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Episode 1.08 : Hold Me in Paradise

In June of 1920, the GOP delegates are gathered in Chicago to nominate its President and Vice President candidates for election. Nucky arrives, and being the magnificent tipper that he is, he is able to bribe the manager for the Presidential suite in the hotel, instead of the presumptive nominee, war hero and Army Chief of Staff, General Leonard Wood from New Hampshire. Senator Edge wants Nucky to go on his behalf to meet with Harding’s campaign manager, Harry Daugherty at a reception he is hosting. Harding’s man also wants the NJ senator on the ticket. Before the convention, Harding is in the second group of candidates, an afterthought. “As Nucky Thompson goes, so goes the New Jersey delegation.”

While in Chicago, Nucky sits down with Torrio at his brothel and they discuss the convention. Torrio is anxious to get the rum Nucky is expecting from a ship out of Bimini. He introduces Nucky to Judge Graves, who is also a patron of the brothel, for insight into Harding. Harding’s “a puppet of the fast-money boys in Ohio.” (The Harding administration was riddled with scandals of influence peddling.) Nucky sees Jimmy and berates him on his lack of support to Angela back home. Jimmy looks puzzled by the comment, but doesn’t respond. Poor Eddie, one of the girls is looking to show him a good time, but Nucky orders that they leave.

Harding was supposed to be the candidate without any baggage, but we also find out from Daugherty, that is not the case at all. Nucky reads the tea leaves, and figures Harding will move up the nomination ladder as a weary convention progresses. However, the deal Nucky makes with Daugherty is opposite of the one Senator Edge wanted. To drive home their deal, Nucky offers to hide one of Harding’s many mistresses, Nan Britton, and the couple’s illegitimate daughter away in Atlantic City until after the November general election, just to insure that Senator Edge isn’t on the ballot. Jersey City mayor, Frank Hague was right about Edge; the appropriations money didn’t make it to Atlantic City.

Nucky makes it very clear to Edge that the only way he’ll see the inside of the White House is on a guided tour. He delivers the NJ delegation vote to Harding. On the tenth ballot, Ohio Senator Warren Harding gets the necessary votes to win the party’s nomination, and his running mate is Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge. At the reception, out of the blue, Harding’s wife confided to Nucky that a fortune teller told her that Harding would die in office. Three years later, he did, making Coolidge the President. Senator Edge, who had Presidential aspirations, shouldn’t have arrogantly screwed over the campaign manager who made him what he is.

On the train ride back to Atlantic City, Britton shares, with Nucky, a love letter to her from Harding, an intimate passage from which is the title of the episode. Harding financially supports her to his death, whereupon his family cuts off the money and (seventy years ahead of Monica Lewinsky) she later writes a tell-all book about her affairs with the President.

Angela is also under the impression that Jimmy hasn’t been sending money back home to support his boy, Tommy. Much to the disgust of Gillian, Angela, the “Bohemian,” is living off the generosity of Nucky Thompson, rather than working herself. Instead, Angela is full of dreams of being a painter influenced by her girlfriend Mary.

At his office in the post office, VanAlden has been intercepting Angela’s mail, and has a drawer full of cash envelopes mailed to her from Jimmy. He later sits down to breakfast with his wife, Rose, who is distraught that she is having difficulty conceiving a baby. A physician in Manhattan can possibly repair the blockage in her fallopian tubes surgically, but the $270 expense is more than an honest G Man can bear. VanAlden is honest and upright after all, as he mails Angela’s cash in an envelope to her, while his wife gets a letter telling her to keep praying for a baby.

While Nucky’s out of town, Eli sits at Nucky’s desk, busily arranging pens and other items in perpendicular order. Eli fancies himself in Nucky’s job full time. However, to his dismay, the usually packed waiting room is empty while Eli is in temporary command. “How hard can it be?” “I’ll buy a nickel joke-book down at the five-and-dime, I’ll be the toast of the town myself” Eli’s in charge of the collections and, one evening, he decides to personally collect from Nucky’s casino. All Eli collects is a bullet in his gut, as he is shot by the D’Alessios who are robbing the casino, run by Lolly Steinman.

Nucky realizes he needs protection himself and waits for Jimmy at the bar at 4 a.m. Nucky reaches out to him to return to Atlantic City as his enforcer, now that they are at war, even offering Jimmy a small percentage of the proceeds. Nucky can’t be “half a gangster anymore” as Jimmy told him months ago. People get shot now, which is different from the way Nucky had been doing business. He tries to persuade Jimmy to reach a decision, telling him that, as an Irishman, Jimmy will always be an outside with the Italians in Chicago. Jimmy watches a card game amongst Capone and Torrio who are joking around in Italian, and realizes Nucky was right.

Lucy’s on her own, her credit cut off at Jeunet’s shop. The woman scorned practically begs for a fight with Margaret in the Ritz Carlton hotel lobby and gets a slap across the face for her efforts. “The next time won’t nearly be as pleaant,” Margaret assures her. Nucky trusts Margaret so much now, that immediately after he got the news about Eli, he telephones her and asks her to secure and safeguard an important business ledger in his desk. She reads the ledger. So much for maintaining plausible deniability. Deep down she knew now that Nucky has some skeletons of his own in the closet, but did not acknowledge it, because it would shatter her fairy tale ending.

In New York, Rothstein meets with his lawyer to practice his lines if called on to testify in the upcoming hearings over the Black Sox scandal. “Baseball is the heart of America, I would never do anything to besmirch our National Pastime.”

Re: Episode 1.08 : Hold Me in Paradise

Best episode I've seen. So many things starting to play out. What this series lacks in contemporary connections, it makes up for in the history lessons i'm forced to follow up on. Show over, I immediately had to research Warren Harding. What a paradox. Loved at the time and accomplished quite a bit in that short time, his cabinet takes corruption to all new heights. It really is bringing home what an incredible time in American history the early 20's were.

Another soprano alumni sighting. Hardings campaign manager was Chris' sponser the last couple seasons. I remember him well as i was sure he was a Fed at the time. Turned out to be one of the most inconsquential characters of the series

Re: Episode 1.08 : Hold Me in Paradise

I felt this episode was a step down from the previous few episodes. I enjoyed all of the scenes with Nucky in Chicago, but wasn't very interested in the action back in AC. The whole Margaret/Lucy confrontation was especially cringe-worthy - it felt like something out of a soap opera.

The stuff with Nucky was great though, I enjoyed seeing him in his element with the rest of the politicians. I liked his interaction with Harding's mistress too, and how similar it was to his first meeting with Margaret. I wonder how many other single mothers he's helping out over the years?

Other observations:
- We need more Rothstein. Chalky too. And what happened to Frankie Yale?
- I'd love to see more of the Boardwalk set too - it hasn't got very much screen-time considering all the work that's been put into it.
- 1920's porn? Oh dear...
- I liked seeing the Colosimos advertisement - I wish "Big Jim" had stuck around a little longer.
- The lesbian plotline doesn't interest me. I feel BE has too many storylines going already. I wonder if they'll be pushed for ideas for the second season.

Another Sopranos connection: I just found out that the actress who plays Angela Darmody played Meadow's roommate from "Eloise" (the one who IIRC was descended from Spanish royalty).

Re: Episode 1.08 : Hold Me in Paradise

Definitely agree about having more Rothstein-chilling character. Liked to see more of Benny and his cohort Corky as the brothers who seem intent on being a thorn in Nucky's side.

With all the stories going on i'm curious if Winter will close them all. It's not like that hasn't been done before.

It really is a shame we haven't seen more input here, but as i read in one recent review, as good as it is, it's not watercooler good yet
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