- Main: Nights in Ballygran
This recap of "Nights in Ballygran" features a detailed section on each scene of the episode.
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 something in the kitchen, taking out milk and sieving flour.
In the elevator at the Ritz Carlton Hotel Atlantic County Treasurer Nucky Thompson and his brother Eli, Atlantic County Sheriff, discuss upcoming St. Patrick's Day celebrations and the coinciding annual dinner of the Order of Ancient Celts. Nucky does not look forward to the holiday, Eli remarks that their father (Ethan Thompson) believes Nucky hates being Irish. Nucky denies this and says that his dislike comes from the public displays of emotion and drunkenness that accompany the celebrations. Eli says that the Irish have experienced centuries of loss and are a sorrowful people. Nucky hopes for snow to calm the revelers. They exit into the lobby and are greeted by a waiter, Martin, who pours tea and offers breakfast. Nucky declines and Eli complains that Martin did not ask him. Martin apologises, then offers but Eli declines anyway. As Martin leaves Eli whinges to Nucky about being ignored; Nucky believes that the offer was made to him because he lives in the hotel and is known as a big tipper. Eli is annoyed that Nucky sees no meaning in the encounter and Nucky reasserts that it doesn't mean anything. Nucky changes the subject of the Celtic dinner and suggests they bring it forward because some of the civil war veterans slept through the Attorney General's address the previous year. Eli jokes that you need not be old to be bored by the Attorney General. Nucky asks if Eli believes he can do better and Eli takes the opportunity to ask to make a speech this year. Eli explains that he wants to electioneer because reformers are trying to replace him. Nucky is dubious but Eli insists that it is a good opportunity to reach many influential men at once. Nucky reminds Eli that the gathering is a celebration of their heritage not a chance to be bored and Eli claims that he has been practicing public speaking and taking classes at the YMCA. He shows Nucky a rumpled copy of "Public Speaking and Influencing Men in Business" by Dale Carnegie. Nucky worries that he needs to look after their father and Eli promises not to ruin the evening. Nucky reluctantly agrees, comparing Eli to Daniel Webster.
Eli notes Margaret’s arrival at La Belle Femme dress shop across the lobby. She approaches Nucky and offers him soda bread that she has baked. 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 Eli comments that she is attractive. Nucky says that his life is complicated enough and heads outside. In the shop Margaret puts the bread into the waste basket.
A group of midget entertainers complain about the costumes they have been given for the Celtic dinner. Mike Green wonders if they have been washed since last year and Kevin Kiley says that his Baby New Year costume included a second hand diaper. Another boxer laments news of a colleague being thrown of the boardwalk by a drunken lout. Carl Heely enters and tells Green and Kiley that they are fighting next. Kiley angrily tells Heely that they are fed up with working in degrading circumstances. Heely asks what he should tell Nucky and Kiley says to get Nucky to dress as a leprechaun. A Polish boxer interjects in his own language. The others voice support for Kiley and Heely suggests that he might be able to negotiate a raise and the others accept.
At the Four Deuces in Chicago Jimmy Darmody squeezes fresh orange juice for Pearl in her bedroom. Her face is still wrapped in bloody bandages after being attacked as part of a turf war with Charlie Sheridan. He worries about making a mess and she says she likes the smell. Jimmy wonders where the oranges have been grown and suggests they might have come from California. Pearl observes that they have had a long trip and Jimmy reminds her that it is only two days travel by train, aware of Pearl’s ambition to go there. She tells him that she loves him. He pauses and before he answers Pearl is startled by a door slamming. He promises to protect her and says that her doctor is pleased with her progress. He chides her as she reaches for her wound and she complains that it itches, asking if his leg injury was the same in the war. He says that it did when it was healing but is better now. She compliments his new suit and he says things will turn out fine. She asks him to put laudanum in the orange juice, having finished a bottle already. He opens a new one from his pocket and adds a dash; she complains that he has not put enough in. He reminds her that laudanum is opium and not a milkshake. She drinks deeply and says she feels that the sun has come out. Jimmy leans forward and blows onto her face, attempting to give further relief.
Nucky counts money in his salon while Aldermen George O'Neill and Jim Neary play cards with fishing boat Captain Bill McCoy at the table. Alderman Boyd is playing the piano while Eli sits next to Nucky reading notes for his planned speech. Nucky chastises O’Neill and O’Neill says that prohibition puts them in uncharted territory. Neary toasts the Irish and their prodigious drinking and Nucky jokes that he personally drinks to forget, but can’t remember what. Damien Fleming arrives with his collections money for Nucky and says that his ward’s speakeasies have been packed with people of all ethnicities. Nucky observes that people want what they cannot have and Boyd is impressed by Nucky’s grasp of psychology. Fleming says his people cannot keep liquor on the shelves, Eli interjects that it should be hidden under the shelves, while Fleming goes on to say he needs to increase his order. Eli asks if McCoy is listening and McCoy responds that he needs to get another boat. Fleming asks the others to deal him into their game and Nucky asks when McCoy is leaving port. McCoy jokingly says he leaves at “the stroke of midnight on a sea of green.” Fleming wonders if McCoy means that the sea is green from money or from the dyed beer they will serve later. Nucky wonders how the preparation of the beer is progressing and Neary reassures him that the food colouring has arrived and is being mixed with the beer as they speak. Nucky jokes that they will need plenty of beer to get the Celts through Eli’s re-election speech. Boyd is surprised that Eli is speaking and Nucky repeats his earlier comparison to Daniel Webster. Eli is annoyed at the jest but Nucky continues, revealing that Eli is taking lessons. Fleming toasts to “the great orator” and O’Neill requests a sample. Eli refuses and Nucky says the Irish are a surly lot. O’Neill suggests giving Eli a drink and Neary jokes that he can have green beer. Nucky says anyone can drink as long as they pay and Neary assures him that they will. McCoy bursts into song replacing the words from "Danny Boy" with an ode to Nucky’s bootlegging success.
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.
Arnold Rothstein meets with his attorney, Bill Fallon, in a New York barbershop to discuss ongoing media coverage alleging his involvement in fixing the baseball world series. Rothstein worries that he was seen meeting with boxer Abe Attell and then ate dinner with baseball player “Sleepy Bill” Burns at the Astor hotel. Fallon recommends ignoring the accusations until they pass but Rothstein is concerned that the World Series was months ago already.
Eddie Kessler, Nucky's assistant, announces that Heely wants a discussion. Nucky cannot remember who Heely is until Eddie gestures his height. Nucky asks what he wants and Heely lets himself in saying he just wants to talk. Heely clambers into a chair opposite Nucky and Nucky grimaces as Heely’s foot touches the leather of the seat. Heely begins with pleasantries and Nucky asks if they can skip to the purpose of the meeting because he is busy. Heely explains that he is asking for a raise for his group of performers working the Celtic dinner, citing the humiliation they endure and the risk of performing amongst drunken men twice their size. Nucky says that it is out of the question and attempts to claim that there will be no alcohol at the dinner this year due to prohibition. Heely sees through the ruse, saying that he only looks like a child. Nucky calculates that a $10 raise for eight performers will cost him $80 and suggests a smaller raise to $7 for each and that he split the saving he will make with Carl – a $12 bonus. Carl is reluctant until Nucky puts the money on the table.
As Heely leaves, Margaret and Mrs. McGarry arrive. 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.
Jimmy brings soup to Pearl but she is not hungry; he says she cannot live on laudanum. Johnny Torrio, the owner of the brothel, knocks on the door and asks how Pearl is feeling, then takes Jimmy into the corridor and says that Pearl is ruined and needs to leave. Jimmy offers to cover her earnings so she can stay and Torrio wonders if he can afford $100 a day. Jimmy is shocked that Pearl was that profitable and shakes his head. Torrio says she can stay until Friday and walks away. Annoyed, Jimmy flicks his cigarette against the wall. He goes back to Pearl and she asks what Torrio wanted. Jimmy lies, claiming a bouncer (Scozione) is off sick and that Torrio wants him on the door.
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.
Jimmy frisks customers on their way into the Four Deuces. Later, Jimmy drinks with Al Capone in the bar and when Capone complains that the place has already been shot up Jimmy says that it is better late than never. Capone suggests striking back against Sheridan on St Patrick’s Day. Jimmy asks if Torrio has asked for retaliation and Capone says worrying about what others want will drive you mad. Pearl comes downstairs with her wounds undressed. The assembly are shocked and she says she is there to work. Regina says she does not need to work yet from the bar and Jimmy takes Pearl back upstairs. She asks who will love her now.
At her apartment Angela steps over her sleeping son, Tommy. She is annoyed, telling his grandmother Gillian that she should have asked her before giving him whiskey in milk. Gillian believes it is the best thing for an overexcited young boy. She talks about raising Jimmy with help from other showgirls. She shows Angela a magazine and asks if she thinks the cover girl is attractive. Angela says she has little time for movies as she puts on her coat. Gillian says she should go to the cinema tonight and Angela describes her plans for a stroll on the boardwalk with a friend. Gillian worries about the St. Patrick’s Day revelers and Angela promises to take care. Gillian says that Angela could be free if she wanted and goes on to explain that she could take custody of, and raise, Tommy. Angela is offended that Gillian believes she would consider the suggestion and Gillian says she assumed she would be open to the arrangement as a bohemian. Gillian relents and Angela reluctantly leaves her with Tommy.
At the Celtic Dinner Duncan O'Connor sings “Carickfergus”. The Commodore, Nucky, Neary, Boyd and Ethan Thompson are seated at the top table alongside the vocalist. Ethan shouts over O'Connor to ask Nucky where Eli is just before Eli arrives late, blaming his children playing Tarzan with his sash. The audience joins in with the ballad. As the crowd applauds Mayor Harry Bacharach thanks O’Connor and introduces Nucky. Eli asks when he can speak and Nucky again asks if it is necessary. Nevertheless, at the podium Nucky explains that Eli wants to give a speech. Eli is heckled by the audience as he unfolds his notes. His opening mangles a quote from Julius Caesar and is ridiculed. He seems to get the audience on side with anti-English sentiment and lists the names of Irish revolutionaries. He makes a mistake with one name and is criticised for having been born in America. The Celts begin to argue about the difference between first and second generation immigrants and Eli cannot regain their attention. The Commodore warns Nucky that a riot could erupt and Jimmy announces the end of the speech. He entertains the audience with patriotic jokes about Irishman and then brings on bagpipers and the leprechauns, saying they are carrying pots of gold. The crowd finds the leprechauns carrying bottled beer and complains about the absence of the traditional green beer. Nucky explains that the stash of beer was seized by federal agents.
Jimmy again prepares orange juice and laudanum for Pearl, another empty bottle lies on the dresser. Jimmy asks Pearl to take it easy on the opium but she is undeterred and immediately suggests going to Chinatown to smoke it. She asks him to tell her a story. He describes being a longhaired seven year-old and his mother seeing a businessman called Mr Lancaster. They were taken boating on Independence Day, Jimmy recalls his mother’s outfit and Pearl imagines that she was beautiful. Jimmy says that she still is and describes learning to sail the boat. They went ashore at Egg Island and Jimmy was sent away for a while. Later, they roast a lobster over an open fire. Lancaster had Jimmy fetch a box from the boat; inside was a flag that Lancaster’s father had carried at Gettysburg. They sang together while watching the fireworks over Atlantic City. Jimmy says it was a good day. Pearl asks if they married and Jimmy says they lived happily ever after. Jimmy spills orange juice on his new suit. Pearl says someone needs to take care of him. He says he needs to clean it off but she asks for a kiss. He obliges; a peck on her unwounded cheek. She holds his face and kisses him on the lips but he pulls away. She tells him to clean up. Jimmy washes his shirt with soap in the sink of the prostitute's shared bathroom. He hears a gunshot and rushes back to Pearl’s room, pushing past her colleagues. He finds her dead with his gun next to her on the floor. He bends down to hold her and behind him Kitty, one of the girls, starts to scream.
Nucky tries to impart some of his public speaking experience to Eli, explaining that he needs to be more aware of his audience. Eli downs a glass of whiskey and gestures for another. Nucky suggests a break, telling Eli that he is drunk. Eli asks if Nucky is drunk too and then remembers that Nucky doesn’t drink at the Celtic Dinner. Nucky tells Eli that the powerbrokers of the Celtic Order are constantly judging them. Eli observes that politics is all a game and that it comes easily to Nucky. He says he will continue his efforts and that one day he might “lie as good as” Nucky. Nucky corrects his English and tells him that he needs to learn to speak properly before he can succeed. Neary tells a dirty joke as Van Alden and a team of agents burst in and announce a raid. Ethan is furious but Nucky restrains him. An attorney from the crowd of Celts states that consumption of alcohol is not a crime. Van Alden knocks him out with a single punch and asks if there are further objections. Eli shifts in his seat and Nucky tells him to stand down. Van Alden orders Sebso to shoot anyone that tries to flee and then announces an arrest warrant for Neary giving his address as 1222 Chelsea Avenue. He has men take Neary away, ignoring his protestations of innocence. He announces the end of the dinner and tells the Celts to leave.
Outside the press and the women of the temperance league are waiting for the diners. The women sing a song in support of prohibition and attempt to shame the Celts as they exit. On the steps outside The Commodore urges Eli to do something. Nucky notices Margaret amongst the singers of the temperance league and meets her stare. Van Alden has his agents lock the doors of the assembly hall. Eli tells Nucky that it was a great night and that he has surely impressed his friends in the Republican Party. Nucky tells Eli to go home to his wife, June. Eli says that he will, asks where Nucky will go and then throws a punch, missing by a wide margin. Nucky angrily asks what the swing was for as Boyd ushers Eli away.
A reprise of "Carrickfergus" plays over a montage. Jimmy goes to the opium den in Chinatown, alone. Angela stops outside Dittrich’s photography, glances around and then goes to the door. She smiles at someone as they let her in. At home, Eli is sick into his toilet as his wife rubs his back. Jimmy lies on a couch and smokes heroin. Gillian stares into the mirror and touches her cheek. Prohibition agents drain casks of green beer at the Hiawatha garage. 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.