The Real Price on the Boardwalk; “Cuanto” Boardwalk Empire Season 5 ep 4

By in Agent Van Alden, Al Capone, atlantic city, boardwalk empire, Cuba, Eli Thompson, HBO, Joe Kennedy, Lucky Luciano, Margaret Thompson, Mickey Doyle, Mueller, Nucky Thompson, Sally Wheet, Sheriff Thompson, The Old Rumpus
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Cuanto means “How much?” in Spanish. In this fourth episode of the last season of Boardwalk Empire, we see plainly the price of one’s decisions. From Chicago to Atlantic City, and all the way down in Cuba, the stakes are quite high and pricey.



Nucky has forgotten how easily Margaret charmed him.  When he wakes up, Margaret is teaching his Cuban bodyguard how to speak English. Nucky’s flight to Cuba has been canceled due to the pouring rain.

Nucky phones Sally in Cuba and lets her know that he won’t be making the meet with the Bacardi owner. She will have to go in his place. She tells him that the Cuban army is having some sort of political issue and that things may develop later. Back to Margaret, who is now chatting away with Joe Kennedy. I swear that the man was captivated to the point of an affair. He even offers to take Margaret home in his private car with a side of oysters. Nucky put a quick stop to this little flirty arrangement. There’s no way Joe is going to come and tell him he won’t do liquor business AND try to get in on his estranged wife. Margaret stays for the sake of her husband’s desire and Joe whispers to Nucky, one more time that there is safety in numbers.

Wonder if that’s the last we will see of him.

Margaret tells Nucky about her issue with Rothstein’s widow and instead of being worried, he is impressed by Margaret’s resourcefulness. He couldn’t believe she had the gall to make a business deal with a gangster like Rothstein and managed to work and raise the kids on her own. Margaret admits that Nucky was her inspiration for making the deal. Nucky teaches her further lessons in his line of business during lunch, at the same Italian restaurant he took Joe Kennedy to. They can’t just pay up to Carolyn because once she gets a taste of the money, whats from stopping her from hitting them up for more? Nucky wants Margaret to negotiate her down to 25 cents for every dollar. Let’s see how Margaret will be able to spearhead a negotiation with a strong headed person like Carolyn. It’s going to take a lot of force.

The scene was filled with a lot of awkward sexual tension. After a bottle of wine, Margaret is quite flirty and incredibly blunt. She says things that the housewife we first met in season one, would have never dared to say. She is more liberal, free. I like this Margaret. But I can’t help feeling that it’s been awhile for her and she’s ready to go to bed with Nucky, after all, he is her husband. But as Nucky walks alongside her on the Boardwalk, he pays one of his men to get her a room. Next morning, she will be back on her way to NY.

Let us remember that the reason why these two aren’t together, is because Margaret had become pregnant from one of Nucky’s henchmen. Nucky makes it seem like he has put all of that in his past. This time, Margaret was full of booze and ready to go at it with Nucky but for reasons, I really think have nothing to do with Sally, he brushes her off. It’s been awhile for you to Nucky!

Young Nucky

Back in Nucky’s younger days, the hustle and bustle of Atlantic City’s summer months has come to a close. A young Nucky is seen sweeping the sand off a barren boardwalk dressed in a bellboy outfit. The Commodore has someone bring him to his quarters. The Commodore has pictures of little girls dressed up and posing, all over his desk. It seems that the Commodore was one of those perverts that were exclusively interested in little girls. Remember, Gillian was only thirteen when she became pregnant with Jimmy Darmody.

The Commodore places a map of Atlantic City above the pictures and shows Young Nucky what he wishes to do with the land. Why? No idea. It’s unclear if he was trying to give him a glimpse of how illustrious he hopes to make the town, in order to show him that he may have a place at a career level or if he was just talking out loud.

He then tells  Young Nucky to bring his bell boy outfit in, his services are no longer needed. Knowing how poor the boy is and how much he depends on the job, the Commodore has nothing close to a heart. Young Nucky is the same as a grown man needing to make money for his household. He’s not even in school because of this. He goes home and ends up arguing with Eli, as they are locked out of the house, on account of their dad having sex.

They get into a little scuffle, Young Nucky promises to get Eli a cornball.  A Cornball [def] is popcorn rolled into a ball and flavored with molasses or caramel. Yes, a cornball is not a lame person in this reference. 🙂

When they get to the boardwalk, Young Nucky takes Eli to the Commodore’s place. He wanted to show Eli that other people don’t live like them. They do nothing and don’t starve for sitting around and doing nothing. In other words, there is another way of life then what they are used to.

He shows Eli a working toilet and then gets in the tub for a bath. The sheriff shows up and Eli and Young Nucky are canned. Fearing the worst, Young Nucky tells Eli that they will let them go if they pay them. At a young age, he has already learned the art of bribery.

But the Sheriff, who seems like he’s in the same boat as the Commodore, in emotion and forgiveness, is actually taking the boys home with him. He’s really a different man off the boardwalk. At home, his wife has cooked everyone a big meal, and they engage in sweet banter, while their two teenage children happily join in. Young Nucky cries his little eyes out. This is the home he wishes he lived in.

On their way home, Nucky asks the Sheriff if he could arrest his father for abusing his mother. The Sheriff explains that if he did, he would eventually have to let him back out. In the end, he refers to Young Nucky as Deputy Sheriff Thompson. The Deputy Sheriff is Nucky’s first real job in the future. I wonder if this is the man who puts him there.


Al Capone and Eli calling Nucky
image source: HBO

Al Capone and his guys are huddled up in his hotel suite watching movie reels on Capone’s notoriety. Public Enemy #1. There is nothing more vain then watching movies about yourself, laughing hysterically, as all the people you killed are shown back to back.

Lucky Luciano is visiting Capone in Chicago, and compares him to Wallace Beery. Which Capone is not too happy about, but managed to chuckle lightly. One of Capone’s goons laughs a little too hard, and Capone turns into Joe Pesci’s character, Tommy Devito, from Goodfellas. I noticed it ever since Capone became his own boss. He’s always joking and becoming offended simultaneously. He then relaxes and turns everything into a calm situation, and either immediately goes crazy killing someone, or lets it pass. In this case, the goon was saved.

With the gift of an empire state building miniature,  Lucky comes to speak about arranging an organized crime network across the nation. First off, the Empire State building gift looks like a jab. Don’t know why it seems like an insult, but it does to me. To sweeten the pot, Lucky states that this network would be entirely Italian. Someone mentions how Nucky is not Italian and has the hold on Atlantic City. Lucky brushes that off, cause its clear he’s trying to rid himself of that problem with a first attempt in Cuba.

Capone references Maranzano being Lucky’s new boss a few times. This is a clear jab at the fact that Lucky is not his own boss and has to take orders from someone above him.  Lucky hints ever so slightly that there will be changes aka Maranzano is next to go. When Lucky exits, Capone goes crazy criticizing him, the unlucky goon who laughed too hard before, calls Lucky a jerk, and Capone goes back into Pesci mode.

Then it all quiets down like the calm before the storm. Everyone starts packing it up and as the goon clears up the room, Capone attacks him with the Empire State building miniature. I mean, a full on beat down on the head with a stab of the antenna in the face to finish the job. If Capone’s character is following Tommy Devito’s karmic path, Capone’s ending will be a huge downfall.

Completely drenched in blood, Capone calls for Eli and has him ring up Nucky. He tells Nuck that they have a mutual problem called Charlie Luciano. I would have never guessed Capone would partner with Nucky over Lucky, but the war in the end is going to be phenomenal.

Van Alden/Mueller

The Empire state building miniature is not the only thing Lucky brings to the party, he also throws in a wrench of suspicion and accusation. For the first time in seven years, someone recognizes that Mueller is actually Van Alden. Lucky remembers him from when he pinched him and Darmody back in season one or two. Capone is confused by the accusation that his faithful henchmen is a fed, and seems even more confused as to who Darmody is.

“Who?” Capone says.

After all of Capone’s struggles in the beginning of the show, he can’t remember the man he planned to rise to the top with. The same man who he brought to meet his wife and son. Darmody lived in Chicago, working as a bouncer at the whorehouse, helping Torrio and Capone, loyally. I imagine this is how people in the line of business of killing would have to eventually think. People are expendable, so why not just forget them.

Lucky says Mueller is a fed and Capone puts Mueller on his knees. And with a gun pulled to his forehead, Mueller anxiously points out to Capone all of the accolades of his service. He was in Cicero killing people alongside him, he helped set up O’Banion, and he’s been part of the loyal Chicago service for seven years! Mueller asks how he could let this outsider come in and tell Capone what to do in his own place. In light of truth, Mueller says he might be a fed, a bigamist, or even a murderer on the run, but it wouldn’t matter if Capone was letting someone else call the shots.

Mueller’s attempt at appeasing Capone’s ego worked, and he was let go. But not without him needing to head to the bathroom to check if he had soiled himself.

D’angelo, the real life fed, still working for Capone, watches anxiously in the background the whole time. When he gets back to fed headquarters he searches feverishly through wanted posters, till he finds Van Alden. Will he approach Mueller about his past life as Van Alden or will he keep it all under wraps, until he decides he’s going to take Capone down?


With the rain canceling Nucky’s trip to Cuba, Sally is left to do all the dirty work to keep Bacardi Rum under Nucky’s thumb. She picks up the money that Nucky wires her, but not without the men at the bank discussing her suspiciously.

She brings up the Cuban army’s recent issues to the Bacardi Rum guy and he explains that the money is to ensure that he keeps producing rum from his sugar cane fields. The army will leave the sugar cane fields alone with payment. Sally leaves a message with a flirtatious Mickey Doyle back at the club, which is no longer called the Onyx club, it’s called the Old Rumpus. Sounds as cheesy as it’s become. Nucky is off with Margaret, so he will have to hear about the money delivered , later.

On Sally’s way back to Havana, she’s stopped in the middle of the night by the Cuban army. This is where I feel Sally’s better judgment had went out the window. She made sure Nucky had a cuban bodyguard but, manages to travel around Cuba entirely on her own. The army general gives her a hard time. They had enforced a curfew and didn’t want to let her get home.

So, Sally asks, Cuanto? How much would it cost for Sally to get back home. Unfortunate for her, this Cuban official isn’t interested in money or liquor,  and sees these foreigners that come in with money as the true problem in Cuba. In a misunderstanding, one of the army men shoots Sally.

Now we have to ask, how will Nucky see Sally’s death? Will it be a sign, that Meyer Lansky headed to Cuba to get revenge or will he see someone else in Cuba as a problem? Nucky has had more then a few lovers die, and as last episodes Young Nucky shows us, he is quite the sucker for love. Nucky’s new reason for revenge, won’t be pretty.

What did you guys think about Cuanto? Any guesses on what’s to come?


image source: HBO

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