As this “Boardwalk Empire” episode opens, it is New York City and a man dumps a fishbowl into a sink then puts the lone goldfish into a glass with a small amount of water.
Near Tabor Heights, Eli Thompson is released from his three-year prison term and there to pick him up is Mickey Doyle following Nucky’s orders. Mickey tells Eli that things have changed in three years and Nucky is harder to reach today.
At the advertised “last gas in New Jersey” on the way to Staten Island, Gyp Rosetti stops to talk to the gas station attendant. He is still having a problem with idioms people use and is offended by the vernacular of the attendant as he was with the good Samaritan who offered him help with his flat tire.
When Nucky wakes up with a naked Billie Kent and admires her naked body as she is crouched down to tend to a leaky radiator, he then finds out that Arnold Rothstein is her landlord.
An aspiring doctor looking to take the hand of Chalky’s daughter Maybelle in marriage visits Chalky. Chalky tests his doctoring skills and is impressed with the young man. He looks at Chalky’s hands and tells him he has a mineral deficiency, suggesting he eat more vegetables. Chalky directs his assistant to have a big plate of greens cooked up, then welcomes the young man to the family.
Nucky walks into an empty room and sees a fish bowl with a $100 inside and a voice from another room tells him to “put the money in the bowl” through a closed door. Nucky refuses, he won’t give $40,000 to someone without knowing who he’s giving it to. Nucky then meets Gaston Bullock Means, special investigator from the U.S. Department of Justice. Nucky asks where Jess Smith is, and Means tells him Jess is conspicuously absent. Means goes on about how the bribery system is supposed to work through anonymity, but Nucky wants to know what’s going on between Smith and Harry Daugherty. Means tells him they are close friends and suggests Nucky could get his answers in a different room. Nucky hands over the money and just as he’s about to leave, another “customer” walks into the empty room, sees and hears nothing but the fishbowl, and puts a stack of cash into it. It’s George Remus, and he allows Nucky to take a look through the peephole, then asks Nucky to leave through a different door and sends his regards to Rothstein, whom he knows Nucky is meeting with later.
Mickey and Eli are watching the Tabor Heights gas station when the sheriff rolls up and Mickey gives the sheriff and his partner a payoff in advance of a convoy coming through the next night. The second half of the payment will arrive with the convoy. The sheriff claims he does not recognize Eli, who reminds the man that he once came around Atlantic City asking for a job. As they walk away, the sheriff yells out, “You take care, now, Sheriff Thompson.”
Gyp Rosetti and his accomplice show up at a diner and order spaghetti and meatballs. He asks for some wine, but she says it’s illegal. He suggests there might be some hidden, but before she can respond the Tabor Heights sheriff walks in and suggests the coffee. Rosetti plays along and orders “spaghetti and coffee.” Rosetti tells the sheriff that he and his partner are staying in town, and the sheriff tells him Asbury Park and Atlantic City is “where the action is.” He suggests Rosetti “head back to New York” if those two options are too far.
Nucky meets with Rothstein and questions Rothstein being mixed up in Daugherty’s issues. Rothstein says the protection is good and the cost is insignificant. Nucky thinks Rothstein is poking around for info about Manny Horvitz’s killing he says Waxy Gordon comes to mind. Rothstein agrees then Nucky says it could not be Waxy. Nucky knows that it had to be cleared with Rothstein who would not allow it due to his business with Nucky. Rothstein then reminds Nucky to be paying attention to their business arrangements, and notes that a shipment scheduled for that day was going to come the next day a day late. Nucky reminds Rothstein he should fix the radiators in the apartment building he owns, clearly suggesting that he’s been spending time with Billie Kent.
Slater and Eli pull up to the gas station but the pumps are locked. Slater goes to break into the gas station office and look for a key to the pumps. Just as he breaks the glass, the sheriff walks up and asks what’s in the trucks. “Same as always,” Slater says. “If it’s liquor, there’s a problem,” the sheriff says. “Since when?” “Since he read the Constitution,” says Rosetti, who appears by the gas pumps.
Rosetti breaks the news that he now owns the gas station. Slater says they’ll gas up, pay him and move on, flashing his gun a bit. Rosetti pulls his own gun, and a bunch of other men emerge from the darkness with guns drawn.
Rosetti pulls a gas pump and starts letting the fuel flow to the ground, telling Slater and Mickey that they aren’t going to get to New York tonight. There’s no gas.
Rosetti tells Slater to tell Nucky “Old Pop Collingsworth says hello,” referring to the name of the previous owner of the gas station whose name adorns the sign.
As the phone rings at Billie’s apartment, she heeds Nucky’s request not to answer it. Finally Slater hangs up at the other end and orders the cars back to Atlantic City, to the “Boardwalk Empire.”
Photo of Steve Buscemi: Wikimedia 2009 Tribeca Film Festival for the premiÃ¨re of Blank City by David Shankbone.