Knowing that a married woman is more likely than a bachelorette to win a child custody case, Julia Sagorsky (Wrenn Schmidt) proposes to Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) in “Marriage and Hunting,” Episode 45 of HBO’s “Boardwalk Empire.”
Julia and Richard are a friendly, if not loving, couple as they wait outside the city clerk’s office, where marriage and hunting licenses are obtained.
“Are you sure about this?” Julia asks.
“It’s just a hunting license, isn’t it?” Richard jokes.
By tying the knot, Julia hopes to retain custody of Tommy, the grandson of former cathouse madam Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol). But because Gillian is a blood relative, she apparently holds the upper hand in court.
Gillian, meanwhile, reveals part of her troubled past to lover Roy Phillips (Ron Livingston), a wealthy supermarket executive. This includes being raped at age 12 by an Atlantic City powerbroker, then giving birth to son Jimmy nine months later.
“We lived for each other – a child and a child,” Gillian reminisces.
Gillian doesn’t mention her incestuous relationship with Jimmy, however. And she lies about his cause of death, saying it was a drug overdose when Jimmy was actually shot in the head by gangster Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi).
As for Nucky, he tries to avoid entanglement in a deadly struggle between Onyx Club operator Chalky White (Michael Kenneth Williams) and Harlem drug kingpin Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright).
Chalky wants Narcisse killed. Nucky wants less drama and more cash flow at the club.
“Let me talk to him, feel him out, before you do anything,” Nucky urges Chalky.
Any chance of a peaceful resolution explodes, however, when Narcisse pummels jazz singer Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham) for saving Chalky in an assassination attempt.
“Mr. White is alive and you have crushed me,” Narcisse says, tears rolling down his cheeks. Then he proceeds to crush Daughter.
Despite her brutal injuries, the sexy chanteuse pleads with Chalky to back away from Narcisse.
“Don’t kill him. Promise me you won’t,” Daughter begs. “I can’t lose you, too.”
In another plot development, Nucky is approached by mobster and gambling addict Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg), whose “bankroll is waning at present.”
Arnold owns a $500,000 life insurance policy on annoying bootlegger Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks), who’s worth far more dead than alive. And for 20 cents on the dollar, Arnold sells the policy to Nucky.
“It’s probably the best investment I’ll ever make,” Nucky says, pointing out that lots of people would kill Mickey for free.
Finally, Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon) can’t take any more nagging from his demanding wife, Sigrid (Christiane Seidel). And he can’t take any more bullying from rival gangsters Al Capone (Stephen Graham) and Dean O’Banion (Arron Shiver).
“How’s about the truth,” demands O’Banion, suspecting one of his men was gunned down by Nelson.
“I didn’t kill Stu,” Nelson declares. “Al Capone did.”
Tired of living a lie, Nelson goes on to admit that he’s an outlaw Prohibition agent and a murderer.
“I used to believe in God,” Nelson adds, “but now I don’t believe in anything at all.”
Nelson also stands up to Capone after being slapped in the face.
“Hit me again, you’ll regret it,” warns Nelson, who says he’ll accept $1,000 “for going to work tomorrow and blowing O’Banion’s head off.”
Nelson doesn’t need to pull the trigger, however, because three hoods whack O’Banion at his flower shop. Then cash-strapped Nelson robs the till before going home to flaunt his stolen money and restored machismo.
“Who’s holding a thousand dollars in his hand?” Nelson asks sexually excited Sigrid.
“Take off your nightgown,” he commands.
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