Nights in Ballygran
Boardwalk Empire | Season 1 | Episode 5

Nights in Ballygran


Written by Lawrence Konner
Directed by Alan Taylor

Margaret rises to discover beer barrels are being unloaded into the garage behind her house. While her children sleep, she goes into the kitchen to bake Irish soda bread.

Nucky walks with Eli through the Ritz, grousing about the upcoming pre-St. Paddy's Day Celtic Dinner and its annual display of drunkenness. Eli is annoyed that the hotel waitstaff ignores him, something Nucky shrugs off: "I'm a big tipper." Eli surprises Nucky with his plans to address the diners for electioneering purposes; he's been studying Dale Carnagey* to prepare. When Margaret arrives bearing her gift of soda bread, Nucky cuts her off instead of accepting it. "My life is complicated enough," Nucky tells his brother. As the two men saunter off, Margaret tosses the bread into the garbage rather than leave it with the bellhop as Nucky suggested.

In a boxing arena locker room, a group of Little People complain about the humiliation of dressing as leprechauns for the Celtic Dinner, just one of the many degrading holiday acts they get booked for. Peace is restored when Carl Heeley offers to talk to Nucky about a raise: $10 for each man instead of the agreed upon $5. He and Nucky settle on $7 a man, with an extra $12 for Carl.

Jimmy squeezes orange juice while Pearl, her face wrapped in bloody gauze, sits nearby. Skittish around loud noises, she gets Jimmy to spike the juice with laudanum.

Nucky convenes with his men at the Ritz, counting up his take from local liquor sales. Business is good: All his bosses want to increase their orders. When Nucky announces that Eli plans to deliver a speech at the Celtic Dinner, the men chuckle and make fun of him.

Margaret attends a Temperance League meeting and hears about a mother who inadvertently poisoned her little girl while attempting to make bathtub gin. Prompted by Mrs. McGarry to stop the alcohol at its source, Margaret mentions the beer delivery near her home. She surprises everyone by suggesting they ask Nucky to intervene.

Arnold Rothstein meets with his lawyer, Bill Fallon, to discuss a newspaper article hinting he was involved in the World Series fix. His lawyer counsels him to treat the accusation like horse sh*t - let it dry, then brush it off. Rothstein notes it's been months since the series and the sh*t still hasn't dried.

Margaret and Mrs. McGarry visit Nucky in his office, and Margaret pointedly asks him if he enjoyed the soda bread. "Very much," he lies. When Margaret explains she is appalled by the beer being unloaded by her home, Nucky pointedly counters that the alcohol at his birthday party must have been a shock to her. He promises to have Eli shut the garage down.

Johnny Torrio pays a visit to Jimmy and tells him that since she's no longer earning, Pearl needs to leave the Four Deuces. "If she was a filly, they'd shoot her," says Torrio, catching a glimpse of her face. Jimmy offers to cover her earnings, only to learn Pearl brought in $100 a day.

Margaret is again awakened by the sound of beer barrels being unloaded. Speaking with Ward Boss Neary, she is surprised to hear that Nucky issued no orders to shut down the garage. Dressed in her finest, Margaret heads to the Ritz, but is refused an audience with Nucky. Furious, she tears up the lingerie she stole from Belle Femme. Later that day, Margaret approaches Agent Van Alden about the beer delivery, but Van Alden informs her he lacks the manpower to enforce the law. Unhappy about being lectured again, Margaret reveals the identity of the man responsible for the illegal beer: James Neary, a man who works for Nucky.

Capone tries to talk Jimmy into getting revenge for Pearl, even if they don't have Torrio's blessing to do so. "You start worrying what other people want, you'll go batty," he advises. The horribly scarred Pearl, high on laudanum and dressed for business, comes downstairs and startles the crowd at the Four Deuces. "Who's gonna love me now?" she asks Jimmy as he escorts her back to her room.

As Angela prepares to meet a friend, Gillian makes her an offer: "Have your youthful adventures and I'll raise Tommy." When Angela dismisses the idea, Gillian explains that given Angela's bohemian nature, she assumed she'd be open to an alternative option.

Nucky's elderly father Ethan has trouble keeping his voice down during a performance of "Carrickfergus" at the Celtic Dinner. Eli takes the podium, and his speech, meant to exploit anti-English sentiment, only triggers an argument between immigrant and American-born Irish. Regaining the floor, Nucky restores calm and brings out the "leprechauns".

Still craving laudanum, Pearl suggests going to Chinatown to smoke a bowl, but Jimmy soothes her with a childhood memory about one Fourth of July when he went sailing with Gillian and her beau. The story brings Pearl to tears. When Jimmy goes to the bathroom to wash juice off his new suit, Pearl shoots herself with Jimmy's gun.

Eli, sullen and drunk, complains that things come so easily for Nucky. As the party continues, federal agents arrive to shut it down - and Van Alden decks an Irish attorney who tries to protest. Wielding a warrant, he arrests Neary for violating the Volstead Act, a charge supported by witness testimony. Men hurry to file out of the hall, while photographers and Temperance Leaguers wait outside. A "leprechaun" is trampled in the rush. Nucky spots Margaret in the crowd and the two exchange glances. Still upset, Eli tries to take a swing at his brother, but wildly misses. At home, his wife tends to him as he vomits.

Angela strolls along the Boardwalk and enters the Dittrich photo studio. Gillian peers in a mirror, checking for signs of aging. In Chicago, Jimmy visits an opium den. Van Alden supervises the destruction of barrels of green beer. Margaret is once again awakened - this time to the sound of Nucky knocking. He tells her he has no interest in the games she seems to be playing - then he kisses her, passionately.

*This is the original spelling of Dale Carnagey's name. His name was changed in 1922.

Watch Terence Winter's explanation of why he changed the spelling in later years.