Boardwalk Empire

Season 2 Episode 11

Under God's Power She Flourishes

2
Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Dec 04, 2011 on HBO

Episode Recap

The episode opens on a flashback to Jimmy's days at Princeton, where Angela was only a girlfriend whom he had to sneak in and out of the dorms.

 

In the present, Nucky is meeting with his new attorney, Fallon, who expresses concerns about the case of Hans Schroeder's murder. Nucky says that he's innocent, and they discuss whether the courts would be able to trust Van Alden's testimony. Nucky's butler, Harlan, lingers in the room, and Nucky tells him to leave. However, Fallon thinks that the man has something troubling on his mind. And it's true. Harlan says that he witnessed Van Alden drown a fellow agent while "baptizing" him.

 

Van Alden has breakfast and Sigrid prompts him to talk about his family. He's not on speaking terms with his parents. They once followed a preacher who proclaimed that the end of the world was coming. His father sold all their belongings and the family lived in a tent for a year as they awaited the rapture. Van Alden's father resented him forever afterwards.

 

Emily gets fitted for her braces at the doctor, and Margaret seeks advice from Father Brennan. He tells her that God will give her the strength to get through this ordeal, and he tells a parable of a man who was given a glimpse of both Heaven and Hell. In Hell was a dinner table piled high with food, and the souls were given long spoons, too long to feed themselves with. This meant that they always starved. In Heaven existed the same food-laden table, and the same spoons, but the souls there fed each other, so that they were always full. Brennan says that her donation will be put to good use for a new church building.

 

At Jimmy's beachside house, Gillian is being questioned by a policeman, and she's frustrated that Eli wasn't there as she requested. She tells what she knows, that Angela was having an affair with another woman and someone snuck in and shot them both. When the cop tries to question Harrow, Gillian warns him off, saying that he's too stupid to know anything useful. Harrow examines the crime scene, and touches the pool of Angela's blood.

 

In flashback, Jimmy is in English Lit class, where they're discussing one of Webster's Jacobean tragedies. His professor explains that Webster saw society as corrupt and all women were whores. Jimmy catches the meaning of the passage they focus on in the class, that the main character's mother taught him nothing useful. Jimmy teases a fellow classmate for going into the army, and the professor tells him to stay behind after class. The professor warns Jimmy not to treat his rich classmates that way. Those men are upper class and will always have a future, while working class men like Jimmy and himself must always be clever.

 

Back in the present, Doyle, Luciano, Capone, and Lanksy are discussing their dealings and plan on selling Jimmy's share as well, splitting the profits between them. They agree that Doyle's cut should be much less.

 

Margaret recounts the spoon parable to Nucky, and Nucky thinks that the story is rather dumb, since the people could simply hold the spoons further down the handle. Margaret worries that Nucky doesn't believe in any higher power. Nucky says that he just doesn't believe in divine retribution. This shakes Margaret, considering that she believes Emily's illness is punishment for her own sins.

 

Eli, still stuck in jail, speaks with his lawyer, who tells him that if he testifies against Nucky in the case of Schroeder's death, he might not get the electric chair. Meanwhile, Van Alden signs the divorce papers Rose sent.

 

Back in Jimmy's past, Gillian has arrived to pay him a visit. The university has set up a mixer and Jimmy has invited Angela. Jimmy introduces Angela to his mother, and Angela is taken aback by Gillian's youth and her boldness. Jimmy later spots Gillian flirting with his English professor, but that doesn't top the bombshell Angela has for him. She's pregnant.

 

Jimmy heads outside for a drink and spots Gillian with her dress torn. She tells her son that she thought the man was just flirting but he wanted something more. Jimmy confronts his professor and asks him what he did to his mother. The professor jokes that Jimmy's life is pretty Jacobean by itself, and Jimmy punches him in the face. When the professor asks that Jimmy just walk away and pretend that this didn't happen, Jimmy begins to punch the professor over and over.

 

Doyle tries to turn rat and talks to Van Alden about getting the feds in on the booze sales. Van Alden refuses to agree and asks Doyle not to contact him again.

 

Jimmy takes his drunk mother back to her hotel room, and he thinks that he might have hurt the professor enough to get himself expelled. Gillian tells him not to worry because Nucky will take care of it. She asks him whether he loves Angela, but Jimmy doesn't know. He places her on her bed, but she doesn't want to let go of him, forcing him to kiss her. He struggles to get away from her but she clings to him, and forces him to have sex with her.

 

The next morning, Gillian has left and Jimmy, humiliated and shocked by the events of last night, decides to enlist in the army. At the recruitment office, he lists Angela as his only next of kin, and that his reason for enlisting is because his brother was on the Lusitania.

 

Margaret works with Emily's braces, explaining to Owen that they're chafing her daughter's legs. Owen helps fix the braces and he asks her if she still thinks about him. Margaret tells him to stop doing that and that she'll pray for him.

 

Back in the present, Jimmy is holed up in a hotel room on a bender. Gillian is on the phone, and she's telling him to come back to Atlantic City, otherwise people will begin to talk. However, Jimmy is in a heroin stupor and he's in no condition to do anything else.

 

Van Alden walks into the post office and is surprised to see Fallon, along with Randolph, and the deacon of the church who witnessed the agent's drowning. They show him the agent's shoes and ask if he recognizes them. When Randolph's agent/lover tries to move in to arrest him, Van Alden fights him off, shooting him in the leg, and then flees.

 

Margaret shows Nucky the subpoena she received, but Nucky tells her to ignore it. Van Alden is proving to be an unreliable witness so it doesn't look like the Schroeder murder case might not go through. Margaret wants to testify anyway, saying that she must atone for her sins. When Nucky asks her to clarify, she says that she's stolen and deceived and cheated.

 

Margaret has stolen from her employers and from Nucky, and she deceived anyone who believed that she was good. As for cheated, she mentions nothing about Owen but about her sleeping with the man who is responsible for her husband's death. Nucky reminds her that he has given her everything.

 

Jimmy has returned to Atlantic City, and Gillian is breezily talking about Angela's funeral arrangements. She told Tommy that his mother has gone away to paint. Later she'll say that Angela moved to Paris. Soon, Tommy won't even remember her. This causes Jimmy to snap. He wraps his hands around Gillian's throat and screams "I'll remember!" over and over.

 

The Commodore stabs Jimmy in the back with one of his ornamental spears and the two struggle. Jimmy stabs the Commodore in the gut, but Gillian demands that he finish it. Jimmy stabs his father in the heart. Jimmy collapses from the pain of his own wound.
He struggles awake, noticing that his wound has been dressed. He spots Harrow cleaning up the murder scene, but Harrow draws the curtains to block Jimmy's view. When Jimmy wakes up again, the curtains are open and the Commodore's body is gone.

 

Gillian takes a sleepy Tommy to see his father. Tommy tells Jimmy that he had a bad dream, and Jimmy says that he did as well. Tommy wonders where his mommy is, and Gillian picks him up, saying that she's right here. Gillian reassures Jimmy that everything will be all right.

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