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Recap / Boardwalk Empire S 5 E 07 Friendless Child

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Robert Hodge, U.S. attorney for the southern district, speaks to listeners on the radio about being "at war against and army of hoodlums who have made our streets unsafe for decent people."

Nucky is none too please that the war with Lucky Luciano is raging. They're both losing men and $1 million in revenue is gone. Maranzano urges patience, but Nucky is mad as hell. Maranzano mentions Al Capone, suggesting they could use his help, but Nucky says Capone has cut him loose. Maranzano pounds the table to get Nucky to stop shouting for a moment, promising to send more men to guard Nucky's trucks. Joe, the young man working for Nucky, tells Maranzano his cars are ready and the windshields are clean. he declines a tip and Maranzano pinches his cheeks. Mickey Doyle sees this and asks Joe if he's the same kid who was telling him he was hungry before. Joe says he's doing alright now. Mickey hands Joe a gun but Nucky takes it away and tells him he's not part of this. Nucky sends Mickey and a couple of men to New York.


Back in 1897, Nucky takes things — including a book — from Gillian after having caught her shoplifting. He tells her he could put her in jail or help her, because she looks like she might need help. He asks where her parents are and she doesn't answer. She gives him an address in Trenton, but doesn't clarify whether that's the home of a parent or an orphanage.

In the U.S. attorney's office, Willie gets a task of pulling prostitution cases by Mr. Hodge. The co-worker who told him about the request suggests to Willie that he might be getting bad assignments because he can't be trusted. Willie gets a phone call and seems distressed.

In 1897, Nucky has Gillian eat dinner at his house while he talks to Mabel about wanting to help her. He says all he can do is take Gillian back to the orphanage in the morning.


Benny Siegel leaves after sleeping with his mistress in her apartment. She checks the stairwell before sending him on his way. As he comes down, he runs into an old friend Morris, who is impressed by seeing him. Morris asks Benny for an autograph for his wife, Talia. She steps out into the hallway and Morris excitedly introduces her to Benny, but the pleasantries end quickly when two men come into the building and start shooting. Benny uses Morris as a shield before shooting back, then runs up the stairs. He runs through Talia's apartment and nearly gets out to the window, but is pulled back in by Nucky's man. After a brief struggle, Siegel shoots the man in the head with is own gun, but before he can get too far, Archie, Nucky's Cuban bodyguard, grabs Siegel from behind, holds his ear and forces him to walk with him. Archie leads Siegel back down the stairs, with Siegel noting that Archie must have been the one who cut off Tonino's ear. They walk by Morris, who is crying in pain on the stairwell after being shot.


Back in 1897, Mabel presents Gillian in a new dress and with her hair fixed. Gillian tells Nucky she wishes to make amends for the things she stole by working around town — at Mabel's suggestion. Mabel pulls Nucky aside and tells him he can't leave Gillian in the orphanage. Nucky says she can't stay with them. Mabel insists she can find Gillian something.

Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky are meeting with Jonny Torio when they get a call from Benny Siegel. He tells them he's been kidnapped, but Luciano hangs up on him. Nucky calls back and tells Lucky not to hang up on him. Benny, after getting clubbed in the knee by Archie, has the phone put up to his ear and Luciano reminds him that he told him to be careful. Nucky asks Lucky for a meeting, but Lucky says he'll meet Nucky at his funeral. Nucky threatens to kill Siegel first and Lucky calls it an interesting proposition. Nucky's phone rings again and it's Margaret. Nucky nods to Archie to quiet Siegel down, and he knocks him out with a backhand. Margaret tells Nucky he's shorted 50,000 shares of the Mayflower Grain Corporation, and Nucky tells her to short another 50,000 in the morning.

Willie leaves his office and finds Eli standing outside. He refuses to shake his father's hand. Eli tells Willie that he screwed up and got in over his head. Willie stops him and says he's "can't hear it." Willie gives Eli an address and a key and tells him to get what he needs, then they'll sort out whatever Eli needs. Eli tells Willie that he told himself if he came out there and Willie was doing well, it was worth it. And he is. Eli walks away and Willie calls out after him. Suddenly, Willie is grabbed by a pair of men who stuff him into a car and drive away.

Gillian reads from her Nellie Bly, then stops and asks Nucky not to take her back to the orphanage. Gillian says she can help Mabel "when her time comes." She says Mabel is scared of something, but doesn't explain. She gets emotional, begging Nucky not to send her back to the orphanage. There's a knock on the door and Nucky gets up to answer it. Sheriff Lindsay walks in and asks Nucky to come with him, telling him not to worry about the uniform. Nucky leaves with him.

Benny Siegel is singing obscene songs loudly while bound to a chair in the upstairs office of The Rumpus Room. Mickey Doyle wants to split his head open, but Nucky sends some men to put a gag on him. Eli bursts into the place, raising quite a ruckus, but Nucky lets him in, saying he'd better have a good reason "for being anywhere near" him.

Willie's head is revealed from under the hood that was placed on him. He's looking at Lucky Luciano and Meyer Lansky. He knows them both well. Willie tells them that regardless of what happens to him, they're both going to jail because Hodge has staked his career on it. They say this is more personal, and whatever Nucky does with Benny Siegel is a reflection on him. "Pink," one of their men, pulls Willie's necktie tight around his neck, strangling him for a moment. Nucky calls and Lucky is happy to have gotten his attention. Lucky wants to meet in person.

Back in 1897, Lindsay shares with Nucky the story of how he came to work for The Commodore, having done one job and then another while The Commodore has built himself quite a life. He hands Nucky his badge and tells him to go serve The Commodore, saying, "I believe I'm done." He leaves and Nucky turns and walks into The Commodore's mansion. He seemed a bit spooked by the artwork and he's greeted coldly by Leander Whitlock. Whitlock tells Nucky "this is a private concern" and clarifies that discretion is a primary concern. The Commodore is surprised to see Nucky, but tells him that Leander will instruct him. Leander gives Nucky a speech about how The Commodore tries to help poor children — sometimes in public and sometimes not. He adds that "not all children prove suitable." He opens the door and a scared little girl stands alone inside, crossing her arms. Leander hands Nucky an address and tells him to bring the girl to that address and tell the mother than "no further compensation will be forthcoming and no further inquiry will be brooked." He asks Nucky if he's capable of this and, saying nothing, Nucky walks into the room looking uncomfortable.

Nucky and a massive group of men stand in a field, staring at a group of cars facing them, presumably with Lucky Luciano and his men inside. Mickey asks Nucky if he can have the club, clear title, and 5 percent of everything else. Nucky says yes. Finally, a couple dozen men get out of the cars facing Nucky, all bearing shotguns. Nucky reveals Benny Siegel and Lucky reveals Willie. Nucky calls for "guns down" and demands that the exchange be made. Benny walks toward Lucky and Meyer while Willie walks toward Nucky and Eli. Suddenly, Benny punches Willie and pulls him back toward Lucky and Meyer. Nucky has to hold Eli back and promises he'll "fix it."

Lucky tells Nucky he wants everything — all the way down to the club in Atlantic City. Mickey Doyle steps up, despite Nucky's objection, and reminds Lucky that he's been running the club for seven years. Lucky gets impatient and shoots Mickey in the throat. More gunfire follows, with Archie apparently taking a bullet, as well. Nucky calls off the shooting and tells Lucky "everything's yours," insisting that he hand Willie over.

"What's everything?" Lucky asks.

"All I have," Nucky said. "All I've ever had. Atlantic City."

Lucky asks Lansky what he thinks, and Lansky says he's like to see Nucky on his knees. Lucky asks Nucky to "make my friend happy." Nucky goes onto his knees. Lansky tells him now he knows how it feels. Nucky tells Lucky that he underestimated him and that he's smarter than he thought. Lucky asks Nucky what that makes him, and Nucky admits, "Dumber than I knew." Lucky suggests those are "good words for the head stone."

Lucky raises his gun to shoot Nucky, who says that won't solve his problem with Maranzano. Nucky asks for 24 hours and he'll take care of it. He'll take the risk, he says, asking again for Lucky to let Willie go. They put Willie back in a car and drive away, just after Lucky says, "You deliver, and we'll deliver."

"What'd you just do?" Eli asks Nucky, who admits, "I don't know."

Mickey D'Angelo and a federal colleague lay out their case of income tax evasion on Al Capone. They're telling a judge they're ready to move on Capone. He grants them their warrant.

A pack of men with briefcases storm into Maranzano's office, claiming to be federal agents. Before anyone can react, they've killed a couple of his men and several of them are in Maranzano's office, taking turns stabbing him as he tries to escape. Finally, he winds up on his back on the floor and looks up to see Eli shoot him in the head.

We next see Willie pushes out of a car in front of his own office building at night. He goes inside, bloody and disheveled, and his co-worker in the U.S. attorney's office tells him about Maranzano's murder that afternoon.

Lucky and Lansky report back news of Maranzano's murder to Torio, who seems pleased. Lansky brings up Atlantic City and Lucky suggests they give it to Pink. Torio says they need to set the big meeting, "from Pittsburgh to Podunk." He talks about laying down ground rules for everyone. Lucky and Lansky look at each other, then tell Lansky tells Torio they're going to handle things and they appreciate his advice. Benny Siegel walks in with a bunch of women and Lucky and Lansky get up join him in the festivities, with Lansky telling Lucky, "It's going to be a good year, Charlie." Torio stands back and watches the party from afar.

Joe comes to Nucky's room and cleans up the empty bottles of booze. Nucky tells Joe that Mickey and Archie "aren't coming back." Joe asks what it's like when you see someone killed and Nucky says, "You tell yourself it's quick, but you don't know. You can't know until it's you, and then you'll never tell anyone."

Joe asks if the club is staying open and Nucky tells him to "ask the new boss." Joe says there are things he can do for him, and Nucky says, "Sure, you can sweep the sand" — referring to his first job for The Commodore. Nucky hands Joe $1,000 and tells him to go get a job and do whatever he wants. Nucky gets annoyed and angrily tells Joe to do them both a favor and get away from him.

Back in 1897, Nucky gets home late after his assignment for The Commodore and finds Mabel rolling out dough in the kitchen. He apologizes for being late, but Mabel turns and asks Nucky what he said to Gillian. She says Gillian ran off. Nucky insists he tried to help Gillian, but Mabel gets upset and locks herself in the bedroom after Nucky tells her she can't fix everything.

Again in 1931, Nucky opens a letter from Gillian in which she talks about having done whatever she had to in order to survive. She describes feeling like she's in hell, asking him to show him the kindness now that he once showed an orphan he found under the boardwalk. Finally, he sees her young face from 1897 on the boardwalk, saying, "Please help me."

This episode provides examples of:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Nucky goes on his knees and surrenders everything to Lucky and Lansky in order to save Willie.
  • Alternate History: Salvatore Maranzano was stabbed and shot by Bugsy Siegel and 3 other hit-men in real life. Here, he is attacked by Nucky's men and is finished off by Eli.
  • Anyone Can Die: Mickey Doyle is finally killed.
  • Boom, Headshot!: How Maranzano is finished off.
  • Death by Irony: Arquimedes constantly suffered from miscommunication, he is killed because he misunderstood Nucky's orders.
  • Downer Ending: Nucky surrenders everything to Lucky and Lansky, Mickey Doyle and Arquimedes die and 1897 Nucky is corrupted into aiding child prostitution.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Sheriff Lindsay abandons The Commodore when he asks him to cover up his pedophilia.
  • Ironic Echo: Lansky forces Nucky to go down on his knees and beg for his life, the same way Nucky made him beg in "The Emerald City" and "White Horse Pike".
    Lansky: Now you know how it feels.
  • Karmic Death: Mickey Doyle was constantly berated for talking too much. In the end, he is shot in the throat, because he couldn't keep his mouth shut.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: Mickey Doyle.
  • Nothing Personal: Subverted. While Lucky and Lansky claim that the Mob War on Nucky is strictly business, it's clear that they don't care about Atlantic City and are just doing so as revenge for past slights: Lucky for several betrayals ("Name someone you haven't fucked over.") and humiliation/threat of death for Lansky ("Now you know how it feels.")
  • Race Against the Clock: Lucky gives Nucky 24 hours to kill Maranzano or Willie dies.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Lucky and Lansky get all of Nucky's property and manage to win the war against Maranzano.

How well does it match the trope?

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