The seventh episode of Boardwalk Empire's third season, “Sunday Best,” began with Eli Thompson sneaking around a house.
The way Boardwalk goes, a scene like that can end in many ways, and with Gyp Rosetti's addition to the show, it's likely to end in violence. This time, however, Eli was hiding a red Easter egg.
It was the morning of Easter Sunday as Eli prepared to host Nucky and Margaret's family for dinner. The meeting was much like other meetings that came throughout the episode, and saw a mid-level player make a significant move in the spirit of the holiday.
Eli has fought a rough run during this season, getting out of jail and immediately learning his place in the world as Mickey Doyle's number two. His position hadn't changed since the second episode, despite showing his value by scouting out an ambush from Rosetti's goon squad. Though it was ignored at the time, Eli's account of the slaughter in Tabor Heights proved valuable to Nucky, who was able to work out an arrangement with Arnold Rothstein – the intended recipient of the aforementioned alcohol – to take out Rosetti.
Eli made his case over a drink with Nucky, who refuted his “melodramatic” efforts before they ate with the extremely grateful family of the younger brother, and entertained each other in the family room with jokes, juggling and music. It brought out the soft side in the Thompson clan, a side typically hidden. It also displayed the uptight nature of discussing problems in the time period when Margaret attempts to confess her lonely and unhappy feelings with her sister-in-law, Eli's wife, who quickly changes the subject: “You brought pineapple upside-down!”
After the evening, Nucky called Eli and told him he would be promoted to co-manager of the alcohol operation with Doyle. Eli figures to play a big role in an inevitable war with Rosetti, another character who saw redemption on Easter Sunday.
Rosetti has taken Boardwalk by storm over the past few episodes. He started a war with Nucky and ended up on the losing end of a shootout with a gunman sent by Rothstein, leaving Rosetti fuming, covered in blood, naked, with a belt around his neck, and a dead crew.
That, and the subsequent territory-loss, made Rosetti an expensive and untrustworthy asset for Joe “The Boss” Masseria, who met with Rosetti over coffee – but only after Rosetti ate a meal with the many women in his family, providing a rare looks at Gyp Rosetti.
As Masseria explained his concern for Rosetti's behavior in smooth Italian, Rosetti appears out of luck, even on Easter Sunday. But Rosetti is a man filled with passion – as we witnessed at the beginning of the episode when he sits alone in a church, yelling at Jesus about fairness and ambition before punching a concerned Priest and taking his money (“Where does God keep the rest of it?” he asks). His speech sways Masseria to spare his life and consider a power play against Nucky and Rothstein. “When I'm done, they won't call you Joe 'The Boss' any more,” Rosetti says. “They'll call you Joe 'The King.'”
Elsewhere in the move-making business, Gillian Darmody put her cunning, seductive skills to work, luring a young Jimmy lookalike into her clutches. Initially, it appears Gillian is living out her love for her son – even nicknaming him James – until this episode reveals Gillian's true plans. After a day of sex and food, she gets her toy relaxed in a bathtub, injects him with “rather a lot” of “lovely heroin” and drowns him in the tub with Jimmy's old dogtags around his neck. Her cold plot means she can have Jimmy legally declared dead and therefore take control over his assets, specifically the brothel she now operates, freeing her financially.
Richard Harrow was the first person Gillian told that Jimmy would now be referred to in the past tense, after he spent the day looking after her son, Tommy. The two went to an Easter meal with a small group of war veterans, invited by Harrow's new interest, Julia Sargosky. The two clearly have a connection – Richard manages to get a photograph with her and Tommy for his scrapbook – but it remains to be seen where it leads. It also remains to see how Harrow will handle the news of Jimmy's “death” – or whether he'll choose sides in the upcoming arms race.