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America in 1920. The Great War is over, Wall Street is about to boom and everything is for sale, even the World Series. It is a time of change when women are getting the vote, broadcast radio is introduced, and young people rule the world.
On the beach in southern New Jersey sits Atlantic City, a spectacular resort known as "The World's Playground," a place where rules don't apply. Massive hotels line its famous Boardwalk, along with nightclubs, amusement piers and entertainment to rival Broadway. For a few dollars, a working man can get away and live like a king -- legally or illegally. The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City is the town's Treasurer, Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, (Steve Buscemi) a political fixer and backroom dealer who is equal parts politician and gangster and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, the town is a hub of activity for rum-runners, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a day's drive from Chicago. And Nucky Thompson takes full advantage.
On the beach in southern New Jersey sits Atlantic City, a spectacular resort known as "The World's Playground," a place where rules don't apply. Massive hotels line its famous Boardwalk, along with nightclubs, amusement piers and entertainment to rival Broadway. For a few dollars, a working man can get away and live like a king -- legally or illegally.
The undisputed ruler of Atlantic City is the town's Treasurer, Enoch "Nucky" Thompson, (Steve Buscemi) a political fixer and backroom dealer who is equal parts politician and gangster and equally comfortable in either role. Because of its strategic location on the seaboard, the town is a hub of activity for rum-runners, minutes from Philadelphia, hours from New York City and less than a day's drive from Chicago. And Nucky Thompson takes full advantage.
01 - 21
Nucky is rocked by an insurrection among his inner circle while Chalky’s life and livelihood are threatened by a vicious KKK attack. Margaret copes with her son’s disciplinary problems, Angela vies with Gillian for Jimmy’s affections at home and Van Alden shows his wife Rose around town as an anniversary present.
02 - Ourselves Alone
Concerned about losing his grip on Atlantic City, Nucky deliberates a countermove while trying to learn who in his inner circle betrayed him. As agents scour the Treasurer’s office for incriminating evidence, Margaret strikes a pose from the past to help Nucky avoid further trouble in the present. In New York, Jimmy is put on hold by Arnold Rothstein, but Meyer Lansky and Lucky Luciano loom as possible trading partners. Chalky is badgered in prison by Dunn Purnsley, a jailmate with an ax to grind; Owen Sleater, an advance man for Irish nationalist John McGarrigle, scouts the Thompson residence; the Commodore introduces Eli to “the men who made this city.”
03 - A Dangerous Maid
With the Commodore using his Coast Guard connections to put the squeeze on Atlantic City’s liquor shipments, Nucky reaches out to Washington’s new Attorney General, Harry Daugherty, to return a political favor. In an effort to prove his worth, Owen intervenes on a delivery intended for struggling casino operator Lolly Steinman. Two sets of dinner guests clash at Babette’s, Margaret sheds her pretense with Katy and the household staff and Lucy chafes at her enforced loneliness.
04 - What Does the Bee Do?
At a birthday party for Mayor Bader, Nucky's attorney has a legal brainstorm that could turn the tide in Nucky’s election-rigging case. Facing a local liquor surplus, Jimmy and Mickey head to Philadelphia in search of buyers, while Nucky strikes an unlikely deal to get booze into Atlantic City. Eli frets over the Commodore’s ability to lead, Margaret doles out staff bonuses, Chalky is cornered at work and at home and Owen puts his munitions expertise to work. Van Alden’s agents target Mickey’s warehouse, Richard lets down his guard in the name of art and Gillian recalls her “first time” with the Commodore.
05 - Gimcrack & Bunkum
After paying lip service to his enemies, Nucky introduces a surprise guest speaker at a Memorial Day dedication for war veterans. With his options dwindling, Eli questions his allegiances, but ends up digging himself a deeper hole. Nucky gets a new lawyer, Jimmy is taught a painful lesson by a Commodore cron and Richard goes hunting deep in the forest.
06 - The Age of Reason
Nucky orchestrates a risky liquor delivery in Philadelphia, Attorney General Daugherty faces a quandary that could complicate Nucky’s case, Margaret confesses her sins; Lucy struggles in solitude, while Van Alden wrestles with his conscience.
07 - Peg of Old
While Nucky enlists heavyweight champ Jack Dempsey to promote the wireless broadcast of his upcoming fight, Jimmy faces a decision that could shape the future of Atlantic City. Margaret travels to Brooklyn for a bittersweet reunion with the family she left behind in Ireland. Irked by the arrival of Daugherty’s new federal prosecutor Esther Randolph, Nelson weighs his options as his personal and professional problems converge. Badly in need of support, Lucy visits an old flame for a handout. Owen settles one score, and sets his sights on a new conquest.
08 - Two Boats and a Lifeguard
In the wake of a personal loss, Nucky solicits advice on his political situation from Arnold Rothstein, while Eli remains suspicious of his brother’s actions. Nucky finds himself in the unfamiliar position of showing gratitude toward a federal agent and Angela meets a new friend at the beach, and eavesdrops on her husband’s treachery. Van Alden gets a nanny, Nucky approaches Owen with an overseas proposition and Jimmy flexes his muscles, at Mickey Doyle’s expense.
09 - Battle of the Century
Arriving in Belfast, Nucky and Owen meet with IRA leaders with a barter proposition. Meanwhile, in Atlantic City, Jimmy and his partners broker a deal with George Remus for his “medicinal” alcohol before taking a break to see/hear the Dempsey fight. Margaret frets when Emily’s illness takes a turn for the worse, Dunn Purnsley orchestrates a worker’s strike at the Ritz and Waxey Gordon takes action against Manny Horvitz in Philadelphia.
10 - Georgia Peaches
Undercut by Nucky, who has a new source for alcohol, Jimmy and his partners look to cultivate a new revenue stream in Atlantic City. With the peak tourist season approaching, the Commodore’s crew faces a choice in dealing with the city’s striking workers: to negotiate or to fight back. Fearing that sin has led to misfortune, Margaret approaches Father Brennan with an “act of devotion”. Nucky gets a new lawyer, Van Alden faces an uncertain future and Manny Horvitz takes exception to a debt payment.
11 - Under Gods Power She Flourishes
With Margaret pondering the consequences of sin, Nucky prepares her for a worst-case scenario as Esther Randolph plays out her trump cards. Jimmy revisits his college days with Angela and Gillian, and Mickey Doyle chafes at sharing his liquor profits.
12 - To the Lost
With Nucky’s trial looming, Jimmy looks to make amends. After weighing an offer from Esther Randolph, Margaret makes a decision that will change the course of her future – and Nucky’s.