"Boardwalk Empire" Gimcrack and Bunkum (TV Episode 2011) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • After paying lip service to his enemies, Nucky introduces a surprise guest speaker at a Memorial Day dedication for war veterans. With his options dwindling, Eli questions his allegiances, but ends up digging himself a deeper hole. Nucky gets a new lawyer; Jimmy is taught a painful lesson by a Commodore crony; Richard goes hunting deep in the forest.

  • With the Commodore's stroke, the conspirators against Nucky realize their error and begin to make bad decisions.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Nucky gives a grandiose Memorial Day speech, where he references the Commodore's absence, saying, "I know he would not miss this occasion were it not for pressing business elsewhere. He truly is this city's doting father." He also acknowledges the presence of Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald), the United States Attorney General under Warren G. Harding, attending on behalf of the President.

    In his remarks Nucky says "Atlantic City was built to help people forget... But this day, Memorial Day, is for remembering...."

    In a surprise, Nucky introduces Jimmy as the one who will read the names of the fallen soldiers from Atlantic City, saying he "can speak more directly to the ideal of sacrifice, service and loyalty more than I ever could." Jimmy obliges, to a round of applause as he heads up to the stage. Jimmy gets to the podium and asks Nucky, "Think I can't play this game?" Nucky replies, "I don't think you even know the rules."

    Jimmy pauses, nervously, announces that he's "no one's idea of a hero, least of all mine." He says that when people ask him what he did over there, he tells them he "made it back." He says they "fought for the idea that democracy was worth saving." He adds, "We fought for America. I believe it was worth it." Another round of applause. He holds up the list of names, which he says holds "the names of brave men." He reads them slowly and precisely.

    Later, Richard looks through his scrap book of idyllic images of love and family. It now includes the sketch of him without his prosthetic half-mask that Angela did, places across from a portrait of himself before he sustained his injuries. He packs himself a lunch, throws his cased shotgun over his shoulder and leaves.

    Later, Nucky and Daugherty are getting ready to play golf and Nucky says Jimmy is "a patsy" who only enlisted because he couldn't hack it at Princeton. Daugherty wants to avoid "legal" talk for a while and just play some golf first. He tells Nucky he's "gone out of his way" on Nucky's case and says he has a prosecutor named he can work with.

    Jimmy sits down for a meeting with some of the old-timers who are funding the city and the Commodore's business. The meeting is in a parlor strewn with Native American memorabilia. It starts fine as the men applaud Jimmy for his speech and say they want the city to know how proud they are of the men who fought for America. Mr. Parkhurst (Richard Easton), a man in a wheelchair, claims he's the only one of them who "wore the blue." All the others have heard it all before and Parkhurst basks in his moment, claiming he was one of "32 white men against 2,000 Sioux." He brags about how they "cut those painted bucks to red ribbon." Jimmy says it was a slaughter. Parkhurst then brags more about how he made a cool million dollars "selling chipped beef to the Army" during the last war. Jimmy recalls it and says that was the stuff he ate every day in the army for five months and he would rather eat dog turds. Parkhurst says, "They paid me, anyway, as you can see," motioning to all the riches around him in his parlor. Jimmy snidely says, "And you're a great man."

    The conversation turns to money and the men tell Jimmy they're not happy. Eli tries to jump in but the men are furious about the distillery explosion and how they've yet to see any return on their investment. The meeting ends abruptly when Jimmy makes a crack about the guys kicking him out of their "yacht club," and Parkhurst smacks him on the forehead with the handle of his cane, drawing blood. The man tells Jimmy it's time for him and all the people of his generation to learn something about respect. Jimmy says, "You just taught me plenty," and walks out. Eli chases him down, but Jimmy tells him he's "done" with those people. He also tells Eli to stay out of his business.

    Richard is dropped off in the middle of the woods by a truck he's hitched a ride on. He stops and looks fondly at a wild turkey.

    Gillian tells Jimmy he has to make clear to the old men that he will not be disrespected. She asks him if he understands what needs to be done and he responds affirmatively.

    Back in the woods with Richard, he peacefully cuts and apple and removes his mask. He lays back and looks up at the sky, then puts the end of his shotgun into his mouth. He reaches for the trigger and just as he's about to pull it a dog comes up and runs off with his prosthesis. Richard gets up and chases the dog through the woods.

    Nucky gets home to find that Eli is there. He's not pleased. Eli takes in Nucky's home, noting the differences in how their lives have turned out financially. Eli asks Nucky about the offer he made the last time they talked. Nucky says it's gone. Eli offers up information about who's going to testify against him and Nucky says it doesn't matter because he just played golf with the Attorney General of the Unites States.

    Nucky calls Eli a "frightened little boy with no place else to go..." But he gives Eli one more chance. "Give me something else and I'll know you're my brother..."

    Eli tells Nucky about the Commodore's stroke and that "the kid and his mother" can't handle what they've gotten themselves into. Eli offers himself back to his brother: "I made a mistake, Nuck... I admit it... Here I am..." Eli starts to sob. Nucky says "we'll sort it out."

    Eli is relieved. "But there is something I have to ask of you..." Nucky says, and tells Eli to get on his knees and kiss his shoes. He says Eli has only come crying back to him because he doesn't have the guts to finish what he started. He proceeds to slap Eli in the face a few times before it turns into an all-out brawl between the siblings. Twice Eli tries to unholster his service revolver from his Sam Brown belt.

    Eli is in the process of choking Nucky to death when a shotgun muzzle touches Eli's cheek. Margaret is holding the other end and breaks it all up. She tells Eli to get out of the house. Margaret keeps the gun pointed at him until he walks out. After Eli is gone, Nucky tells her to make sure the gun is loaded if she's going to point it at someone in the future, as he opens the double-barrel's action and shows her the empty chambers.

    Richard sits, catching his breath in the woods when another man with a gun, Glenmore, tells him he shouldn't be hiding. The man walks Richard back to a little campsite where another man, Pete, sits with the dog that took Richard's mask. Pete hands the mask back. Glenmore asks Richard if he's a revenue agent, then hands him a flask when he answers No." Richard takes a swig of the strong stuff, which the man made himself. Glenmore and Pete are serving "tree rats" (squirrel) for dinner.

    Nucky arrives for his dinner with Doughtery and "Chip" Thorogood. The men in the room explain to Nucky how the motions will go to get his case moved up to federal court and then ultimately dropped. Nucky asks for a guarantee but Daugherty says he's not going to get one. One of the men has to leave for an early train, but Daugherty cheerfully tells Nucky he and Thorogood are free all night.

    Back in the woods, the men finish up their squirrel. Richard asks where to put the squirrel bones and Glenmore tells him not to give them to the dog because he'll choke. Richard puts them in his jacket pocket and the men look at each other. The men make plans to wrap up the night and Richard says he's going to head back into the city.

    Glenmore offers him a ride. Before they leave, Pete pointedly tells Harrow that woods don't exist for foolishness. "That's not what these woods is for... Do you understand me? ...These woods is for LIVING. Do you understand me there?" Harrow nods.

    Eli is in his garage with his son when ward boss George O'Neill comes over for a visit. Eli sends his son off to run an errand. George says there have been rumors about the Commodore's health. Eli claims he had breakfast with him that morning, and begins to enumerate the menu. George isn't buying into Eli's story.

    Eli grabs George by the lapels and tells him to relax. George threatens to go to Nucky and Eli grabs a heavy Stillson wrench and swings at George. The wrench hits him square in the throat. George starts to choke and Eli panics. He throws George the ground, then delivers a series of brutally violent blows to George's head with the wrench.

    At their house, Angela asks Jimmy if he meant what he said at the ceremony. He describes their happy life together and that nobody's hungry or scared, adding, "what else is there?" She says there's got to be something, and they kiss. There's a knock at the door and Jimmy gets a gun while Angela answers it. It's Richard. He wants to talk to Jimmy. He tells Jimmy he "needed to take a walk." Jimmy asks Richard if he's "up for a job tonight." Richard asks Jimmy if he'd fight for him, and Jimmy tells him, "Of course I would. Right down to the last bullet." Richard replies, "Then let's go to work."

    Eli is completely wasted now after drinking all night in his garage. He gets up to leave.

    Mr. Parkhurst, the old man who smacked Jimmy with his cane earlier that day, is admiring a new "Sioux Indian breach cloth." He tells his butler how "foolish" the Sioux were in thinking they could stop bullets with magic. After his butler leaves the room, Jimmy and Richard walk in. Jimmy tells Parkhurst, "I'm going to teach you something now." Richard walks up behind the man's chair and, in a horrifically bloody scene as Jimmy pins the man in his chair, scalps him.

    Margaret, at her house, wakes up startled and goes to check on her children quietly. Margaret finds Katy (Heather Lind) in the hallway and asks if she heard "someone screaming," as well. Katy says she heard nothing. Then she goes back into her room, where Owen Slater (Charlie Cox) is lying in her bed smoking a cigarette. Katy gossips to Slater about Margaret and how her family in New York wanted nothing to do with her. She disrobes and asks him not to get her "into trouble," and climbs on top of him.

    Eli brings his deputy to his garage to help him carry out the covered body, not saying whose it is.

    Over at the Ritz, Daugherty and Thorogood are having a ball with some prostitutes outside Nucky's office. Nucky sits behind his desk as he listens to them cavort in the parlor of the suite. Nucky is turned off and it looks like he's regretting the deal he made with Daugherty. Nucky asks them to shut the door.

    By himself now, Eli digs a grave for George out in a field and rolls him in it.

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