Margaret Thompson, née Rohan, previously Schroeder, (played by Kelly MacDonald) is an Atlantic City resident and mother of two. She is the widow of Hans Schroeder whose fortunes greatly improve when she becomes the domestic partner, and eventually the wife, of Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson.
Margaret is an Irish immigrant to America and retains an Irish accent. She is seeking a better life for herself.
She was born Margaret Catherine Sheila Rohan in Templenoe, County Kerry in Ireland circa 1893. She was the first daughter and second child born to her Catholic parents. She has an older brother Eamonn Rohan. She was followed by three more daughters; Nuala Rohan, Bethany Rohan and Aylesh Rohan. The family were poor and dreamed of sending Eamonn to America for better opportunities.
Aged 16, she worked as a maid for a nearby attorney named Mr Walton and lived in Templenoe with her family. Mr Walton had a lavish home and an expansive library and allowed Margaret to read whatever she wished. She read extensively and developed a formidable intellect. She also began a relationship with the attorney's son Douglas Walton. She became pregnant in 1909 and Douglas refused to recognize her claim of his paternity.
Unable to conceal the pregnancy from her family she was taken to see their priest. She refused to name the baby's father to her family or the priest. The priest suggested that she be sent to a Magdalene Asylum to reform her morals. Margaret could not bear this fate and stole her mother's savings (intended for Eamonn) and used the money to emigrate to America.
She left Ireland on the ship "Haverford" from the port of Galway on 27 September 1909. She miscarried on the voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. Her immigration file includes a medical assessment containing these details.
In America she met baker's assistant Hans Schroeder and they married. They have two children; Teddy Schroeder (born 1914) and Emily Schroeder (born 1917) and live in a small house in the Fourth Ward of Atlantic City. She is a member of the Women's Temperance League, due in part to the controlling, abusive nature of her alcoholic husband. At the beginning of the series she is pregnant.
She is estranged from her immediate family and has not contacted them since reaching America when the series begins. She is in touch with a cousin who is a fellow immigrant, Martin Hennessy.
Boardwalk Empire (pilot)
- Main article: Boardwalk Empire
Margaret attends a meeting of the Atlantic City branch of the Women’s Temperance League on the eve of prohibition. The league's leader Mrs. McGarry reads a poem she has written about the evils of liquor. She reminds the audience that prohibition begins tomorrow and announces their guest speaker – Atlantic County Treasurer Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. Margaret is moved when Nucky tells the audience the tale of a family driven to desperation in the winter of 1888 by the father's drinking. He describes the family's young son searching for food and resorting to killing wharf rats. He ends the story with the reveal that he was the young boy drawing cries of sympathy from his audience. Nucky's driver, Jimmy Darmody, watches from outside the room waiting for his cue as Nucky heralds the arrival of the woman’s right to vote, to call Nucky away on "urgent county business". Nucky ends by saying that good women like those in the league are responsible for the success of men like him.
The next day Margaret goes to visit Nucky, worried about her husband's lack of employment. Margaret flicks through Vogue magazine as she waits for Nucky outside his suite at the Ritz Carlton Hotel. Once inside, Nucky invites Margaret to sit and offers drinks and food. She awkwardly declines. Nucky notices her Irish accent and she admits that her husband tells her she sounds like an immigrant. Nucky says all Americans are immigrants and pauses when he notices that she has a faded black eye. He asks what he can do to help and Margaret says she would not normally ask for anything but was moved by his speech to the temperance league. Nucky asks about her pregnancy and her family and learns that she has two children already. Margaret asks if Nucky has a family and he points to a picture of his wife, Mabel Thompson, and says that he lost her to consumption before they could have children. Lucy emerges from the bedroom and Nucky introduces her but does not know how to politely describe their relationship. Nucky asks about Margaret's husband and learns that he is a baker's helper but is out of work until the tourist season; Margaret asks Nucky to give her husband a job. He says he cannot until tourist season but gives her cash instead. She offers to name her child after him in thanks and he says no-one could be so cruel as to burden a child with the name Enoch. Downstairs, Nucky asks Jimmy to drive Margaret home.
The arrival of the limousine is greeted with excitement by the children in Margaret’s neighbourhood. She asks Jimmy to drop her off before her own home. She is angrily met by her husband Hans on the porch. He interrogates her about the car and her chauffer.
Hans continues to quiz Margaret about the limousine as she prepares dinner. She has made up a story involving fainting outside a church where Nucky Thompson saw her and offered to have his driver escort her home. He feigns sympathy and then grabs her hair and asks her where the cash he found under the mattress is from. He accuses her of prostituting herself and backhands her in front of their children. Hans pockets the money and eats his dinner as his wife and daughter cry.
Hans later takes the money to Lolly Steinman's casino, where he encounters the owner - Nucky. Hans confronts Nucky revealing he knows Nucky is familar with his wife. Nucky realizes Hans is using the money he gave to Margaret to gamble. Hans insults Nucky by throwing the money at him claiming he doesn't need it anymore because he is winning, Nucky grabs Hans by his head and slams him against the craps table repeatedly before having him thrown out. When Hans returns home he severely beats Margaret and she loses her baby.
She is later taken to the hospital. Nucky finds out about the beating from Mrs McGarry. Nucky has Hans framed for a hijacking and orders his brother Sheriff Eli Thompson to capture and dipose of Hans. Eli enlists Deputy Sheriff Raymond Halloran and they take Hans out to sea on a boat and beat him to death, dumping his corpse into the ocean. It then washes ashore and is caught in a fishing net.
Nucky visits Margaret in the hospital, surprising her with flowers. She is unaware of his role in Hans' death.
The Ivory Tower
- Main article: The Ivory Tower
At the hospital Margaret reads The Ivory Tower by Henry James. A nurse tells Margaret that a Mr Thompson has come to visit and she says she will be ready for him in a moment. Margaret ties her hair in a ribbon and is visibly disappointed when it is Eli and not Nucky that enters. Eli has been sent by Nucky to prepare Margaret for questioning by Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden. The agent had come to interrogate Nucky earlier and asked where Margaret was, revealing that she was not at home. Eli introduces himself and says that Margaret is looking well. Eli has "offically" come to question Margaret about Hans' involvement in bootlegging. She tells Eli that Hans was not involved in any way. Eli reminds her that Hans beat her and she counters that he was not a murderer. Eli reminds Margaret that she lost her baby after Hans beat her. Eli asks Margaret if she ever followed Hans when he went out at night or questioned who his friends were and she admits that she did not. Eli insists that Hans could have been involved without Margaret's knowledge and primes Margaret to tell any investigator so. Eli implies that Margaret could lose custody of her children, Theodore and Emily. She apologises to him and tells him that she did not mean any disrespect. He shushes her and leaves her with an envelope full of cash from Nucky. He asks her to keep their discussion in mind.
The next day Margaret returns home, still bruised from Hans' assault. She takes off her hat and removes the ribbon from her hair. Agent Van Alden arrives at the door seconds after she gets in. She lets him in and he asks if it is a bad time. She tells him that she has just been discharged from the hospital. She offers him a seat and clears the dishes from the table. Van Alden offers his condolences on Hans' death and tells her that he is sure that Hans was a good man. Van Alden tells her that he believes Hans was set up for the Hammonton hijacking. Margaret notices her ribbon is missing. Van Alden lights a cigarette and asks Margaret to explain her relationship to Nucky. It is later revealed that Van Alden has taken the ribbon and is attracted to Margaret.
That night Margaret sits alone at her dinner table in a dressing gown. She is lost in thought as her children, Emily and Teddy play with their late father's shoes. Margaret goes to see Nucky later that night. She apologises for the hour and he asks who is caring for her children, learning it is her neighbour. Margaret gives back the money Eli gave her. She tells Nucky she did not know what the money was for and that it weighed on her conscience. Margaret expresses concern about losing Hans. Nucky tells her he understands and takes her hand. Margaret asks if Nucky’s wife, Mabel, was very young when he lost her. He is taken aback and then tells her that Mable was 28 and recalls her good qualities. Margaret promises to pray for Mabel and then asks for a job rather than for charity. She quotes George Sand to illustrate her point “Charity degrades those who receive it and hardens those who dispense it”. Nucky does not recognise the quote and Margaret tells him that it was by Sand, actually a pen name for a Baroness, and that she learned it while working as a parlour maid for a barrister. The barrister’s home was filled with books; Nucky believes that she would have read them all. She asks Nucky to help her to find work to provide for her children. She asks what Nucky wants from her. He hesitates and then asks her to vote republican.
- Main article: Broadway Limited
Margaret serves fried eggs to her neighbour, Edith Mauer, and her children, Teddy and Emily. Edith asks why Margaret is not eating and tells her she needs her strength back. Margaret says she is stronger than she looks and Edith concedes that Margaret would have to be to get through her recent experiences. Margaret mentions that she is considering renting out a room, Edith worries that she would end up with a burlesque performer as a tenant. Edith suggests that Margaret and the children could move into her house but Margaret says she couldn’t. Edith asks about the possibility of Margaret going home to live with family and Margaret says she came to America for a better life. Emily asks Margaret when her baby will be born; Margaret lost the child recently. Margaret smiles sadly and tells Emily that the stork must have gotten lost. Edith promises to make a brisket for the family. There is a knock at the door and Edith answers. Alderman Jim Neary mistakes Edith for Margaret and is corrected. He gives Margaret an address on a piece of paper and tells her that Nucky has found her a job. He offers his condolences for Margaret’s husband and leaves. Margaret reads out the address: La Belle Femme at the Ritz Carlton hotel. Edith asks what it is and Margaret recognises that it is French and correctly surmises that it is a shop. Edith asks how Margaret knows Nucky and Margaret explains that it is through the Women’s Temperance League. She asks Edith to care for the children while she is at work. Edith nods and comments that she has read about the French.
Isabelle Jeunet explains Margaret’s responsibilities in La Belle Femme dress shop. Margaret is taken aback when Jeunet asks how often she bathes. Jeunet instructs Margaret to bathe weekly and wash her hair and fingernails daily because she will be modelling the clothes for customers. Jeunet asks about Margaret’s experience and finding that Margaret has none complains that Nucky made her sack her last dresser, Rosalie, to give Margaret the job. Jeunet warns Margaret about working extended hours and criticises her for not speaking French. She ends by saying Margaret is to be seen and not heard. Customers enter and Jeunet dispatches Margaret to get changed while she greets them. Margaret checks that she does not smell and then tries on a dress, smiling at her reflection.
Later, Madame Jeunet tells Margaret that they have an important customer and gives her a selection of items to take through to the dressing room. Inside, she is met by an impatient Lucy Danziger. Lucy asks Margaret to undress her before recognising Margaret. Margaret introduces herself; Lucy is unimpressed and gives Margaret instructions to take a cloak to the tailors. Posing nude Lucy demands a “step-in” and is annoyed when Margaret does not recognise the item she means. Pointing it out, Lucy then demands that Margaret bend down to help her into the negligee. Lucy asks Margaret’s opinion; she calls the garment flattering. Lucy reveals that she heard Nucky making the phone call to get Margaret the job. Margaret calls Nucky kind and Lucy subtly insults Margaret by saying that Nucky is susceptible to charity cases.
At home Margaret lies awake in thought, sharing her bed with her sleeping children.
- Main article: Anastasia
Margaret listens as her neighbour and babysitter Edith Mauer reads a story from the newspaper. Margaret’s children Teddy and Emily play in the next room. The story concerns the discovery of amnesia victim Anna Anderson who is claiming to be Princess Anastasia Romanov, the daughter of a Russian Tsar whose family were murdered by the Bolsheviks. Margaret likens the story to a fairytale. She objects when Edith tells the children to be quiet and then reads the story to the children. Edith jokes that she is the queen of England when Margaret calls Emily a princess. Margaret asks Edith where her sense of romance is and Edith says it left with her husband. Teddy asks Margaret to read the funny pages and Edith reminds him to say please.
At La Belle Femme Madame Jeunet insists that Margaret work the evening. Margaret says she will need to arrange someone to care for her children. Jeunet regretfully compares Margaret to her predecessor, Rosalie, who had no children. Jeunet explains that she needs Margaret to deliver a dress to Lucy at Babette’s during Nucky’s birthday party. She instructs Margaret to arrive before 10 p.m. and to wait until Lucy has given Nucky a surprise. Margaret is to help Lucy dress because of the delicate stitching and bead work on the dress. Margaret asks what the surprise is and Jeunet cannot tell her.
The drinks flow freely at Nucky’s party while he smokes alone at the bar. Margaret arrives with the dress and is stunned by the scene. Nucky spots her in the doorway and goes to welcome her. Babette approaches and Margaret explains that she is delivering the dress to Lucy. Babette goes to put it in the dressing room and before Margaret can follow, Nucky asks how she is being treated by “Isabelle”. Margaret realises he means Madame Jeunet and says that she is being treated well. Nucky is amused that her employer insists on such formality. Edge and Hague approach and Nucky introduces Margaret. Edge offers a drink and Margaret declines, admitting that she is tee total. Nucky explains that she is a member of the Women’s Temperance League. The politicians nod and Edge notes the awkwardness. Hague asks if Margaret is a suffragette says that she is not officially one but that she comes from Ireland, where women already have the right to vote and that this is true of most civilized countries. Nucky is impressed with her argument. Edge says that they are trying to protect women from the hard truths of life in America. Margaret suggests that this is illogical as women are being denied a meaningful part in their own lives. Edge believes it is a shame Margaret has this attitude and she points out that most women feel the same way. Margaret jokingly suggests that the politicians must have experienced that withholding a woman’s desire must surely result in the woman withholding something the man desires. Edge smiles and asks for clarification. Margaret says that she means alcohol and Edge says the women have not done a good job, raising his glass. Margaret says the party has just begun and Hague tells Edge that he has met his match. Nucky offers to show Margaret to the dressing room.
Singer Edith Day is announced by the band leader. As she begins to sing Nucky hopes that Margaret does not mind the drinking and says that old habits die hard. Margaret observes that they might not die at all and Nucky calls this a practical perspective. Margaret says she is very practical, and Nucky, having led her onto the dance floor, says that they should dance. Margaret complies but is a little uncomfortable initially. As the song continues a smile blossoms on her face and their dancing becomes more elaborate, even amusing Nucky’s guests. As the song finishes Nucky bows and thanks her for the dance. From the bandstand, Babette asks for attention as a cake is brought in. Lucy emerges from the top tier of the cake as the revellers sing “For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow”. She dances for Nucky as Margaret looks on from the balcony. Nucky stares past Lucy at Margaret but does blow Lucy a kiss when she is finished.
The following day Margaret notices that the papers are reporting that Anna Anderson’s claims to be Princess Anastasia Romanov were fraudulent. She is saddened by the news.
Margaret returns her work wear as she prepares to leave La Belle Femme. She watches through the shop window as Nucky walks Lucy through the Ritz Carlton lobby. Madame Jeunet asks her to return at 9 a.m. and returns to her book-keeping. While her employer is distracted Margaret steals a negligee.
Nights in Ballygran
- Main article: Nights in Ballygran
Margaret, Emily and Teddy Schroeder sleep at their home. Margaret is woken by the sound of men unloading kegs of alcohol from a truck at the neighboring Hiawatha Garage. She watches from her window and recognizes Jim Neary, her Alderman, sampling the product. She starts to prepare soda bread in the kitchen, taking out milk and sieving flour.
On her arrival at La Belle Femme dress shop she sees Nucky Thompson having morning tea with his brother, Eli across the lobby of the Ritz Carlton Hotel. She approaches Nucky and offers him the gift wrapped soda bread. Nucky dismissively asks her to leave it with the bellhop. She begins to say that he must have had many gifts on his birthday but he interrupts, late for a meeting. Margaret goes back into the shop and puts the bread into the waste basket.
Mrs. McGarry hosts a meeting of the Women’s Temperance League and notes Margaret’s late arrival and recent absences. Margaret explains to Bridget Walsh that she has been working while a neighbour cares for her children. McGarry introduces Bettyanne Mulhaney who describes receiving a letter from a cousin in Nebraska whose neighbour, a poor widow, attempted to mix gin in her bathtub for sale. Her child was poisoned to death by drinking the mixture. Irene Davis comments the prevalence of stills in town and notes that Ettinger’s is a cafe posing as a speakeasy. Walsh agrees that there are other places too and Mulhaney mentions Abe Klein’s bar. Mrs. McGarry elucidates a lack of interest or ability from local government and suggests that with their membership dwindling they need to increase their efforts. Davis notes the easy availability of prescriptions for medicinal whiskey and Walsh agrees that you need not even be ill. McGarry calls for action and Davis suggests a rally. Mrs. McGarry believes this is worthwhile but it would be better target the alcohol at its source. Margaret reveals observing men unloading barrels at the garage behind her house that morning. Margaret suggests asking Mr Thompson for help. Davis is disparaging of the idea, thinking she means Eli. Margaret clarifies that she means Nucky and calls him a friend, eliciting a murmur of appreciation from the others. Margaret clarifies that Nucky has been of great assistance since the death of Hans. McGarry tasks Margaret with arranging a meeting.
Margaret is successful. Nucky offers them a seat and Margaret asks if he enjoyed the soda bread. He is initially confused and then lies that he did. McGarry begins by saying that Margaret has seen something that Nucky should know about. Margaret relays her story about the garage saying that she found the supervisor of the unloading familiar. Nucky feigns concern that she must have been uncomfortable at his birthday party. Embarrassed, she explains to McGarry that she was making a delivery for the dress shop. Nucky clarifies that there was some drinking and McGarry comments that she is sure that people of his class drink in moderation. Nucky asks Eddie to put Margaret on the phone with the sheriff and says they will take care of the garage. Margaret thanks him and Nucky says that it is not a personal favour. She coldly tells him she knows.
That night Margaret is again awakened by more noise from the garage. She goes out to ask what they are doing and one of the workers explains that they are unloading the beer for it to be turned green for St. Patrick ’s Day. She asks who is in charge, the worker calls and Neary emerges from the garage. He recognises her and comments on the mild evening, comparing it to Wicklow County in Ireland. Margaret points out that she comes from Kerry and Neary recalls the “lofty peak of Carrauntoohil.” (The highest point in Ireland, which is in Kerry.) Margaret asks if he has spoken with Mr Thompson about his business at the garage. He has not but offers to keep the noise down. He offers Margaret a drink and she goes back inside.
The next morning Margaret dresses up and returns to Nucky’s suite but is kept waiting. When Neary arrives he goes straight through and she can hear Nucky in good spirits inside. Eddie comes out and announces that Nucky is unavailable. Margaret checks that he knows that she is waiting and Eddie says Nucky has urgent business. At home, Margaret tears the negligee she stole into pieces.
At his ad hoc post office headquarters Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden reads off places and volumes of liquor while his partner Eric Sebso marks them on a map. Margaret arrives and Van Alden stands to greet her and introduces Sebso. She lightheartedly asks if the post office runs prohibition, Van Alden does not see the humor. She reminds Van Alden that he asked her to come forward if she had information. He orders Sebso to make Margaret comfortable and then block the entrance so that they can talk in private; Sebso complies, slowly. Margaret explains that Hiawatha garage at 2727 Caspian is being used to store a large quality of alcohol and asks Van Alden to close it down. Van Alden refers her to the map and says he lacks the resources to close even 10% of the businesses involved in alcohol. He goes on to elucidate that the role of Atlantic City as a port for illegally importing liquor is the greater problem. He says that there is a growing criminal class who see murder as a way of doing business and subtly mentions Hans’ death as being connected to bootlegging. She asks if he is trying to be cruel and he says he is just being honest. She asks about the law that creates these criminals and he says that it is the very law she asked him to enforce. She says that she has been lectured enough by men who do not act for one day and goes to leave. Van Alden has Sebso block her path and asks who else has lectured her. She says it is not his business and asks if she is to be arrested. He responds by wondering if she has committed a crime; she capitulates, naming Neary. He asks her to confirm that she means James Neary, Alderman of the 4th Ward. She says she does not know but that he works for Nucky Thompson.
Van Alden uses her testimony to obtain an arrest warrant for Neary. He arranges to raid the annual dinner of the Order of Ancient Celts to arrest and publicly humilate Neary and the other members. He informs the press and the temperance league of the impending arrest and has them waiting outside. When he makes the raid he closes down dinner and forces the Celts to face the gathering outside. The women of the Temperance League sing a song in support of prohibition in an attempt to shame the Celts as they exit. From the steps Nucky notices Margaret amongst the singers and meets her stare. Van Alden has his agents lock the doors of the assembly hall.
Later that night, Margaret lies awake next to her children. There is a knock at her door. She finds Nucky waiting. He tells her that he has no time for games and then kisses her passionately, lifting her nightgown and pinning her against the wall.
- Main article: Family Limitation
Margaret Schroeder goes to see Mrs McGarry at her office. She asks if they can discuss a private matter and mentions that she has received an offer from a man. McGarry wonders of what nature and Margaret replies yes to all three of the options given; domestic, financial and sexual. McGarry wonders who the man is and Margaret says only that he runs things. Margaret believes she and her children will be provided for. McGarry wonders if they will marry and Margaret confesses her doubts. McGarry delicately says that there are many unpleasant words for that sort of woman. Margaret reasserts that he will provide. McGarry tells Margaret the story of how she came to live in Atlantic City. Her husband made a fortune selling a share in an oil field which he used to build a mansion. He died shortly after it was completed and she sold the house and bought a smaller residence, using the remaining funds to live. This allows her to devote time to her interests – temperance, suffrage and women’s welfare. Margaret points out that she does not have a mansion to sell and McGarry says that this is why Margaret must follow her conscience. She says that Margaret owes no-one an explanation. Margaret nods and gets up to leave. McGarry gives her a pamphlet, Family Limitation by Margaret H. Sanger (Sixth Edition published 1917) and tells her that it contains useful knowledge.
Nucky again shares a post-coital embrace with Margaret in her home. He asks her the time and then corrects her proper English response. She jokingly feigns a strong American accent and he says not to go overboard. She wonders if he wants an Irish maiden and he asks what it is that she wants. She says that she has not thought about it but he believes that she must have considered his offer. She admits that she is concerned about gossiping neighbours and he says that she will have new neighbours anyway. She notices the scratches on his chest and he says it was a hunting accident. She wonders who was hunting whom (in truth the scratches came from a possessive Lucy Danziger). She says she needs to pick up her children and go back to work. Nucky says she doesn’t have to but she worries what she will be if she does not. She runs the taps in her bathroom while she reads about using Lysol as a spermicide. She reaches behind the toilet and retrieves a bottle.
At La Belle Femme dress shop Lucy frustrates Madame Jeunet with her choosiness regarding lingerie while Margaret tidies the stock. Jeunet asks Lucy to describe what she wants. Lucy asks why anyone buys underwear and Jeunet offers that some want to conceal while others want to reveal. Lucy is the latter, requesting a vampy, sheer number with a cut-out crotch. Jeunet goes to fetch a suitable item and Lucy turns to Margaret and criticises her job. Margaret says that she has done worse and Lucy says that she believes her. Jeunet produces an item and Lucy insists on Margaret modelling it.
In the dressing room Lucy critiques Margaret’s figure as she disrobes. She wonders why Margaret doesn’t wear a bra and says that you can tell that she has had children. Lucy says Margaret has the appearance of a servant, only suitable for a “quickie bent over the kitchen table”. Margaret says the “he” doesn’t seem to mind. Lucy says that Margaret is ignorant and gives an insight into Nucky’s Catholic upbringing and occasional desire to change. Lucy says she can easily seduce Nucky away from this thinking. Margaret tells a story of a beggar who had trained a bantam rooster to play a song on a miniature piano. She describes how she was initially fascinated but soon became bored with the performance. Lucy asks what the point is and Margaret tells her not to put too much faith in her powers of seduction. Margaret exits the dressing room and her job.
Eddie drives Margaret and her children, Emily and Teddy, to their new home. He helps them out of Nucky’s Rolls Royce and carries their suitcases into the house. Inside the children explore and Margaret frets about breakages; Eddie reassures that if anything is broken it will soon be fixed. He tells her that the kitchen is stocked and that there are three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. She gazes around in wonder and calls the house beautiful. Eddie says that he needs to go and Margaret wonders how she will contact Nucky. Eddie points out the telephone and says that Nucky will call her. Margaret asks Eddie if Nucky is nice to him and Eddie says that he is.
Nucky dresses himself in the master bedroom of the new house. Margaret comes out of the bathroom and he wonders what she was doing in there for so long. She claims that she was luxuriating and he says that he enjoys her happiness. She fastens his shirt and thanks him with a kiss for each button. She is startled by the phone ringing. He answers it and is annoyed, saying he will be there soon and ending the call. She is concerned but he says it is only business. He asks f she knows who Hardeen is and then explains that he is Harold Houdini’s brother. He invites Margaret to come with him to see his new act at the Globe Theatre and then for a light dinner with Hardeen at the Marlboro hotel. She is thrilled by the idea and asks if Hardeen is also an escapist. Nucky jokes that he will escape from the dinner bill and she helps to fasten his collar.
Later, Margaret reads to her children while meeting a babysitter, Mrs Charlton. Charlton tells her that she also works for the other women in the street. Margaret is embarrassed and says that she would not usually leave the children but that she is going to see Hardeen. The phone rings; Eddie is calling to give Nucky’s apologies and says that Nucky will call later, disappointing Margaret. Charlton answers the door while Margaret is on the phone. Her neighbour opposite, Annabelle, has come to introduce herself. She has also brought her daughter Ruby to ask if Mrs Charlton could care for her too. She tells Margaret that the girls often help each other out in this way. Margaret is confused and asks which girls she means. Annabelle says that they are all concubines. She explains that her partner surprised her and that she did not have time to make arrangements. She asks Margaret if the house is the three bedroom and Margaret confirms it. Annabelle says that Nucky must be very keen on Margaret.
Nucky spends the evening partying with Frank Hague while Margaret sits alone in her new house; the phone silent behind her.
- Main article: Home
Margaret has her neighbour Annabelle to visit. Margaret tells Annabelle that she is unsure what Nucky wants from her and Annabelle suggestively wonders why they have a big bed. They share a laugh and Margaret clarifies that she means what he wants besides sex. Ruby and Emily skip around the dining room table as their mothers talk. Annabelle tells Margaret that it is more important what she wants from Nucky. Margaret says that she does not want to lose her new home and Annabelle warns her that Nucky will never marry her. Margaret agrees with this and Annabelle tells her about Nucky’s long relationship with Lucy. Margaret says that she would like certainty about her future. Annabelle says that she has been with her partner Harry Prince for three years and that she obtains certainty by stashing money from him under the floorboards in her bedroom, revealing that she has saved almost $4,000. Margaret wonders if Annabelle makes Harry pay her and Annabelle laughs and explains that she steals the money while he is sleeping. Margaret says that she could not do this and Annabelle says that she might surprise herself some day. Annabelle wonders if Margaret loves Nucky and Margaret answers that she is fond of him. Annabelle asks if Nucky is in love with Margaret and Margaret muses that he is not yet over his wife. Annabelle wonders what Nucky has said about Mabel and Margaret says that it is just an impression describing Nucky as “parsimonious with his sentiments.” Annabelle says that this is lucky as a man who talks too much will reveal his weakness and the see the woman he confided in as a constant disappointment. Emily runs in and asks Margaret to play with her. Margaret lifts Emily onto her knee and Annabelle compliments her appearance, disconcerting Margaret when she tells Emily that she will have no trouble finding a man.
Nucky brings Margaret, Teddy and Emily to see his childhood home which he has gifted to Alderman Damien Fleming after his father moves in with Eli. Fleming is outside paying Fire Chief Sweeney for the help of his men in renovating the property. Nucky jokes with Sweeney about bring all of his men and Sweeney says that half of ladder 38 is there. Nucky asks Fleming if they can look around. Nucky passes an oil drum, smoking with burning detritus. Fleming tells him that it is all things that Ethan did not want. Atop the drum is a placard of demonstration knots from Nucky’s time in the Atlantic City Junior Beach Patrol in 1881. Inside the kitchen has been cleared and the walls have been repainted. Margaret asks if this is it and Nucky notes her surprised tone. She admits that the house is nicer than she expected from Nucky’s description. Nucky says that the house is better now but was previously filthy and shameful. He says that he once dreamt of fixing the place up. Margaret calls it cosy and Nucky notes that it seemed bigger when he was a child. Margaret points out that Nucky was smaller himself then. Nucky compares his frail elderly father now to the giant he seemed when Nucky was a boy. Margaret realises that Ethan frightened Nucky. He tells her that it was with good reason and Margaret wonders if he is still afraid of him. He says that there is nothing to be frightened of anymore. He notices the fire poker on the boiler and picks it up. He shows her a scar on his right palm and tells her a story of his father burning him with the poker when he reached for a piece of bread at the dinner table on his ninth birthday. His father told Nucky that he always eats first. Margaret says that she wondered where the scar came from. Nucky begins to tell Margaret that he has sleepless nights thinking of his father’s treatment of him. She interrupts, saying that she is no stranger to cruelty and says that is sometimes better to forget the past. Nucky blinks and is silent, shut down by her words. She says that she needs to check on the children.
Nucky and Margaret are at a North Side speakeasy for the evening with Annabelle and Harry. The two Caucasian couples stand out among the largely African American crowd. Mamie Smith sings next to the piano and there are several people dancing. While the women are in the bathroom Nucky is in conversation with Harry but is having difficulty following the business man. Harry explains that he has invested in International Reply Coupons via an Italian man in Boston. As Harry speaks he continues to eat peanuts, shells scattered across the table and down his suit. He explains that his contact claims that he buys the coupons in bulk abroad and then sells them in the US at face value to make a profit. Nucky wonders why everyone is not doing this if it is such an easy way to turn a profit. Harry says that he has been promised a 50% return in 45 days and has had successful returns twice so far and as now invested all of his savings. Harry is entranced by one of the dancers. Chalky enters and Nucky introduces him to Harry, saying that he is the proprietor of the bar. Chalky tells Nucky that he met his “boy” confusing him. Chalky offers a bit more; a little kid called Mr Lewis that came with a bank roll to test his loyalty. Nucky says that he does not know what Chalky is talking about. Chalky doesn’t believe Nucky but wishes him a good evening before he leaves anyway. Harry grabs the waiter and asks for more drinks as the women return to the table. Annabelle asks what they were talking about and Margaret guesses that it was business, Harry asks what else there is. Nucky suggests that he is also interested in politics. Margaret says that those are Nucky’s two favourite subjects and Annabelle jokes that they are Harry’s only two. Harry disagrees pointing out that he is always willing to talk baseball. Nucky remembers that he had a catcher’s mitt signed by Hardy Richardson and calls it his prized possession. Annabelle drags Harry up to dance, promising that they can lie down later if he wants to. Nucky observes that they are a mismatch and Margaret says that Annabelle seems to like Harry. Nucky says that she seemed to like her last partner too. Margaret wonders what happened to the glove and Nucky says that it was stolen. When she asks for more details he says that it was taken by a group of kids who beat him up. She asks if he was hurt and he tells her that he does not want to talk about it, remembering her earlier admonition about leaving the past behind.
At the dinner table Nucky recites a poem about indigestion; it cautions against germs in food and everywhere else. The children are amused and clap with Margaret afterwards. Margaret offers coffee and Nucky declines. Teddy asks to be excused and Margaret lets the children leave. She confesses regret about what she said in his father’s house, explaining that she took bad advice. She says that it was selfish of her and urges Nucky to feel safe to confide in her. She desires emotional intimacy. Nucky finishes his earlier story about the mitt. His father made him confront the group of four older thieves and they beat him so badly that he was in hospital for 11 days. Margaret says that it is horrible and Nucky observes that life can be that way.
The phone rings and Nucky answers. Teddy asks Margaret who it is and she tells him that it is a friend of Nucky’s. Eddie is calling to say that Sweeney and his men have finished work on the house. Nucky asks Eddie to pick him up so that they can see it and to invite Fleming to join them. Nucky invites Margaret to join him and she declines, saying that she needs to get Emily to bed for her nap. Teddy asks if he can come and Nucky agrees over Margaret’s protestations that he is busy. Nucky says that they should call him “Uncle Nucky”. Margaret smiles at him as Teddy goes to get his coat.
Hold Me in Paradise
- Main article: Hold Me in Paradise
Margaret and Annabelle have tea in the lobby of the Ritz Carlton. Annabelle admires the bracelet Margaret is wearing, telling her that the stone is peridot, which is not as valuable as emerald but still valuable. Annabelle asks if Nucky chose it himself and Margaret admits that she does not know. Annabelle jokes that either Nucky has better taste in jewellery than he should or someone is helping with his shopping; Margaret suggests Eddie as a possibility and Annabelle laughs. Margaret asks about Annabelle’s boyfriend Harry Prince and learns that he is fine. Annabelle suggests more cream cakes and then notes that life is good.
Madame Jeunet approaches them from her store opposite and asks Margaret for help. Margaret wonders what she needs help with as Lucy Danziger drunkenly walks out of La Belle Femme calling after Jeunet. Annabelle tries a polite greeting but Lucy shuts her down. Jeunet whispers to Margaret that Lucy is trying to use Nucky’s credit in the store despite his instruction to the contrary. Lucy haughtily tells them that American’s do not whisper. Jeunet tells Lucy that she has asked Margaret for help and Lucy notes that she is very helpful calling her Mrs MacDougall. Margaret corrects Lucy and Lucy loudly wonders if Schroeder is Irish for bitch, shocking the other customers. Margaret stands and tries to placate Lucy, who refuses to leave. Annabelle interjects and Lucy calls her a false friend. Lucy tells Margaret that she is stupid if she thinks Nucky is her friend or that she understands him. Margaret slaps her hard across the face and tells her that their next conversation will be less pleasant before leaving.
Nucky calls Margaret at home in the middle of the night, waking her; he is at the 1920 Republican National Convention in Chicago, Illinois. He tells her that his brother Eli has been shot and she assumes that he wants her to go to the hospital. He says that he wants her to go to his suite and safeguard his records. She wonders why he cannot rely on an Alderman and he says he prefers to put his trust solely in her until he knows what is going on. He describes the position of a hidden compartment in his closet and instructs her to conceal his ledger book there. He asks her to stay in the suite with the children until he returns. She wonders when that will be and he says that he plans to take the first train the next morning. She asks if he is alright and he admits that he doesn’t know.
Before leaving Nucky arranges to support Warren Harding for the nomination. He offers to sequester Harding's mistress Nan Britton with Margaret in Atlantic City until Harding is elected and brings Britton back with him.
Margaret kisses Emily as she sleeps in Nucky’s bedroom next to her brother Teddy. She walks back to Nucky’s office and retrieves the ledger, placing it in front of her on the desk. The phone rings and she jumps before answering it. She announces herself and the caller hangs up without saying anything.
Margaret sits at Nucky’s desk, the ledger in front of her. She taps the leather bound book as she looks around the room. She open it and finds it full of figures relating to bootlegging.
- Main article: Belle Femme
Margaret and [Nan Britton]] stroll along the boardwalk together, looking over a beach packed with tourists. Britton asks Margaret if she believes in love at first sight. Britton says it happened to her when she first saw Warren Harding, she was 16 at the time and he was still running the newspaper in Marion, Ohio. Margaret confesses that she initially confused Harding and Hardeen when Harding was announced as a presidential candidate. Britton continues on her own track saying that she loves Harding and that he loves her but she must sacrifice because the country needs him. Margaret smiles and turns away from the beach. Britton follows her and they pass a billboard advertising Fletcher’s Mayoral candidacy.
Margaret shows Britton into La Belle Femme and is greeted by Madame Jeunet. Margaret introduces Britton, explaining that she needs clothes for the season. Jeunet calls for her new assistant Mariska and then claps her hands when she does not respond. Mariska emerges, still chewing food, and Jeunet tells her to take Britton to the dressing room. Once they are gone she complains about Mariska, likening her to a cow and saying that she has neither grace nor charm. Margaret says that Mariska must still be learning. Jeunet complains that she cannot afford better staff and Margaret asks if business is slow. Jeunet pauses before telling Margaret that she has blossomed and that Nucky is generous with his attentions. Margaret confirms that she is treated well and Jeunet says that she supplies fine things for fine ladies but cannot afford the cost. She complains that Nucky has doubled her protection fees and Margaret wonders if Jeunet could speak to her alderman. Jeunet asks Margaret to plead her case with Nucky. Margaret says that she would not know what to say and Jeunet suggests telling him that she needs Belle Femme to make herself pretty for him. She tells Margaret that she has greater power than she suspects.
Margaret comes downstairs and says that her children are finally asleep. Nucky is reading “The Road to Oz” and suggests that he could have read them more of the story. Margaret observes that he seems to be enjoying it himself. He quotes a passage about the “wonderful love magnet”, an item that draws affection from others. Margaret jokes that it would be useful in the elections. Nucky notes that it would make winning cheaper and Margaret wonders at the cost of campaigning. Nucky jokes that winning is cheaper than losing. Margaret wonders at Harding’s chance of election. Nucky says that it depends and asks if Margaret is going to vote for him. She smiles and says that she has seen him in an unflattering light since meeting Nan. Nucky says that if only good men were elected there would be no leaders. Margaret wonders what qualities a leader should have if he is not good. Nucky tells her that they must be useful to their supporters. Margaret brings up her conversation with Jeunet. Nucky says that Belle Femme is in a pricey location. Margaret presses on and Nucky recommends that Jeunet speak to her alderman. Margaret says that Jeunet already has to no avail. Margaret asks if there is something Nucky could do as Atlantic County Treasurer causing him to sigh and shut his book. He asks if Jeunet requested Margaret bring the matter up, which she denies. He wonders why they are discussing it and Margaret replies that Jeunet did her a kindness. Nucky points out that he made Jeunet give Margaret the job rather than it being an act of kindness. Margaret counters that he needs to recompense Jeunet for the burden he forced on her. Nucky asks what exactly Jeunet has said. Margaret explains that Jeunet said that she could not afford the increased payments. Nucky asserts that the payments are simply the cost of doing business in Atlantic City. Margaret observes that it is Nucky that sets the price and he interrupts, saying that it is not a suitable topic for them to discuss. Margaret says that she was not aware of the restriction. Nucky checks his watch and says that she is aware now. He goes to put on his jacket as she considers his dismissal. She asks if he is not staying and he says that he has an early meeting.
Nucky and Margaret embrace in bed, discussing the election. Nucky says that in the past you could count on voters to follow the party line. Margaret notes his concern and he says that he takes nothing for granted. She offers to help and he says that she can help to secure the women’s vote. She cautions him to wait until women have the vote. He says that he is an eternal optimist. He encourages her to speak to her contacts in the Women’s Temperance League and other women’s organizations. She modestly claims not to be much of an orator and he reminds her that he has heard her make cogent arguments to political dignitaries including Walter Edge, complimenting the way she comported herself. Margaret dismisses it as banter and Nucky says that she wiped the floor with the US Senator. She examines herself in the bathroom mirror as he lights a cigarette. He asks her to speak on behalf of the Republican party and she hesitantly agrees, asking if he wants her to dress well. Eddie knocks on the door, announcing a phone call, as Margaret poses in the doorway. Margaret follows Jeunet’s advice and tells Nucky that Jeunet knows what suits her. Nucky wonders why Margaret did not put it this way earlier and she claims she did not want to show her selfishness as she sits on the bed. Nucky caresses her cheek and says that he never holds selfishness against anyone before picking up the phone. Margaret purses her lips, thoughtful.
Margaret and Jeunet watch as Britton tries on outfits. Jeunet compliments Britton as Mariska helps her to dress. Britton complains that the styles are all plain and asks for something special for the inaugural ball. Margaret urges practicality, reminding her that she needs something for everyday wear first. Britton handles a dress, saying that she loves it and Jeunet compliments her taste. Britton wonders at the cost and Jeunet says that it is $480. Britton suggests trying an alternative again. Margaret and Jeunet give her privacy. Outside Jeunet grabs Margaret’s hand and then kisses her on both cheeks, thanking her for intervening over her rising payments to Nucky. Jeunet claims that she was instantly impressed on meeting Margaret. Margaret reminds Jeunet that she told her to bathe more often and that she was initially useless. Jeunet blames the language barrier and produces a thank you gift for Margaret; a dress for Emily. Margaret says nothing and Jeunet adds an ivory hairbrush. Margaret tells Jeunet that it was not Emily that helped her. Britton emerges from the dressing room in the $480 dollar dress. Margaret pointedly says that it is beautiful.
Sophie Tucker entertains the crowd at Babette’s Supper Club with a risqué routine. Nucky and Margaret are there having dinner with construction magnate Edward Bader and his wife, Katheryn. Nucky talks about opportunism as a positive quality and reminds Bader of his success exercising good timing in the building industry. Nucky lists Bader’s positive qualities; he is a churchgoer, a family man and well liked in the community. Margaret calls Bader impressive. Bader stares up at the ceiling and Katheryn wonders what he is looking for. He jokes that he is wondering when the other shoe will drop drawing a laugh from his companions. Tucker announces a song; “Some Of These Days”. Nucky suggests that Margaret take Kathryn to get a better view. When they stand he complements her dress; the blue $480 number from La Belle Femme. Margaret admits that it was a gift and leaves Nucky to consider the implication. Bader asks Nucky the purpose of the dinner and Nucky asks Bader if he wants to be Mayor. Bader jokes that with Nucky as boss he would have more authority as a street sweeper. Nucky says that being Mayor would give him more time to handle his business. Nucky says that is time for a change and Bader wonders what will happen to Bacharach. Nucky says that Bacharach is ill and will not seek re-election. Bader wonders what the problem is and Nucky says that he will produce a diagnosis as soon as Bader answers. Bader says that he needs to discuss it with his wife and Nucky urges him to be decisive. Nucky promises the opportunity to build roads, hospitals, a convention centre and a stadium if Bader will work with him. Bader observes that it is the 1920s and the world belongs to the young. Nucky says they will let them think that it does. Bader tries on the title verbally. Nucky stands and offers a handshake urging Bader to consider the proposal. At the bar Eddie flirts with Babette until he notices that Nucky is ready to leave.
On the boardwalk a barker introduces a Zulu warrior to the crowd drawing gasps of shock from his audience. Nucky leads Margaret by the arm and Eddie trails behind them. As they promenade throngs of tourists watch entertainers. Margaret smiles at the sight and Nucky tells her that they need to go to the Ambassador Hotel to meet Jim Neary. Margaret wonders at the hour as Nucky is greeted by a passerby. Lucien D’Alessio spots them from a side street and calls out to Nucky, pointing at him and repeating his name. Lucien keeps Nucky’s attention by approaching with a hand outstretched. From the other side Sixtus D’Alessio emerges from the crowd with a gun in hand. He aims at Nucky but Eddie spots him before he fires, grabs his arm and causes his shot to go astray. He hits a woman stood near to Margaret in the chest. She collapses into Margaret’s arms and her blood leaks across Margaret’s dress. Nucky takes hold of them both. Lucien flees as Eddie struggles with Sixtus. Margaret is pulled to the floor by the injured woman and Nucky kneels beside her. Eddie gets hold of the gun and Sixtus runs down the boardwalk away from him. Eddie gives chase, ordering him to stop before firing at him. The bullet hits him in the back of his left thigh but he is able to limp around the corner. Eddie returns to Nucky’s side, concerned for Margaret when he sees the blood. She is visibly shaken and the wounded bystander has lost consciousness.
The Emerald City
- Main article: The Emerald City
Margaret discovers that Nucky once had a child who died at 4 days old. Coming towards the end of the season she is sceptical about her relationship with him.
Gimcrack & Bunkum
- Main article: Gimcrack & Bunkum
Nucky returns home sunburned from golfing with the Attorney General. Margaret anxiously informs him that Eli is waiting for him in the conservatory. Eli has come to apologise about his betrayal and attempt a reconciliation but Nucky in unmoved and provokes Eli into a brutal fight. The noise summons Lillian, who sees what is going on and fetches Margaret. Eli gets the upper hand as the struggle moves back into the conservatory. He tries to strangle Nucky but his hold is broken when Nucky bites his hand. Nucky tries to restrain Eli from drawing his sidearm. Margaret puts a shotgun to Eli’s forehead and tells him “Enough.”, abruptly ending the fight. As she escorts Eli out of her house he tries one last appeal to Nucky, mentioning their father, but Nucky is still not moved. After Eli has left an exhausted Nucky shows Margaret that the shotgun was not loaded and warns her to check next time. She is distraught and asks him “Is this to be our life?”
That night Margaret is awakened by a scream. She checks on her children who are sleeping soundly. As she leaves their room she finds Katy, the housemaid, also awake. Katy says she was roused by Margaret’s movement and denies hearing a scream. Margaret says she has had a strange day and sends Katy back to bed, pausing for thought as Katy leaves. Margaret realises that the scream was one of passion, not pain, and deduces that Katy has begun a sexual relationship with Owen Sleater.
The Age of Reason
- Main article: The Age of Reason
Margaret and her son Teddy sit in front of their priest, Father Ed Brennan, as Nucky Thompson looks on. Brennan questions Teddy about sin and confession. Nucky intercedes to answer a question when Teddy gives the wrong answer and encourages Teddy when he gets an answer correct. Nucky is impatient when the priest brings up hell. He asks Brennan to wrap up the discussion, using the priest's first name. Margaret reminds Nucky that the meeting is Teddy’s final chance to prepare for first confession. Nucky wagers that the three of them can save Teddy’s soul and tells Margaret he will wait in the car. Brennan informs Teddy that at age 7, which Brennan calls the age of reason, he can expect god to judge his actions. Brennan encourages Margaret to have Teddy ready to confess and also asks her to prepare her own confession. Margaret is surprised and the priest tells her that she needs to set an example for Teddy.
Owen Sleater carries Teddy into Margaret Schroeder’s house as she holds the door open. Sleater deposits Teddy on the floor next to housemaid Katy likening him to a sack of potatoes. Sleater jokes with Teddy that he should get inside before Katy tries to cook him. Sleater asks if there is anything else and Margaret dismisses him. Before he leaves he compliments Katy's appearance (the two are involved and barely trying to hide it). Pausing at the door he amuses Katy by pulling a face behind Margaret’s back. Margaret asks Katy for a word and admonishes her for her behaviour with Sleater. She reminds Katy that there are children in the house. Margaret leaves and Katy shakes her head.
Nucky and Margaret have sex in their bed. Afterwards Nucky tries to smoke a cigarette but finds his lighter out of fuel while Margaret stares at the ceiling. Margaret asks him if he is still attracted to her and worries that he seems distant during sex. Nucky denies any distance and asks what is bothering her. She admits that Father Brennan has asked her to make a confession. Nucky observes that salespeople will always claim their product is necessary. Margaret explains that her confession is to be an example to Teddy. Nucky is concerned about what she might reveal. She feels protected by the trust between a Catholic and their priest. He observes that she has more faith in others than he does. She highlights his mention of faith as being the purpose of her confession and gets up to go to the bathroom. Nucky warns her not to talk about sensitive matters like their shared history. Margaret suggests that Nucky might need a confession of his own.
Margaret sweeps up in her conservatory. Sleater lets himself in through the back door and greets her as Mrs Thompson. He asks what happened and she explains that she spilled cornflakes. He asks why Katy is not sweeping them up and Margaret replies that Katy has taken the children to the market. Sleater jokes that Margaret is selling her children. Not amused, she reminds him that her surname is Schroeder. He apologises and says he forgot her situation, receiving a pointed stare in response, he goes on to say that her situation is not his business. Katy has told him about the reprimand she received because of their behaviour. He takes responsibility and promises to show respect in Margaret's home in future. Margaret instructs him to respect Katy and he claims that he does. Margaret asks if he is “in the habit of toying with women”. He says it is not a habit and then offers to help with the sweeping, touching her hands as he takes the broom. Nucky comes in to fetch Sleater and say goodbye. As he leaves Sleater puts his hands on Margaret’s shoulders and says that he is always happy to be of service.
A row of parents and children wait beside the confessional at Father Brennan’s church. Margaret and Teddy are next in line. Margaret begins her confession and admits that it is about four years since her last. She initially says she has nothing to confess but after Brennan reminds her of the rationale for confession she admits having impure thoughts about a man that she knows is bad. Brennan believes she means Nucky, asking if it is the man who provided for her family. She clarifies that it is a man she has not known long that her family employs.
At Margaret’s home Teddy is posing for a photograph to commemorate his first communion. Margaret and Nucky look on as the photographer gives Teddy a candlestick to hold. Nucky asks Margaret about her confession but Sleater enters before she answers. Sleater tells them that he will bring the car around to the front of the house, smiles at Teddy and leaves. With Sleater gone Margaret tells Nucky that he does not need to worry about what she said. Lillian brings Emily through to watch, calling Teddy a soldier in God’s army. The picture is taken and the smoke from the flash floats towards the ceiling.
Peg of Old
- Main article: Peg of Old
Margaret visits Brooklyn, New York to see her estranged family. Their street is bustling with traders and customers. She finds their apartment, removes her hat and knocks on the door. Her youngest sister Aylesh Rohan answers the door and gives a traditional Gaelic greeting. Margaret does not understand and Aylesh is disappointed, another Rohan sister, comes to the door and offers that Aylesh had practiced all day. Margaret correctly guesses that the older girl is Beth Rohan and surmises that the younger is Aylesh. Aylesh asks Margaret not to call her that and suggests Juliet when Margaret asks what she would prefer. A third sister, Nuala, enters as Beth goes to fetch Eamonn, their elder brother. Margaret asks Nuala if she recognises her and Nuala says that she does. Eamonn Rohan comes in and greets Margaret, calling her Peg. Margaret thanks Eamonn for replying to her letter and Nuala pointedly says that they could not abandon her, looking at Eamonn. Eamonn tells Aylesh to let Margaret in; Aylesh stands aside from the door and then closes it after Margaret walks through. Margaret presents Eamonn with a gift of taffy from the boardwalk. He remarks that he can get the same in Louanna Park; he looks at Nuala who nods at Margaret prompting him to tell Margaret that he is sure the taffy is grand and say thanks. Margaret smiles at her sisters. After a moment Eamonn suggests a hug and they do, awkwardly. Eamonn says they have prepared a roast dinner with potatoes and asks the girls to take Margaret’s hat and make her feel at ease before going through to the dining room. Aylesh examines the intricate embroidery of the hat and Margaret points out a bee in a rose. The girls go through and Nuala tells Margaret that Aylesh takes after Margaret in terms of their boundless energy.
Margaret eats dinner with her siblings. Aylesh asks if Margaret came on a boat, calling her Miss. Beth tells Aylesh that Margaret is not a Miss and Nuala says that Margaret is their “Peg of old, just.” Margaret says that she came on the train and explains that she lives in Atlantic City not Ireland. Aylesh asks what Margaret does and Margaret says she is raising her children, Theodore and Emily. Nula asks their ages and notes that they have American names; Margaret jokingly says her children are patriots. Eamonn asks about the father of the children and Margaret explains that her husband Hans died a year ago. Nuala is shocked that Margaret is widowed so young and says she could cry. Margaret says that Nuala has a good heart. Eamonn asks how Margaret makes a living explaining that he wonders how she can afford to take a trip to New York without her children. Margaret explains that she employs a nanny and Eamonn calls this a luxury. Beth asks why Margaret should not have luxuries if she can afford them and Eamonn has no reason. He checks his watch and Nuala chides him and explains that he works night shifts. He offers that he is digging the fourth avenue line Aylesh explains that he means for the New York subway. Eamonn explains that Nuala is a seamstress and that Beth works in a launderette while Aylesh is still in school. He suggests that Aylesh might be working too if it were not for the threat of a truancy officer. Margaret tells Eamonn that she knows that he works hard and offers help. Eamonn says they have not asked for any. Nuala announces that Beth has made a trifle for dessert.
Before serving the promised trifle Eamonn asks for some time alone with Margaret. Nuala takes the girls to see their neighbour Mrs Gillebrand. Aylesh complains and Nuala tells her it is the Christian thing to do. Eamonn offers Margaret a cigarette, calling it a fag. Margaret declines and says that she is not as American as Eamonn thought. Eamonn tells Margaret that their mother is dead, assuming that it will be news to Margaret. Margaret reveals that she knows their mother died from her correspondence with their cousin Martin Hennessy. Eamonn is bitter that she stayed in touch with Hennessy but responds to Margaret mentioning the graveyard where the mother is buried by saying she is beside their father and the two are finally not arguing. Eamonn recalls their mother asking to see Margaret in her final days and lying that Margaret was on her way. Margaret is visibly hurt by Eamonn’s memory and he asks her if she is going to cry now that it doesn’t matter. She whispers that she did what she had to and then repeats it more forcefully when Eamonn does not hear. Eamonn says that is the justification everyone uses in their mind and Margaret asks if he would rather she was sent to a Magdalene Asylum. Eamonn confirms that he agreed with the punishment their priest chose and asks why Margaret considers that fate suitable for others but not herself. She angrily asserts that it is not right for anyone and asks if he would wish it on her sisters. She asks if she is the only sinner he has met. Eamonn asks who the father of Margaret’s baby was. She admits that it was Douglas Walton, the son of the Barrister who employed her. She believes Eamonn must have already known but he pleads blindness in such matters. He asks if Walton forced himself on her and she denies it. Eamonn realises that with Teddy being seven he must have been conceived after Margaret reached America and wonders what happened to the baby that caused her to flee. She explains that she had a miscarriage during the voyage. He offers condolences. She gives him cash saying that it is to return what she stole. Eamonn claims that she stole from their mother not him and she responds that the money she took should have paid for his passage to America. He asks if guilt over the theft is the reason she has come to visit and Margaret denies this saying she wanted to be among those who know her. Aylesh returns and Eamonn quickly hides the cash. He wonders why she was so quick and she explains that Mrs Gillebrand wants her to go out to buy pig trotters. Aylesh wants to have dessert before running the errand.
Eamonn shuts the bedroom door on Margaret as she clears the table with her sisters. Nuala offers to walk Margaret to the guest house where she is staying. Margaret explains that she has hired a car for the trip. Nuala worries at the cost and Beth guesses that Margaret is seeing a man who will pay for it. Nuala chides Beth and Beth asks Margaret what her man is like. Aylesh guesses that he is mysterious and powerful with minions at his disposal. Nuala does not know the meaning of minions and Aylesh explains. Margaret is initially shocked at Aylesh’s accuracy but plays along. Aylesh says that the man has a secret tragedy and will not let anyone get close to him and Margaret wonders where she is getting her story from. Beth and Nuala explain that Aylesh is always reading. Margaret offers to send Aylesh a book and Nuala says they will need Eamonn’s permission. At the door, Beth asks Margaret to think of them and Margaret reminds them that Atlantic City is not far. Nuala marvels at seeing Margaret again after so long and hugs her goodbye. As Margaret descends the stairs Aylesh comes out to tell her she was joking about her man. Aylesh wonders at Margaret being both a stranger and her sister and Margaret introduces herself with her maiden name. The sisters shake hands then Eamonn comes out and orders Aylesh to bed. Aylesh asks Margaret to send books and says she likes any story with a horse in it.
Margaret has her driver bring her back to her sibling’s address where she finds Aylesh playing in the street. She gives her a book as a present; “The Girl, a Horse and a Dog” by Francis Lynde. Margaret checks that Aylesh has not read it before and asks Aylesh to tell her about it once finished. Aylesh asks how and Margaret suggests they write to one another, Aylesh is pleased with the notion of a secret correspondence. Margaret calls this “good crack” and Aylesh does not understand the colloquialism. Margaret explains that their mother used it often to mean fun and Aylesh, too young to remember, asks what their mother was like. Aylesh worries that the horse will die in the story and Margaret assures her that it does not. Margaret invites Aylesh to visit her in Atlantic City in the summer so that Aylesh can meet the children. Aylesh notes that it is strange to be such a young aunt.
Eamonn arrives, on his way home from work. He sends Aylesh inside to read her new book. Margaret asks about Eamonn’s shift and he ignores the question saying that he thought she had left. Margaret reminds him that Aylesh is her sister too. He asks if Margaret is trying to rescue Aylesh to assuage her guilt. Margaret asks if Eamonn has to hate her and he claims that he feels little about her at all. He gives back her money saying that he does not know where it is from. Margaret asks if Eamonn is honest and he says he never asks for trouble. She lists things he will not do including talking back, asking questions, making a fuss and standing up for her when she asked him and had nowhere else to turn. He says she always does what she wants and that money will not change that. Margaret believes she can make Aylesh’s life better and Eamonn asks her if she has improved her own life. He tells her to go home and leave them in peace. He ends by telling her there is no-one there who knows her. Margaret gets into her car, crying.
Margaret arrives home and her driver carries her bags into the house’s ground level. She tips him and calls for the servants. Sleater emerges from the back, rinses his hands and offers to help with her bag. He asks about her trip and she avoids giving details. She asks after the children and learns that they have gone to the beach with Pauleen and Katy. She says this is not Katy’s job and Sleater remarks that Nucky gave them the afternoon off. She asks why Sleater is not with Nucky and he says that he had personal business and just missed him. She asks why Sleater is not trying to find Nucky and he avoids the question by asking where to put the bag. She tells him to leave it at the foot of the stairs. Sleater asks is Margaret finds it odd being in America and confesses that he has feelings of depersonalization. She is moved and he says that it might just be the summer and life passing him by. She says if he feels that way he should be with Katy at the beach. He reminds her that she wanted him “after Mr Thompson.” The dual meaning halts her passage up the stairs and she says either way he can go. He agrees to leave if she tells him to. Instead she tells him to bring the bag up with him. In her bedroom he calls her cool and she says she is not at all how he sees her as she lets down her hair. She asks him to keep what they are about to do a secret and he says it is “all between strangers anyway.” They kiss with mounting intensity and undress one another. She bites his cheek. He gasps and pushes her onto her back. She cries in passion as he enters her. While Margaret and Owen are together Nucky is across town at Babette's Supper Club attending a promotional appearance by Jack Dempsey. A gunman attacks Nucky but his life is saved by Clifford Lathrop. Nucky escapes with a wounded right hand.
Two Boats and a Lifeguard
- Main article: Two Boats and a Lifeguard
Surran examines Emily while Teddy eats in the next room. Margaret anxiously waits for the doctor’s findings while Owen Sleater drinks a cup of coffee. Surran announces that Emily’s temperature is 99.8 and asks Margaret to call him in the event that she spikes a fever. Margaret wonders if it was something Emily ate. Katy comes in and suggests that Emily over-exerted herself on a trip to the lake. Surran believes that it is likely to be a virus that is going around. Nucky comes through, looks Emily over and then sends Owen to get the car as he goes into the dining room. Owen finishes his drink and hands his empty cup to Katy. He says goodbye to both ladies, showing considerably more warmth towards Margaret. Margaret wonders if Owen is eating at her home now and Katy reassures her that it was only a coffee. Margaret asks Katy to take the children to see Lillian and she complies.
Margaret follows Nucky into the dining room and helps him to fasten a collar clip. She asks him where he is going and he says that he is meeting his attorney. Margaret wonders if he could come to the house and Nucky explains that they are seeing the federal prosecutor. Margaret confesses that she is afraid about Nucky going out and he reassures her that Owen will be with him constantly. Nucky pauses and then suggests that he have his assistant Eddie Kessler pick him up and leave Owen at the house. Margaret declines and offers breakfast. Nucky says he will eat at the office. The phone rings and Margaret answers. She is initially speechless and then consoling. She hangs up and tells Nucky that June was on the phone with bad news; Ethan has died. Nucky pauses, says OK, allows Margaret to help him with his jacket and then leaves, repeating that he will get food at the office.
Nucky drinks in the sitting room of his home. Margaret descends the stairs and tells him that Emily is asleep. She offers condolences and he says that people die. She wonders if he has more to say and he asks what she would like, going on to say that he pretends all day and does not want to pretend with her. They hold hands as she asks what will become of them following his meeting. He confides that Randolph knows about their relationship and his other dealings. She wonders if he will go to prison and he cannot answer. She expresses concern for herself and he reassures her, telling her that she has done nothing wrong and that he will let nothing happen to her. She observes that those are two different things and wonders if the risk of Nucky’s racketeering is worthwhile. She worries how long he can continue before he is killed and he responds by stubbornly refusing to back down to jealous greedy rivals. Margaret suggests that with his life in the balance it is greed to oppose them and reminds him of their good fortune in having one another. She asks if he ever feels that god is sending him a sign. He tells her a joke about a drowning man who refused help from two boats and a lifeguard because he believed God would save him before succumbing. On reaching heaven he asks God why he was not saved and is rebuked with the reminder that he turned down several offers of help. Margaret does not smile and tells Nucky that she would be more amused if she knew that he was not worried. He kisses her on the cheek and promises that they will get through their problems.
Margaret, Nucky and Teddy play a board game while Emily sleeps in her mother’s arms. Teddy’s turn takes him to the Southampton space and he is curious about its location. Margaret explains that it is a large port in England and claims that she set sail for America from there. Teddy hopes to sail the voyage himself. Nucky is transfixed by the painting of a ship in the corner of the board. Teddy has to remind “Uncle Nucky” of his turn. Nucky returns his attention to his family and says that he would like the children to begin calling him “Dad.” Teddy looks to his mother and she asks if he would like that. He says that he would; Nucky reaches out to brush Emily’s cheek and tells her that he means her too. Teddy tries the prompt again; “your move Dad.” Margaret smiles and Nucky agrees that it is. Nucky later announces that he will stand down as Atlantic County Treasurer and tells his rivals that he is retiring.
Nucky awkwardly carries a bottle and two glasses into his living room. He finds Margaret talking quietly with Owen in the hallway. He interrupts them by announcing that a bulb is out in the kitchen. Margaret resolves to have the servants replace it in the morning. She tells Nucky that she is going to bed and asks him not to stay up to late. Owen wishes Margaret good night as she passes. Later, Nucky awakes to find Margaret nursing a feverish and moaning Emily next to their bed.
Battle of the Century
- Main article: Battle of the Century
Margaret receives a telegram from a Western Union delivery man and tips him. He thanks her and leaves as she opens the envelope. Katy closes the door behind Margaret as she comes inside. Margaret reads the telegram and, realising that Katy is hovering behind her, announces that Nucky has arrived safely in Ireland after a six day journey. Katy says that the speed of the crossing is almost miraculous; Margaret is more accepting of the speed of steam ships. Lillian interrupts to say that Emily is refusing to get out of bed. Margaret sends Lillian to get Teddy up while she goes to see what the problem is with Emily.
Margaret finds Emily awake in her bed. She jokes that Emily cannot be sleeping beauty with her eyes open. Emily says that she cannot move and Margaret says that Emily needs to get up to find a fair prince. She sits on the bed and feels her daughter forehead, asking if she is still not feeling well. Emily repeats that she cannot move her legs. Margaret draws back the sheets and squeezes Emily’s knees, asking if she can feel it. Emily says that she does not know and the concern on Margaret’s face deepens. Margaret asks Emily to wiggle her toes and then repeats the instruction more forcefully when there is no movement; Emily insists that she is trying. Margaret calls for her servants and Katy answers, sensing the distress in her voice. Margaret instructs Katy to call Dr Surran to see Emily immediately. Katy hesitates, looking at Emily and Margaret scolds and then hurries her. Emily reaches up to Margaret and Margaret holds her close, telling her that it is nothing and calling her “Cushla” (Irish, meaning beat of my heart).
Margaret, Lillian and Teddy watch as Dr Surran examines Emily. He passively flexes and extends her right foot and then asks her to attempt the same movement with no response. Surran says that she is doing well and then asks Margaret if Teddy sleeps in the same room. Margaret confirms that he does and Surran asks her to take him out. He says that he will need to examine Teddy too. Margaret asks what his diagnosis is and he ignores the question and instructs her to do as he says. Margaret anxiously instructs Lillian to take Teddy downstairs, and then thinks better of it, telling her to get Teddy out of the house. Lillian wonders where she should take him and Margaret says that it does not matter before deciding on the porch. Lillian does as asked and Margaret turns back to Surran and tells him that she believes that Emily has polio. Surran says that there is no point in speculating and Margaret angrily wonders if he is attempting to soothe her. Surran admits that Emily has all the symptoms of polio and outlines a plan to admit her to quarantine at the children’s hospital. Margaret makes to approach Emily and Surran reminds her that the disease is contagious. Margaret tearfully says that she cannot drive and asks Surran to take her to the hospital.
A team of nurses in surgical protective gear assist Dr Edward Holt as he prepares Emily for a lumbar puncture. One nurse cleans Emily’s back with an iodine solution while another holds her hand, strokes her hair and explains what is going to happen. Margaret and Surran watch through the window of the door into the procedure room. Margaret’s attention falls on the crucifix hung on the wall. She then notices Holt checking the action of a syringe and wonders if he is going to give Emily an injection, worrying that Emily is afraid of needles. Surran explains that Holt is about to perform a spinal tap; a procedure to take a sample of cerebrospinal fluid from Emily’s lower back. The fluid will be tested to confirm the diagnosis of Polio. Surran adds that Holt is an expert in cases of infantile paralysis and reassures Margaret that Emily is in capable hands. As Holt approaches Emily rolls to face the door and calls out for Margaret. Holt calls for a nurse to hold her still. Margaret says that she will go into the room to hold her daughter and calm her down. Surran holds her back telling her it is out of the question because of the highly contagious nature of Polio. Margaret says that she does not care if she contracts the disease and Surran argues that she needs to care about the people she comes into contact with. Surran encourages Margaret not to watch. Emily screams as Holy inserts the needle. Margaret cries and puts a hand on the glass, unable to comfort her daughter.
Margaret, Katy and Lillian collect Emily’s things at her home. Margaret pauses when she finds Emily’s doll on her bed and then cast into the basket with the rest of the contaminated items. Katy and Lillian wear masks to cover their faces and place the collected possessions on a bonfire outside. Margaret watches from the window with Teddy. Teddy wonders if Emily is going to die like Hans did. Margaret denies this and angrily instructs Teddy not to say it again. Pauleen comes downstairs with a case packed. Margaret asks where she is going and Pauleen apologises. Margaret tries to reassure her that they are taking every precaution. Pauleen says that she has to worry about her own children and leaves. Teddy watches the fire from the window as Emily’s favourite doll is consumed by the flames.
The staff at the children’s hospital are listening to the fight on their own wireless. While they are distracted Margaret sneaks into the restricted patient clinic to see Emily. She sits on the bed next to her sleeping daughter, brushes her hair and comforts her in Gaelic. She asks for forgiveness and kisses Emily on the cheek. She lies down with her daughter holding her close.
Margaret sends a telegram to Nucky telling him that Emily has polio and urging him to come home as soon as possible.
- Main article: Georgia Peaches
At the Atlantic City Children’s Hospital Margaret, Nucky and Teddy arrive to visit Emily. It is July 23 1921 and her polio has progressed to the point where she is no longer quarantined. Dr Holt greets them in the corridor and Nucky introduces Teddy. Margaret asks how Emily is and Holt admits that she has had a difficult time, suffering from nausea. Margaret wonders why she was not informed and says that she would have stayed with Emily. Holt explains that he appreciates the strain on the family and felt that it was better to allow them to rest while Emily was cared for adding that Emily will need love and patience from her family later. Margaret wonders what sort of time frame he means and Holt defers the question, telling Nucky and Teddy that they can go in to see Emily. Nucky takes Teddy in, urging him to be quiet. Now alone Holt tells Margaret that the polio is not affecting Emily’s lungs, heart or upper limbs but admits concern for the damage done to her lower limbs. Margaret wonders if Emily will be crippled by the illness and Holt avoids speculation, saying that he has seen children with worse symptoms recover fully. Margaret suggests that Nucky is able to pay for any treatments that might help and Holt laments that there are things that are outside of their control. Margaret looks at Nucky comforting Emily through the window and Holt tells her that his own 9-year-old daughter prays for the patients every night, without ever being asked. Margaret observes that you are supposed to ask god to intercede on behalf of others and Holt relates that he has always found that difficult. He advises that they are awaiting test results that they expect to have by Friday and can talk more about prognosis then. He tells Margaret to go in to see Emily and heads off down the corridor. Margaret watches a family helping their son to mobilise with crutches before entering.
Once inside Margaret asks how Emily is feeling and Nucky tells her that she has been missed at home. Margaret shows Emily a doll that she has brought with her and Emily wonders where her favourite doll, Miss Wheatley is. Margaret avoids the question, knowing that they burned Emily’s things for fear of spreading the infection, and tells her that the new doll is Miss Wheatley’s sister. Margaret asks if Emily likes the dolls hair and Nucky says that Emily has prettier hair. Teddy sits at the foot of the bed, feeling ignored by the rest of the family.
Margaret prepares Teddy for sleep and listens as he recites the prayer “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep”. She asks him to say a special prayer for Emily and he does so. Margaret kisses him and wishes him goodnight. As she leaves he claims that he cannot move his legs. She rushes to his side and checks his feeling. As she touches his feet he begins to laugh. She slaps hard on the cheek. Nucky comes in and wonders what happened. Margaret runs out of the room as Teddy cries.
Nucky follows Margaret to the bedroom and tries to console her. She says that Teddy has the cruelty of his father, Hans. Nucky says that Teddy is seeking attention and Margaret says that Teddy knows that Emily is severely unwell. Nucky says that knowing is not the same as understanding and Margaret asks him what she should do, wondering if she should abandon Emily to focus on Teddy. Nucky says that Margaret needs to rest more and she refuses to do so. Nucky says that he needs to go to New York for the day and will take Teddy with him. Margaret wonders why he is going and he explains that he needs to hire a new lawyer. She cautions him not to leave Teddy alone, to makes sure that he brushes his teeth and does not pick his nose.
On July 23 1921 Margaret prays alone in her church while Father Brennan collects donations from boxes in the end of the pews. He approaches her and asks if something is wrong, she relates the news of Emily’s polio diagnosis. He apologises and she tells him that she is frightened. Brennan sits down in front of her and tries to reassure her that god is with Emily. Margaret wonders if god was with Emily when she got the illness and let it happen. Brennan subtly dismisses this as a childish view of god and reminds Margaret that she came to the church for help. Margaret says that she had nowhere else to turn and he reminds her of her recent confession regarding temptation. Margaret tries to change the subject and he says that she is asking god for help without offering something in return. She claims that she is offering devotion and he explains that devotion is an act and she must find her own way to demonstrate her devotion. His tray of coins and bills jangles as he leaves her to consider his meaning. That night Margaret speaks to Teddy and Nucky on the phone about their day in Manhattan.
The next day (July 25 1921) Margaret goes through her jewellery and selects several pieces to go in a bag. She retrieves her stash of money from its hiding place in the dresser and adds that to the bag.
Father Brennan listens to a record in his lavish study. His housekeeper announces Margaret and he hides a glass of wine behind a floral arrangement before allowing her in. He turns off the record and puts it away as she enters and she apologises for disturbing him. He invites her to sit and explains that the records are easy to get out of order. He asks about Emily and Margaret says that her doctor is reluctant to make predictions. Brennan guesses that the doctor wants to avoid giving false hope. Margaret says she would not mind and Brennan asks her if she would prefer to believe in something real. Margaret says she wants to believe that Emily will recover and Brennan wonders if Margaret is looking for a miracle. Margaret admits that she is and details her hopes for Emily to have a normal life without suffering. She catches herself before she gives a reason for that suffering. Brennan asks if Margaret recalls their earlier discussion and she confirms that he means an act of devotion before removing her possessions from her bag. He wonders what it is for and she explains that it is a donation to the church. Brennan says that he is not accustomed to receiving cash or jewels directly and Margaret asks if there is another method he would prefer. He asks about her motivation and she tells him that there is a weight on her soul that she wants to be free of and calls the donation a show of willingness. She asks if they can begin there. Brennan checks the contents of the envelope and agrees that they can. He then invites her to pray with him.
At the children’s hospital Nucky and Margaret meet with Dr Holt. He tells them that the results are unfortunate and confirm infiltration of the spine by the polio virus with complete destruction of nerve cells. He explains that this indicates permanent paralysis and asks if they understand. Nucky prompts Margaret, she looks up and asks if Holt’s daughter prayed for them last night. He believes that she did and Margaret blesses her. Nucky has more practical concerns and asks what they should do now. Holt says she will be fitted for braces and then allowed home before beginning physical therapy. Nucky tells Margaret that this is good advice but she remains silent.
Under God's Power She Flourishes
- Main article: Under God's Power She Flourishes
Margaret watches as Dr Holt reviews her daughter Emily, who now has her leg braces fitted, at the Atlantic City Children's Hospital on July 26 1921. Also present are Margaret’s priest Father Brennan and a nurse. Holt asks if Emily is willing to try walking. Emily looks to Margaret who encourages her. They help her down from the couch and into a standing position, Holt supporting her on one side and Margaret on the other. Margaret asks how it feels and Emily tells her that her legs are rubbery. Holt warns Emily that they are going to let go and Margaret reassures her that they will remain by her side. When they do so Emily begins to collapse so they quickly help her back onto the couch. Nevertheless, Holt tells Emily that she did well and Margaret praises Emily for standing straight up. Margaret asks Brennan to confirm this and he tells Emily that she was right there with the best of them. Holt offers her a lolly from his coat pocket and Margaret prompts her to say thank you. Holt asks for Emily’s permission to talk to Margaret in private, which she grants. Holt tells Margaret that Emily needs to develop strength in her upper body and cautions her not to let Emily revert to crawling. Holt goes to sign Emily’s discharge papers and Brennan takes Margaret to the corridor. Brennan reassures Margaret that god will hold her up, just as she has held up Emily. Margaret worries that she needs to support herself and Brennan tells her the parable of the spoons to illustrate that it is necessary to help others and to accept help. He tells her that her donation has been added to the fund to construct a new parish hall and that they now have enough for walls and flooring but not for the roof. Margaret offers more and Brennan claims that this was not what he meant before leaving. Margaret looks back at Emily, holding her new doll.
At home Margaret has told Nucky the parable of the spoons but he sees an error in the logic, wondering why the sinners did not hold the spoons higher up the handles in order to feed themselves. Margaret says that Nucky has missed the point and he says that he finds parables nonsensical. Margaret reminds him that he used a joke to illustrate a point recently. He says that this is different and she asks how. He says that the story he told was about helping yourself with whatever is available. Margaret wonders if he believes in any higher power and he cites the federal government. Margaret brushes her hair and Nucky tells her that he is unsure of god’s existence but is sure that there is no divine retribution. Margaret asks what he thinks of the evidence and he says that her experience is coincidence not evidence. Emly calls for help going to the bathroom and Margaret goes to aid her.
Nucky works through his financial records. Margaret comes in to the office and confirms that the children are asleep. He offers her a drink which she declines. He asks what is wrong and she says that she is there because he said that he wanted to speak to her. He tells her that he is expecting Eli to testify against him and Margaret wonders what Eli will say. Nucky says that Eli knows enough to put him in jail or even the electric chair. Nucky tells her that his money could be seized as a result of a conviction and details a plan to hide it in her name. She wonders why it is important to him to give money to her and he complains that he cannot talk to her when she is like this. She asserts that it was a sincere question and he tells her that he cares what happens to her. She responds that she believes he is trying to convince himself that something good is going to come out of his life. She thinks that he is looking for salvation by providing for her and she tells him that she wishes it could save him. He wonders if Brennan has put these thoughts into her head and she claims that they are her own. Nucky returns to the subject of his land ownership and tells her that there are 160,000 acres held by a company owned by Mayor Bader’s brother but that he currently controls the voting stock. He plans to transfer the stock to Margaret so that she can later move it on to an out-of-state corporation. She sinks back in the chair, tuning out his scheme.
Margaret fiddles with Emily’s leg braces in the servant’s quarters of her home. Owen Sleater comes down the stairs and pauses when he sees her. He apologises and says he did not know that she was there. He has come down looking for food and Margaret says that he will not disturb her. She explains that the braces are chafing Emily’s legs and that she is concerned that they will do damage because Emily has no feeling there. He offers to help and she hands him the offending brace. He says that there is a rough grommet that he could smooth out. She is reluctant until he describes himself as good at rigging things. He sits down, takes a folding knife from his waistcoat and scrapes at the brace with the blade. As he is working he asks her is she thinks about him and confesses that he thinks of her. She tells him to stop and he asks what she will do if he is unable. She tells him she will pray for him and he says that will at least mean that she is thinking of him. Margaret notices Katy listening and Owen looks up at her. Katy turns and runs out of the room.
On July 27 1921 Margaret drinks alone at home after receiving a subpoena for testimony about Nucky. Nucky is surprised to find her drinking at all and offers to join her. She shows him the subpoena and he tells her to ignore it. She wonders if that is all he has to say and he reassures her that Fallon can handle it. She wonders what has changed as the day before he was convinced he was going to prison. He tells her that Van Alden is not a credible witness and that he hopes to think of something regarding Eli. Margaret says that they began in sin and he cuts her off. She repeats it and goes on to say that they will end in sin unless they change. Nucky tells her that he only cares about the present and she asks him to look at what is happening. He says that what is happening is that she is talking rubbish. She says that he is wrong and that she is more sure of it than anything in her life. He says that Emily was stricken with a disease and she asserts that it was caused by her sin. He asks what she has done and she lists stealing, cheating and deceiving. He asks her to be specific. She admits stealing from her family, her employer and him. He asks who she has deceived and she says anyone who thinks that she is good. He asks who she has cheated on. He steps closer when she hesitates and dares her to continue. She says that she lives with the man who had the father of her children murdered. Nucky denies his involvement and retracts his earlier implications in that regard. Margaret says that he is lying to her. They shout at one another. He believes that she is trying to martyr herself for accepting the lifestyle that he works hard to provide. She believes she is being called to account. He wonders if she is really contemplating testifying against him. She tries to leave and he grabs her by the wrists. She struggles until he tells her to listen. He says that he cannot stop her from punishing herself but will not permit her to sacrifice him. She wonders what he means by permit and he warns her that he is good to his word. He asks if she understands him and she asks if he will hit her now. He snatches the subpoena from her and reminds her that he has given her everything. He leaves her stood alone in the surroundings he paid for.
To the Lost
- Main article: To the Lost
Assistant US Attorney Esther Randolph greets Margaret and Father Brennan in her post office headquarters. She introduces herself to Margaret and Margaret introduces Brennan in turn. Brennan interrupts Margaret and asserts that he is there for moral support. Randolph jokes that she doubts that she will need it. Brennan clarifies that he meant for Margaret and Margaret tells him that Randolph understood that. They take their seats and Brennan tells Randolph about Emily’s illness. Randolph offers sympathy and Brennan adds that Margaret is a widow and devoted mother. He goes on to say that Margaret is active in the church and ignorant of the charges in the case against Nucky. Randolph counters that she was unaware that they taught law at seminary school. Margaret asks to speak to Randolph alone and dismisses Brennan over his objections. He jokes that he will go and buy some stamps.
Margaret asks if it is difficult to become a lawyer and Randolph says it takes determination. Margaret says that she cannot believe it is that simple and Randolph confirms her doubt. She says that she began her career as a public defender and that all of her clients were women. Margaret wonders what kind of women she represented and Randolph says that they were “the kind that didn’t have any other choice.” Margaret asks if Randolph is trying to say that she did have a choice. Randolph invites Margaret to tell her own tale, reminding her that she asked for privacy. Margaret says that Hans used to beat her and their children and that he was a drunk and a philanderer. Randolph says that Margaret has moved up in the world. Margaret enquires if Randolph hates Nucky and Randolph admits that she likes him. Randolph says that her opinion of him does not matter and asks Margaret if she hates Nucky. Margaret pauses and Randolph asserts that her feelings for Nucky must be complicated. Margaret says that the truth is also complicated. Randolph says she would be interested in hearing what Margaret has to say and Margaret wonders if she would have to appear in court. Randolph admits that she will compel Margaret’s testimony irrespective of her co-operation. She explains that the nature of Margaret’s appearance is in her hands; she can be painted as a sympathetic hoodwinked helpless widow or as a shameless gold digger. Margaret asks if Randolph cares that neither is true and Randolph counters that it matters to her that Nucky go to jail, raising her voice. Randolph pauses, leans forwards and asks what Nucky has given Margaret besides money. Margaret says that Nucky has never been cruel to her. Randolph argues that he has been cruel enough to others and Margaret says that she has never seen it. Randolph states that Margaret knows his cruelty anyway. Margaret reminds Randolph of her children and Randolph asks if their wellbeing supersedes that of everyone else. Margaret says that Randolph would not have to ask that question if she had a family of her own. Randolph counters that if she had children she would not be able to bear knowing that she had bought their comfort with the blood of others because she would know they would find out for themselves eventually. She tells Margaret that would not be a happy day. Margaret wonders what Randolph expects to become of her family if she does as asked. Randolph assures her that she would never have to see Nucky again and asks her to set herself free. Margaret hesitates, pursing her lips.
Margaret knits a scarf in the servant’s quarters of her home. Nucky comes downstairs and wonders at the usefulness of the garment given the heat of the summer. Margaret says that it will soon be winter and Nucky asks to speak with her. She puts her craft aside and turns her attention to him. He gathers himself and then reminds her of their common upbringing as Catholics before noting their divergences in their approach to religion. Margaret says that Nucky has lost his faith. Nucky jokes that if God were real he would not have made him so ugly. Margaret cannot conceal a smile. Nucky admits the possibility of a deity but says that his relationship with the potential higher power does not need rules. Margaret wonders if Nucky’s god asks for nothing and he states his belief that it expects that he love, care for and protect his family. He claims that there is more god in his love for Margaret and the children than in all the churches in Rome. Nucky reassures Margaret that things will get better for them if they stick together. He says that he adores her and their family and that his entire universe is contained within the walls of their home. Margaret wonders what will happen if she believes him and he admits that he needs her to marry him to avoid testifying against him. She notes his use of need and he adds that he wants her to marry him. She wonders why he did not put it that way first and he says that he did not want to insult her by pretending that she would not be saving his life. He admits committing horrible misdeeds that he has justified to himself. He says he knows that was wrong and that irrespective of the presence of god no-one is sorrier than he is. The kettle begins to whistle as it boils on the hob. Nucky says that he is afraid of dying in jail. He says that he would never admit this fear to anyone but her. She turns off the burner and tells him that he is always surprising.
Margaret awakens to the sound of Nucky and Teddy encouraging Emily to walk outside. She watches her daughter’s progress from the window. Later, Margaret approaches Nucky on the porch and asks him to come with her. The children are being entertained by Lillian behind him. He wonders where they are going and Margaret says that she is going to the church to confess and they can then be married by Father Brennan. Nucky stands and begins to thank her. Margaret interrupts him to tell the children that they will be back later and prompts them to say goodbye to their father. Inside the house Margaret calls for Katy to accompany them.
Margaret makes her confession, exits the confessional and is met by Nucky and their witnesses, Owen and Katy. Brennan conducts the marriage ceremony and describes the sanctity of marriage. Margaret confirms her marriage vows. Nucky does the same and Brennan tells Nucky that he may kiss his bride.
Jim Neary, a key witness against Nucky, is found dead in his office, an apparent suicide. The judge grants a mistrial given the death of Neary and the recanting of other witness statements.
Nucky enters the bedroom of his home and is pleased to find Margaret awake. He tells her that he is drunk then realises that it was not the most romantic greeting. She says that honesty has its virtues. He explains that he has been celebrating with Fallon and she congratulates him on the mistrial, calling it a stroke of luck. He says that he knows what she is thinking. She wonders what that is and he expands that she must think he engineered the mistrial. He claims to have had nothing to do with Neary’s “suicide”. She says that she believes him. He continues anyway, saying that it did benefit him but that Neary was a very troubled man who knew that he was involved in something wrong. She folds her arms and he asks if he is to be held responsible for all the misfortune in the world. She reminds him that she has already said that she believes him. He asks if she has seen the evening paper, pointing out a story about congress being about to approve the road appropriations funding he had hoped for with 10 million going to New Jersey. Margaret says that it is a good day for the state and Nucky says it is good for them and that the land he bought will be worth a fortune. Margaret notes that he has already told her this. He asks her to sign the deed back to him as soon as she is able. She says that she will and calls her ownership safe keeping. Nucky wonders if they are going to return to sharing a bed and she says that it is fitting as they are married. Nucky suggests that Margaret could be right and that god may be giving him another chance.
At Margaret’s home she tells her children that they needn’t be afraid of storms, characterising them as angels bowling in heaven. Katy serves the children breakfast. Nucky comes in and greets his family. He pours coffee and Margaret asks if he is not staying for breakfast. He says that he has an early meeting and she says that she worried about his late return the night before. She asks where he was and he avoids specifics. She wonders what he was doing amidst a rainstorm and he says that he ran into Jimmy Darmody. He claims that they cleared the air and that Jimmy is going to re-enlist in the army. He actually murdered Jimmy in front of the Atlantic City War Memorial. Margaret says that she is surprised. He changes the topic to the weather, cooler since the storm. He kisses Emily and pats Teddy on the head as he leaves, saying that he will be home for dinner. Margaret retrieves the deed for the land he signed over to him and caresses the outline of the tract on a map. Margaret writes her name on the deed, crossing out Schroeder and replacing it with her second married name. She then signs the land over to St. Finbar’s Church. She calls for Katy, telling her that she wants the deed to be delivered to Brennan.
- Hans Schroeder: Husband (deceased)
- Nucky Thompson: Second Husband
- Emily Schroeder: Daughter
- Teddy Schroeder: Son
- Eamonn Rohan: Brother
- Nuala Rohan: Sister
- Bethany Rohan: Sister
- Aylesh Rohan: Sister
- Owen Sleater: Lover, Nucky's driver
- Katy: Housemaid
- Lillian: Governess for children
- Pauleen: Ex-employee
- Eddie Kessler: Nucky's assistant
- Harlan: Nucky's valet
- Father Brennan: Priest
- Annabelle: Former neighbour
- Nan Britton: Mistress of Warren Harding, former houseguest
- Edith Mauer: Former neighbour
- Mrs McGarry: Leader of the Atlantic City Women's Temperance League
- (To Nucky) "I would be honored to name my child after you." ("Boardwalk Empire")
- Lucy: "So what is the point?"
- Margaret: "...that maybe your cuny isn't quite the draw you think it is.................I quit." ("Family Limitation")
|Season one appearances|
|Boardwalk Empire||The Ivory Tower||Broadway Limited||Anastasia|
|Nights in Ballygran||Family Limitation||Home||Hold Me in Paradise|
|Belle Femme||The Emerald City||Paris Green||A Return to Normalcy|
|Season two appearances|
|21||Ourselves Alone||A Dangerous Maid||What Does the Bee Do?|
|Gimcrack & Bunkum||The Age of Reason||Peg of Old||Two Boats and a Lifeguard|
|Battle of the Century||Georgia Peaches||Under God's Power She Flourishes||To the Lost|