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November 12, 2010

Boardwalk Empire Episode 1.8 Recap

This week finds Nucky in Chicago for the Republican National Convention, leaving his brother Eli to handle Atlantic City's affairs and Margaret Schroeder to sit in her fancy new house and twiddle her thumbs (Lucy, forgotten, sits sad and drunk in movie theaters). While there, in a nice little hey-everybody-it's-the-1920s! subplot, Nucky puts his weight behind the presidential campaign of an underdog by the name of Warren G. Harding. And, it being Chicago, he runs into Jimmy. It's kind of awkward.

This episode hinges on a single event: Eli goes to collect dues at a casino, encounters a robbery in progress, and is shot. He is wounded, not killed, but this is still a significant occurrence in the Atlantic City power structure: It means that Nucky no longer has an iron grip on the dealings of the city's underworld. Outside forces are starting to make grabs for power, and soon it could be war.

Not only could it signal impending power struggles, but this event effects the characters on an individual level, as well. The wounded Eli can no longer manage affairs, and so Mucky calls not another of his minions but Margaret to hold down the fort until he returns. This illustrates a surprising level of trust and confidence that Nucky has in his new mistress. But now that he's let her into the business, so to speak, what will she do with that access?

The other character whose life may drastically change in light of Eli's shooting is Jimmy—Nucky asks him to come back to Atlantic City to help manage things. If Jimmy accepts, will the whole Chicago subplot atrophy, or will we be getting to know Al Capone a lot better?

Agent Van Alden, meanwhile, has more quality family silence-time this week with his wife, who can't have a baby and is sad about it in a weepy, repressed, American-Gothic kind of way. She wants to have sketchy 1920s fertility surgery, but Agent Van Alden wants to rely on God. They say grim things to one another about it.

Hold Me In Paradise was a less eventful episode than usual, setting things in motion for the long run rather than actually moving anything during the episode. But the things it sets in motion are significant ones—Nucky's power is now in jeopardy, Margaret Schroeder has been propelled fully into Nucky's world, and Jimmy may soon bring his PTSD back home to meddle in Atlantic City's affairs. Also: Warren G. Harding is going to be president now! Thanks, Nucky.

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