Love and Loss in Atlantic City Boardwalk Empire Season 5 ep 3 What Jesus Said

By in atlantic city, boardwalk empire, Boardwalk Empire Season 5, Chalky White, Dr. Narcisse, Final Season, HBO, Joe Kennedy, Margaret Rohan, Nucky Thompson
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The third episode of Season 5, titled “What Jesus Said,” brings us back to Young Nucky’s first encounter with love. As he learns and reacts to this new idea, Adult Nucky in the 1930s shows similar fondness to a platonic friend that he admires almost to the point of idolizing. In the end, Nucky’s friendships and relationships may cause him bigger problems than he already has. What will Nucky fight for in the end, if he has to point and choose one or the other?



Nucky Thompson Kennedy
Credit: HBO

Since he dropped a body at the footsteps of Lucky and Meyer’s headquarters, Nucky is now preparing to have full protection at his establishment. Don’t tell me you forgot that the Onyx club belongs to Nucky? We still don’t know how Chalky ended up in jail or how he lost the Onyx club, but since then it has been handed over to Mickey Doyle. I would have bet money that when Rothstein was in his gambling mess, he would have gotten rid of Doyle since he has an insurance policy on him for 1 million. It seems that Rothstein never got a chance to cash in or never went ahead with having Doyle killed. Anyway, you can tell Nucky was in desperate times to hand over the club to someone like Doyle.

Nucky orders Doyle to collect some guys from a warehouse to be extra security for the place. He then speaks with Sally Wheet in Cuba who tells him his Bacardi Rum partner is complaining about expenses, and he advises Sally that the Senator has backed out of any assistance he offered and returned to Washington DC. The Senators only help was the small favor of setting up the meeting with the wheat moguls. But Nucky has one card left up his sleeve, and he says he has a very interested man coming down from Boston to discuss the liquor business. While listening to “Happy days are here again” over the radio, in hopes that better days are coming, Nucky receives a letter from a “Nellie Bly, The Pirate Sea, In Route to Cathaway.” Nellie Bly was the pen name of a journalist who traveled the world in 72 days and wrote about it. Being that she passed away in 1922, it can only mean that this person is someone else. Could it be someone from past seasons who is traveling the world? We didn’t find out this episode. We will just have to wait.

The Boston man is, of course, the Kennedy that Nucky met at that meeting with the Wheat moguls. If you remember, Nucky was jealous of how the man was wealthy and took no part in any illegal matters. In other words, he didn’t have to worry about gangsters like Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, or even getting caught up with the feds. This Kennedy is one of the Kennedy’s. The father of nine children, most memorably the father of JFK.

The same way Nucky wines and dines a woman he is interested in; he begins by taking Joe Kennedy to an Italian restaurant to enjoy Veal Parmigiana. And the same way Young Nucky tried to mimic the Commodore because he so admired him, he begins to pick up some of Joe’s habits as his own. Joe declines some Red Dago wine to accompany his meal and says that he doesn’t drink because of all the stereotypes associated with Irish Catholic men being drunks. For the rest of this episode, Nucky decides to abandon liquor. Although he stares down the people at the next table enjoying their Dago Red with pure jealousy.

They then move on the Onyx club, which is no longer anything like what it was during Chalky’s day. Chalky had a very elegant establishment with women and men dressed in their best come in to listen to singers like Daughter perform. Now, the club is more of a gentlemen’s strip club.

Nucky must have forgotten who he was trying to impress because although Joe looks amused at the stripper on stage who gets down to pasties and underwear, his club looks incredibly cheesy. Especially, when some guy in the back row begins masturbating under the table. Nice impression, Nucky. And of course, he’s upset because all he has is seltzer water in his cup to drown out the stress since he’s trying so hard to be like his idol.

In the upstairs private office, Joe and Nucky finally sit down to discuss terms. Nucky wants to partner with Joe, because Nucky could use his own connects to facilitate transactions but would need Joe’s connections for things he doesn’t have, like a good relationship with the wheat moguls. Joe has been surveying everything with a critical eye and tells Nucky his bottom-line in deciding a partnership, would be to know Nucky’s motive for it all. Joe has nine children and is hoping to establish a legacy. “It takes just one generation,” he says, of a lineage building wealth. So, Joe hopes to make his family wealthy and to leave a legacy. (Which he does!) But Nucky has no pictures of his step children or even his nephew, and although he mentioned them, Joe can’t figure out what it is that Nucky wants with more money.

Joe makes a deal, tell me what your motive is, and I’ll decide. Nucky says he wants to leave something behind. Joe pours Nucky a drink, makes a smart comment about the stripper downstairs, and leaves.

What does it all mean?

Joe, obviously knows that Nucky is trying to follow his example and not drinking has been eating at him the entire time. It looks more like he’s mocking him or judging him. Is it that he thinks that Nucky is equal to his reputation as a gangster? Joe isn’t an angel at all, he seems to dabble in anything that cannot be traced to be illegal, but he has never involved himself in the level of criminal activity, that Nucky has nor does he have his reputation. So is this judgment on character? Is that why the whole family analysis was important to Joe, he needs to see if Nucky is in it for a greater purpose or just to have power like any other gangster?

And what did Joe decide? Is this a walk out because he’s not interested or is he thinking it over?

Young Nucky

Young Nucky’s experience with first love is both confusing and traumatizing. Young Nucky is no longer the young boy sweeping sand off the docks that could be missed for an hour without anyone even noticing. He has real responsibilities on the boardwalk now. He helps people with their bags, he accompanies women with an umbrella to shield them from the sun, Nucky does all the little deeds he is called to, for a few cents in tips. The new girl on vacation in Atlantic City seems to be the teenage Mabel. Young Nucky can’t help but stare at her no matter where he is doing his labor.

During an errand for fresh flowers for a man staying in the hotel, Young Nucky meets, what I believe was the first man that he admired that wasn’t the Commodore. The guy was having flowers delivered to his room for his great love, and he confides in Young Nucky with complete sincerity that for love he would do anything regardless of God, family, and the thoughts of others. He asks the Young Nucky if he was the same type of man, and Nucky agrees that he is. In the room, was a naked girl, waiting for the man to return. He requested that Young Nucky bring fresh flowers every day to the hotel room. A few days later, Young Nucky arrives to see the Commodore and an associate inspecting the room; the naked girl was covered in blood on the bed, the last batch of flowers Young Nucky had delivered were scattered all over the floor. Nucky never becomes this type of man. But it’s shocking to see that this was his first lesson in love.

Later, Mabel approaches Young Nucky and tells him how the biblical Enoch (his real name), lived for many years until he walked with God. There is a quick debate about the bible, since Nucky cannot make any logical sense of it, and Mabel then asks about his job. This convo eventually leads her to ask Nucky to kiss a horse for ten cents. He waits till Mabel’s parents call for her return, before kissing the horse. It seems Nucky is truly the type of man to do anything for love. Is this a short lesson, in Nucky’s weakness for love?

Young Nucky later receives a postcard from Mabel, that says that she returns to Atlantic City for vacation every summer. And, of course, that she would have let him kiss her instead of the horse.


Chalky and Milton aka Buck aka Ol’ Crazy show up to the house where the supposed safe is, which is the home of a young teenage girl and her mother. I don’t know why I even considered that the safe might have belonged to Milton since he is out of his mind as it is and it doesn’t look like he has anything of his own. But as much as I like to call the guy a nut job, I can’t help but to be in awe at how incredibly intelligent and forward thinking he is.

Chalky just wants to get this safe, get the money, and get out of this place. But this scared girl and her mother are weaving tales to buy themselves time, and I imagine, to save their own lives. These two men that showed up to rob the place may try to kill them. At first, the girl is by herself and says she’s the only one in the house. But when she answers questions, she always responds with “WE.” Milton catches on to this and asks who is this “WE,” if you’re alone. Then her mother appears. So, they say that they don’t have a safe. And after a back and forth, Milton retells in details of the night he carried ice to their basement, during a party, and didn’t even get a tip from the girl’s father. But, he had seen silver trays stacked with food and a safe in the basement.

Then they bring out this little miniature safe, and he says this can’t be it because the safe was huge. Ol’ Crazy doesn’t come out with these rebuttals right away. He rocks himself and points the gun at the women, screaming at them, looking around like a maniac, before returning to a steady tone. He can’t work a phone, not because he can’t dial, but because he won’t use the phone. He can’t wrap his head around how the voices come out the piece of plastic. What’s funny is that he references God and Jesus in some of his ramblings, while he is trying to rob these people. I don’t call him Ol’ crazy for nothing.

But it isn’t till he starts taking an interest in the young girl and wanting her to change into her homecoming dress in front of everyone, that Chalky gets sick of the nonsense. He won’t deal with any of that, especially since he had a young daughter once.  The mother gives in and admits that the father left them and all they have left are war bonds and $9. Chalky ends up killing Ol’ Crazy when he won’t pull away his gun from the young girl’s head.

It was a very disappointing end for Ol’ Crazy. They spent a lot of time fleshing out how astute he was in this episode, only to have him die in the end.

Where to now Chalky? Once again, we are left to imagine how he will find his way.


The return of Dr. Narcisse, last seasons villain, was short and a tease. Bugsy and Lucky go up to Harlem to visit him. (Excuse my excitement that Bugsy Siegel is getting more time on the screen.) It was supposed to be a short deal. Unfortunately, Narcisse is not interested. He made narcotics arrangements with Masseria in the past and is possibly doing a lot better now. Masseria’s death may have had no impact on his business. Lucky proposes the deal continue now, but with Maranzano as Narcisse’s new business partner. There is nothing like a cordial exit by Lucky and Bugsy, to remind you that there is nothing friendly about disagreeing with gangsters.

Bugsy and a friend show up at one of Narcisse’s whore houses and kill the entire staff. Now, Narcisse has to either submit to Maranzano or start a full on war with the Italian mafia. And that, my friends, is how Narcisse is back in the picture.  A cheap trick, if you ask me.


The firm that Margaret works for is under investigation, in particular, Mr. Bennett, Margaret’s boss who killed himself in front of everyone. Margaret is interviewed regarding her knowledge in regards to Bennett’s client “Abe Redstone,” an alias for Arnold Rothstein. Margaret is playing the part of the loyal and empty headed secretary that can only recall that Mr. Redstone liked to drink milk. Before she could lie about knowing who Arnold Rothstein is and that Redstone is his alias, they remind her that the tabloids have included his name plenty of times. Apparently, Redstone’s account with the firm has been active with 18 withdrawals taking place after his death. But with a suicide on the part of Bennett, you would think that those withdrawals are an open and shut case. Only, Margaret’s signature, “Margaret Rohan,” is on most of the withdrawals in the account.

It is possible that Bennett may have been stealing from Redstone, knowing well that Redstone was Rothstein, yet another reason why he committed suicide. But if he did, Margaret is left to take the fall. It is also, possible that Margaret, knowing Rothstein’s identity, took money out of the account knowing, that no one would make a connection between Redstone and Rothstein. Either way, Margaret is headed to some major legal problems.

Margaret goes to visit Rothstein’s wife, Carolyn. The only issue is that she doesn’t realize that as Rothstein was wise and subtle, so is his wife. Carolyn’s suing anyone she can since Rothstein left her nothing after his death.  She knows that Margaret is “Margaret Rohan” of the firm and also, Margaret Thompson, the wife of the wealthy ex-treasurer of Atlantic City. Carolyn’s ruby ring comes from a lavish party Nucky once threw with a chest full of gold for his guests. Rothstein told her all the details, and she has never forgotten.

Margaret has no choice but to return to her estranged husband for help. So ends this episode, Margaret watching as Nucky sleeps. Nucky thinks its Mabel (Who has been dead for years), and he smiles when he realizes who it is. If Margaret makes the full move in with her husband, what will happen to Nucky’s business with Sally Wheet? Ouch!


What do you guys think of this episode? Still a lot of loose ends, any premonitions on what’s to come? Comment below or message me directly here ->

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Read the previous episode’s recap here:

Nucky’s Revenge; The Good Listener : Boardwalk Empire Season 5 ep 2


Read all of the Boardwalk Recaps Here: Boardwalk Empire Recaps


Image Source: Screenshot all rights to HBO




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