Note: Do not read if you haven't seen Season 3, Episode 10 of "Boardwalk Empire," titled "A Man, A Plan."
Oh no, Owen Sleater. Last week we wondered what terrible fate Nucky's driver and Margaret's Irish lover on the side would meet for conspiring to run off with his boss' wife, and this episode delivered that brutal answer.
Sent to New York to take out Gyp Rosetti's ally Joe Masseria in a Turkish bath, Owen returned in a box, his dead, bloodied body back sent back to Nucky in the middle of the night. Lucky Luciano tipped off Masseria that a hit was in the works in exchange for financial backing on a big heroin deal.
But how did Luciano know the details of the hit? He wasn't in the room when it was being discussed, and after Rothstein walked in on Nucky's plea for help last episode, his crew wouldn't have been privy to that information.
You have to wonder if Nucky -- as surprised and horrified as he seemed when he saw Owen's body -- tipped off the New York crew to pre-empt Owen and Margaret's escape plan. Nucky seemed vaguely aware that something was brewing between them throughout this episode and last episode, at one point ominously saying, "Between you and Owen, the old country is starting to rub off."
Then again, this theory may be off base, and feel free to tell me so in the comments. Nucky did seem to finally piece together that Owen and Margaret were involved with each other as he watched her wail over his dead body. And she certainly seemed to think Nucky was responsible for Owen's death as she punched him with her fists.
It's quite possible that Nucky didn't order Owen dead, and the whole thing was just a tragic coincidence; but it's also possible that Nucky really did know about Owen and Margaret all along, or that Mickey Doyle overheard Margaret telling Owen that she is pregnant with his child. Or that Katie, the scorned servant Owen was also sleeping with, told him that "Mrs. Thompson fancies the help."
Whether killing Owen was part of Nucky's plan or not, Nucky was indeed "a man with a plan" in this episode. Recovered from the concussion that prevented him from thinking clearly last week, Nucky hatched a multi-pronged strategy to take down Rosetti and clear away his political problems.
He sent his brother Eli to Chicago to try to gain Johnny Torio's support, which commenter Poindexter718 totally called last week. It might not be soon until Torio sends Capone to Atlantic City to help Nucky clean up this mess, in exchange for the liquor supply that arrested George Remis will no longer be able to provide them. A scenario where Capone, Chalky White and Harrow unite as a prohibition-era A-Team to take Rosetti down would be truly awesome.
There were two other aspects of Nucky's plan: (1) Getting intelligence on Rosetti, and (2) Making sure Jess Smith, the squeaky wheel in Daugherty's Justice Department, wouldn't have a chance to rat him out.
After two dozen cases of Rosetti's whiskey fell off his boats -- and it was hilarious to watch Atlantic City beachgoers pull them out of the surf like it was Christmas morning -- Nucky surmised that his unhinged rival might be looking for a new sea captain. So he sent a man named Mr. McCoy to make a deal to captain Rosetti's boats and gather as much intelligence on his operation as he could.
He's likely to report back that Rosetti is as crazy as ever: He played a murderous version of golf with a mouthy underling's head, using a shovel as a club. That guy loves killing people for no reason at all, and his workers might eventually turn on him for his brutality.
It didn't take much to deal with the Jess Smith problem, although it cost both Nucky and Harry Daugherty $40,000 apiece. Gaston Means managed to make them both pay for the same job, and Smith shot himself in the head after a brief stand-off.
In other news, Mickey Doyle mercifully got sent away to Pennsylvania to run Melon's distillery. Harrow and his lady made out and may have slept together -- wait for it -- under the boardwalk. And Chalky White came to Nucky to ask if he could open a club for blacks in place of the burned-down Babette's, but Nucky coldly told him no. It would be a great business opportunity, but unfortunately Nucky isn't ready for that level of integration and equality yet.
And before Eli could get to the Windy City, Capone came fork-to-face with Van Alden. After a Norwegian restaurant owner ratted Van Alden out for selling his hooch in Capone's territory, Capone's goons dragged Van Alden in for a sit-down. "What am I gonna do with you, George?" Capone asked him, before he stuck a fork in his cheek and told him to stay out of his territory. But more importantly, Capone forced Van Alden to tell him everything he knows about his rival O'Banion's operation. Van Alden doesn't know much, but he could become a pawn in Capone's North Side-South Side Chicago feud.
What did you think of this episode? Leave your thoughts and theories in the comments.
"Boardwalk Empire" airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on HBO