses to be bought so soon after meeting him; he says that he admires Nucky as someone who makes opportunities out of trouble and believes that he has the same quality. Means then lets Nucky watch through a hole in the door as George Remus drops his money off in the bowl without question, and then asks Nucky to leave surreptitiously.

Nucky meets with Rothstein to find out more about Means. Rothstein says that he is infamous as a big personality but asserts that it is still worth paying Daughterty for protection despite the corruption accusations against him. They discuss details for the upcoming shipment and Rothstein catches Nucky making a mistake over the scheduling. Rothstein blames Nucky's distraction on his relationship with Billie and gently warns that she is a "vivacious young woman".

Billie Kent Nucky Thompson

Nucky dines with Billie Kent and her friend, Viola.

Nucky spends the evening with Billie and her friend Viola at a speakeasy, where they discuss Billie's idea for a new act where she would play a hummingbird; Nucky suggests that Viola could play the hummingbird's "best friend" and flaunts that he knows entertainer Lee Shubert personally and could propose the idea to him. Nucky is again reminded of Billie's relationships with other men when she flirts with a stockbroker at a neighboring table.

Again in Billie's apartment for the night, Nucky cooks bacon for her (a "hobo trick", in his own words) and watches her as she eats, saying that when he was little he would do the same for his mother, brother and sister, not caring if there was nothing left for him because they barely had any food. He tells Billie that all he wants is for things to work by themselves and that he'd like to live with her and forget about everything else. She laughs and replies that he knows he can't. When the phone begins to ring again, he stops her from answering until it stops and asks who is calling her, ignoring that this time it is Owen Sleater trying to ask for advice from Nucky because Gyp Rosetti has camped in the strategic town of Tabor Heights and refuses to let them gas up in the place so they can drive to New York to deliver Rothstein's liquor.

Bone for Tuna[]

Main article: Bone for Tuna

Nucky has a disturbing nightmare involving a young Jimmy Darmody. He complains to a telephone operator that he has been trying to contact Billie Kent for hours. The operator repeats Jimmy's last words to him; warning him about running out of company. Nucky then sees the young Jimmy in front of him. He asks "Hungry, slugger?" and Jimmy nods his head silently. Nucky sees then that he is holding a frying pan with some bacon cooking on it. The telephone rings loudly. Nucky asks "what the hell is wrong" with it and a gunshot goes off. The young Jimmy is lying dead on the floor with a bullet below his left eye, the same place Nucky shot his adult self. Nucky realizes that the frying pan has turned into his golden-platted pistol, with smoke coming from it. Nucky runs to the boy as he screams "no" multiple times before Eddie wakes him up and informs him that Margaret is on the phone. She admonishes Nucky for forgetting their meeting with Father Shocke regarding the St. Gregory's Award ceremony the next day. Nucky insists that he won't go, forcing Margaret to meet the priest alone.

Nucky drives out to Tabor Heights to meet Gyp Rosetti and negotiate an end to his blockade of liquor shipments. He has the local Sheriff Victor Sickles and his deputy, Ramsey, accompany him to the meeting, which is mocked by Gyp. Nucky criticizes Gyp's tendency to take offence so easily but offers a compromise; a final shipment of free liquor as a goodwill gesture and a fully paid night in Atlantic City. Nucky awaits Gyp at Babette's Supper Club and reminisces about the dinner he held on the eve of Prohibition and the lukewarm welcome he gave Jimmy as he returned from World War I. Their conversation is tense but Gyp tells Nucky that he wants to remain friends. He offers a toast to their shared good luck using the Italian phrase "A la nostra buona fortuna". Gyp then tries to convince Nucky to join him in a trip to Gillian's brothel, The Artemis Club. Nucky declines but drops him off, sharing an awkward look with Gillian on the steps. Gyp confirms that Nucky will be present when he picks up his shipment in the morning.

Margaret and Nucky - Bone For Tuna

Margaret and Nucky attend the ceremony where he is bestowed the Order of Saint Gregory the Great for his services to the Catholic Church.

Nucky goes home in advance of the award ceremony. He is still unable to reach Billie in New York. He complains to Margaret about being unable to sleep lately but gets no sympathy. Once at Saint Finbar's Church, Nucky confesses that he doesn't remember the last time he was in one and Margaret replies that it was during their wedding. Nucky is troubled during the ceremony, hallucinating that the young Jimmy from his dreams is one of the choir boys and is staring down at him as blood drips off his bullet wound bellow the eye. During the reception afterwards he fails to listen to a joke by Cornelia Predock, who says that since he is now a knight Margaret will have to clean his armor. Nucky excuses himself to make another failed attempt to phone Billie.

Meanwhile at Mickey Doyle's place, Gyp is disappointed to find only Owen to offer Nucky's excuses for not appearing at the pickup. Gyp pointedly notes Eli's presence. When he bemoans the deal being curt, Eli replies that he can christen him with a bottle of champagne. Owen delivers a good luck message from Nucky, garbling the pronunciation of the Italian as "Bone for Tuna". As Gyp leaves town during the night he lets the perceived insult fester, convinced that Nucky is being sarcastic and intends him to fail. He stops in Tabor Heights to refuel and Sheriff Sickles drives out to meet him. Sickles wishes him good luck too, which Gyp takes as he insulting him again. He douses the lawman in gasoline and then sets him alight, burning him to death.

Richard Harrow abducts Mickey from his house and brings him to Nucky's office in the Ritz-Carlton. He forces Mickey to admit that he has lied about killing Manny Horvitz. Richard lets Mickey go and truthfully takes responsibility for the crime himself. He tells Nucky that he was avenging Angela's death and that he has no similar plans to avenge Jimmy because he considers that his friend was a soldier who fought a war and lost.

Nucky resolves to go to New York. He lets himself into Billie's deserted apartment and falls asleep on her sofa. He awakens to think he is having another nightmare but is reassured when it is just Billie cooking breakfast. ("Bone for Tuna")

Blue Bell Boy[]

Main article: Blue Bell Boy
Nucky 3x04 promo

Nucky resolves that he needs to reestablish his authority over Owen.

Nucky phones Owen while he is having sex with Katy, and summons him asking if he has read that morning's paper. Owen tells Katy that Nucky is in a bad mood again and she encourages him not to hurry. Nucky assembles his men at Mickey Doyle's warehouse and orders them to avoid Gyp Rosetti's blockade of Tabor Heights and use backroads through the Pine Barrens to transport liquor to New York. Mickey is dubious given that the dirt roads will be icy until the Spring and looks to Owen for clarification. Nucky is furious, seeing his authority being challenged openly in his presence. He reasserts the order and ends the meeting. He then questions Owen about the thief Rowland Smith. Owen admits that he has not looked for him since Manny Horvitz died and Nucky insists he restart the search, suggesting that he use Prohibition Agent Stan Sawicki. Eli tries to speak to Nucky about getting more responsibility and pay but Nucky tells him that merely letting him go to prison was the last favor he is willing to do him.

Owen has Sawicki meet them at Smith's reported hideout, an abandoned backwoods house in Pennsylvania. Sawicki got the address from a contact in the Philadelphia branch. They find the place filled with crates of liquor, both their own and from other bootleggers. Nucky says that it is all their now and leaves Owen and another man, Munney, to wait for Smith. They ambush him hours later when he returns to the house and are surprised by how young he is. Owen calls Nucky for further guidance.

Nucky drives out to question Smith, who knows Nucky from a time in his childhood when he gave a Christmas turkey to his family. Smith claims to be 15 and requests a cigarette saying that he has never smoked and wants to know what "the fuss" is all about. Nucky complies, but before he can light it the place is visited by several Philadelphia Prohibition Agents. Smith says that their leader is corrupt and they have probably come to kill him; Nucky and Owen don't believe him but the danger is proven right when the men kill Munney and Nucky's bodyguard outside. Nucky, Owen, and Smith hide in the basement while the agents search the house and, failing to see anyone else, take the liquor. The three are trapped there for more than a day as the agents take their time, clearing the building of liquor and loading it into their vehicles.

Nucky shoots Rowland

Nucky shoots Rowland Smith.

When the agents eventually leave, Nucky, Owen, and Smith emerge from the basement. The boy tries to charm Nucky into giving him a job as his driver, pointing how good he is at stealing liquor and keeping his mouth shut. He then takes a cigarette from his pocket and, when pointed out by Nucky, he reveals that he lied about his age and that he is really 19 years old. Nucky offers Smith one of his cigarettes, and as he turns back to light it, Nucky shoots him in the back of the head. Owen is shocked by the unexpected murder and Nucky uses it as a lesson that he is to be respected and feared. Nucky returns to Atlantic City, where he finds Eli waiting for him at the Boardwalk. He tells him (off-screen) that in his absence Mickey has directed the convoy through Tabor Heights, against his orders, and that Rosetti has stolen the liquor after killing the 11 men that were trusted with its transport.

You'd Be Surprised[]

Main article: You'd Be Surprised

Arnold Rothstein travels to Atlantic City to reprimand Nucky Thompson for his various failings as a supplier. Nucky has his brother Eli Thompson tell Rothstein about the massacre Gyp Rosetti orchestrated for their last convoy. Eli's deference does not go unnoticed and Nucky thanks him for his time. Rothstein asks for privacy and then lays into Nucky for his inattention. He blames the problems on Nucky's relationship with Billie Kent. Nucky rises to the argument and the two shout at each other as Charlie Luciano and Owen Sleater wait in the lobby.

Billie S03E05

Nucky speaking with Billie backstage.

Nucky goes home and lies to his wife, Margaret, that he is heading out of town on business. She is suspicious of his motives for telling her and worries that she is going to need a bodyguard again. Nucky attends a rehearsal of his fling Billie Kent's play The Naughty Virgin, which is running warm up performances in Atlantic City before a planned run on Broadway. The musical comedy is flat and Nucky is unimpressed with Billie's co-star and jealous of her choreographer. Eddie Cantor reassures Nucky that Billie is fine and that it is a difficult business. That evening Billie confides in Nucky that her father often called her useless and that she fears the play is about to be canceled.

Margaret enters La Belle Femme to leave a stack of fliers with Isabelle Jeunet and runs into Nucky buying a dress for Billie. Nucky later comes to apologize for showing bad form but Margaret is unforgiving. She prevents him from seeing her children and he warns her that she needs to consider the practicalities of her situation.

Nucky takes it upon himself to rescue Billie's play and lunches with Eddie to try to convince him to take over the lead role. Eddie protests that he is under contract on another project and makes a hasty exit. Nucky has Chalky White and Dunn Purnsley strong-arm Eddie into taking the role.

Nucky attends Eddie's first rehearsal. Billie is quizzical about how Nucky saved the show. Eddie pointedly asks her if she has heard of Lucy Danziger and then tells her that the next girl will not know who she is either. Nucky watches them duet from the stalls when Owen arrives with bad news; the attack on Gyp Rosetti that he agreed to with Rothstein has left 4 are dead in Tabor Heights, but none of them are Gyp.

Ging Gang Goolie[]

Main article: Ging Gang Goolie

Teddy misses Nucky at home and believes that the fire that destroyed their greenhouse would have never happened if he was there.

Nucky is meanwhile back at the Hotel Astor in New York City to make his monthly payoff to Gaston Means, but finds the suite empty and the goldfish bowl full of water instead of the usual cash. A maid tells him that the last guest was a French woman that has already checked out. George Remus also arrives and tries to contact Means using the suite's phone. The maid tells him that the phone is for guests only and threatens to call the hotel detective. Nucky suggests that Remus use the lobby phone and tips the maid, apologizing to Remus.

Nucky 3x06a

Nucky visits Washington to confront Harry Daugherty.

Nucky takes a train to Washington DC and goes straight to see Harry Daugherty. He barges in on him while in conference with Jess Smith and Remus. Daugherty protests that it is a private meeting and Nucky asserts that he has just begun another one. Nucky is concerned about Daugherty's disorganization and deduces that he is plotting to scapegoat a bootlegger to repair his damaged reputation. Nucky realizes that he is Daugherty's target and warns him not to proceed. Daugherty feigns ignorance and Nucky leaves, angry. Means emerges from the next room and Daugherty asks him to teach Nucky a lesson in civics.

As Nucky goes to board his return train he buys a pint of whiskey from a vendor in the station. He is apprehended by a duo of Justice Department agents who are careful to mention that Daugherty sent them as they arrest him for the minor Volstead Act violation. Nucky is taken to a holding cell and kept there for eighteen hours without a phone call. He complains to one of his fellow prisoners about the treatment. The man introduces himself as Alby Gold and brags that he is a bootlegger with a still in his basement. Nucky is amused by Gold's lack of ambition.

Nucky 3x06b

Nucky appears before court in Washington.

Nucky is eventually brought before a judge at night court. Esther Randolph is the prosecutor and they are shocked to see each other there. She pushes for a heavy sentence for the misdemeanor but the judge refuses to impose more than the usual five dollar fine. Nucky pays the court clerk with a $100 bill. He waits for Randolph outside the court room and invites her to breakfast, promising that it will be interesting. During the meal he proposes an alliance against Daugherty. He argues that the Attorney General has stalled her career for losing the case against him when Daugherty never intended her to succeed. He promises to get her out of night duty if she works with him to expose Daugherty's corruption. Randolph replies that President Harding will never turn against Daugherty but Nucky is confident he can find someone with higher authority.

Nucky calls Margaret from the station to say that he was arrested and has been worried about her. She tells him that they need to talk about the state of their marriage. Margaret then lies to Gareth Murray, the guard Owen posted at the house to protect her and the children, and tells him that Nucky said that he can leave.

Nucky and Billie 3x06

Nucky and Billie in her apartment.

Nucky goes to Billie's apartment and lets himself in. When she arrives she gently rebukes him for missing the opening night of her play. He says that she would not believe where he has been and asks how it went. She recites a positive review from memory and says that she has been getting interest from film agents. The phone rings and Nucky answers, annoying her. It proves to be Means calling for him. Means offers to put Nucky in touch with someone who can aid him against Daugherty in exchange for the protection money Nucky had been paying Daugherty. Nucky invites Means to Atlantic City and then tells Billie that the call was nothing worth discussing with her.

Sunday Best[]

Main article: Sunday Best

The Pony[]

Main article: The Pony

The Milkmaid's Lot[]

Main article: The Milkmaid's Lot

A Man, A Plan...[]

Main article: A Man, A Plan...

Two Imposters[]

Main article: Two Imposters

Margate Sands[]

Main article: Margate Sands

See also[]