While Bobby Cannavale took home the big Emmy win for Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for his portrayal of the big, bad gangster, Gyp Rosetti last season, Boardwalk Empire's third episode of the season, "Acres of Diamonds," was airing on HBO, and it gave us a bunch of new faces and action to watch. Nucky's made some new Florida friends while his nephew continues to skirt the edges and get involved with his business. And our new big bad guy and our original big bad guy are entering a new partnership — they're starting to put some flesh on the new guys, and it's going to make things interesting.
Nucky's still in Tampa trying to gauge the real estate market at the start of "Diamonds" with transplant Bill McCoy (Pearce Bunting). He's not so impressed with the smoke and mirrors of imported cigars and perpetual sunshine. He's even less impressed with August Tucker, McCoy's "business partner," a countrified gangster, if there ever existed such a thing. After meeting with Tucker and McCoy, and suffering through some bad jokes, Nucky's still on the fence about investing, mostly because he's too smart not to assess the risks of smuggling through up-and-coming new communities, until he finds out that McCoy needs his involvement to settle a debt with Tucker.
It goes without saying that quick-talking speakeasy owner, Sally Wheet (Patricia Arquette), kills it in this episode and catches Nucky's attention. She's brazen and it's awesome and gets Nucky waxing poetic about "being alive" about his life before greed took over.
Meanwhile, Valentin Narcisse meets with none other than our favorite bad-guy, Arnold Rothstein. Obviously Rothstein, the high and mighty, insults Narcisse's business practices by assuming he operates more childishly than preferred, because he's Arnold Rothstein and he'll forever be the big man on campus.
Narcisse wants the drug hook-up, with heroin specifically, because there's a great "Libyan" market for it which he plans to expand beyond his already charted territories in the Bronx. We all know he means taking it to the Boardwalk to continue to try to knock Chalky White down a few pegs, starting with Dunn Purnsley (Erik LaRay Hervey) who is the proud owner and operator of a switchblade (what?).
In an aggressive conversation, Narcisse attempts to break down Dunn to see how deep his loyalty to Chalky runs, which is deep because Dunn is too smart to play games. Narcisse also brings in a new performer for the Onyx club, Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham), who's a hit and who Chalky takes an interest in immediately.
Speaking of heroin, TV's newest junkie, Gillian Darmody (Gretchen Mol), has agreed to pretend to be businessman Roy Phillips' (Ron Livingston) wife to impress a potential business partner. She more or less talks her face off, teetering between throwing off and sealing the deal for Phillips throughout the whole dinner, before retreating to "powder her nose," aka shoot up, in the bathroom stall. When she finally does return to the table, her focus is on her melted ice cream sundae, at least the girl's got her priorities in order... kind of?
Richard Harris is still in Wisconsin with his pregnant sister. Last episode, he got an ominous phone call about back-taxes on the family farm, which turned out to be his former employer, Carl Billings, wanting a refund for Richard's un-performed services. Billings decides to pay the Harris family farm a visit without realizing that Richard isn't the only Harris that can pull the trigger. Before Emma, in a totally badass move, offs him, he takes Richard's wallet. Upon realizing that he hasn't yet spent the money he was paid to work for Billings, he asks him if he thinks that holding onto the money makes him honest. Richard's trying really hard to turn himself around and I'm kind of okay with it now. But he's leaving Wisconsin now, so we'll see how long it can last.
By far the best part of "Diamonds" is Willie Thompson's, Eli's son, college banger. After attempting to steal some "giggle juice" (LOL) from Mickey Doyle's warehouse, getting caught, begging to not get ratted out to his parents, he secures enough booze to throw an impressive college party. He's basically the coolest kid on campus, for about five minutes. The praise gets to his head, he ends up hooking up with a girl in the library, a girl whom one of his classmates seems to think belongs to him, and then gets embarrassed by the same classmate when he brings the entire party in to break up the romantic moment. Willie flees, which is kind of lame, but he's going to be a fun character to watch this season now that everyone knows he's got the hookup whenever anyone wants to party.
Finally, another Boardwalk Empire episode, another ending featuring a gruesome death/murder (I guess that's what "Future" meant.) Tucker comes in, intending to kill McCoy because Nucky won't invest, but in an epic turning of tables we see a manic, blood-spattered McCoy answer the phone to a change-of-heart Nucky while Tucker leans against a blood-spattered wall.
End scene with a close-up of a moth buzzing around a single lightbulb dangling from the ceiling. McCoy doesn't tell Nucky that the game has changed, so we already know how that's going to end up. Most importantly, everyone's got business to attend to now.
Boardwalk Empire airs on HBO, Sundays at 9 p.m. EST.