Searching for a new direction in life, disfigured war veteran/mob assassin Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) returns to Atlantic City in “The North Star,” Episode 42 of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
Richard’s last exploit in New Jersey was a bloody one as he saved young Tommy Darmody by gunning down a slew of thugs occupying the brothel of Tommy’s grandmother Gillian (Gretchen Mol).
After leaving Tommy in the care of Philippine-American War vet Paul Sagorsky (Mark Borkowski) and his daughter Julia (Wrenn Schmidt), Richard joined twin sister Emma (Katherine Waterston) at their family farm in Wisconsin.
A chance encounter with Paul draws Richard back to Tommy and possible love interest Julia.
“I couldn’t face any of you,” Richard says to Paul, explaining his flight.
“You got Tommy out of that house. That makes you a hero,” replies alcoholic Paul, who’s suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.
“A year from now I’ll be gone. You’ll still be here,” Paul says, urging Richard to stay.
Richard’s reunion with Julia and Tommy is a delicate one as they walk slowly along a pier.
“You turned my life upside down,” says Julia, who’s battling Gillian in court to retain custody of Tommy. “I don’t want to do this all by myself, but how can I trust you?”
That trust seems to be building, however, for the three look like a happy family enjoying a starry night.
Another delicate reunion involves gangster Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) and estranged wife Margaret (Kelly MacDonald), now living in New York City. Without mentioning the word “suicide,” Nucky reveals that valet Eddie Kessler (Anthony Laciura) is “gone.”
“I just thought you should hear it from me,” Nucky says.
In the wake of Eddie’s demise, Nucky’s brother Eli (Shea Whigham) tries to retrieve cash from a safe deposit box. The bank manager is uncooperative, however, requiring Eddie’s death certificate and other official documents.
This provides an opportunity for undercover Prohibition Agent Warren Knox (Brian Geraghty) to gain Eli’s trust with the ultimate goal of toppling Nucky’s criminal network.
Under the pretense of investigating Eddie for un-American activities, Warren threatens the banker with an obstruction of justice charge if he doesn’t hand over the box. That works.
“We’ll keep doing this,” a grateful Eli tells Warren, noting that Eddie set up multiple bank accounts.
Nucky, meanwhile, needs one more partner to acquire 14,000 acres of land for offloading illegal rum shipments. That investor turns out to be Vincenzo Petrucelli (Vincenzo Amato), a gangster with Cuban connections and familial ties to New York mob boss Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi).
Charles “Lucky” Luciano (Vincent Piazza) also planned to invest, but he’s gone behind Joe’s back and is certain Petrucelli will spread the news.
“This is bad for me,” Lucky says to associate Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef).
“You do what you want, but I’m in,” responds Meyer, viewing the Florida real estate scheme as a gold mine.
Nucky was initially attracted to Tampa for the money but now he’s drawn to Sally Wheet (Patricia Arquette), a wild-spirited speakeasy owner. Sally’s liquor tastes like battery acid and she revels at watching alligators fight to the death.
When Nucky expresses doubts about his criminal ambitions — and frets about the reason for Eddie’s mysterious suicide — drunken Sally calls him a whiner and slugs him in the face. Punches soon turn into frantic kisses then up-against-the-wall sex.
Speaking of sex, Atlantic City nightclub operator Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) is infatuated with lovely chanteuse Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham), even as he squabbles with her for revamping a song list.
“Maybe I’m bored,” Daughter says suggestively. “Don’t you ever feel bored?”