On a deserted beach road near Tabor Heights, N.J., some men in suits are attempting to change a tire while Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale
) is getting impatient. A perfectly nice-looking stranger comes up and offers to help loosen a rusted lug with some "3-in-1." When Rosetti asks, "What's that?" the guy bluntly replies, "Oil; what else?" The guy gets the oil and Gyp makes it clear he was a little annoyed by the "What else?" response. The man tries to make clear that he meant no harm. The man's little dog comes over and Rosetti asks its name. The man says, "Regina, it means 'queen.'" Things seems fine and they wish each other a nice day. As the man walks away, though, Rosetti rushes up behind the good samaritan up behind him and bludgeons him death with the tire iron, all while shouting, "What else could it be? Could be this? Or maybe it could be this?" and continuing to curse the man while swinging the iron at his head.
It's Winter in Atlantic City on the eve of 1923. A boy brings a coffee delivery to what appears to be a heavily protected hideout where Owen Slater (Charlie Cox
), Micky Doyle (Paul Sparks
) and Nucky Thompson are waiting. Nucky is talking to a bound man in a chair who says his name is Nate. Nucky insists to Nate that he's not angry and realizes that Nate steals things for a living. Manny Horvitz (William Forsythe
) smacks the guy in the back of the head now and then to get a response. Nucky runs through the details of a theft at one of his warehouses, where Doyle was supposed to be standing guard. It soon becomes clear that Nucky is more annoyed with Doyle than he is with Nate, because Nate was only doing his job. Doyle, clearly, was not. Nate is pleased when Nucky tells Manny to untie him. He's not so pleased when Nucky adds, "Oh, but before you do, put a bullet in his head." Manny does the deed after telling Nate, "Certain people you do not steal from."
Margaret is prepping for New Year's festivities at the house. Teddy takes interest in news of aviatrix Carrie Duncan's pending flight across North America.
At the Commodore's house which she has turned into a high class brothel, Gillian (Gretchen Mol
) is writing a check to the coal company under Jimmy's name. She's running a meeting of the Artemis Club, introducing a new girl, and telling the gathered ladies to resist the urge to partake in drinking and remember why they're there. Richard Harrow (Jack Huston
) comes into the room chasing Tommy, and Gillian briefly introduces him as a war veteran. One of the ladies seems to take interest.
Back in Chicago, Johnny Torrio (Greg Antonacci
), Al Capone (Stephen Graham
) and Jake Guzik (Joe Caniano
) are counting money when rival Irish gangster Dean O'Banion (Arron Shiver
) pays a visit. Torrio and Capone tell O'Banion he's encroaching on their territory, which he denies. O'Banion says he thought he was fine doing business where he was, and Al isn't buying it. O'Banion, on his way out, tells Al to say hello to his kid, "or at least wave," knowing that Al's son is deaf. Torrio tells Al to calm down and says it isn't worth a war. Al says it's his New Year's resolution keep calm. A moment later, after Torrio's gone, Al says he's "gonna see" O'Banion later. The other man asks him about his resolution and Al says, "Well, New Year's ain't 'til midnight."
U.S. Attorney General Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald
) pays a visit for a meeting. Nucky suggests to Harry that President Harding 's administration is under some heat. He asks everyone to leave the room and Nucky and Harry start getting into the real stuff. Nucky is upset that he's paying $40,000 a month for protection and things seem to be spinning out of control. Harry warns Nucky that given what he's up to he's better off not throw rocks from his glass house. Harry tells Nucky that he's going to be taking his payments in cash through a new middle man who will be in touch. Harry notices a Carrie Duncan headline in the paper and asks Nucky what he thinks of her. "That she should spread her legs and leave spreading the wings to her husband," Nucky replies.
Meanwhile, Margaret (Kelly Macdonald
) is touring the new pediatric annex to St. Theresa's hospital that she and Nucky funded. A woman walks in asking faintly for help. Blood pours from between her legs and she collapses. The tour continues, but Margaret is stunned.
Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon
), under the assumed name of "George Mueller" as he is still on the run from a murder indictment, is a door-to-door salesman selling irons in Chicago and not having much success.
Harrow is at a carnival game blowing people's minds with his shooting skill. Tommy asks a little about his mother, and Harrow realizes Tommy is referring to Gillian and not Angela.
At the hospital, Margaret asks a doctor about the woman he saw. The doctor says she miscarried and adds that her baby's death could have been prevented if someone had told her to avoid raw milk. The doctor reminds Margaret that she's on the board of the hospital and tells her the hospital doesn't provide "even the most elementary prenatal care." She asks him what he expects her to do and he says, "Nothing."
Nucky drops by the warehouse to visit Doyle and Manny. Slater and Nucky give Manny the name of Roland Smith the driver in the warehouse robbery that Nate was killed for earlier. The man's hiding outside Philly. Nucky tells Manny to spare him the interrogation and leave the body as a message to anyone else who'd like to consider stealing from him. Manny isn't wild about the assignment because his wife makes a nice dinner for New Year's. He agrees to do it, though, when Nucky agrees to let him have his own operation. Manny vows that in three months he'll be lining Nucky's pockets with money. Slater simply reminds him to make sure Roland Smith is dead before tomorrow.
Van Alden stops and looks at himself in a hallway mirror in an apartment building and gives himself an affirmation. He knocks on another door only to get it slammed in his face.
Nucky's and Margaret's Egypt-themed New Year's party is raging. Eddie Cantor (Stephen DeRosa
) shows up with singer Billie Kent (Meg Chambers Steedle
), who impresses Nucky with her flair.
Harrow is showing Tommy a painting that Angela painted. He shows Tommy the signature in the bottom corner. Tommy wants to make a picture, so Harrow gives him a sheet of paper and a pencil. Harrow tells Tommy that Angela drew him once, a long time ago. Gillian walks in on this conversation and seems bothered that Tommy is making a picture, as Tommy says, "like my mother she painted that one." Gillian reminds Tommy that she's his mother now, and orders him to come with her because it's time for bed. Gillian gives Harrow a look before leaving the room.
Al Capone pays a visit to O'Banion's flower shop. And just as things are starting to get heated, in walks Van Alden selling his goods. O'Banion pretends Van Alden is an employee who was supposed to have arrived a while ago and tells him "we've got company." O'Banion tells Al that he'd better watch it unless he wants a taste of what's in Van Alden's briefcase. Van Alden holds it up and unlocks it menacingly. Al and his man leave. O'Banion locks the door and tells Van Alden he doesn't know who he is but he just made a pal. O'Banion starts to prep a bouquet for Van Alden to take to "Mrs. Mueller." He also asks about what Van Alden's selling. When he says he's selling irons, O'Banion says he'll take two dozen. Van Alden is grateful.
At Nucky's party, Nucky seems quietly taken by Billie Kent as she sings with Eddie Cantor. Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza
), Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg
), Meyer Lansky (Anatol Yusef
) and George Remus (Glenn Fleshler
) are all eyeing her, as well. Rothstein mentions that he's her landlord. She rents a house of his in Manhattan. Gyp Rosetti shows up and was expected. Nucky says hello and when Rosetti mentions he had a flat tire, Nucky asks whether it was near Tabor Heights. "I spent the last eight hours wiping grease from my hands," Rosetti says. Rosetti is holding the dead man's dog. Rosetti starts to talk business with Nucky and Eddie Cantor interrupts to tell Nucky that Cleopatra requests his presence. Rosetti is annoyed at being interrupted (and we know what happens when psychopath Rosetti gets annoyed). Nucky tells him to relax and pinches his cheek. This also doesn't seem to be taken particularly kindly, but Rosetti says nothing. Nucky goes to make the toast and everyone cheers while Rosetti simply glares.
Van Alden arrives at his company's office and there's a party going on. He's happy because he sold his 24 irons and should have won the sales contest, but learns that even though he sold 24 irons more than the man who won the tally was done at 9:00 p.m. and it's now almost 10:00. Van Alden says he understood the tally would be done at 10:00 and expresses he was counting on the sales bonus. His manager blows off his concerns and tells him to have a drink. Van Alden tells him he doesn't consume alcohol, and the manager says he's off "to get slopped."
Back at the party, Margaret talks to St. Theresa's medical director Dr. Landau, who was leading the hospital tour, about the prenatal care idea. She says she was talking to a doctor about it, and Landau asks her which doctor. She says she doesn't remember and says it was an older doctor (it wasn't). Nucky walks over and Landau tells him Margaret was lecturing him about how the hospital was somehow complicit in the woman's miscarriage. They're soon distracted, through, when some "servants" are introduced and they carry in a chest containing "King Tut's treasure." It's filled with real jewels and valuable treats for the guests, who go nuts over it. Rothstein and the others simply look on.
Gillian talks to Harrow and asks him if he likes living at the house. He says yes, and she asks him to stop filling Tommy's head with stories.
Rothstein, Rosetti, Luciano, Lansky, Remus and another man are sitting at a table in Nucky's basement. Rosetti starts talking business again, but Nucky tells him he won't be selling alcohol anymore because "things have changed." He says he's got well-placed friends and needs to keep things simple, so he'll only be selling to one person: Rothstein. If anyone wants, they can buy from him. Rosetti is annoyed, saying there'll be a 50 percent mark-up. Rothstein invites Rosetti to buy from Brooklyn. "New year, new rules," Nucky says.
Rosetti is not happy at all. He insults everyone in the place, last and most forcefully Nucky. Rosetti ends it all by saying, "Nobody here can take a joke," and walking out. On his way out through the party, Rosetti sees Margaret and hands her the dog. "For your kids," he says, after thanking her for a lovely evening. Nucky and Slater see this and are a little confused.
Manny toasts with his wife and she tells him she's getting changed for bed. He goes and gets his gun.
Van Alden comes home and nursemaid Sigrid (Christiane Seidel
) is there, holding their baby boy. Abigail has a cold. Van Alden tells Sigrid he lost the contest. She says next year will be better. He tells her the flowers are for her.
As soon as the last guest leaves, Nucky yells at Margaret for putting him in the middle of whatever cause she's working on this time. He reminds her that his name is on that hospital and she adds that hers is, as well. She tells him not to pretend he doesn't enjoy "playing the benefactor," and he reminds her that she
made him a benefactor by giving that land away, that he had no choice. They're shouting now and Nucky sees Teddy sitting on the stairs listening.
"Is it New Year's yet?" he asks. Margaret tells him it is, and asks if he couldn't sleep.
Nucky says nothing, counts out cash and hands it to Margaret, simply saying, "Tips, for the staff."
Nucky gets his coat and prepares to leave. Margaret tells him the bishop's office called and they need an answer regarding the St. Gregory Award. Nucky says he'll think about it and adds, "Happy New Year." He leaves.
Manny prepares to leave and his wife brings him a gift. It's "a new hat, for a new year." The car outside honks and Manny shouts that he's coming. He tells his wife not to wait up. Manny opens the door and sees Harrow, who points a shotgun at Manny's head and fires squarely at Manny's left eye, spraying blood all over Manny's entry way. As Harrow walks away, we see that Manny's driver has also been shot in the head.
Margaret lays in bed alone and can't sleep. She turns on the light and reads the story about Carrie Duncan's cross-country flight.
Nucky is at his office, pours himself a drink and puts his gun in his desk drawer. He massages his hand, which seems to be hurting a little. Nucky goes to his bedroom and finds Billie Kent laying on his bed in just her "step ins" and waiting for him. She asks him if he enjoyed himself. He says he's "never had so much fun pretending I didn't know someone." They start to make love.
Early the next morning, Margaret walks out onto the beach. Some other people are there as well, waiting to see Carrie Duncan's plane, which was set to take off from nearby Cape May. Some of the others cheer Duncan on, wishing her luck. Margaret says nothing, but looks almost equally sad and happy as she watches Duncan's plane fade into the distance.