Jimmy Darmody died. Again.
Of course, we all know that the real Jimmy was murdered last season by Nucky Thompson. But since there was no body for authorities to authenticate his demise, Jimmy has left his mother Gillian in a real pickle. She desperately needs a death certificate if she’s to hold on to her once-regal brothel, which is begging for urgent repairs.
This week’s episode, titled “Sunday Best,” takes place on Easter Sunday – the day that Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. A fitting day, since “Jimmy” also rises from the dead – with a bit of help from his mother. We remember last week Gillian on the Boardwalk picking up a young man by name of Roger – who looks remarkably like Jimmy. Of course we aren’t surprised when she seduces him (heck, she had an incestuous relationship with her real son). The young man looks around and thinks he’s got it made. A beautiful woman, a sugar momma, if you will, even though Gillian doesn’t appear to be much older than he. When she invites him over for Easter dinner, she first leads him to a made-for-a-king bathroom, promising him a bath experience he’ll never forget. Once he’s in the marble tub and Gillian is caressing him with a water-soaked sponge, he’s lulled into a state of near-euphoria. Until he realizes Gillian has injected him with heroin – a lot of heroin. Truly…..is there anyone who didn’t see this one coming?
Poor Roger tries his best to fight the effects of the drug, but I’m guessing Gillian put enough heroin in that needle to knock out an elephant. Just to be on the safe side, she holds his head under water until he is dead. Then she calmly – and almost affectionately – puts Jimmy’s dog tags around his neck. And voilà! Jimmy’s body is just waiting to be found.
Elsewhere on Easter Sunday, Nucky, Margaret and the children are guests at Eli’s house. With his brood of eight children, it’s a festive occasion, including an Easter egg hunt. Remember that Margaret’s children, Teddy and Emily have never met their cousins, so this is a special occasion. After dinner, the families repose to the living room, where the children cajole Nucky into performing one of his long-forgotten juggling acts with the Easter eggs. (Kudos to Steve Buscemi for pulling this off so smoothly.)
Eli takes the opportunity to corner his brother, reminding him he lost his sheriff’s badge and did 16 months in prison – and now finds himself working for that bumbling idiot Mickey Doyle. Nucky reminds Eli that he basically consorted with the enemy to have him killed – not an easy faux pas to overlook.
Margaret, hungry for someone in whom she can confide, reaches out to June, Eli’s wife, when they are alone in the kitchen. She spills everything about her charade of a marriage to Nucky. “I feel like the life is being pressed out of me,” she spills to June, who clearly doesn’t know what to say, except, “I see you brought a pineapple upside down (cake).”
Easter dinner at Gyp Rosetti’s house in New York is tense, but it is nothing compared to Gyp’s visit to church later in the day, where he lets loose some choice words for the Man Upstairs. He’s running short on his dues to his boss, Joe “The Boss” Masseria and that means there’ll be hell to pay. “You put it in front of me…. you take it away!” he screams at the crucifix in what he believes is an empty church. A young priest holding a money bag for the poor has the misfortune of stopping by, and hearing the commotion, asks Gyp: “Are you all right?” Gyp replies, “I’m praying.” The priest makes the supreme mistake of contradicting Gyp, by saying, “You’re yelling.” Wham! Gyp takes down the priest in a fit of rage, grabbing the money bag and demanding to know where the rest of the money is. Gyp has sunk about as low as he can…. or has he?
Gyp has big problems, he’s been slacking on his end, and Masseria is not happy. He meets with Masseria, who doesn’t mince words. There are some scary-looking guys in the background, and Gyp is probably sensing that he’d better start coming up with a plan to mollify his boss – and quickly.
Gyp offers up his scheme: Take out Nucky. Take out Arnold Rothstein. Take out Lucky Luciano. Take out Meyer Lansky. Take out anyone who gets in the way of their bootlegging operation. Gyp tempts Masseria by saying, “They won’t call you ‘Joe the Boss,’ anymore… they’ll call you ‘Joe the King.’ ” Masseria looks pleased. Even though this was a low-key meeting, I’m sensing it’s merely laying the groundwork for a bloodbath later on.
Ah, but the Easter dinners aren’t done yet. Remember that Gillian had to have the brothel empty in order to carry out her scheme. She’s given the girls the day off (bad for business, anyway, Gillian figures. “Makes the customers feel guilty.”) She has Richard Harrow, the disfigured war veteran and close pal of her real son, take Jimmy’s son Tommy for the day. Harrow and the boy have been invited to the home of Paul Sagorsky and his daughter Julia. You’ll remember Sagorsky as the nasty, embittered alcoholic who can’t accept his son’s death in the war. He is angry at the world.
The dinner does not go well. Sagorsky is a mean drunk who has no time for niceties even on this Easter Sunday. His daughter Julia, makes up for it. I sense a budding romance between Julia and Richard. She thoughtfully made up a special plate for Richard to eat in the kitchen, so that he can remove his partial facial mask and eat without being embarrassed. Richard is touched by the gesture.
Tommy has to use the bathroom upstairs, and, as little boys do, finds himself wandering through the rooms. He wanders into the room of Sagorsky’s dead son, left pretty much as it was when he was alive. Big mistake. When Paul finds him in the room, he explodes, grabbing the boy by the scruff of the neck. Richard steps in and calmly tells him to put the boy down or “I’ll kill you.” Paul releases the boy, and goes into the room, slamming the door behind him. We hear deep, soul-sucking sobbing from the closed room. A gaping hole for his son is at the heart of Paul’s bluster and rage.
Richard urges Julia to leave the house. They enjoy a sunny Easter Sunday on the Boardwalk, where a photographer huckster has them posing for a family photo before they can even explain they aren’t related. Nonetheless, we later see Richard lovingly pasting the photo in his personal memory book.
As the day winds down, Margaret and Nucky reflect on the day and how enjoyable it was. Margaret comments on his juggling, noting she could never do it. “I can teach you,” Nucky says. “Right now.”
Margaret replies, “It’s too late.” For sure she isn’t talking about juggling. The day may have been a pleasant reprieve from the charade of a marriage, but that’s all it was – a reprieve.
Nucky may have struck out with Margaret, but he sends out an olive branch to Eli. He tells Eli he is aware the whole Tabor Heights massacre could have been avoided if anyone had listened to Eli. He even goes one step further – he tells Eli he will no longer be working for Mickey Doyle. He and Mickey will be equal partners.
The show ends with a reflective Gillian chatting with Richard, asking if Tommy behaved himself. Richard senses there is something wrong. Gillian says, softly crying, “My son is dead and there is nothing on Earth that will ever bring him back.”
Perfect timing, with shouts of horror from the girls who find “Jimmy’s” body in the bathtub. As diabolical as Gillian is, I cannot help but believe that she is finally – and truly – mourning her son.