Episode Title: "Sunday Best"
Writer: Howard Korder
Director: Allen Coulter
Previously on “Boardwalk Empire”:
It's Eastern in Atlantic City and thus, "Sunday Best" was all about redemption and resurrection. While some were given a second chance, others learned "it's too late" to be born again.
Frustrated with his lowly position in Nucky's operation, Eli (Shea Whigham) invites his brother to Easter dinner, in hopes of pleading his case. He may have tried to have Nucky killed, but working long days in a warehouse under Mickey Doyle's thumb is more than Eli can take. At first, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) is resistant to his brother's request, but after taking into consideration Eli's role in Tabor Heights, he decides to put him on equal ground with Doyle.
As Eli's wife reminded Margaret, Nucky can be a generous man. He's also charming, big hearted and a hell of a juggler. Still, it wasn't enough to win Margaret (Kelly MacDonald) back. "It's too late" she tells her estranged husband when offers to show her a few tricks.
Elsewhere on the boardwalk, Gillian (Gretchen Mol) continued her creepy relationship with Roger, err "James." Initially, it seemed like Gillian was looking for Roger to play the role of surrogate for Jimmy. Unfortunately for Jimmy's doppleganger drifter, it was closure Gillian was after. Now that she's put Jimmy's death behind her, Gillian can get on with her increasingly disturbing existence.
While Gillian stabbed a random dude with a needle and drowned him in the bathtub, Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) took young Tommy to angry drunk vet, Paul Sagorsky's home for Easter dinner. Like Gillian, Paul is also mourning the loss of a son in an inappropriate manner – screaming at Tommy for playing with his late son's toy soldiers. Richard decides to take Tommy and Paul's daughter, Julia to the boardwalk. There's definitely something between Richard and Julia, though neither one knows who to handle their feelings. It's sweet to see and I don't think there's a "Boardwalk" fan who doesn't want to see Richard Harrow find a little happiness in all this hell.
One person who certainly feels entitled to happiness is Gyp "Why Me?!" Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale). "Sunday Best" gave us a glimpse into Gyp's home life, where he's henpecked by a table full of women in both English and Italian. Still, it's not enough to justify Rosetti's sense of entitlement, as he screams at Jesus while sitting alone in church. Rosetti, who clearly thinks violence is the answer to everything, including an existential crisis, can't punch Jesus so he does the next best thing and knocks out a priest instead.
Up until recently, Gyp Rosetti has been a bit hammy, but the past few episodes have added some much need depth to the character. He's a desperate man, in more ways than one. In this episode, Gyp managed to talk his way out of death at the hands of Joe Masseria's thugs. What he does with his second chance remains to be seen.
Though 'Sunday Best,' wasn't the most exciting episode, it was an important hour in that it set the table for the rest of the season. With so much chaos in both his business relations and personal life, Nucky now knows where he stands, as do those closest to him.
The hour not only reminded Margaret, but also viewers that Nucky can be likable and even endearing at times. It doesn't change who he is or what he's capable of, which Margaret is also keenly aware of. But it does add another layer to his character, and seeing as "Boardwalk Empire" is about Nucky Thompson, that's important. Now that his cold war with Eli is over, what's left of Nucky's humanity will be tested again. He'll either be born again a better man or go well beyond the point of no return.