Last week we got to know some of the players. Nucky Thompson is the treasurer of Atlantic City, who has his fingers in many pots in Atlantic City.
As the episode opens Big Jim Colosimo, the King of the Chicago vice world is being carried out of the church from his funeral mass as his henchmen are his pallbearers; the press is hounding them for answers.
In Atlantic City, as Nucky is having his shoes shined by a black man. He asks Harlan if he is a family man. Harlan tells him that he has a wife and four boys. His assistant breaks in and tells him that he has a visitor, who does not wait to be announced. It is Senior Prohibition Agent Nelson Van Alden, who has been waiting some time to see Nucky. Nucky offers him a shoe shine or coffee or maybe something stronger as he attempts at humor, which is not appreciated. The agent is investigating the shootings of Saturday night during the ambush. Nucky assures him that the architect of that slaughter has been found, and they can all sleep comfortably now. He tells him that Hans Schroeder was a baker’s apprentice, not a gangster with only one citation for public drunkenness and shows him the original citation from several years ago. Nucky sees that he even wrote the citation back when he was sheriff. He tells the agent that he should go see the current sheriff and Van Alden already knows that it is Nucky’s brother Elias. Nucky offers him a chance to see one of the local shows and even offers him a “date” if he is stag, but he brushes off the offer. Van Alden also tells him that he went to visit Mrs. Schroeder who was not home. He asked if Nucky knew of her whereabouts. Nucky changes the subject telling him that his business should be alcohol, and why isn’t he looking for the next still! He then assures as Nucky said to him earlier in the meeting that he also marches to the beat of his own drummer too.
The next scene shows a hawker on the boardwalk calling all the white brothers to a Ku Klux Klan meeting as Jimmy Darmody spots a lovely necklace in a jewelry store window. Then Nucky is walking with his assistant and a rotund man in a straw hat summons Nucky, who asks his assistant who he is. He finds out that his name is Baxter and sells cutlery to the restaurants in Atlantic City. Baxter then calls over a young blonde and tells her to say hello to Nucky. He tells her that Nucky is a big cheese, as big as they come. Nucky counters that comment with; “some say a big rat” interjecting humor for the lady.
Mrs. Schroder is still in the hospital when a nurse comes to her bed and tells her that a Mr. Thompson is here to see her. She straightens herself expecting Nucky, but it is Elias, the sheriff who gives her an envelope from his brother full of money. He is there to plant the seed that her husband was involved with the ambush and other shady activities; he also infers that her children could be taken away from her and placed with the county leaving her with food for thought and a lot of money.
Agent Van Alden is at headquarters with his men discussing Nucky and telling them about all his involvements. He goes on about how he has grand furniture, crystal vases, oil paintings, tailored suits, a Rolls Royce. He is corrupt as the day is long; not just a little graft, there is not a single business he does not get a piece of, or a public employee who does not pay for his job; sanitation, police, fire departments, the whole town under his wings and yet the people still vote him into office. The “darkies” especially; every waiter, busboy and porter swear allegiance to him at election time; as they show him handing out boxes of cigars to a bunch of mostly black kitchen and hotel workers. There are also the casinos, whore houses, and even owns a wire service for the racing results, and the alcohol has not slowed down a bit because there is hardly a bar or restaurant where you cannot get a drink. Their superior told him that he was sent down to Atlantic City to follow Arnold Rothstein, but Van Arden tells him that he feels that Nucky Thompson is the bigger fish.
Jimmy is at home when his wife and son come home, and he says Merry Christmas with gifts even though Christmas was a month ago. He has a beautiful bracelet for his wife, a great big dump truck for his son and a vacuum cleaner for the house that scares his son. Then later that night he has to go out and arrives at a club where semi-naked girls are rehearsing for a show. They take a break and Jimmy goes backstage and meets one of them who jumps up and wraps her legs around him and kisses him. It turns out to be his mother, and he gives her a beautiful necklace to replace one she had years ago that she sold to keep a roof over their heads.
Jimmy appears at Nucky’s office to clock in and Nucky tells him that he no longer has a job with him. After the ambush the other night he handed Nucky an envelope full of money telling him that it was his part of the job. Now Nucky tells him that for him to stay in business in Atlantic City, he tells him he is three grand short and has forty-eight hours to pay him or else. Nucky is adamant that he wants no association with Jimmy and he explains that Al Capone got spooked by deer in the woods and started shooting. Once they killed one of them, they could not leave any witnesses.
In Chicago, a reporter comes into the bar where Al Capone is tending bar and asks for a statement regarding the killing of Big Jim Colosimo that he is linking Johnny Torio with the murder. Al breaks a bottle over the reporter’s head and kicks the crap out of him, somebody asks him what he is doing and he tells them he is making a statement. Then the phone rings and it is Jimmy asking for a loan to pay Nucky. Al is laughing and saying that there is a bad connection and he cannot hear Jimmy and hangs up. Jimmy arrives at the place where his mother works and while they are on stage, he steals back the necklace he gave her.
Arnold Rothstein calls Nucky and tells him that he did not get his shipment and that one of the guys killed in the ambush was his nephew and that he also owes him $100,000 for selling his shipment to Chicago. Nucky tells him that he did not sell his load to anyone and that he did not care is his mother was one of the drivers. Rothstein asks if this is the way he does business; and Nucky replies that he will see how he does business if he ever shows his face again in Atlantic City.
Mrs. Schroeder returns home from the hospital just as she receives a knock on the door from Van Alden. He starts telling her that he believes that her husband was murdered as a dupe or a scapegoat and had nothing to do with the ambush. He asks her just what her relationship is to Nucky Thompson.
As the scene changes Nucky is on the boardwalk and runs into Baxter again with his girl. While she goes into a store, Baxter tells Nucky that he is buying her everything and getting nothing in return. Nucky tells her when she returns that he is sponsoring a beauty contest and that Baxter is going to be a judge.
Mrs. Schroeder goes to Nucky to give back the money. She asks him how old his wife was when she died, and he said she was 28 years old. She said the money is weighing on her conscience. She said when she went to see him, she asked for him to give her husband a job. She was a parlor maid in Ireland and was not seeking alms. She quoted George Sand to him about being charitable and tells him that she worked for a barrister who had many books, and she read as many as possible. She also asked what he wanted from her, and he told her he wanted her to vote Republican because women are about to receive the ability to vote.
Baxter is then with the cold fish of a date who he spent a fortune on. They are in a nice restaurant, and he tries to kiss her. Then she tells him she is not that kind of a girl. He plans to take her back to Baltimore immediately. The two of them are on their way to Baltimore as he recounts all the money he spent on her. She finally relents and he pulls over. He kisses her and she is manually stimulating him as a man starts staggering out of the woods and falls on their car as they are both screaming and the episode ends.