In 1884 an adolescent Nucky is swimming among several other boys for coins being tossed into the water off the Atlantic City boardwalk. Nucky comes up empty while the others snag the change tossed by The Commodore, who rejoices in "the glory" of Atlantic City. Nucky begs for one more coin to be tossed, and another boy catches this one, as well.
Back in Havana in 1931, Nucky looks longingly at young men diving into the ocean water before Sally pulls him back into a dance club, which he says he hates. He's antsy for a deal to be nailed down. Nucky spots the man he's been waiting for, Senator Wendell Lloyd, and goes over to chat.
Meanwhile, Chalky White is in a wagon with a load of prisoners, including one whose singing isn't amusing Chalky. They disembark in the woods where they're being put to work, but Chalky hesitates before getting off last. A guard kicks Chalky to the ground as he bends to tie his shoe. Chalky keeps walking and gets to work.
In Havana, Sally and Nucky are showing Wendell the best liquor Cuba has to offer. He's giving them the details on how the U.S. economy is suffering since the crash. He laments how much money in liquor taxes the government isn't getting. Nucky is hopeful prohibition will be overturned, which Wendell agrees would be good for the country. Wendell tells Nucky that his "hands aren't the cleanest," which makes Nucky tricky to work with. Nucky reminds the senator that America is about second chances. Sally suggests the senator get to know a lady at the club, and we next see him dancing joyfully.
In New York City, Margaret is at work listening to her boss, Mr. Bennett, tell the whole group of employees what he did the night before — over the loud noise of a jackhammer outside. Mr. Bennett goes on to discuss in detail the film he watched, and the Mickey Mouse cartoon that ran before it. Mr. Bennett is apparently trying to instill some confidence in the group about the economic rebound, just before pulling a small revolver and shooting himself in the head in front of the whole group.
Back to 1884, young Nucky and Eli come in from playing to find their mother caring for their young sister Susan ill with tuberculosis. Nucky tells his intimidating father (Ian Hart) that he didn't catch any "gold" that The Commodore tossed into the ocean because he wasn't quick enough. This news earns him a hard smack to the back of the head as his father tells him, "You're the son of a fisherman, and what are you trying to catch?"
In Havana, Nucky is waiting for Wendell to show up. Nucky is excited about the news that Roosevelt's run for presidency seems to be picking up steam. The pleasantness of the day is broken up by what Sally says is likely an anti-Machado (President Gerardo Machado) protest. Nucky then notices Meyer Lansky. They note that they haven't seen each other since Arnold Rothstein's funeral. Lansky says he's married and has a kid and is in Cuba on vacation with his wife. Nucky tells Lansky to give his best to "Charlie" (Lucky Luciano), but he says they don't talk too often because Lucky is still a bachelor. Nucky watches Lansky as he goes and sits at a table with a blonde woman who he assumes, from appearances, is Lansky's wife. The senator shows up saying he's "not exactly sure" where he's been.
Back to 1884, Nucky is among a group of boys waiting in the reeds among a marsh for a tour wagon to pass by. When the tourists' hats blow off, the boys hurry to grab them in exchange for tips from the tourists. Nucky again comes up empty, but one man named Pat steps from the wagon and asks Nucky where his hat has gone. Nucky says he doesn't have it, truthfully. The man is nice enough and gives Nucky a snack. As the wagon leaves, Nucky goes back into the reeds and finds a bowler with a $50 bill inside.
Chalky, working in the woods, asks for some water. A bucket is passed around but is empty when it comes to him. The guard doesn't care. Meanwhile, the singing guy tells a story that makes the whole group laugh about how he was kicked in the head by a mule as a child, giving him the dent in his head.
Back in 1884, Nucky visits his sister Susan in her room, dabbing her forehead with a wet rag. He sneaks her a piece of sour candy. That night, young Nucky is alone in bed when he pulls out the hat and the $50 bill, staring at it in wonder.
In Coney Island, Lucky Luciano walks into a closed saloon in daytime and waits for Joe Masseria (Ivo Nandi) to get out of a car outside.
Margaret is at her office watching Mr. Bennett's name be scraped off his office door's window. She's called into another office, where Mr. Connors, another boss, asks her how she feels and what she did for Mr. Bennett. She tells him she ran errands for him and he laments that Mr. Bennett might have gotten "turned around." He suggests to Margaret that she find a husband. She asks if she's being let go and he asks her if she knows where Mr. Bennett kept the key to the file cabinet in his office. She says she doesn't know and he tells her to have a locksmith open it. Disoriented, he asks her if he'd already asked her how she's feeling. She reminds him that he did.
The singing prisoner asks Chalky what he did to get put away and Chalky says he got caught. Chalky tries to tie his boot again and the lace snaps. This seems like the final insult for him as he comes face to face with a guard. When another inmate snaps and hits a guard with his pick ax, Chalky grabs his guard's shotgun and shoots the man with it. Chalky grabs the guard's keys and starts running, but the singing prisoner tackles him and holds a revolver in Chalky's face while pinning him to the ground. The man asks Chalky if he's ever used a telephone and then asks how they get a human voice to fit inside that box. "Electricity," Chalky says. The man proposes they get a house and Chalky can handle the phones and such. They take off, Chalky's boot left behind.
Nucky, Sally and Sen. Lloyd chat with the head of Bacardi rum about the prospects of Prohibition being lifted in the U.S. Nucky says he wants to sell Bacardi, "the day repeal passes."
Everyone leaves for the day while Margaret sits alone in the office, staring at Mr. Bennett's door. We next see her thumbing through the files in the file cabinet and she pulls the "A. Redstone" file — the one regarding Arnold Rothstein. Someone opens the door and she's startled, blurting out, "I found the key."
Lucky and Masseria sit at a table and they talk about Manzarano trying to get Lucky to work for him. Masseria keeps insisting, "One man, one boss," and Lucky says he'll take care of Maranzano — intentionally refusing to get specific about how by telling Masseria that what he doesn't know he can't get nailed for. Lucky seems annoyed with the constantly ringing phone and gets up to use the restroom. As he steps inside, two men walk in and Lucky listens as they talk to Masseria for a moment before a hail of gunfire erupts. Lucky walks out of the restroom asking them what took so long, and they say there was traffic. Masseria's bullet-riddled body lays in a pool of blood and Lucky says, "The fight is over."
Back in 1884, young Nucky goes to The Corner Hotel and spots Pat sitting on the porch talking to The Commodore. Nucky overhears The Commodore talking to Pat about his dream of a rail line straight into Atlantic City. A guard pulls Nucky away, but Nucky insists he hadn't been warned before. Nucky unveils the hat and hands it to Pat, who immediately looks for the $50 bill. He tries to hand it to Nucky, who says "it's too much." The Commodore takes the bill and asks Nucky if he knew it was there. Nucky nods and is then asked, "Then why didn't you take it?"
"To get myself ahead," Nucky replies.
The Commodore doesn't respond, but tells the guard, "No boys on the porch," and Nucky is pulled away.
Back at the hotel, the senator asks Nucky if they can talk for a moment. Sally leaves them so they can go buy cigarettes, and Sen. Lloyd tells Nucky he's not his "whipping boy," and that he won't make guarantees about legislation. Nucky ignores the senator's rant while doing business with a young boy who is selling him lottery tickets. Suddenly, a man attacks Nucky from behind with a machete and chases him around for a moment, swinging wildly. He catches up to Nucky and is about to swing the blade down when Nucky's mysterious body guard (who has been nearby the whole time and whose presence has been noted more than once) grabs the man's arm, takes the machete and thrust it down into the would-be attacker's skull. Then, in an odd bit of ceremony, the guard pulls a switchblade and cuts off the dead man's ear, putting in a handkerchief before pocketing it and walking away.
Back in the Bronx, Maranzano stands and tells the crowded room that everyone in it is going to get rich. They all applaud. Maranzano introduces a new friend, to whom they owe much. He calls the new friend forward, and Lucky Luciano emerges and steps to the front of the room. Maranzano calls him, "The hero." Lucky kneels to one knee and says, "Don Salvatore." He's handed a knife, slices his palm with it and declares, "To us, and only us." Then, one by one, the men at the roundtable take the knife, slice their hands and shake Lucky's.
Nucky wants to know how much it will cost to keep his attempted assassination quiet. A police officer tells him $200.
Back in 1884, Nucky is again left empty handed when another boy pushes him away from the chance to help an arriving guest at The Corner Hotel. When the other boy gets tipped, Nucky attacks and starts punching the kid while pinning him on the ground. The guard pulls the boys apart and the other kid runs away while Nucky is hauled up the steps to face The Commodore. He's asked whose boy he is and when Nucky says, "Ethan Thompson," it's clear The Commodore knows him. The Commodore asks Nucky if he thought he was being clever before, assuming he would get something for being honest. "What have you got?" he asks, rhetorically.
Suddenly, The Commodore tells Nucky, "Everything goes through me, you understand?" The Commodore tells Nucky to sweep the porch and slips a dollar into Nucky's shirt pocket. Nucky gets to work.
Nucky and Sally chat about the bodyguard and the ear. Nucky also mentions that the Bacardi boss doesn't need to know about the assassination attempt and that everyone should think the senator is still on board. Sally reminds Nucky that he's not the only one who pays off the Army. Nucky then mentions, "Be honest and true, boys," — the poem that's been running in his head. Nucky tells Sally he's leaving in the morning and he says he doesn't want her to be alone. She tells him she's not alone. Nucky sends her away with the bodyguard at her side. After they leave, Nucky spots Lansky's wife — but comes to discover she's a prostitute with a blonde wig.
We close on a montage of young Nucky giving the dollar coin to his mother, who puts it away. He then watches his father crying at his sister's side, before the man closes the door. Then Nucky sits alone in his room and reads the rest of "Be Honest and True" and blowing out his bedside candle.
This episode provides examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Nucky's 1884!father beats him when he finds out that he failed to get any money from the coin toss.
- Anyone Can Die: Joe Masseria.
- Asshole Victim: Masseria is gunned down by Bugsy Siegel and Tonino Sandrelli.
- The racist prison guards that Chalky and the other prisoners kill.
- Black Comedy: The suicide of Margaret's boss could be seen as this."Oh no no no! Everything's gonna be fine..." *BLAM*
- Boom, Headshot!: Margaret's boss.
- Character Development: Lucky is more calm and calculating compared to the Hot-Blooded thug he used to be.
- Creepy Souvenir: Nucky's new bodyguard takes the ears of the people he kills.
- Driven to Suicide: Margaret's boss.
- Expy: Nucky's new bodyguard seems to be one of both Owen Sleater and Richard Harrow.
- How the Mighty Have Fallen: Chalky has become a prisoner during the Time Skip.
- Littlest Tuberculosis Patient: 1884!Nucky's little sister.
- Sanity Slippage: Masseria is noticeably more tense and paranoid than before.
- Time-Shifted Actor: Nolan Lyons plays the child Nucky in 1884.
- John Ellison Conlee plays the younger Commodore in 1884.
- Time Skip: Season 4 took place in 1924, this season and this episode takes place in 1931.
- We Used to Be Friends: Lucky and Lansky have apparently now drifted apart. Turns out to be a ruse as they're part of a Big Bad Duumvirate looking to take Nucky down.