Marriage and Hunting
Boardwalk Empire | Season 4 | Episode 9

Marriage and Hunting

TV-MA | 56 MIN

Written by David Matthews & Jennifer Ames & Steve Turner
Directed by Ed Bianchi

While Nelson Van Alden attempts to fix the kitchen sink, his wife, Sigrid, complains that nothing in their kit-house works properly. She mocks his job with Dean O'Banion, doubting that Van Alden is much of a tough guy. Unable to fix the sink, Van Alden heads to work at the flower shop where he has to put up with O'Banion's questions about Stu's murder the day he disappeared with the Capones. Van Alden deflects O'Banion's inquiries and heads out for a floral delivery. Outside of the shop, Phil, the iron salesman Van Alden scalded in a rage last year, spots him through the window.

In Atlantic City, Nucky visits a still-seething Chalky at the Onyx Club. Chalky insists Dr. Narcisse was behind Dunn Purnsley's attempt on his life, but Nucky is unconvinced. The two spar about who owes whom what; Nucky believes granting Chalky a club on the Boardwalk settled their debt, but Chalky feels otherwise. Nucky insists that Chalky let him feel out Narcisse before he takes action, as he does not want to go through another war: Narcisse is connected to New York and that can spell trouble for both of them.

While enjoying the sunshine with Roy Phillips on the boardwalk, Gillian recalls her first kiss. She spills her history: She never saw the boy again because she met the Commodore the next day, and he ravaged her just six weeks before her thirteenth birthday. Gillian tells Roy she named their baby James after the boy from the boardwalk—"the last pure thing I could remember." She reveals that Jimmy came back from the war, but stops short of the whole truth, simply telling Roy her son overdosed in her bathtub.

In Harlem, Owney Madden informs Dr. Narcisse that Joe Masseria squeezed Arnold Rothstein out of the heroin business. Though Madden warns him that Masseria doesn't like doing business with the "darker types," Narcisse insists on an introduction. Madden agrees to arrange a meeting between them at the Cotton Club. Rothstein, who has been having money problems of his own, sells his $500,000 insurance policy to Nucky (for 20 cents on the dollar), instead of having Mickey killed. Nucky comments, "It's probably the best investment I'll ever make. I know a dozen people who'd kill Mickey for free."

Back in Chicago, Van Alden delivers a funeral wreath to an apartment for "Mr. Dob," but finds himself facing Al and Ralph Capone. The wreath, Al notes, is for "Dean. O. Banion." They demand Van Alden tell them everything he knows about O'Banion. When Van Alden finds himself staring down the barrel of Al's gun, he demands $1000 to "blow O'Banion's head off."

While Maybelle and Lenore White work on the wedding guest list, Chalky tells them to remove Dunn Purnsley. Lenore gives her husband the cold shoulder, unsure how to explain his bruised face to the Crawfords when they come for dinner.

Roy Phillips joins Gillian for Tommy's custody hearing to present a picture of a stable home life. While presenting her case, Gillian is momentarily thrown by Richard Harrow's entrance. After Julia speaks, the judge notes the Sagorskys bring in a mere $85 a month in income and that Julia is unmarried. Noting that the law favors blood relatives, he says he'll have a decision in a month.

As Van Alden cases the flower shop about to kill O'Banion, he is ambushed by Phil, Ralph and Scotty, his former colleagues from the Farraday Electric Iron Company. Van Alden draws his gun when the men won't stop their beating, prompting them to suggest he relax. Van Alden calmly tells them, "I am relaxed," and shoots them dead, thereby missing the opportunity to kill O'Banion.

Back in Atlantic City, Narcisse is at Daughter's rooming house, questioning her about Chalky. Though she swears Chalky wouldn't stay, Narcisse notes the signs of a struggle. He reminds her of a promise they made long ago—that she would be "free to lie down with any man," but her heart would be his. "You have crushed me," he tells her. Later, Chalky receives a call from De-Ernie Coates and abandons his dinner with the Crawfords to tend to a badly beaten Daughter.

At the Sagorskys', Julia reminds Richard Harrow that the judge favors married couples, acknowledging that he "might do in a pinch." Julia misinterprets his silence as a rejection but Harrow finds his voice and tells her yes. As they wait outside of the Marriage & Hunting Licenses office at City Hall, Harrow assures Julia he's confident in their decision. "It's just a hunting license, isn't it?" he teases.

That night, O'Banion confronts Van Alden again about Stu's death. Finding himself staring down the barrel of another gun, a tightly-wound Van Alden reveals that Capone killed Stu but he himself has killed others—including the partner he drowned when he was a Prohibition Agent. "My name isn't Mueller, I'm not legally married to my wife, I used to believe in God but now I don't believe in anything at all," he tells O'Banion. Unsure of what to make of Van Alden's speech, O'Banion returns to the front of the shop to help a customer, only to be viciously shot by Frankie Yale and two men. Discovering O'Banion's body, Van Alden empties the cash box and then leaves through the alley where the corpses of his former co-workers still lie. He returns home, tosses the cash onto the bed, and has sex with Sigrid.

Ignoring the stares around him, Narcisse joins Nucky at his table as he takes in a show at the Onyx. Narcisse informs Nucky that Chalky's days are numbered on the Northside of Atlantic City. Chalky's arrival causes an even bigger scene when he calls out Narcisse for beating Daughter. Nucky warns him to think before he speaks, unless he's ready for a war—one that he will fight alone. Furious, Chalky flips their table and stalks out.

With Gillian out of earshot, Roy tells the person on the other end of the phone, "It won't be much longer." When Gillian asks about the call, he shrugs it off as "business."

While Chalky comforts Daughter at her rooming house, they get a surprise visit from his daughter, Maybelle, who assesses the situation and storms off.

Nucky returns to the Albatross where he's approached by Harrow, who asks for a favor: He's married now and looking for work. Late that night Nucky has a phone call with Sally Wheet. He asks her what a man can do in Florida. She tells him a man does what he wants, or doesn't do anything at all, though she wouldn't put up with the latter for long. After they hang up, Sally smokes a cigarette in bed, holding her shotgun.