The episode, “Devil you Know,” introduces the beginning of the end. Major deaths this time around, remind us that no one will remain unharmed with this final season. Like they say, the devil you know, is better then the one you don’t. In this case, there are enough devils around to wish that you didn’t know what was coming. This is where the fear lies in this episode, the fact that you know exactly whats going to happen, you just don’t know how.
When Archie knocks on Nucky’s door to let him know that the “bell boy” has brought up some sandwiches, he discovers that Nucky had not been in his room all along. In a rinky-dink bar, somewhere in Jersey, Nucky is getting hammered. Why couldn’t he do this in the privacy of his own room? He wanted to be around people that came from where he came, we can only assume. Maybe he wanted to go where no one knew his name?
He meets Dina at this bar and she thinks she knows exactly who Nucky is. Not his persona, but the type of person he is. A married man in a marriage that is unhappy, with children, working a dead-end job. Far from what Nucky is, but he goes with it. He’s not telling this chick who he really is anyway. He even gave her a fake name, Francis X. Dina is quite rough around the edges, admitting to having taken her two ex-husbands to the cleaners, after divorcing them. She cares a lot less about anything anyone thinks and has a slick mouth to match.
Nucky has always had the habit of speaking his inner feelings only when he has no control. He has only let down his guard for seconds, to people he wouldn’t otherwise share information with when he is waking up from a dream and things are hazy. But surprisingly, he’s discussing his inner turmoil to this Dina, over his passion over the years to get ahead. He doesn’t understand what the point of it all was. Possibly, the fact that she doesn’t know who he is makes him feel free to speak his mind.
Dina probably just sees it as the inner workings of someone living a miserable life. But, it seems that the loss of life that Nucky has experienced does not make any of the money and progression, worth it. A nearby old man listening in on the conversation has enough of Nucky’s complaining and insults Dina before he challenges Nucky to a fight. Nucky manages to roll around the bar with the guy, before finally getting on top and punching the man unconscious, when he wouldn’t apologize to the lady.
After a few shared drinks later, Dina is accompanied by Irene, a close girlfriend. Nucky’s drunk self is doing all types of nerd things, that only he would know to do, like reciting poems and rhyming verses. The girls, who are both on the rough side, eat it all up, and you have to wonder, whether they’re laughing because they’re drunk or because they find it truly funny.
That’s when they ask him what he wants and Nucky says he wants them both. You could tell he was too drunk to figure a proper place to have sex with these women because they meet each other in the back of the bar. When Nucky has fingers far up Irene’s skirt, Dina gets his attention and knocks him out.
Nucky doesn’t awaken till a young boy is hovering over him. “Don’t you know you can’t trust me? ” Nucky asks. Then he realizes he doesn’t know the kid or at least he thinks he doesn’t. There it goes again. Those moments where you get glimpses of what he really feels or thinks.
He offers the kid $50 if he will bring him to the Old Rumpus. The kid says that there’s no need to pay him because he already works for him. This kid is the same one that Mickey Doyle picked up when he needed workers. The same kid that delivers Nucky his lunch. The same kid that is constantly repeating his full name when Nucky asks who he is, time and time again. Joel Harper. So he says. This is the rumored Tommy Darmody. The clues that could lead us to believe this are few and vague. Mickey makes a joke about Joel Harper’s father introducing Mickey to his mother, and Joel is so completely confused, you have to wonder how he could have fallen for the joke if he truly is from Indiana.
Nonetheless, he’s a character that continues to insist in every scene, even when you think he’s not important. And all that insisting must mean that he indeed is important. Tommy Darmody should be around 13-16 years old at this time and if this is really him, what are his intentions? Does he plan to rise up like his father, if he even knows about his fathers history? Better yet, does he plan to avenge his father? (Don’t get me started! I have goosebumps just thinking about it.)
Badly bruised, Nucky offers Joel some money after he is home. Joel doesn’t want to take it because he’s trying to get ahead. There goes that line again. But Nucky insists, because he lost Sally and it was his fault. He needs to feel that he has done some good in this world. The gesture is more for his soul then it is for Joel’s pockets.
Thinking that Nucky’s disappearance has something to do with Lucky Luciano’s plans to take Nucky out, Mickey Doyle had put together a small army. Mickey asks Nucky if they are going to war and although his head injury has nothing to do with Luciano, he says they are.
Luciano has already attempted to kill Nucky twice. Might as well be prepared.
In the flashbacks, Young Nucky is now married to Mabel. The downside is that he is still just a Deputy Sheriff. His knowledge of Halligan’s death did not help him in the least. He has now been working for the Commodore for 13 years without a hint of appreciation. Mabel is pregnant and, although Nucky is happy, his ambition is still eating away at him.
Young Nucky has developed his ability to be astute while patrolling the boardwalk. He’s noticed that the Commodore has moved on to taking in little girls to his home. A mother looks around worried, as her daughter that had been speaking with the Commodore moments before, disappears. That Commodore sure is a nasty creep. Nucky now knows the old man’s weakness but keeps it to himself.
A boardwalk store owner informs Young Nucky that a little boy has been stealing from the shops, making it increasingly hard for the shop owners not to lose money. Young Nucky employs young Eli’s help in finding the boy that is stealing. Nucky chases him under the boardwalk, after seeing him selling cigars from a stolen cigar box.
Although he loses the boy, he finds a chest full of stolen items under the boardwalk. Eli and Nucky, stake out near the chest to catch the little thief. That same night, the boy returns to dig in his chest and Nucky and Eli catch him. When they ask him his name he says Nellie Bly, but Nucky had already noticed that that was the name of the author of one of the books in the chest. Nucky tells the boy his name and Eli’s, so he would be more willing to provide his own. His name is Gillian.
He’s not a boy. She is Gillian Darmody who is an orphan.
Putting together this new confirmation of the Commodore’s preference for little girls and the fact that Nucky has just met the orphan Gillian, you can assure yourself that Nucky’s quest for ambition, involves the two. Especially, since he is the one who provided the Commodore with Gillian as a prize.
Now, if you can recall, a few episodes ago, Nucky received a letter from Nellie Bly. It seems that the letter that Gillian wrote with the paper and pen provided to her at the asylum, for that one time, was to Nucky. What did she ask of him? The man that introduced her to the Commodore, who raped her and the same man that killed her son. Will Nucky free Gillian from the asylum before they perform some drastic surgery? Will he help her for the sake of the memory of the poor child Gillian used to be or for the guilt that lives within himself?
Van Alden (Mueller) & Eli
It’s go time for Mueller and Eli! They must enter headquarters, during a period of time when there aren’t many of Capone’s henchmen around, to make a delivery, in hopes of obtaining the ledger books. The plan is to bring in a bag, seemingly filled with money, and during the drop off, take the ledger books.
The plan was flawed from the beginning. Eli and Mueller showing up during non-drop off hours is incredibly suspicious to the guys that keep Capone’s empire alive. Although they see their faces all day, there is nothing laid back about letting the two in for a middle of the night drop off.
They are advised not to enter, but Eli hastily tries to go in the drop off room, only to find Ralph Capone banging a dancer or stripper, of some sort. And if Capone is the king of tempers, his brother is second in line. Eli and Mueller immediately sweat bullets. To make matters worse, Ralph’s anger causes him to go through their bag, which is filled with cut up newspaper. This is all within minutes of entering Capone headquarters. Capone is out with the movie star that called him.
When asked what to do, Ralph decides to contact D’angelo, instead of Capone. There is this collective sigh of relief between Eli, Mueller, and myself, at this point. D’angelo shows up and he pretends to question the guys. This is where the writers did a great job of juggling the complicated balance in power. D’angelo doesn’t take control of the situation and say directly “I’m going to handle this”. He instead makes it look like he’s going to let Ralph call the shots. He asks if they should contact Capone or if Ralph should take care of it. All the while, D’angelo is pushing to take the responsibility so he can save the lives of the two men he sent out on this mission to begin with.
Ralph leaves everything in D’angelo’s hands and just when we are home free, Capone arrives with his new actor friends. Now its D’angelo and crew that are definitively sweating. I had no pulse at this point. After a few merry jokes, Capone questions Eli and Muellers, presence at this time of night. And when Ralph tells Capone whats been happening, he takes the conversation to his office and politely excuses himself from the actors that are waiting his return.
Mueller tries to claim that they planned to rob Capone out of greed. But Capone has had the IRS on his mind and feels that this is related to their attempts at finding a way to lock him up. He also remembers clearly that Luciano had already accused Mueller of being a federal agent.
Thats when Mueller snaps. This is the Van Alden that we used to know. The same Van Alden that drowned his jewish partner who he believed to have been working with Nucky. With a gun pointed at his head by Capone, for the millionth time in the season, Van Alden finally knocks the gun out of his hand. He grabs Capone by his shirt and begins to rant that he is Nelson Van Alden a federal agent that took an oath before the treasury etc. etc.
The sound of a gun is heard and Van Alden collapses to the side with a massive hole in his right eye. Who pulled the trigger? D’angelo, of course. Van Alden cold have blown his cover and killing him would both: stop Van Alden from revealing who he is and it would increase Capone’s faith in D’angelo’s loyalty.
R.I.P. Van Alden You were a true prohee to the end.
Eli immediately begins to whisper to June softly that he is sorry, as he sees the end of his life flashing before him. Capone grabs Eli and questions him for the truth. Eli tells some form of the truth. They were set up by the FBI but he reveals the agent that forced them to infiltrate Capone’s headquarters to be Eliot Ness, thus saving D’angelo’s hide. Capone orders D’angelo to dispose of Eli. He no longer owes Nucky anything because Lucky will soon do away with him, as well. But Capone is tired of being worried about his books, he gives the ledgers to D’angelo for safe keeping in Cicero. The fed gets the ledgers, after all.
The actors that had been sitting patiently in the other room, look scared out of their minds when D’angelo and Eli exit. Eli questions D’angelo’s conscious in killing a man that had two children. D’angelo reveals that he doesn’t care about anything and when Eli asks what he must do now, D’angelo throws money at him and tells him to catch a bus.
So, it looks like Eli will be on his way to Atlantic City for the war that’s up ahead.
Chalky and Daughter are at Dr. Narcisse’s whorehouse, but Daughter is not a resident, as it might seem. She is waiting for Dr. Narcisse to speak about business she will not discuss with Chalky. What a coincidence, that is exactly who Chalky wants to see. Although Daughter tries to get him to leave, Chalky is resolved to wait for Narcisse for his own business.
The little girl sleeping in the room is Althea, Daughter’s daughter. (I hate these people for naming her that) The father is unknown, but Daughter is sure to emphasize that Althea does not belong to Narcisse. There are two broken hearts in this very well furnished room. Chalky is hurt that Daughter left him back in the woods last season. He claims to pretend to hear her voice at night just to get to sleep. Only over the years, he had forgotten her voice. Daughter claims she needed to be free. Something that she is not, since she is sitting in a room waiting to do business with a man that is all about owning others.
Dr. Narcisse arrives with a group of his own henchmen waiting for him outside. Chalky menacingly holds his gun in plain view. Narcisse is not phased by the gun and insists on being cordial and having a sit down. Chalky allows Daughter to address her business first. Apparently, Daughter is a maid, cleaning toilets for a living due to Narcisse’s hold on the music business. She paid to have a record made and cannot get any radio station to play her music because Narcisse has used his power to stop her from succeeding.
When it is Chalky’s turn, Narcisse tells him that Lucky has taken a hold of his business and will be dictating orders to him. He requests that Chalky join his army in order to beat the Italian mafia. Which is not remotely possible. Chalky demands to hear Daughter’s record and after hearing her sweet voice, he agrees to the partnership, in exchange for Narcisse allowing the stations to play Daughter’s record.
Daughter is devastated over the deal, she warns Chalky that he can’t trust Narcisse. But Chalky insists that he knows what he’s doing. He sure does. Chalky had asked Althea about her father and the little girl replied that she only knew that her mother loved him, but had to leave him. This brings to mind Chalky’s pain over Daughter leaving him back in the woods. It is implied, although not confirmed, that Althea is actually Chalky’s daughter.
With this well in mind, he sacrifices himself to make sure that Daughter gets the life that she is destined to have, in turn, providing a better life for Althea. This is a sacrifice because Chalky does not intend to join Narcisse’s army nor does he believe that Narcisse is being truthful about his offer. This is something that they all know.
Daughter requests they all leave at the same time, but Chalky tells her that they are headed in different directions. Narcisse rushes out with his guys and Chalky, because he has a meeting with Lucky. But while Narcisse makes his way to the car that is being brought around, Nucky remains just outside the back entrance of the whorehouse. He reminds Narcisse that he can’t beat the white Italians in any battle and Narcisse feels that surviving is all he needs to do to win. And while they are yelling this conversation from different distances, you get the feeling that Narcisse and Chalky are going in different directions too.
After Narcisse is off, with half his men, the remaining men turn their guns on Chalky. This is what they all knew was going to happen. Chalky closes his eyes and smiles, as he replays the sound of Daughter’s voice singing, and the guns go off into a black screen.
Chalky was the last of a group of characters that have been undeniably resilient. He was at the top of his game, managing a club, living in a mansion, and waiting for his daughter to marry the young man that would soon be a doctor. And in the end, he lost his money, power, home, and family. The biggest loss was that of his daughter. I didn’t want him to part this world without having felt closure regarding all the love he had lost. Sure, he was able to meet his second daughter, before he died, but I would have liked for her to know that he was her dad. It would have satisfied me to see him feel the warmth of another little girls love.
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Image Source: HBO