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Synopsis

Written by Terence Winter
Directed by Allen Coulter

ONWARD AND UPWARD

Bill McCoy, fresh from an eight-month stint in prison after three of his Scotch-laden ships were seized, welcomes Nucky to Tampa. McCoy wants Nucky to invest in a 14,000-acre land deal. Later, Nucky meets Skeeter, a "Binder Boy," one of dozens of young salesmen in Tampa, profiting off the land boom. Skeeter informs Nucky that the area surrounding McCoy's land is being developed, rendering it worthless for Nucky's bootlegging purposes. 

In New York's Harlem, at the headquarters of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), Dr. Valentin Narcisse meets with gangster Owney Madden and Arnold Rothstein.  Narcisse cuts a deal with Rothstein for heroin. After dismissing Rothstein, Narcisse informs Madden that an act of his, Daughter Maitland, will move from the Cotton Club to the Onyx Club. Madden asks that Dickie Pastor bring around a replacement but Narcisse informs him "Mr. Pastor will not be returning."

At Temple University, Willie Thompson hopes to impress his classmates (and a co-ed, Doris) by supplying alcohol for a party. He and his roommate Clayton head to Mickey Doyle's warehouse in Atlantic City.  Despite a difficult encounter with Doyle, they manage to secure a case of whiskey.

FALSE FRONTS

After burying his gun on his farm in Wisconsin, Richard Harrow gives money to his sister to settle the back taxes on the house. Emma insists she already paid them and refuses to pay the assessor twice - she sold the family car to pay off the debt.

Back in Atlantic City, Roy Phillips asks Gillian to pretend to be his wife at a dinner with an important client from the A&P supermarket chain, David Hewson and his wife, Helen. Gillian agrees and the foursome takes in a show at the Onyx Club. The night is a success, but later, at a coffee shop, Gillian is approached by Greg, a friend of Roger's (the young man she drowned). Greg insists he met Gillian before, in front of Abe Klein's on the Boardwalk.  Gillian denies she knows Roger, and Phillips chases Greg off.  Rattled, Gillian excuses herself to the ladies room where she shoots up heroin.

Dunn Purnsley remains the target of Chalky's ire, which Narcisse takes notice of when he brings Daughter Maitland to perform. Chalky is smitten with Daughter, but he is less enthused by Narcisse's "telling and not asking." Narcisse reminds him that they are now partners following Nucky's judgment, but softens his approach: "That girl is a star...if you will have her." Feigning reluctance, Chalky agrees.

Later that evening, Nucky meets with McCoy and August Tucker, the man behind the land deal, at a speakeasy called Sally's. Both men are shocked when Nucky tells them the 14,000 acres are worthless; McCoy already guaranteed Nucky's participation. Later, McCoy confesses to Nucky - it was Tucker's booze that was confiscated at his arrest and now McCoy owes him. He was trying to lure Nucky in on the deal as a way to pay Tucker back. Nucky stands firm; if McCoy needed money, he should have come to Nucky as a friend instead of trying to sucker him.

Nucky returns to Sally Wheet's speakeasy, where he bonds with the owner, Sally. Nucky reveals he is debating sending a birthday gift to his son, Teddy, "but maybe the better gift is to let him forget me." Sally scoffs at Nucky for choosing the convenient option. Intrigued by Sally's boldness, Nucky asks her to spill the beans on Tucker. Sally explains he's like the stuffed alligator above the bar: "He'd kill you if he got a chance, but he's not very smart either." Nucky takes an immediate liking to Sally.

gillian

SMALL GAINS, BIG LOSSES

Having tracked down Harrow through the tax bill, Carl Billings and his henchman, Fitzy, catch him by surprise while he cleans out the barn. Looking through Harrow's wallet, Billings discovers he hasn't touched the money he paid him. He tells Harrow this makes him stupid, not honest, "and how do you trust a stupid man?" Harrow kills Fitzy, but is in Billings' crosshairs when Emma puts a bullet through his head.

Now a hero for getting booze to the party, Willie leaves with Doris, to the annoyance of his classmate Henry, who shares an interest in her. Willie's victory is short-lived; Henry and his cronies catch them making out in the library and heckle them. Willie shoves Henry to the floor but Henry levels a blow of his own by pointing out Willie's visible arousal. Willie flees in shame.

Willie, Doris

NEW ENTERPRISES

While closing up the Onyx Club, Narcisse approaches Purnsley telling him heroin is how he'll get out from under Chalky's thumb: "It is freedom. Power. Control over men who are lesser than you. Chalky White is one of those men."

The next morning, Richard and Emma say goodbye. Richard tells her that when he was in France and full of fear, he'd dream of the day he came home. She asks him to send her an address, "if you want me to know where you are." As they hug, she tells him he needs to call himself to account.

The following morning as Nucky prepares to leave Tampa, he receives a package from Sally - the stuffed baby alligator with a note, "For Teddy." With this newfound connection to Sally in mind, Nucky calls McCoy and says he wants in on the land deal after all. An exhausted McCoy listens dejectedly as Tucker's lifeless body lays on the floor, a machete in his head. McCoy killed Tucker when he came to collect after Nucky rejected his offer.

Nucky

39: Acres of Diamonds

Season 4