Once again Boardwalk Empire has given a serious look at one of its characters’ faiths. And while this part of the episode didn’t overshadow the string of memorable events going on elsewhere during “Georgia Peaches,” it still dominated what we saw thematically. Margaret doesn’t know what to do about her daughter’s polio so she heads to the church in order to perhaps buy a miracle. She’s a rational woman and she knows that this won’t work. She also knows that, even with her distaste for the priest, this is something she needs to do. So she takes all of the money she’s been saving up in case she’s no longer with Nucky, gives it to the church and then… well of course, nothing happens. Her daughter’s outlook is no better, and Margaret still has guilt from her episode with Owen Sleater.
This bit of the episode ties together not with any of the religious parts of the episode but with two of the secular fights. What’s important here is the impotence of the money. In this case, we see that her faith doesn’t respond to simply being paid off. The world is the way it is and if you’ve done something against God’s tenants, it takes a devotion deeper than money in order to return to his good graces. Margaret’s attempt at buying indulgences is closer to a deal with the devil than it is with what she truly believes about God. Still, though, she’s human, so she has to try, even though failure is inevitable.
There are two other deals that are attempted in “Georgia Peaches” that completely misfire because some things are more important than money. Both of them, unsurprisingly, work against Jimmy, who because of his upbringing does tend to think of everything in terms of cash and power. Human relationships largely evade him; where Nucky could smoothe things over by understanding people’s motivations, Jimmy only understands people when they’re looking for money. The first of these unsuccessful deals is with Chalky White, who says that it will take nothing less than the deaths of the KKK members themselves to appease him and his strike. Jimmy tried to deal with him through force, but this only angered the community and made more people join the strike. This deal for money, done in person, doesn’t work because Chalky has now learned what it is that’s more valuable to him than money. He’s showing the same affection for his community that Margaret does towards her daughter.
Jimmy’s other problem is that he’s unable to get his booze sold because Nucky is undercutting him by selling Irish whiskey, and Chalky’s people won’t touch Nucky’s. This means that he and his cohorts need to move their liquor out of town. However, this isn’t possible in Philadelphia because of Manny Horvitz. Jimmy sends Doyle out in an attempt to smoothe things over by bribing Horvitz, but Horvitz puts his personal betrayal above that. His response is to go back to Jimmy’s house and try to kill Jimmy himself. Instead he accidentally kills Angela Darmody’s lover and then Angela, with Jimmy saved only because he’s left to try and sell liquor at his old alma mater Princeton.
Outside of this business, Nucky fires his lawyer and takes on Rothstein’s, but what this means for his future is still undetermined. There’s also a continuation of the case against him, but this is still a slow burn.
I appreciated the way this episode pulled together, not with itself thematically but also major strands that have been building all season and, in fact, since the show began. The lawsuit against Nucky and Jimmy’s ascendancy that have taken over the show and the second half of its season are much, much more interesting than what we saw in the first few episodes. “Georgia Peaches” also had some of the most memorable scenes the show’s ever done, with the attack on the strikers and Manny’s assassination attempt This also really brought up Boardwalk Empire’s stakes because Angela was the first “major” character to be killed. Admittedly she hasn’t had much to do since the first season, but it was still surprising to see her be the first to go. Where at the beginning of the season there was endless planning, now there are actual events, life and death being determined by characters’ pride and greed.
•I think the episode’s first shot was just to remind us how high the show’s budget is.
•Owen Slater said, “Fine, Irish whiskey” with some wonderful pride. Yeah, he’s still Irish through and through.
•That doll Margaret brought her daughter is absolutely hideous.
•“Why don’t you just… show ‘em your cunt?” – It was wonderful advice like that which made the commodore the horrible person he is today.
•I understand the words of the Ty Cobb thing on their own, but I sure don’t understand ‘20s era baseball references.
•Nucky’s eyes when lying to the kid were wonderful. It’s always great when the show allows Steve Buscemi to actually use his acting skills.
•I would also like to mention how amazing Manny Horvitz has become. He’s quickly become the most interesting character on the show.
•I kind of enjoyed the scene where Jimmy and his wife tried to close-read a fat man on the beach.
•So where was Jimmy’s child during the entire thing? Where does he live to not be woken up by, say, a whole long string of gunshots?