"Boardwalk Empire" The Age of Reason (TV Episode 2011) - Plot Summary Poster

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  • Lucy's water breaks and labor starts; guilt overpowers Van Alden while at the hospital. Nucky's racketeering case gets sent to federal court where someone uses a New Jersey senator to pull some strings. Having reached the age of reason, Margaret's son makes his first confession, and the priest wants her to set an example; Nucky warns her not to trust the sanctity of the confessional. Owen's cheekiness seems limitless. Jimmy spots Manny's lieutenant on the boardwalk with Nucky; a series of crosses, double-crosses, and confrontations follow.

  • Nucky orchestrates a risky liquor delivery in Philadelphia; Attorney General Daugherty faces a quandary that could complicate Nucky's case; Jimmy finds a new mentor in Leander Whitlock, the Commodore's longtime lawyer; Margaret confesses her sins; Lucy struggles in solitude, while Van Alden wrestles with his conscience.


The synopsis below may give away important plot points.


  • Van Alden reads his Bible while Lucy is in another room asking him to pick up lemons on his way home from work. She says she can't get comfortable and he responds by telling her that Agent Clarkson is "in a hospital bed with third-degree burns over most of his body. I would venture to say he can't get comfortable, either." She says she wants "to be done with" the pregnancy. He says he'll pick up lemons and leaves.

    Margaret's son, Teddy, is getting lectured by a priest about "sinning." Nucky seems uncomfortable with the speech and the intense references to Jesus and God. He goes to wait in the car. The priest goes on to tell him that after the age of 7, God "judges us." Margaret looks nervous, especially when the priest tells her that, to set an example, she should make her first confession, as well.

    Defense Attorney Charles Kenneth Thorogood (T.J. Kenneally) is making the motion to make Nucky's case a federal one. The judge notes his "very demonstrative" green shoes. Thorogood makes the argument for moving Nucky's election-rigging case. The state prosecutor from New Jersey doesn't seem pleased. The judge says he's inclined to agree with the defense.

    Nucky is inscribing the Bible he's going to give his "nephew," as he tells his shoe-shiner, who is going to have his first confession. Nucky gets a call from George Remus, thanking him for Nucky's help. Nucky referred Jess Smith to Remus so they could make a deal. Referring to himself in the third-person, Remus tells Nucky that "now Remus can buy his liquor permits straight from the source, as often as he needs to." Nucky wants to know when he'll be seeing his "finder's fee" for the referral. Remus says he doesn't like "the nickel and diming." Nucky knows he's referring to the phone charges on his hotel bill.

    "You come to Cincinnati, you're not handed a bill for the maid service," Remus says.

    "Why the (expletive) would anyone ever go to Cincinnati?" Nucky shoots back.

    Remus tells him "Remus finds you petty and resentful," and Nucky responds with a not terribly kind farewell, referring to something Remus can do to, well, Remus. Nucky puts a $10 bill in the Bible, but then reconsidered and replaces it with a $20.

    Jimmy is getting a pep talk, of sorts, from Leander Cephas Whitlock (Dominic Chianese), who quotes a reference to Alexander the Great -- the son of a king. Gillian points out this is much like Jimmy, then turns to the still non-communicative Commodore and adds, "a king who's very proud of his heir." The Commodore nods, almost reluctantly. Jimmy then asks about his "teacher." Leander says Nucky is "always thinking ahead," and says he wouldn't have thought of Nucky's ploy with the attorney general. Louis tries fruitlessly to speak at this, and seems angry, but he's wheeled away by a servant after Gillian says it's time for his meds.

    Leander tells Jimmy that being in the role of giving orders is different than when he was taking them. He asks if the business (the scalping) with Jackson Parkhurst was necessary and Jimmy artfully dodges by saying he'll "have to ask the men responsible." Leander tells him that while not many tears were shed, he's alienated some "very powerful allies." Leander asks Gillian if he can talk to Jimmy privately and she leaves, first telling Jimmy, "I know you'll tell me everything." Leander tells Jimmy that "not every insult requires a response." He says Nucky has the kind of prudence required of someone who's looking at the big picture. Jimmy tells him he's started something he intends to finish. When Leander says he wanted to hear Jimmy say he wanted to "win," Jimmy replies, "Isn't that what I just said?"

    Lucy is home alone in her kitchen when her water breaks.

    Nucky is popping champagne with Thorogood, who is psyched about swaying the judge in just his third appearance before one. Nucky is kind of annoyed by Thorogood. Attorney General Harry Daugherty (Christopher McDonald) who calls Nucky to congratulate him on becoming a federal defendant. Daugherty passes along Jess' thanks for the intro to Remus. Daugherty tells Nucky to take care of Thorogood, who makes reference to what his "pleasure" would be and Nucky sends him up to a suite.

    At the house, Margaret notices "quite the attraction" between Katy and Slater. After he leaves, she talks to Katy about it. She tells her to bear in mind that there are children present in the house when considering her behavior.

    Van Alden sits in a hallway at the hospital. A nurse gives him permission to enter a room, and he walks in to find Agent Clarkson (Joel Brady) with severe burns. Van Alden's boss, Supervisor Elliot (Peter McRobbie), enters and wonders how Clarkson is still alive, and Van Alden says he "loves the Lord." Elliot says, "it seems that's a pretty one-sided relationship." Van Alden fires back that his blasphemy is an insult to Agent Clarkson, and that even the doctors, "men of science," agree that Clarkson's fate rests in God's hands, not theirs. Van Alden prays. While he's praying, Clarkson breathes, opens his eyes and looks at Van Alden to say, "I see you. I know what you did." Elliot wants to know what Clarkson is saying, and Van Alden, panicked, leaves the room to get the doctor. He breathes heavily in the hallway and a flickering overhead light captures his attention.

    Nucky has a meeting with Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) and Waxy Gordon (Nick Sandow) -- Manny Horvitz's associate Herman is also there -- about the shipment coming into Philadelphia. Chalky (Michael Kenneth Williams) is in the room, as well. The trucks will be escorted to the border of Atlantic City. Chalky tells them he'll be expecting them around 5:00 am, and reminds them to make sure they flash their lights because he "ain't taking no more chances."

    Lucy writhes in pain that night, crying. She sees a kid in his bathroom across the way and yells for him to get his mom. He closes the curtain and she continues to cry, "Please, please, please."

    Walking the boardwalk, Jimmy and Angela are in awe over a wireless radio exhibition. Jimmy thinks they should get one. Jimmy spots Nucky, Waxy and Herman walking toward them, and turns his back toward them to plant a kiss on Angela. He tells her "the music got to me."

    Van Alden calls his wife to tell her about Clarkson's injuries. He tells her there are things she doesn't know about him and the job. He says he's "not fit." He tells her that everything he's done is because he loves her. He tells her he's sinned. He tells her he's not fit for her or to wear his badge. He hangs up on her.

    Nucky and Margaret finish having sex and say nothing. He tries to light a cigarette and the lighter doesn't work. She asks him if he finds her attractive because sometimes it feels like he's elsewhere. She tells him Father Brennan told her she has to make a confession. He asks her what she plans to say, and she says that's between her and God. "And Father Brennan," he notes. She says he's a priest, which means there's "a sacred trust." He tells her she puts "a lot more faith in people" than he does." She goes to the bathroom. Nucky asks if she's seriously considering divulging anything sensitive, like their shared history. She tells him that if he's feeling guilty, he should take that up with the priest himself.

    The next morning, Jimmy gets a phone call from Manny Horvitz (William Forsythe) in Philadelphia. Jimmy asks Manny what he's trying to pull because he saw Manny's friend Herman coming out of the Ritz with Nucky and Waxy Gordon. Manny asks if he's sure and if Jimmy was certain. Manny says he'll call him back.

    Margaret is sweeping when Slater (Charlie Cox) shows up addresses her as Mrs. Thompson. He tries to joke around with her and she reminds him that she's "Mrs. Schroeder." He apologizes for his missteps with Katy. Margaret tells him to respect Katy as well as the house. Slater takes the broom, touching her hand a bit in the process. Nucky comes by to kiss Margaret goodbye. Slater gives her the broom back and tells her he's "always happy to be of service."

    Lucy is still at home the next morning, brushing her hair and still fighting back tears. She clears a space on the bed and lays down. She screams in pain for a moment.

    Daugherty gets a visit from Senator Walter Edge (Geoff Pierson). Edge says Charile Forbes has mentioned Daugherty has Harding's ear on "this Bureau of Veterans Affairs." Edge wonders how much benefit veterans will get because "there are crooks and then there's Charlie Forbes." Edge says a constituent is asking him to launch an investigation into it. The constituent in question has another "matter" on his mind: Nucky Thompson. "He hates the son of a bitch," Edge says with a hearty laugh. Edge then notes the "less-than-enthusastic prosecutor" who's been assigned to Nucky's case. Daugherty deduces that if he were to appoint one who took Nucky's case more seriously, then Edge's investigation of how Daugherty and his cronies plan to "plunder the Veterans Bureau would wane accordingly." Daugherty considered this.

    Manny takes Jimmy down to his walk-in fridge, where he keeps the meat for his butcher shop. Herman is hanging upside down by his feet. Horvitz explains how he's known Herman since he was a kid, but now he's gone to work for Waxy Gordon as a spy. Jimmy asks Herman what he was doing in Atlantic City -- Manny stands back and sharpens a knife. Herman reveals that a ship is coming in that night at 2:00 am from Bill McCoy. Herman tells Jimmy that Nucky needs Waxy for protection. Manny then hands Jimmy the knife. He says that by Jewish law he can't touch Herman because he's "injured." He tells Jimmy that "we all gotta live by rules." Jimmy takes the knife and slits Herman's throat.

    It's confession day and Margaret goes in first. She tells Father Brennan it's been four years since her last confession. She tells him she has nothing to say. She admits that "of course" she has sins. She says she's lied, dozens of times, and taken the Lord's name in vain. She's stolen from an employer. He asks her to tell him, honestly, what burdens her, so that she can heal her fractured relationship with God. She tells him there's a man in her life who's "bad," but she's "drawn to him, somehow." He asks if the man provides for her and her children and she says no. She says she hardly knows him and he works for her family. (A HA!)

    Daugherty breaks Nucky the news that Edge wants him to appoint a more qualified prosecutor and is threatening an investigation of "things in the works" Harry can't discuss. Harry doesn't know yet who he'll appoint and Nucky tells him to make it someone he can work with. Nucky tells him his ass is on the line, and Harry tells him, "so is mine."

    Thorogood is interrupted in the middle of a good time he's having with two prostitutes in the suite. Eddie tells him Nucky wants him to leave and hustles the women out of the room and tosses the confused lawyer his suitcase.

    Lucy is pushing -- alone in her room -- and after a very dramatic few moments, we hear a baby's cries. Lucy looks down, stunned.

    Van Alden returns to Clarkson's room and Elliot is still there, wanting to know where Van Alden went. Van Alden says it should be him in the bed, then begins to confess (what we can only guess) to Elliot when Clarkson opens his eyes and looks at the nurse, saying, "I see you. I know what you did." She says he's delirious and that they should "pay no attention; he's been saying that to everyone." Clarkson goes on to ramble, "It's not fair. You ate the pie. I'll tell mom." A greatly relieved Van Alden leaves and tells Elliot that the word in private he wanted is no longer necessary.

    Van Alden gets home to a silent house. He puts the a bag of lemons on the kitchen counter and goes to look for Lucy after stepping on a broken plate, which she dropped when her water broke. He walks into Lucy's room and sees her holding the baby. He tells her he brought lemons. She looks up at him and says, "I did it all myself." She then adds, "It's a girl." Van Alden goes to get a doctor. Lucy looks down, smiles and kisses her baby's forehead.

    A line of cars drives through the woods. Meyer Lansky is riding shotgun in one of the cars when we hear a loud pop and the car swerves off the rough road and stalls. Lansky and Lucky are trying to figure out what happened. Lucky quips that they don't get paid enough for this stuff, as they realize it wasn't a simple blown-out tire. Gun shots then ring out and the group ducks behind a car. The gun fight continues until there's silence and Jimmy yells out for everyone to drop their weapons. Lucky calls out for Jimmy, who tells him to come out. He says he won't shoot them.

    Lucky and Lansky emerge from behind the car with guns drawn. Jimmy, Manny and others emerge from the woods with their own guns pointed at Lucky and Lansky. They all step toward each other and Lucky explains that Nucky made a deal with Rothstein to bring in liquor from Philly under Waxy Gordon's supervision. Lucky adds that Chalky White is back in business.

    Lansky interrupts and pulls his gun back, saying this could be an opportunity. He reminds Jimmy that they've spoken about partnering up. Lucky brings up the heroin, and Lansky says they shouldn't kill each other over a little liquor. Manny tells them they work with Waxy Gordon and Jimmy tells him "not every insult requires a response." Manny wants his money and Jimmy says Lucky and Lansky will advance it. Lucky agrees, then Jimmy turns to Manny and says, "You can't kill everyone, Manny. It's not good business."

    Jimmy steps closer to explain the plan. He tells them he'll let them go and they can deliver the load to Chalky. Nucky knows nothing. Then they'll meet up and make a plan to take it all. Lansky says it's kismet. "Rothstein, Nucky," he says, "their time has passed." Another man calls out, "Waxy Gordon's ain't," and Manny has had enough. He steps up and says, "Let us worry about Waxy," before shooting the guy in the head."

    As they leave, Lansky tells Jimmy and Manny, "it's a good thing, fellas; you'll see."

    A doctor comes to see Lucy and Van Alden sees the lemons have been neatly put into a bowl on the counter. He takes this in for a moment, turns and sees the broken dish has been swept up and the birthing sheets are soaking in the sink. He comes into the room and sees his wife, Rose, dabbing Lucy's head with a wet cloth. She says Lucky has "a slight fever," but Lucy appears to be unconscious. Rose leaves the room. Van Alden asks what she's doing there and she says she took the first train because he sounded distraught. He says he did this for her. The baby is for her. She goes off on him and when he tries to hold her down, she bites his wrist to break free, then leaves. The baby then starts crying as Van Alden stands in the hallway alone.

    Teddy is getting his First Confession photo taken, with a Bible in one hand and a candle in the other. Nucky asks Margaret if her soul is pure after her confession. She says, "Yes, I'l sure it is." He asks what she ended up saying. She says nothing, and Slater walks in to tell Nucky he's pulling the car around. Margaret then tells Nucky she told Father Brennan "nothing that need concern" him.

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