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- Main article: 21
This recap of "21" features a detailed section on each scene of the episode.
Opening Scene MontageEdit
(to the sound of Irving Berlin's After You Get What You Want, You Don't Want It, sung by Kathy Brier)
A full bottle of Old Jamaica Rum lies on the beach just before dawn. A kid picks it up and hands it to Richard Harrow, who is overseeing the unloading of a new batch of illegal alcohol near Atlantic City. Harrow and his men then load the alcohol on trucks carrying coal as a cover and his boss, Jimmy Darmody, orders the vehicles to depart.Meanwhile, at Babette's Supper Club, Nucky Thompson and his four ward bosses - Jim Neary, George O'Neill, Al Boyd and Damien Fleming - are gambling and partying with Babette and some floozies.
Jimmy takes the liquor shipment to a warehouse in the woods that is run by Chalky White. Chalky pays Jimmy and opens a bottle to taste the rum, approving it.
At his home, Eli Thompson checks his nasty looking bullet scar in a mirror.
Margaret Schroeder wakes up and realizes that Nucky has not slept at home.
At Babette's, the staff is opening the curtains to let daylight in while O'Neill drowsily dances with a floozy and Neary plays cards. Nucky flirts with another floozy until Eddie Kessler interrupts and tells him what hour is already.
Scene 2EditChalky is overseeing the watering of the rum when someone knocks on the warehouse's door. He sends one of his men, Orville, to open the door and orders the rest to be quiet and keep working. Orville opens the door and finds Walker, Chalky's man trusted with guarding the door outside, with his throat slashed from ear to ear. As Walker drops dead on the ground, Orville sees four klansmen with a Browning M1917 machine gun aiming at the warehouse. They promptly fire it, hitting Orville, an armed guard and two other men while Chalky and the others try to cover themselves. However, the gun soon jams, and the klansman behind orders two of his comrades to "get in and just take him out", revealing that they are looking for someone in particular. The two enter the building carrying Winchester Model 1912 rifles and soon enough one of them sees Chalky and puts the cannon right on his face. "Purity, sobriety, and the white Christian Jesus", he says. However, right before he can fire, a black woman armed with a shotgun emerges from the background and shoots him. Another black man appears and begins to shoot with a revolver. The klansman tries to retaliate, but in the end decides to help his companion, who has been shot on the arm, to get out of the building. As the klansmen get on the truck and leave, Chalky picks the M1917 Enfield rifle from his fallen guard and fires at the klansmen in the distance, nailing one right on the neck.
Nucky returns to his new home to find Margaret arguing with Teddy in the kitchen while their maid Katy is feeding Emily. Teddy is sitting bellow the table and refuses to go to school, angering Margaret because he is upsetting his sister. When Nucky inquires about the reason he learns that Teddy was hit with a ruler by his teacher, Sister Bernice, for misbehaving. Margaret eventually convinces Teddy to leave with his sister to wash himself. She then reminds Nucky that it is almost 8:00 AM, but he is not ashamed. Nucky then attempts to be intimate, but decides to sleep in his office in the Ritz Carlton Hotel when the children start making noise again.
Jimmy, who is by now married to Angela, also has a new house by the beach. He arrives to find Tommy having breakfast while Angela and Gillian are unpacking the moving boxes. Jimmy asks if Nucky has phoned; Angela is puzzled and asks if he was supposed to. Jimmy doesn't respond and asks for his breakfast, which Gillian offers to prepare as "she knows how he likes" it. Jimmy then proposes taking Tommy to go shooting gulls. Angela thinks he's too young, but Jimmy replies that he used to do it when he was his age. Gillian sides with her son saying that when he was younger, he would go out shooting with his father, the Commodore. Jimmy corrects her and says that it was actually with Nucky. Angela is still concerned, but feeling pressure from Tommy, Jimmy, and Gillian, she caves in. As Jimmy leaves with Tommy to get him dressed, Angela warns Gillian that she doesn't like her attempts to supplant her. Gillian says that she wasn't doing so; Angela is Jimmy's wife. "And Tommy's mother", Angela adds. Gillian says that she was just trying to help and then adds, to Angela's surprise, that when Jimmy was a baby she used to kiss his penis after changing his diaper.
Accompanied by his wife, Van Alden enters his office in the Post Office and finds his new subordinates wrestling on the floor. He angrily demands them to put the furniture back in place and explain themselves. One of them says that they weren't expecting him that day, and assures him they were going to work on the field reports immediately. Van Alden replies that his wife wanted to see the office and introduces her to the two agents, Clarkson and Sawicki, a member of Mount Oliver's Polish community. After informing them that Mrs. Van Alden is going to stay for the weekend, Clarkson hands her a guide titled If Jesus ever came to Atlantic City. Rose is thankful and hopes that all the churches in the place are included.
Scene 6EditIn Chicago, George Remus is waiting in the Four Deuces for an interview with Johnny Torrio. Al Capone arrives and explains that Torrio is late because he has a problem in his ear. Remus sarcastically replies that Torrio seems to be blessed with convenient maladies that make other men take care of his business. Capone angrily responds that he is not Torrio’s errand boy. Remus tries to calm him by saying that it was like that for him too. But since Remus speaks of himself in the third person, his words leave Al confused. Torrio arrives and tells Al that Remus has left his job as a lawyer and is moving to Cincinnati, in Ohio. When Al asks why, Remus answers that Cincinnati is the place where most of the US government stores its legal alcohol; Remus is going to build an empire buying medicinal alcohol and pharmacies, using the pharmacies as a front to sell the alcohol to bootleggers. He adds that he has carefully read the Volstead Act and knows how to not get prosecuted, offering to become Torrio’s alcohol provider. Although Al hesitates, Torrio trusts Remus and decides to buy 4,000 cases from him, suggesting that he see Odette to seal the deal. After Remus leaves, Torrio tells Al to travel to Atlantic City in a month's time to tell Nucky Thompson that things are going to change. Al asks for something clearer to say, but Torrio just shrugs and tells him to make something up. Al concludes that Torrio is indeed using him as his errand boy just as Remus had said.
It turns out that Nucky did not go to the Ritz just to sleep. He is actually crafting an elaborate plan with Mayor Bader and the ward bosses to buy worthless farmland that they know will be expropriated to build roads, and then sell it to the state of New Jersey for ten times what they paid. Bader’s building firm will be contracted to make the roads. They offer Order of Ancient Celts member Ernie Moran, who has a paving firm, to join their partnership and provide the gravel. After seeing how advanced their plan is already, Moran agrees, and offers Nucky a bribe to make sure that they will buy from him. As the meeting ends, Moran also reminds Nucky that he is set to meet IRA leader John McGarrigle the next day. Nucky places the bribe money in a ledger hidden in his closet and adds its amount to the book detailing the contability of his illegal deals. Eddie arrives and tells Nucky that they have an emergency: Chalky White has shot a klansman and the press has already been informed.
Van Alden and his wife are riding a cart through the Boardwalk. Van Alden suggests they visit Lucy the Elephant in Margate. Rose pays no attention, distracted by the Baby Incubators. When they pass in front of the Ritz, Van Alden and Nucky share an icy stare. Rose asks who he is but Nelson declines to tell her, answering that he is someone of no consequence. When Rose finally takes a look at her guide she’s distraught: it’s actually a list of taverns and other places in Atlantic City where Jesus wouldn’t go. Nelson takes it away and apologizes. Rose then tells her husband that maybe their infertility is for the better, since it will spare a child from being born in a sinful world.
Nucky and Eli visit Chalky at his home, where his son Lester is playing the piano. Chalky’s wife Lenore offers them something to eat but they decline. Chalky then tells his wife that they have to speak in private. Nucky and Eli compliment Lester as he leaves; Lenore comments that he is going to attend Morehouse College in two years. Once they are alone, Nucky rebukes Chalky because he had to learn of his altercation with the KKK from a reporter. Eli adds that the man Chalky shot is a local school teacher named Herman Dacus, and that his companion has lost an arm. Chalky couldn’t care less: four of his workers were killed in the attack and six more wounded, including a woman. He throws back at the Thompsons that they were supposed to protect the black community from the Klan and that by not doing so he’s ready to end their partnership, boasting that he’s got his family and his people behind him – “The ten thousand black folk who make this city hum”. Nucky is not impressed and claims that if problems arise Chalky's people have more to lose than he does. Chalky then asks if he’s going to be arrested; Nucky replies that he can handle the situation but that Chalky should remain at home. After Chalky leaves the room, Nucky reproaches Eli for not having the Klan under control. Eli doesn’t respond, but calls Chalky an “uppity shine” as he leaves.
Margaret visits Sister Bernice at the school and is informed that Teddy was punished for playing with matches in the coat closet. Although the nun also tries to direct the conversation towards Margaret's extramarital relationship with Nucky, Margaret changes the subject by asking if her son will be expelled. “No”, the nun replies, “Father Brennan intervened. Apparently he is close with your Mr. Thompson.”
Jimmy and Eli meet with the Commodore in his mansion. They were aware that Chalky was going to be taken “out of business” but are shocked by the fashion. Eli worries that the attack is going to put the 10,000 blacks in AC at arms and asks what he is supposed to tell Nucky. The Commodore replies that they’ve got the KKK on their side and there are more than 10,000 of them; as for Nucky, he says that the Commodore himself and Governor Edwards will take care of him. Eli leaves and passes next to Gillian, who is being kept out of the intrigue. The Commodore then pushes Jimmy to meet the Governor, establish liquor trade links in New York City and Philadelphia and take over Chalky’s abandoned distilleries. He also tells him the story of how he hunted the stuffed grizzly bear in his living room. He tracked it for three hours, cornered it in a ravine, and when it raised its hind legs and roared to intimidate him the Commodore shot it in the gut. The bear then bled to death, looking at the Commodore as if it could not believe what had happened. “You’ll be judged by what you succeed at, boy. Not by what you attempt”, he concludes.
Scene 12EditNucky gives conflicting speeches in front of a black and a white church congregation. In the first, he speaks of how he has always viewed African-Americans as equals and vows to protect them from the Klan. In the second, he says that the ‘coloreds’ need to be taught a lesson and vows to protect the white population from them. During the second speech, a townsman, John Wright, arrives and announces that Herman Dacus has died. An uproar begins among the audience and Nucky orders Eli to arrest Chalky for his own safety.
Nelson and Rose Van Alden go to Preston’s Restaurant. Nelson tells the maître d', Carl Switzer, that it is their 13th anniversary and makes his order. Switzer asks if they want something to drink, noting that they “can fulfill most requests”. Rose is outraged; she’s convinced that Switzer was offering alcohol and asks Nelson to arrest him. He refuses saying that they are there to dinner, but after seeing an employee carrying an obvious case of liquor to the store he excuses himself saying that he has to go to the washing room.
Nucky attends Herman Dacus' vigil at W. B. Shuyler Funeral Parlor and comforts the widow saying that he was "a pillar of the community". He then meets Jimmy who explains his presence saying that Dacus was one of his teachers at high school. Jimmy also claims to know nothing about the shooting at Chalky's. Outside the building the two discuss Jimmy's recent express marriage and that he didn't ask for Nucky's advice as he used to. Nucky advises Jimmy then to not trust the Commodore, saying that he is a duplicitous man. He also notices the presence of the Commodore's long time lawyer, Leander Cephas Whitlock, at the funeral home.
The Van Aldens finish their meal at Preston's. Nelson makes a present to his wife, something that she notes as unusual of him. He then asks Switzer if they have champagne or whiskey for sale. When he says they do, Van Alden punches him and announces that the place is being raided by the Bureau of Prohibition as several armed agents burst in. He orders Clarkson to confiscate the money in the cash register and Sawicki to inspect the store room, where he finds over 200 cases of liquor. Van Alden orders them to be tagged, catalogued and destroyed. He also closes down the restaurant and arrests Switzer for violation of the Volstead Act. As he finishes, Nelson turns to see Rose, who is visibly pleased.
We see next the bed's headboard banging against the wall in a room of the Hotel Metropole. It's actually Nelson, who is checking the mattress. He finds a loose spring. Rose replies that she's not surprised of Nelson's troubles to sleep in there and suggests going to his boarding house, but he refuses, saying that only men are allowed. Rose compliments Nelson for his action at the restaurant. Then, they kiss as they recline into bed, before Roses nods him to turn the lights off.
Nucky tells Margaret of his encounter with Jimmy. He recognizes to be angered by Jimmy's recent drift-apart, claiming that he was a substitute father and mother to him, and suspects the influence of the Commodore. Margaret suggests Nucky talk to Teddy, worried that he is developing pyromania.
Nelson Van Alden sees Rose off at the train station. She tells her husband that she misses him and drops the possibility of she coming to live with him in Atlantic City. "Sodom by the Sea", he says, scoffing at the idea.
Nucky's wedding gift arrives at Jimmy's home. Rather than opening it outright, Jimmy decides to have breakfast with Richard. He is envious of Jimmy and Angela's relationship and asks Jimmy "how does it feel to have everything". Jimmy does not respond.
Nucky goes to talk with Teddy. To his surprise, the kid begins to strip down, automatically assuming that Nucky is going to whip him with a belt like his father Hans Schroeder used to do. Nucky reassures Teddy that he is not going to hit him, and after telling him to not play with matches again and to obey his mother and the nuns, hands Teddy a bill to buy some sweets.
Jimmy and Richard go to Chalky's warehouse and steal back the booze they just sold him.
Van Alden arrives at his boarding house and finds a pregnant Lucy Danziger in his bed. He says that he has her money, likely from the confiscated sum at Preston's, and she notes that there has been a delay of two weeks in his payment. Lucy then invites Nelson to sleep with her but he coldly responds that she should sleep in her own bed, and off she goes.
Jimmy and Richard resell the booze to Mickey Doyle. He jokingly asks if he should worry about the fact that there is blood in some of the cases. "Not unless it's your own", Jimmy says. Doyle makes his trademark laugh.
Night falls. Nucky is reading the newspaper when the phone rings. It's Eddie, who says that there is a man from the State's Attorney office in his room at the Ritz. He doesn't know why, other than the man wants to speak urgently with Nucky but that he won't talk over the phone. Nucky, who was planning to see The Kid at the Royal Theatre with Margaret and the children that night, tells them to leave without him but assures that he will meet with them there after a quick visit to his office.
Richard cuts images of families from magazines and pastes them in his scrapbook.
Scene 26EditNucky arrives at his suite in the Ritz. He finds Eddie talking to the other man, surrounded by three members of the New Jersey State Police. The man introduces himself as Solomon Bishop, Deputy US Attorney for the State of New Jersey, and a State Trooper arrests Nucky for election fraud.
At the Royal, Margaret, Teddy and Emily watch the film, keeping one seat free for Nucky. Although people keep entering the room, Nucky is nowhere to be seen. First Margaret, and then Teddy, direct an impatient glare at the entry while they wait in vain for the treasurer to appear.
The episode ends with Jimmy opening the wedding gift box alone in his home. Inside there is an envelope with money and a statue of a man and a boy hunters looking at each other over the deer they've just shot together. Jimmy looks at the statue for a while before putting it away in a closet.