Spoiler alert: Do not read on if you haven't seen Season 3, Episode 9 of "Boardwalk Empire," titled "The Milkmaid's Lot."
"The Milkmaid's Lot" picked up after the massive explosion blew up Babette's, and as crews cleaned up the wreckage on the Boardwalk, Nucky was recovering from a concussion he experienced in the blast. Cycling in and out of consciousness, fighting a buzzing in his head and at times, struggling to make sense, Nucky had to make a last-ditch attempt to marshall his allies to go to war with Rosetti. But he had a tough time convincing his friends and wife not to flee a sinking ship.
Nucky called his allies to Atlantic City to plead for their support in the impending war with Gyp, but this was not the famous Atlantic City Conference of 1930, a meeting when the real life Nucky Johnson and his allies organized the mafia into its five crime families. Nucky was able to make sense long enough to give his presentation, but his former friends sensed his weakness, and decided they were going to leave Nucky to fight this one on his own. Not even Rothstein, Luciano and Lanksy were willing to go to war on his side.
Nucky's collapsing marriage also took the next step on its road to ruin. Margaret went from warning her kids that "there won't always be maids" to actually considering Owen Sleater's offer to run away together. And after she saw Nucky display his dark side and vow to murder his enemies, Margaret had seen enough. She told Owen to make the arrangements for their departure.
But will Nucky let that happen? There were moments that he seemed to be catching on to their affair, but his limited lucidity didn't allow him to fully realize what was going on. At one point he asked, "We need to discuss something. The three of us right now. What happened to the pony?" But he will ultimately find out, and it will be interesting to see how Nucky deals with Owen once he fully comes to grips with what's been going on. Will Owen just disappear back to his home country like Furio did in "The Sopranos?" Will Nucky deal him some harsher punishment? They again, they could always get away with it, but it seems unlikely that Margaret will really be willing to say goodbye to her wealthy life when push comes to shove.
Speaking of "The Sopranos," I couldn't help but notice some similarities between Gyp and Paulie Walnuts when Rosetti was wearing that colonial hat as he watched his boats being unloaded on the beach. Remember when Paulie had that painting of Tony and his horse re-made to make Tony look like a Revolutionary War general? With their old-school toughness, intellectual simplicity and and dull witticisms, the characters might as well be brothers from another era.
One thing did go Nucky's way in this episode when federal agents stormed George Remis' Cincinnati apartment and arrested him on bootlegging charges. He may be friendless and vulnerable to Gyp's impending assault, but Nucky has always known how to play his political cards right.
But even that personal victory was balanced out by yet another tragedy. Nucky was seeing flashes of his girlfriend Billie Kent's face throughout the hour, and mid-way through the episode, he came to terms with the fact that she was killed in the explosion.
So now Nucky will have to face the onslaught from Rosetti without major reinforcements. His crew currently consists of his brother Eli, Chalky White and three guys each sent from Atlantic City's ward-bosses. His head of security is about to run off with his wife. The odds are stacked against him, but we've seen Nucky persevere in fights for his life before. His first step should be adding Richard Harrow to his crew. One man won't help his Nucky's chances much, but it sure would make this viewer happy.
What did you think of this episode of "Boardwalk Empire"? Share your thoughts and theories in the comments.