"The Emerald City" is the tenth episode of Season 1 of Boardwalk Empire, and the tenth episode overall. It was written by co-executive producer Lawrence Konner and directed by Simon Cellan-Jones. It originally aired on November 21, 2010.
Continuing the plotline from the last episode, Richard Harrow is now staying at the Schroeder house, although his face injury is scaring the children. Agent Sebso is sent home to rest over the protests of Van Alden, for killing Billy Winslow supposedly in self-defense. Jimmy has taken up residence with his family and attempts to reconnect with Angela. Rothstein chides the D'Alessio brothers and Mickey for not doing enough research on Nucky's butler, Eddie, and for shooting a civilian during the failed assassination attempt.
The episode opens with a dream sequence of Richard Harrow and Odette strolling on the beach...as Odette turns to Richard, she starts screaming as she runs towards him. He wakes suddenly on Nucky's couch to Margaret's daughter screaming at the top of her lungs at the gruesome sight of Richard without his prosthetic mask. Nucky and Margaret come running into the living room to find out what the noise is. Nucky says to Harrow: "We're on edge here as it is." Harrow says modestly "I'm sorry. It's uncomfortable to sleep in."
Agent Sebso explains to Van Alden and Supervisor Elliot how he ended up killing Billy Winslow. He says that Winslow needed to make water, so he pulled over to the side of the road. His excuse for unlocking his hand-cuffs was due to Sebso not wanting to help Winslow relieve himself. Elliot finishes Sebso sentence with "And touching his johnson with your fingers." This incenses Van Alden, who yells "So in service to your own modesty you ended up killing our witness?!" Sebso is told he acted in self-defense by Elliot and to take a week's leave and 'to get some rest'. Van Alden is furious and confused. After Sebso leaves, Van Alden says he takes full responsibility. Elliot agrees to Van Alden's surprise, saying that is precisely where he is placing the blame. Elliot yells that Van Alden has "bungled this from the start". Then tells Van Alden calmly: "one more false move and you'll be hunting moonshiners down in the everglades". Van Alden is visibly upset.
Angela Darmody is painting as Jimmy comes into the kitchen. Angela goes to stop painting and Jimmy tells her not to stop. He remarks that her painting is nice and comments on another painting. Angela is surprised — saying she didn't think he noticed. Jimmy goes on to talk about how in the war he forgot that anything creatively beautiful exists in a civilized world. He then comes up behind her as she paints — Angela grips his hand and shows him how to mix paint on her palate. They kiss, dropping all the paintbrush and palette to the floor, they then make love on the kitchen table.
Nucky and Margaret are having breakfast discussing the upcoming passing of the possibility of the women's right to vote. Richard comes in to tell Nucky his driver has arrived. After he leaves Margaret says that she "don't mean to be cruel but..." referring to Richard. Nucky tells her he is a war hero. She says he frightens the children and Nucky reminds her he is there for the families protection. Margaret suggests maybe she and the children should go away for a while. Nucky says he would miss her too much, getting up and letting her know the conversation is over. She asks if this is what it means to be in charge: "People shooting at you?" Nucky responds as he leaves "Success breeds enemy's — which you'll discover soon enough after women win the vote."
At a meeting in Chicago, Torrio becomes annoyed with Al for not paying attention. He then becomes furious for interrupting his business meeting with a juvenile prank (giving him a joke shop cigarette). Torrio knocks his coffee cup off the table, he ends the meeting saying ""This ain't no fucking grade school".
In Nucky's office Jimmy and Nucky are discussing the state of Richard's face. Nucky says Richard is grotesque. Jimmy reassures him that it's a big improvement — Nucky says try explaining that to a four year old; Richard must wear the mask when he is in their house. Eddie announces that Mickey Doyle is there to see Nucky. Mickey saunters in casually saying he is there with 'hat in hand' to apologize, saying he was rattled. He then goes on to blame his partners; The D'Ellessio Brothers. Nucky confirms they are his partners before leaping at him, grabbing him by the neck and saying he should throw him out the window. Worried he will soon be killed for his incompetence, Mickey betrays the D'Alessio brothers and Lansky, revealing the conspiracy to an enraged Nucky. Nucky and Mickey sit down, Jimmy makes Mickey a drink spitting in it before he pours the whiskey. Mickey explains that the D'Elessio Brothers lynched Chalky's brother, robbed the casino and shot Eli. He goes on to say that all of this is due to Rothstein wanting to take over the liquor business in Atlantic City. Nucky, annoyed, tells Jimmy to get Chalky on the phone — but is unable to because Eddie is on the phone. Eddie then comes into the room excited saying that women have won the right to vote.
As Margaret reads The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to the children Richard lurks in the other room trying to listen. The children see him and hide, Margaret invites him into join them. As she reads on she mentions the TinMan. Richard takes this as an opportunity saying "Hmmm, the Tin Woodsman...I think I need some oil." The children giggle.
Later Nucky and Margaret enjoy a libation in celebration of the women's vote. Nucky takes this opportunity to ask Margaret to use her influence to rally the League of Women Voters to support Republican mayoral candidate Edward Bader. She asks him if anything will really change. She says Nucky is asking her to lie. Nucky reassures her by saying he is asking her to be realistic, that this important for everyone.
While passing the photography shop on the boardwalk, Tommy points to a picture of Robert Dittrich and his wife Mary Dittrich saying "that's mommy's kissing friend." Jimmy snaps and attacks Robert while he is in the middle of a photo shoot. He beats him mercilessly outside on the boardwalk in front of the crowd. Angela stands by begging him to stop.
Meanwhile, Van Alden makes another visit to Margaret posing under official business, although he's there for his own reasons. He pulls out an old photo of Margaret saying he sees hope in her. Margaret is visibly uncomfortable. Van Alden gets increasingly riled warning her of consorting with a criminal and a murder; the man who killed the father of her children. He sits next to Margaret and tries to grab her hands, saying he can see into her soul when he looks into the younger photo of her at night. He offers her salvation. Margaret jumps to her feet telling him he must leave. As Van Alden turns to leave he then turns back raising his voice saying "I came here to save you, not from prosecution — but from the fires of hell that will surely await you should you fail to repent!" He then storms out and Margaret is obviously shaken.
Margaret finally gives in and makes a rousing speech to the League of Women Voters in favor of Edward Bader candidacy. Nucky looks on with admiration and pride. After the speech, Margaret sees Nucky glad handing and realizes what she has condoned.
After undergoing a change of heart during the bar mitzvah Al apologizes to Torrio, saying his joke was stupid. He tells Torrio he'll go wherever he wants him to go. Al says that a friendly brewery is in need of help, suggesting maybe he can fix it. He asks for a chance, saying he's ready. Torrio says no more monkey business.
Chalky takes the D'Ellessio brothers and Meyer around his brewery. They offer him a deal — saying Chalky will be their Atlantic contact. One of the D'Alessio brothers lets slip a piece of information that makes Chalky realize they were responsible for the death of his brother. Once the deal is made, Chalky pulls two guns on them.
Angela goes to visit Mary. They speak of hatching a plan to escape together to Paris.
Margaret comes home to Richard who has been watching the children. She apologizes for treating him harshly when he first came to stay with them. Richard tries to appease her by saying that most people find his appearance disconcerting. She says that it's unfair and that people should be judged by the person on the inside. Richard opens up to her, letting her know that he himself can't stand it — that he can no longer remember who he is. Margaret walks away.
Van Alden enters a speakeasy ordering two whiskey's, one after the other. He then asks if he can sit with Lucy Danziger after spotting her across the room sitting by herself. Lucy asks Van Alden his name and he tells her Nelson. Lucy asks Nelson to order some more drinks. Later in the night the two have sex and Van Alden appears to be upset with himself afterward.
Chalky takes two of the brothers and Lansky prisoner. Jimmy and Chalky each kill one of the brothers. Seeing that the plan is now impossible, Nucky releases Lansky to tell Rothstein what has happened.
The episode ends with Margaret looking in the mirror; contemplating the decisions she has made.
- Main: The Emerald City recap
A detailed recap of the episode scene by scene.
1. Eric Lenox Abrams as Jerome
9. Jerry Hyman as Man at Bar Mitzvah
18. John Rue as Mayor Harry Bacharach
- Neapolitan Trio - "Woodland Echoes" plays as Richard dreams of Odette.
- Mamie Smith - "Crazy Blues" plays as Jimmy & Angela talk art, make love.
- Gypsy Queen - "In the Good Old Summertime" plays as Mickey Doyle rats out D'Alessios, Rothstein and Charlie.
- Belgian Band Organ - "Wabash Cannonball" plays as Mickey Doyle rats out D'Alessios, Rothstein and Charlie.
- Neapolitan Trio - "Come Where My Love Lies Dreaming" plays as Margaret reads The Wizard of Oz and Richard calls himself the Tin Man.
- Paul Lewis - "Beside the Sea" plays as Nucky asks Margaret to introduce Bader at Luncheon.
- [[Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks" - "Mournin Blues" plays as Tommy points out Mommy's "kissing friend" to Jimmy, who attacks Robert Dittrich during a photo shoot.
- Victor Herbert - "Little Nemo Selection" plays as Jimmy attack Robert Dittrich during a photo shoot.
- Gypsy Queen - "Swanee River(Old Folks at Home) plays as Nucky, Jimmy and Mickey meet with Chalky.
- Jonathan Starkey - "Footlights" plays as Capone tells Torrio he's ready to be responsible.
- Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks - "Just a Little While to Stay Here" plays as Mary Urges Angela to come to Paris.
- Vince Giordano and the Nighthawks - "They Didn't Believe Me" plays as Mary urges Angela to come to Paris.
- Andy Quin - "Jassola" plays as Van Alden buys Lucy a drink.
- Original Dixieland Jazz Band - "Oriental Jazz" plays as Van Alden buys lucy a drink.
"The Emerald City" gained a tenth of a point to a 1.3 share in adults aged 18–49 and added a handful of viewers, just topping 3 million with an overall total of 3.049 million viewers.
IGN gave the episode a score of 8.5 calling it "Great" and said ""I don't control anyone, Margaret," Nucky says. "I'm an overseer." If "Emerald City" is any indication, how Nucky observes and participates in the events of Season One's final two episodes will involve more changes and more strategic bloodshed." The A.V. Club gave the episode a "B", describing it "For the first nine episodes of Boardwalk Empire, we've been getting a lot of introduction and backstory and a lot of exploration of the world of 1920, but only a little bit of forward movement on the plot that was set into motion back in episode one. Yes, we've seen Margaret blossom from an abused immigrant peasant to an increasingly assured political player and Jimmy go from being a small-time crook to a shrewd mobster, and we've seen a number of folks get shot. But we began this adventure with Nucky Thompson, Arnold Rothstein, and the agents of the United States government all at odds over the future of the booze biz, and their respective advantages haven't changed much since then. And not to be an alarmist, but after tonight's "The Emerald City", there are only two episodes remaining in the first season." Expanding on that, they said "As mentioned, "The Emerald City" features a lot of scenes of powerful men dealing with underlings who may or may not be up to the responsibilities of their respective organizations. Even Arnold Rothstein has a rough time of it, trying to explain "the age of information" to a bunch of goons whose idea of sound business practice is to shoot a man in the street. But then that's what Boardwalk Empire is all about, isn't it? Or at least it's what keeps me fascinated by the show even when it occasionally annoys me. What is it that all these characters are engaged in: Is this business or crime? Or is it something in between—like politics."
- Nucky Thompson: (about Arnold Rothstein) "I'm going to make him the richest corpse in New York."
- Arnold Rothstein: Do you know why I'm a successful gambler, Mr. Doyle?
- Mickey Doyle: 'Cause you're lucky?
- Arnold Rothstein: He's Lucky (points to Luciano). I create my luck.
- Jimmy Darmody: Over in Europe, in the war -- art, painting, poetry -- two weeks in the trench and you forget that there's anything beautiful in the civilized world.
The title of this episode is referred to obliquely when Margaret is reading to her children from Dorothy and the Wizard in Oz by L. Frank Baum, published in 1918. Margaret likens Richard Harrow to the "powerful tin man".
This is not the first time that one of Baum's books has been seen in this series. Nucky was seen reading The Road to Oz (1909) in the previous episode, La Belle Femme.
The notion of Atlantic City as the Emerald City would seem to put Nucky in the role of the Wizard; a powerful character whose true nature is very different from his public persona, and who profits greatly from his position.
- "The Emerald City" at HBO.com
- "The Emerald City" on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
- "The Emerald City" at TV.com
- "The Emerald City" at Wikipedia
|#01 Boardwalk Empire||#07 Home|
|#02 The Ivory Tower||#08 Hold Me in Paradise|
|#03 Broadway Limited||#09 Belle Femme|
|#04 Anastasia||#10 The Emerald City|
|#05 Nights in Ballygran||#11 Paris Green|
|#06 Family Limitation||#12 A Return to Normalcy|