Boardwalk Empire

Season 2 Episode 9

Battle of the Century

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Nov 20, 2011 on HBO

Episode Recap

Nucky has arrived in Belfast, along with his father's coffin and Owen, his right-hand man. Meanwhile, Emily is unable to move her legs and get out of bed, which worries Margaret.

Jimmy is attempting to gather more booze by meeting with supplier George Remus. Mickey Doyle has survived his fall from the balcony at Babette's and wears a neck brace. Remus claims to sell his alcohol for medicinal use only, and speaks about himself in the third person, which annoys Jimmy and his associates. They agree to make nice with Remus, but Jimmy still has to deal with Horvitz.

Nucky meets with IRA members, most notably McGarrigle, who was the man who introduced Owen to Nucky in the first place. The coffin Nucky accompanied all the way from America contains not his father's corpse, but a cache of Tommy guns. These are surplus guns made for the war which are now stashed in the Atlantic City armory. Nucky offers the weapons in exchange for whiskey. Meanwhile, the doctor has diagnosed Emily with polio.

Dunn Purnsley, the man who made a mistake by challenging Chalky White in jail, resurfaces as a hotel kitchen worker. He takes lunch with the rest of the kitchen staff. They get a 10 minute break and Purnsley complains of the slop that passes for their lunch. But, the others say, what else can they do about it?

Emily is taken into the hospital and the doctors must perform a spinal tap in order to make sure the diagnosis truly is polio. Margaret helplessly watches from behind a door as the doctors collect Emily's spinal fluid, as the young girl screams for her mother.

Federal agent Clifford watches from a distance as Ethan Thompson is buried. Later, while sharing a bed, he and Esther discuss the Nucky case and whether they should bring in all this extra evidence from Van Alden's file on Nucky. Esther comments that she allowed Nucky to leave the country to bury his father back in Ireland, but Clifford points out that he was just at the Thompson funeral. Now that Nucky's alibi is destroyed, how will Esther and Clifford proceed?

Nucky demonstrates the power of the Thompson sub-machine gun for the IRA members, and he reduces a grandfather clock to splinters. One of the men asks if Nucky invented the weapon, as it shares his name. Nucky denies it.

Jimmy and Richard share a conversation about relationships, and Richard asks if Jimmy's his friend. Jimmy insists that he is, but then Jimmy also mentioned something about Richard meeting a nice girl to settle down with, and Richard thoroughly believed that Jimmy was making fun of him. Jimmy says that he was dead serious about it. They meet with Waxy Gordon, who shares Jimmy's dislike of Manny Horvitz. Waxy will send a hitman to take care of him (and of Jimmy's debt to him).

Meanwhile, Margaret begins to clear all of Emily's things from her bedroom since they need to be burned. Teddy asks whether Emily will die as his father did. Also one member of the house staff resigns, saying that she has little ones of her own to worry about and she doesn't want to get sick.

Esther calls in Halloran to ask him questions, and he all but confirms that Nucky was responsible for Margaret's husband's death. Meanwhile, Purnsley goes to speak with Chalky, and Purnsley tells him of the conditions the hotels' kitchen staff have to endure. Chalky gives him permission to strike, just as Nucky wanted.

Nucky shares dinner with McGarrigle, who admits that he won't be taking the weapons. News has come from London about a truce between Ireland and Britain, and after losing his son to the Cause, McGarrigle is wary of any more bloodshed. Before Nucky leaves, McGarrigle speaks to Owen alone. He warns the young man that America has made him soft and that he's forgotten the Cause. Owen suggests that it's better to be the master of one's own destiny rather than follow one cause or another.

Horvitz has closed his butcher shop for the day and is counting up his earnings when a Hasid Jew arrives at his doorstep, needing chickens. Horvitz goes to open the door but is shot in the shoulder through the glass. He attacks his would-be murderer and drives a meat cleaver through the hitman's skull. A quick search through the dead man's pockets reveals a matchbook from Atlantic City.Meanwhile, Purnsley incites his fellow kitchen workers to riot, tossing plates and food at their manager after Purnsley's insolence causes the manager to fire him.

Nucky climbs into his car without a done deal, but is surprised to see that an older Irish man is going to be sharing his ride. As Owen drives the car away, Nucky hears gunshots. McGarrigle is killed and the man in the car says that he'll deal with Nucky now. He agrees to the exchange of whiskey for weapons.

The Dempsey-Carpentier fight is in full swing and people have gathered in a theater to listen to the fight on the radio. Jimmy and Richard take their seats. The crowd is enthusiastic, and two women keep looking over towards Jimmy. Jimmy receives a flirtatious note from them. They admit that they know who the new king of Atlantic City is. Jimmy and one of the girls get intimate in Jimmy's seat, and even Richard gets a kiss.

As the rest of the hospital staff listens to the Dempsey fight, Margaret sneaks into the quarantined ward and heads into Emily's bed. She tearfully asks her daughter to forgive her for what she's done.

Nucky asks Owen if he knew about McGarrigle's fate beforehand, and Owen admits that they wouldn't have done anything if he protested. Nucky reminds Owen that he doesn't like secrets. Owen collects Nucky's telegrams and Nucky finds out that Emily has polio, making it a sober end to his Ireland visits.