By Alan Eyerly
6:00 AM PDT, September 16, 2013
Before gangster Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) explores a money-making opportunity in Florida, he takes care of business on his Atlantic City turf in Episode 38 (“Resignation”) of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
First there’s an issue with German valet Eddie Kessler (Anthony Laciura), who threatens to resign unless he’s shown more respect -- and involved more deeply in Nucky’s criminal enterprises.
“Are you quitting or asking for a promotion?” Nucky asks.
It’s a promotion, turns out, for Nucky entrusts Eddie with a big wad of cash extorted from Mayor Edward Bader (Kevin O’Rourke), who just broke ground on a real estate development.
Nucky then deals with the murder of talent agent Dickie Pastor (Jeremy Bobb) at the hands of Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Harvey), assistant to Onyx Club operator Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams).
The only witness to the brutal stabbing is Dickie’s lustful wife, Alma (Jo Armeniox), who initiated a tryst with Dunn, then later cried rape.
Dickie’s boss, Trinidad-born Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright), politely requests compensation for the loss of his employee. But Chalky reacts angrily, especially when Valentin prevents the nightclub’s contract-bound performers from going onstage.
Savvy entrepreneur that he is, Nucky offers Valentin 10% of club revenue in exchange for bringing back the entertainers and making the Dickie problem go away.
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Taking care of loose ends on his drive back to New York, Valentin tells Alma her rape story is “a tale I’ve heard one time too many.” One of his thugs then strangles her and dumps her body at the mayor’s construction site.
Nucky also deals with innocent-looking federal agent Warren Knox (Brian Geraghty), who took over Prohibition enforcement in Atlantic City after the untimely demise of his corrupt partner.
“You and I are not going to meet again,” Nucky orders Warren. For all future matters, the go-to guy is Nucky’s brother Eli (Shea Whigham).
Suspecting that Warren isn’t as naive as he appears, Nucky checks with Gaston Means (Stephen Root), a rotten-to-the-core investigator at the Department of Justice.
“I’d say your Agent Knox is a hayseed of the purest variety,” Gaston says, unaware that Knox is reporting directly to J. Edgar Hoover (Eric Ladin), acting director of the Bureau of Investigation.
In Chicago, former federal agent Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) now toils as a low-paid “deliveryman” for bootlegger/florist Dean O’Banion (Arron Shiver).
Needing someone “who can think on his feet,” Dean dispatches brawny Nelson to nearby Cicero to keep tabs on ascendant gangster Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and Al’s brother Frank (Morgan Spector).
Nelson soon proves his worth as a mob enforcer when Al and his hoods violently disrupt a political rally, sending the bloody message that voting for a Democrat for mayor “isn’t good for your health.”
“Who’s feeling like a hero?” Al asks before beating a rally goer with a metal pipe.
A thousand miles away in rural Wisconsin, war veteran Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) reunites with his twin sister, Emma (Katherine Waterston), who’s pregnant, widowed and beset with money woes that endanger the family farm.
“Whatever brought you home, I’m glad,” Emma says before Richard leaves on a trip to Milwaukee. “But if you don’t come back this time, don’t come back at all. I couldn’t bear it.”
The purpose of Richard’s excursion is carrying out an assassination at the behest of Carl Billings (Sean Cullen), who’s eliminating his former partners. But Richard’s heart has grown sick of killing, and he can’t pull the trigger.
Carl later does the dirty deed himself then phones Richard at the farmhouse, posing as a county official inquiring about those overdue taxes.
And murderous Carl doesn’t look happy.
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