- Main: The Age of Reason
This recap of "The Age of Reason" features a detailed section on each scene of the episode.
Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden reads the bible in the apartment he is sharing with Lucy Danziger. She calls from the kitchen, asking him to buy lemons on his way home from work. He walks through to her and she asks if he heard her. He confirms that he did. Heavily pregnant with his child, she complains that she cannot get comfortable. Van Alden has little sympathy, they are not lovers but are merely in an agreement for Van Alden to give the child to his wife once it is born and for Danziger to remain in the apartment until that time. He points out that his subordinate Agent Clarkson is still in the hospital with extensive third degree burns and wonders at Clarkson's level of comfort. She apologises and says she just wants to be done with the pregnancy. Clarkson suffered his injuries while following Van Alden's corruption to a bootlegging warehouse.
Margaret Schroeder 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.
Deputy US Attorney Thorogood addresses Judge Ketchum at a hearing regarding Nucky's election rigging charges. Thorogood proposes a motion to transfer the charges to federal court because of Nucky’s involvement in trafficking prostitutes across state lines. Nucky’s lawyer Isaac Ginsburg, the architect of the plan to have the charges made federal so that they can then be dropped by the Department of Justice, watches from the back of the courtroom. Solomon Bishop, the State’s Attorney who originally filed the election rigging charges, sits at the other table. Ketchum interrupts Thorogood, distracted by the lawyer's green shoes. Thorogood continues with his motion, annoying the judge by over-explaining the trafficking charges without establishing their link to election rigging. Bishop attempts to interject as Ketchum admonishes Thorogood but the judge refuses his request to be heard. Thorogood completes his lengthy proposal and wins over the judge by explaining that the prostitutes services were used to influence voters. Ketchum pauses and then accepts the motion. Bishop is visibly disappointed; he looks back at Ginsburg who raises his eyebrows and smiles.
In his office at the Ritz Carlton Nucky turns over an illustrated Young People’s Bible History in his hands as Harlan shines his shoes. Nucky completes the pre-printed inscription page and puts the bible aside. Harlan asks if the book features the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, which is a favourite of Harlan’s sons. Nucky tells Harlan that the book is a present for his nephew. Nucky asks if Harlan goes to church and learns that he is a regular at the Shiloh Baptist Church on Arctic. Nucky pays Harlan and Harlan wishes him a blessed week. As Harlan leaves, the phone rings.
Nucky's assistant Eddie Kessler announces that it is George Remus calling. Nucky opens the conversation by telling Remus that he has been hearing the name George Remus frequently. Remus, continuing to refer to himself in the third person, tells Nucky that he had not expected any favours from Atlantic City. Nucky surmises that Remus means the introduction he made on behalf of the Attorney General’s aide Jess Smith. Remus discloses that he has made an agreement Smith and will now buy licenses for the production of supposedly medicinal liquor from Smith. Nucky says that Remus sounds as though he is rolling in it and Remus jokes that he is in fact floating; telling Nucky about his indoor pool and claiming it is better than living on the seafront. Nucky pauses after the subtle insult and then asks when he will get a finder’s fee for the introduction. Remus laughs off the request and then tells Nucky that he has not changed. Nucky points out the irony that Remus works in Ohio but did not know any of President Harding’s administration (many of whom are part of the political group known as the Ohio Gang) before Nucky’s introduction. Remus tells Nucky that he dislikes what he sees as cheapness. Nucky asks if Remus is still complaining about the telephone charges he received when he visited Atlantic City. Remus tells Nucky that on visiting Cincinnati you are not billed for maid service. Nucky asks why anyone would visit Cincinnati. Remus says that Nucky is petty and resentful. Nucky swears at Remus and hangs up. Stinging from Remus’ insults, Nucky puts $10 in the bible as an additional gift for Teddy, thinks for a second and then switches the bill for a $20.
At Commodore Louis Kaestner’s home his long-time lawyer Leander Cephas Whitlock reads aloud a quotation from Alexander The Great “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well”. His audience consists of Jimmy Darmody and his parents Gillian Darmody and The Commodore. Jimmy recognises the quote and gives the source. Whitlock points out that Alexander was the son of a king and hands the book to Jimmy. Gillian jokes that Jimmy is the same as Alexander and says that The Commodore is proud of Jimmy. Jimmy asks about his own teacher; Whitlock realises he means Nucky and says that Nucky is a great strategist. Whitlock is envious of Nucky’s ploy with the Attorney General and admits that he would not have thought of it. The Commodore tries to speak but is still unable to make himself understood after his stroke. Whitlock tells The Commodore that he should give Nucky due respect. Gillian tries to calm The Commodore, telling him that it is time for his medicine. Jimmy calls over Langston, The Commodore’s butler, and Langston wheels The Commodore out of the room. Whitlock calls The Commodore a tough old bird and Jimmy jokes that he thought Whitlock was referring to Gillian. Whitlock praises Jimmy’s fortitude and Jimmy says he has survived worse situations. Whitlock points out that Jimmy was receiving orders during World War I rather than being in a position of command. Whitlock asks if the scalping of Jackson Parkhurst was necessary and Jimmy denies involvement. Whitlock admits that there was little sympathy for Parkhurst but suspects that Jimmy has alienated powerful allies. Gillian tells Whitlock that they are offended by his implication. Whitlock asks to speak to Jimmy alone and Jimmy complies by asking his mother to leave. She tells Jimmy that she knows he will confide in her later. Jimmy flinches as Gillian kisses him on the lips. Embarrassed, Jimmy catches a look from Whitlock and explains away the kiss as something his mother does. Changing the subject, Whitlock tells Jimmy that he admires his boldness but tells him that “not every insult requires a response.” Jimmy paces and then asks what Whitlock would have done in his position. Whitlock stands and tells Jimmy that The Commodore had many virtues when they first met but was lacking in prudence, which created problems. Whitlock explains that Nucky was a better strategist who has built up an impressive economic machine where everyone pays. Jimmy points out that Whitlock does not attend Nucky’s fundraisers and Whitlock reasserts that he nevertheless admires Nucky’s skill. Jimmy dismisses Nucky’s organisation as simple extortion. Whitlock asks Jimmy to consider how he is finding leadership and admonishes him not to be so quick to judge. Jimmy tells Whitlock that he will finish what he has started. Whitlock responds that he would rather hear that Jimmy wanted to win. Jimmy cannot see a difference. Whitlock sighs and then nods acceptance.
Lucy carries a plate to the sink. She pauses, drops the plate and cries out as her water breaks. She sits on a chair, alone in the apartment.
At the Ritz Carlton Eddie opens a bottle of champagne as Thorogood recounts his success in court for Nucky's benefit. He recalls that his father told him that addressing a judge would be exhilarating. Ginsburg infers that Thorogood’s father is also a lawyer. Thorogood is surprised that Ginsburg has not heard of his father. Thorogood asserts that Nucky must know his father. Nucky is distracted by his phone call being connected. Attorney General Harry Daugherty answers and observes that Nucky sounds happy. Nucky jokes about the joy of becoming a federal defendant. Daugherty claims that Nucky now owes him a favour and Nucky disagrees, stating that they are will be even once the charges are dismissed. Daugherty passes on a thank you from Smith regarding the introduction to Remus. Nucky warns Daugherty to be careful and Daugherty cites his own leadership as reassurance. Standing next to Daugherty, Smith checks his watch and then tilts his chin upwards. Daugherty nods and brings the conversation to a close by asking Nucky to look after Thorogood and telling Nucky that he has a long friendship with Thorogood’s father. Hanging up, Nucky asks Thorogood to name his pleasure. Thorogood uses a nonsensical pie metaphor to request female company. Nucky refers Thorogood to Eddie and says they will get him a suite of his own. As they leave Eddie tells Thorogood that he understands that he wants “Schlampen” (German, equivalent to sluts). Thorogood puts his arm around Eddie’s shoulders and Eddie looks disdainfully at the offending limb.
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.
Van Alden waits in a hospital corridor and watches a nurse pass, carrying a newborn. A second nurse allows him in to see Clarkson. Horrific burns cover Clarkson’s right side and he is unconscious. Supervisor Elliot and Agent Sawicki enter shortly after Van Alden. Elliot blasphemes in shock and Sawicki tells Elliot that he had not exaggerated Clarkson's terrible injuries. Elliot marvels at Clarkson's survival and Van Alden professes that it is due to Clarkson's faith in God. Elliot blasphemes again; observing that Clarkson has a one-sided relationship with God. Van Alden asserts that Elliot's blasphemy is an insult to Clarkson's faith and supports this thinking with Clarkson's doctor's admission that his fate is out of their hands. Elliot has no reply so Van Alden begins a prayer for Clarkson. The other agents remove their hats to join him but Van Alden is interrupted as Clarkson gasps for breath and awakens. Van Alden touches Clarkson’s fingertips as they are the only un-burnt flesh on his right side. Clarkson looks at Van Alden and says “I see you, I know what you did.” Elliot asks if Van Alden understands Clarkson's words. Van Alden excuses himself, claiming he will fetch a doctor. Outside the room Van Alden braces himself against the wall and covers his mouth. He then notices the ceiling light at the end of the hallway flickering.
Nucky chairs a meeting in the sitting room of his suite. Seated in the centre of the room are alcohol importer Bill McCoy, Nucky’s bootlegging manager Chalky White, New York crime boss Arnold Rothstein and Rothstein's Philadelphia connection Waxey Gordon. At the edge of the room are Nucky’s driver and enforcer Owen Sleater, Rothstein's protégé Lucky Luciano, Luciano's associate Meyer Lansky and Philadelphia gangster Herman Kaufman. With Atlantic City blockaded by the coast guard they are there to arrange delivery of McCoy’s shipments via Philadelphia. If the clear skies hold McCoy is planning to weigh anchor close to shore near Philadelphia at 2 a.m. the following night. Waxey explains that he will transport the liquor ashore in speedboats and has a dozen of them at his disposal. He estimates that this step can be completed in under an hour. Nucky and McCoy worry about the coast guard around Philadelphia and Rothstein confirms that Waxey has assured their safety. Waxey states that the guarantee of plain sailing is what he is being paid for. Nucky gripes about Waxey’s twenty percent share. Rothstein explains that once ashore the crates will be put onto trucks by Waxey’s men. Waxey points out Kaufman as the supervisor for this step and states that the trucks will be driven to the border of Atlantic City where Luciano and Lansky will complete the journey. Luciano complains to Rothstein that Waxey should earn his share by having his men complete the journey. Waxey compares Luciano to a woman asking to be walked home and Kaufman jokes about needing a good night kiss. Luciano threatens Kaufman and Lansky quiets Luciano. Chalky tells Luciano that he will expect delivery around 5 a.m. and reminds Luciano to signal his arrival with flashing headlights. Rothstein looks at Nucky and Nucky nods his assent.
Lucy is in bed struggling with her contractions. She calls to her young neighbour across the alley for help but the boy draws the curtains.
Jimmy and Angela Darmody pass an exhibition of wireless radio. Jimmy suggests buying one and Angela believes it would be good to introduce Tommy to classic music. Jimmy notices Nucky, Kaufman and Waxey leaving the Ritz as Angela tells him about immigrants using radio programmes to learn English. He turns and kisses her to avoid being recognised. Angela is surprised and he claims he was inspired by the music.
Van Alden calls his wife, Rose, from a payphone in the hospital. She is concerned because it is late in the evening. He informs her about Clarkson’s injuries and expresses self recrimination. She is supportive and tells him he cannot blame himself for the evils in the world and that he should find solace in working to combat them. Van Alden's guilt overwhelms him and he holds the receiver to his chest. He gathers himself and prepares Rose by telling her that he has always acted out of love. Rose is frightened by his tone. Van Alden tells her he is unfit for both their marriage and his badge. He says that he loves her and ends the call abruptly.
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.
At his home Jimmy reads the paper while his son Tommy eats breakfast. Angela answers the phone and tells Jimmy a man is returning his call. She has misheard Manny Horvitz’s nickname "Munya" as onions. Tommy interjects that he dislikes onions. Jimmy answers and warmly greets Manny. Jimmy asks his family to give him privacy and they leave the room. Jimmy’s tone alters as soon as they are gone; he suspects that Manny is dealing with Nucky after seeing Manny's associate Kaufmann on the boardwalk with Nucky. Jimmy asks Manny what he is doing. Manny does not understand and reminds Jimmy that he is still waiting for the long overdue shipment he paid for up-front. Jimmy tells Manny that he saw one of his friends on the boardwalk. Manny refuses to get involved in guessing games and Jimmy gives Herman’s name. Manny asks Jimmy to state his certainty twice and then agrees to call him back.
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.
Lucy brushes her hair before her mirror and then ties it back. She prepares her bed for the delivery of her baby.
In his office Daugherty laughs about the rise in popularity of the fez style of hat on the phone with President Harding, calling the president Bill. Smith enters and announces that Senator Walter Edge, from New Jersey, would like to speak to him. They shake hands and Edge explains that he has been discussing the proposed bureau of veteran’s affairs with Charlie Forbes. Daugherty claims that it is a worthy affair and Edge jokes that it could even benefit veterans. Edge calls Forbes a criminal and says that a constituent wants him to launch a subcommittee to investigate the proposal. Daugherty digs deeper asking if this constituent has other concerns. Having established his leverage, Edge reveals that his constituent about the assignment of Thorogood, an inexperienced prosecutor, to Nucky’s case. Edge demands a replacement in order to deflect his interest in the bureau. Daugherty nods acceptance and puffs on a cigar.
In Philadelphia Manny shows Jimmy down to the basement beneath Manny's butcher-shop. As they descend Manny makes small talk about wanting a career in show business after seeing Emma Thomashefsky at The Arch Street Theatre but being discouraged by his father. Manny concludes by saying he has no time for regret before showing Jimmy that he has Kaufman strung up by his feet in the meat locker. Jimmy blasphemes and Manny jokes that the Christian deity is not to be found in his store. Jimmy complains that Manny dragged him to Philadelphia for this and Manny repackages it as an invitation to hear what Kaufman has to say. Manny removes the gag from Kaufman’s mouth and Kaufman weakly asks for help. Manny admonishes Kaufman, saying that Jimmy cannot help because it is a problem between them. Manny describes knowing Kaufman as a boy. He then blames Kaufman getting ideas for their current situation. Manny instructs Kaufman to tell Jimmy about his ideas and slaps Kaufman when he hesitates. Kaufman admits working for Waxey Gordon. Manny calls Kaufman a spy and says that he cannot understand Kaufman’s thinking. Jimmy has Kaufman describe the discussion from the meeting at the Ritz as Manny sharpens a knife. Kaufman gives the location where the shipment will be brought ashore - Hawk Island Boatyard in Philadelphia. Jimmy asks why Nucky needs Waxey and Kaufman says for protection. Manny infers that the bootleggers are afraid of “us” meaning Jimmy and he. Jimmy balks at Manny’s use of the collective pronoun. Manny rhetorically asks Jimmy what is more valuable than information and states that they have obtained it here for free. He offers the knife to Jimmy. Jimmy refuses and Manny claims that he cannot touch Kaufman, explaining that Kaufman is injured and therefore Treyf (Yiddish, meaning not Kosher); his religion forbids killing him. Manny shrugs and says that everyone must live by rules. Jimmy goes to leave and Manny holds the knife handle against Jimmy's shoulder and suggests that he is feeling squeamish. Jimmy takes the knife and hands his hat to Manny, telling him to hold it. Jimmy walks behind Kaufman and cuts his throat.
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.
Daugherty calls Nucky about Edge's demands to switch prosecutors. Daugherty apologises and Nucky wonders why the attorney general is acquiescing to a mere senator. Daugherty admits that Edge has threatened an investigation. Nucky still cannot understand, citing Daugherty’s short time in office. Daugherty refuses to comment further. Nucky asks who it will be and Daugherty does not follow, distracted by the newspaper he is reading. Once Nucky has clarified his meaning Daugherty admits that he has not chosen yet. Nucky requests an accommodating prosecutor and complains about his situation's vulnerability. Daugherty says he is also vulnerable and hangs up.
Thorogood is in his suite enjoying the attention of two women when Eddie is let in by the hotel manager. Eddie sends the women away and informs Thorogood that Nucky wants him to leave. Thorogood is confused, suspecting a joke, and says that he is not amused. The manager says Thorogood has five minutes to leave and throws his shoes onto the bed, complimenting the footwear as he does so but leaving no further doubt.
Lucy pants and moans through more contractions, gritting her teeth, gripping the bed sheets and dripping with sweat. Eventually her baby’s cries replace hers.
Van Alden returns to Clarkson’s bedside where Elliot is sitting vigil. Van Alden explains his long absence as a visit to the chapel. Elliot tells Van Alden that a message has been sent to Clarkson’s family in Montana. A nurse treats Clarkson’s burns as Van Alden praises Clarkson's character and admits that he deserves Clarkson’s fate. Van Alden begins a confession to Elliot but is interrupted by Clarkson repeating his earlier utterance “I see you, I know what you did.” The nurse explains that Clarkson is delirious and has been repeating these same phrases to everyone. Clarkson’s rambling progresses and it becomes clear that it relates to a childhood memory rather than to Van Alden's corruption. Van Alden leaves the hospital telling Elliot that the conversation he wanted is no longer necessary.
Van Alden arrives home with the promised lemons. He notices the broken china and finds Lucy cradling the baby in the bedroom. She tells him she delivered the baby herself and that it is a girl. He smiles and goes to fetch a doctor. Lucy kisses her daughters forehead.
Four vehicles carry Nucky’s shipment out of Philadelphia in convoy. Lansky checks his watch in the lead vehicle. There is a bang followed by a hiss and Lansky’s driver pulls the car over. Lansky gets out and draws a handgun while the driver checks the flat tyre. Luciano and another man get out of trucks and run to the front, also with weapons in hand. Luciano asks what happened and the driver jokes that they are taking a coffee break. Lansky suggests that the flat might have been caused by a nail in the road. Luciano checks the tyre and dismisses the suggestion. A volley of shots is fired from the woods off to the driver’s side of the convoy and Luciano’s man is hit. Luciano, Lansky and the driver take cover on the passenger side of the car and return fire. The firing stops and Jimmy calls out for Luciano’s group to drop their weapons. Luciano is shocked to recognise Jimmy’s voice and identifies himself. Jimmy and Manny, unaware of Rothstein’s involvement in Nucky’s deal with Waxey, are just as surprised to find the New Yorkers guarding Nucky’s liquor. Jimmy instructs Luciano to come out and promises not to shoot. The two groups face off in the road, weapons still pointed at one another. Luciano explains Rothstein’s deal with Nucky. Richard Harrow expresses disbelief. Manny asks Jimmy what he wants to do. Lansky breaks the ensuing silence with a proposition. He calls the chance meeting another opportunity to partner up. Manny wants blood and sees the New Yorker's association with Waxey as reason enough to kill them. Jimmy repeats Whitlock’s earlier advice that not all insults require a response. Manny reminds Jimmy of the $5000 debt between them. Jimmy asks the New Yorkers to advance the money and tells Manny that killing everyone is bad business. They agree to let the New Yorkers deliver the load as planned on the understanding that the two groups will collaborate to take control of the entire bootlegging business in the future. Lansky calls the meeting kismet and states that Rothstein and Nucky’s time has passed. The driver interjects claiming that Waxey’s time is not over. Manny sighs, says that they will worry about Waxey and shoots the driver in the head.
Van Alden returns home with the promised doctor. He notices that the lemons have been put into a glass bowl, the shattered crockery has been cleaned up and the bloody bedding is soaking in the sink. He goes through to the bedroom and finds Rose mopping Lucy’s brow. Disbelieving, he closes his eyes and looks again. Rose turns around and observes that Lucy has a mild fever. Rose offers to leave the doctor to his work and walks into the corridor with her husband. Van Alden asks why she is there and she explains that she was concerned after his call, came to town and got the address from Sawicki. She says that she now knows what was really upsetting him. He tries to explain his deception as a way to give Rose a child and touches her arm. She loses her composure, telling him not to touch her and pounding on his chest with her fists. He grabs her wrists and pins her against the wall, asking her to calm down. She bites his hand until he releases her and she then leaves the apartment. He stands alone in the corridor as the baby cries.
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.