"Boardwalk Empire" Ourselves Alone (TV Episode 2011) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Concerned about losing his grip on Atlantic City, Nucky deliberates a counter-move while trying to learn who in his inner circle betrayed him. As agents scour the Treasurer's office for incriminating evidence, Margaret strikes a pose from the past to help Nucky avoid further trouble in the present. In New York, Arnold Rothstein puts Jimmy on hold, but Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano loom as possible trading partners. Chalky is badgered in prison by Dunn Purnsley, a fellow inmate with an ax to grind; Owen Sleater, an advance man for Irish nationalist John McGarrigle, scouts the Thompson residence; the Commodore introduces Eli to "the men who made this city."

  • After Nucky is released, he finds that most of his organization have deserted him for the Commodore, Margaret keeps her head, and the IRA asks Nucky for a donation.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Margaret's maids are talking among themselves, trying to keep the morning's newspaper from Margaret. They eventually give it up. The headline announces Nucky's arrest. She asks for the weather "prediction," smiling a bit as she calls out the kids' outfits for the day. They're expecting guests that night, and Margaret tells the maids to clean the rug before the guests arrive.

    Margaret calls Eddie, who says the reports aren't accurate and Nucky is being bailed out. Eddie then hangs up in all the chaos of the feds searching Nucky's office. Margaret asks one of the maids what sort of coat she has.

    Nucky and Chalky are sharing a jail cell. Nucky's trying to explain why he had Chalky arrested, and thinks he was also targeted as a result. Nucky asks Chalky what he was doing on election night. He asks about the guys in charge of the other wards. Chalky points out Neary. Nucky gets up to see his attorney and reminds Chalky to "be patient."

    In New York City, Jimmy is meeting with Arnold Rothstein and Lucky Luciano, with whom Jimmy has a shared history. Jimmy tells Rothstein that "things are changing in Atlantic City." He wants Rothstein's liquor-buying business. Rothstein wants to know just who Jimmy is, and Jimmy says he's a "businessman, a veteran, just got married." Jimmy asks Rothstein if he has kids and Rothstein responds, "No, but I'm told they often say unexpected and amusing things." He thanks Jimmy for coming and applauds his "audacity," and assures Jimmy that his offer remains in the room. Jimmy asks what that means, and Lucky escorts Jimmy out. Rothstein then brings up Nucky's arrest. Jimmy seems surprised and says, "Things seem to be changing faster than I realized."

    On his way out, Lucky invites Jimmy to a poker game. Jimmy thinks it's a set-up, but Lucky says they should talk.

    Nucky's attorney says it's Governor Edwards and the new state's attorney, Solomon Bishop, who have their sights set on Nucky. The lawyers tells Nucky that his "ship is leaking." He lays out what the allegations are around Nucky's voter fraud. Eddie tells Nucky he couldn't stop the state police officers from touching his things in ways he did not consider appropriate.

    Margaret, wearing one of her maids' well-worn coat, shows up at Nucky's office, where Solomon Bishop is camped out with other cops, and pretends she's there to see Nucky. She feigns shock when told Nucky's been arrested. She says she "was told" that she could come there for Nucky's help. She says she walked a long way. Bishop allows an assistant to let her use the facilities.

    Nucky leaves the jail and starts to tell jokes to the waiting press. He then goes into a speech about misuse of taxpayer funds. He's asked if there's an honest man in Atlantic City, and he dodges it.

    A freshly hair-dyed (including his mustache) Commodore walks in on a conversation where someone is telling Eli that this is "a young man's game." He tells the guy to pick up a tusk that's lying on a table. The man struggles, but picks it up. The Commodore takes it and lifts it over his head, saying he's made his point. The Commodore explains to everyone in the room, including most of Nucky's former associated, that Nucky's going to be jailed based on the eyewitness testimony of Jim Neary and Patrick Ryan. Eli explains that they'll also be taking over the booze operations, and the Commodore says his ties to the Coast Guard will ensure that what he ships comes in and what Nucky ship doesn't. He then says Jimmy will be running it.

    Margaret leaves the Ritz.

    Chalky's wife comes to visit he tells her it might be a few days before he's out. He's "waiting the advice of counsel." She hands him a copy of "David Cooperfield," sent by his son, Lester. She leaves, but first tells Chalky, who she calls Albert, that he has a family waiting that loves him. Another inmate in a cell across the corridor tells Chalky his wife is hot, but that he meant no offense. The man, a very nattily-dressed African-American, says he's up from Baltimore and wound up in jail after having $40 in one pocket, a corn knife in the other, and using them both on Saturday night. The man sees the book in Chalky's hands and asks Chalky to read from it (when asked what it was, Chalky said "Tom Sawyer"). The man then mocks Chalky about his name when told by another inmate what it is. Just then, a white man is brought down to the cells and Chalky has to be moved across the corridor, into the cell with the man who's been hassling him.

    Nucky goes to an alternate office and tells his secretary there that he wants Eli and all the aldermen to report there immediately. He also asks for a florist.

    Margaret is preparing for the guests and a large bouquet of roses has arrived. A man knocks on the door and it's the assistant to John McGarrigle, the guest who's expected that night. He's there to do a security check in advance of his boss' visit.

    Chalky has another tense chat with the man from Baltimore, Dunn Purnsley, who tries to get in Chalky's head by suggesting things he'd do to Chalky's wife. Chalky wittily fires back a retort that puts Dunn in his place, for now.

    Ed Bader shows up at Nucky's 90 minutes after he's called. Bader says he's been hiding in his garage. Nucky asks Bader if he was approached about turning against him, especially by the Commodore. Bader asks, "How bad is this?" Nucky assures him he's "going to beat this ... and when I do I'll remember who showed up here today, and who didn't. Depend on that!" Nucky's secretary gives him the all-clear from Eddie to go back to his regular office.

    Neary, Ryan and the other men who were meeting with the Commodore are a bit nervous about the way things are going with the Commodore, but Neary tries to assure them all that the Commodore has it all under control.

    Jimmy meets with Lucky and Meyer Lansky (and another, hanger-on type identified only as "Benny" and who exhibits very odd behavior), who say that they have "other enterprises" beyond Rothstein's interests. Lucky says he would've said yes to Jimmy's offer, but Jimmy says he needs Rothstein, "not the guy who carries his water." Jimmy and Lucky have a near-fight after Lucky makes a reference to Jimmy's mother. Lansky and Lucky tell Jimmy they're looking to become trading partners. They'll buy Jimmy's liquor if he buys their heroin.

    Slater, McGarrigle's assistant, says the kitchen appears to be sufficiently safe, then helps Margaret with one of the rugs that needs straightening. They chat a bit.

    Nucky gets to his office to find Eddie trying to clean up the mess. Nucky checks his shoe closet, the hiding place for his records. He looks concerned. Damian Fleming comes to visit and starts spilling the Commodore's plans. Nucky says nothing and answers his ringing phone. It's Eli, asking Nucky how it feels to be all alone. Nucky offers Eli a chance to get out of this arrangement now. He warns that "in a minute, it's going to be too late." Eli pauses and tells Nucky that "nobody takes power, somebody else has to give it to them." He tells Nucky to look around and asks him, "What do you got?" Eli hangs up. Nucky leaves for his dinner party.

    Eli hands up the phone, and the Commodore is standing right behind him. Eli says nothing as the Commodore tells him "it feels good to twist the knife." The Commodore takes Eli into another room to introduce him to the men who built the city. Led by Leander Cephas Whitlock (Dominic Chianese), they toast Sheriff Eli Thompson.

    Jimmy's playing poker at Lansky's office. There's an argument going on in the other room and those men, representatives of rival gangster "Joe the Boss" Masseria, leave, not particularly happy.

    In jail, Chalky is still flipping through pages of "David Copperfield" when Dunn asks what "Tom" is up to. Dunn points out a word and asks Chalky what it says. Chalky says it says, "Get your finger out of my face." Dunn gets right in Chalky's face he doesn't like the way Chalky tells the world he's "better than Dunn Purnsley." Dunn rips the book out of Chalky's hands, leaving only one torn page in Chalky's hand. Chalky slowly and deliberately calls out the names of the three other men in the cell, each of whom step forward and thank Chalky for something he's done for them recently. They're all surrounding Dunn, who tries to swing and is quickly and badly beaten by the three men -- all while Chalky sits perfectly still.

    "Purnsley be done," Chalky says, making a play on the beaten man's name.

    One of the men hands Chalky the book. Chalky asks, "Which one of you boys knows letters?" After one of them steps forward, Chalky hands him the book and the man starts reading "David Copperfield" aloud.

    At dinner, Mr. McGarrigle refuses to eat lamb and Margaret apologizes. McGarrigle goes on to explain his cause, to drive the English from Ireland, the land they have occupied for 800 years. When Margaret suggests that's an "extreme" position, McGarrigle says it's only extreme to someone who's forgotten from whence they came. Margaret says she knows where she's from and where she is now. He says she's plain spoken, especially for a woman. Nucky shows up late and says he'd like to eat before getting to business. Margaret quips, "There is certainly plenty of lamb."

    Jimmy collects his winnings and leaves his meeting with Lansky and Luciano, pausing in the foyer to light a cigarette and slip the knuckle-duster knife from his ankle to his waistband. He exits the building and is walking through an ornate garden smoking when he's ambushed by the men who had left Lansky's office angry. They want his money.

    One holds him at gunpoint as the other approaches from behind to take his money which he says is in his shoe. As they move closer, Jimmy moves swiftly with his blade, deeply slashing the throat of the one gunman while kicking the other away. He then stabs the second man in the back of the neck before walking away, leaving the two would-be robbers exsanguinating where they fell.

    McGarrigle asks Nucky for money to fight the British occupiers of Ireland. Nucky asks what he'd consider sufficient, and McGarrigle asks what he has. Nucky gets up to write a check and asks McGarrigle to remember who his best friend is town is. McGarrigle says his assistant, Slater, is staying in the States. Suddenly, McGarrigle is in the mood for a second glass of port, which he'd turned down earlier. One of Margaret's maids is particularly giddy as she watches Slater leave.

    After McGarrigle leaves, Margaret finds Nucky, who says they need to talk. He admits the state has a case. Nucky explains that all the ward bosses are against him, with the Commodore pulling the strings, and Jimmy is certainly with them. He adds that "Eli is betraying me." Nucky says the investigators "turned the suite upside down," and he says his ledger book and cash are missing. Margaret asks how much and Nucky says "$20,000, give or take." She walks away and opens a drawer. She brings him his ledger and the purse full of cash. She tells him to think clearly and not get overtaken with emotion.

    She tells him the ledger book "must be burned, and future dealings committed to memory." After the greatly relieved Nucky agrees, she tosses it in the fireplace. He tells her he sent the flowers for Valentine's Day, even though he didn't sign the card. She says she knew who they were from, then invites him to come to sleep "in our bed."

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