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Re: Episode 1.09: Belle Femme

After the successful heist of Lolly Steinman’s casino, the Leo and Ignatius D’Alessio, and Mickey Cusick have earned a trip to New York to pay their respects to Arnold Rothstein. They’re looking to make “piles of dough” in the liquor business with Rothstein’s backing.

Rothstein tells them the way they were going about it, by distributing diluted liquor is the stupid way of doing business. Instead, they need to sell pure Scotch imported from Britain to a higher class of customers willing to pay for the difference.

Rothstein views Atlantic City as the ideal port, and wants the D’Alessios to smuggleet the liquor to shore from outside the three-mile limit. AC is Nucky’s town, but that doesn’t intimidate a powerful man like Rothstein. “A reputation takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only seconds to destroy.” He views Nucky not as a potential business partner, but as “ greedy and unreasonable” He contracts with the the D’Alessios to get Nucky out of the way, permanently.

To seal the deal, he has them sign $500,000 life insurance policies, with Rothstein as beneficiary, as an incentive to assure their loyalty. The nice thing about the Bronx Zoo is that there are bars between the people and the monkeys. Obviously, the D’Alessios didn’t make quite the first impression at the meeting.

Confined to recuperating in bed, Eli identifies the D’Alessios as the gang that robbed the casino. George O’Neil concurs that they were also the ones that had mugged him on the Boardwalk.

Jimmy Darmody’s back in town, accompanied by his harrowing WWI marksman friend, Richard. His first visit is to Nucky’s office to negotiate the terms of his employment. Jimmy forces the “politician to the end” to “spell it out.” Nucky wants all the D’Alessios killed. There goes his plausible deniability alibi.

The Commodore’s dying a slow death, unable to keep his food down. Even his dog, who eats what the Commodore is served, isn’t feeling well. Maybe the Commodore’s illness is from a slow food poisoning. They say revenge is a dish best served cold. His maid may be ill-informed of the “League of Nations” but she may get the last laugh.

The press is alleging possible corruption in Mayor Bacharach’s administration. Bacharach’s weak and has lost the confidence of Nucky and the Commodore, and there are concerns the Democrats will win. “People want change give it to them, or at least pretend to give it to them.” (That sure sounds familiar) Kingmaker Nucky meets with Edward Bader to convince him to replace an “ailing” Bacharach on the ballot. Nucky will decide what “ails” Bacharach once Bader agrees to run.

Angela and the Dittrichs are tipsy from wine and are headed for some three-way adventure like those fun loving Parisians, when Jimmy arrives at the locked door. Party over. Jimmy has his own plans for a romantic night with Angela. The next morning, during breakfast, Jimmy gets a call from his mother. Jimmy raises the idea of having another baby, but Angela is far from excited by the prospect. Now that Jimmy's back in town, the Dittrichs no longer fill Angela's head with false hopes of a career as a painter.

Luciano is still getting lucky with Gillian Darmody. He’s laying back in bed, having a post-coital smoke. It must be a no-smoking room because he’s abruptly doused with hot coffee in a surprise visit from Gillian’s son, Jimmy.

Jimmy leads Luciano out of the building at gunpoint, promising to take him where no one will find him. Luciano’s quick to inform Jimmy of Rothstein’s plans with the D’Alessios, offering to cut them out of the deal in exchange for his life.

In the foyer, VanAlden is there, also bearing a gun pointed at Jimmy in order to arrest him. Once again, we see how Luciano earned the nickname, Lucky, as he’s set free.

Agent Sebso withheld the Western Union telegram from Jimmy, announcing his return, much to the anger of VanAlden. Sebso said he did so to keep his job because Supervisor Elliot believes VanAlden is too obsessed with Margaret Schroeder. Their supervisor was right.

During VanAlden’s interrogation of Jimmy, he goes outside the hijacking investigation to probe the nature of Nucky’s relationship with Margaret Schroeder. Jimmy defiantly tells VanAlden that if he wants to know who Nucky is [fornicating], he should ask Nucky himself. VanAlden gazes again at the passport picture of a young Margaret, as he sits back self assured that he will soon have Nucky convicted (and away from Margaret).

Jimmy’s confident that he can beat the (five counts of) murder rap until he encounters Winslow on the way to his jail cell. Now Jimmy has ever reason to be concerned. Nucky visits him in jail. Jimmy tells him of Rothstein’s plan with the D’Alessio brothers. The legal system is not the way to free Darmody, Nucky advises. Is the Commodore Jimmy’s real father?

Sebso suggests to Van Alden that they get Billy Winslow out of Nucky’s reach, transferred to a jail in New York. Reminiscent of the scene in the Godfather when Clemenza stopped roadside for a bathroom break, this time its Winslow who is suddenly killed. Sebso smashes a rock into his forehead to give the appearance of an alleged injury sustained during an escape attempt by Winslow. There goes the only evidence that VanAlden had linking Jimmy to the January 17th hijacking. No doubt that Sebso’s name is in Nucky’s ledger under the category of payoffs.

Margaret escorts Nan Britton to Madame Jeunet’s Belle Femme shop. Jeunet’s attitude toward Margaret has done a complete turnaround now that Margaret, now “a lady of taste and judgement,” is with Nucky. She reaches out to Margaret for help, as Nucky has doubled the weekly collection amount from everyone in town. Nucky dismisses Margaret’s direct approach in short order, but later accommodates Margaret when she plies her feminine charms and plays weak. Nucky wants Margaret to campaign for the Republican candidates in the November elections, and she wants to dress nice for the occasions. Jeunet gets relief and more business from Nucky. She shows her gratitude by offering Margaret a dress for her daughter. “My daughter didn’t help you, Madame Jeunet.” Margaret calls her on her duplicity which Jeunet tries to brush aside as a “language barrier.” She decides an elegant $480 blue evening dress is a more suitable payment.

After an evening out with the Baders, entertained by Sophie Tucker, Nucky and Margaret are strolling on the Boardwalk, followed by Eddie. Young Pius D’Alessio attempts to distract Nucky as his brother, Sixtus, pulls a pistol out pointed in Nucky’s direction. Nucky should also be named Lucky as Eddie pushed them out of the way just in time. Eddie picks up the gun and shoots a fleeing Sixtus D’Alessio in the leg. A woman spectator is shot and her blood splatters all over Margaret’s nice new expensive blue dress.

Re: Episode 1.09: Belle Femme

I am enjoying this immensely. It is definitely the best series on at the moment.

I believe its greatest strength is how it recreates the era but still feels contemprary and relevent. Kudos to the actors, writers, directors and all.

This will be a classic like the Sopranos!
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