The Old Ship of Zion

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Crime/Drama/History, USA, 2013

Synopsis Dunn Purnsley is running his heroin business and instructs one of his dealers to cut it four times as the supply of the real stuff is running out. He hands the guy a flier to an upcoming show Dr. Narcisse wants "everyone" to attend.Arnold Rothstein's high-rolling gambling habits are getting big laughs at FBI headquarters. Agent Jim Tolliver, who we'd previously known as Agent Knox, isn't amused and tells the men assembled that he needs them to bring more than "anecdotes." One of them brings up Willie's mysterious release from police custody. The guy, annoyed at Tolliver's attitude, gets up and leaves as soon as he's done presenting what he's got on Willie.Willie wakes up in Eddie's old room and is enjoying breakfast by the time Nucky comes in. He wants to come along with Nucky on some "business," but changes his mind when Nucky mentions that Eli will be there. Nucky tells Willie he has to think about how to move forward.Daughter Maitland is singing in the church and Chalky White is in attendance, watching intently. His wife is watching him. His daughter tells him people are looking at him. Deacon Cuffy is remembered in the sermon and the preacher wonders why the deacon's end had to be so swift and violent.Mickey is annoying Nucky and Eli while they're waiting for someone to arrive at their warehouse. Nucky defends himself to Eli in regard to letting Willie stay with him at the hotel for a while. A shipment of "oranges" from Florida shows up -- it's actually rum from Florida. Nucky finds Sally outside. She came up with the shipment at the last minute. He's surprised to see her there. He asks to host her at the hotel, but she declines.At a barbershop, Chalky tells Purnsley that people are "jawing" about the deacon and looking at him. Purnsley insists there's nothing to find out.At Nucky's office, Mayor Ed Bader is demanding from Nucky that he know about what's going on in town.Meanwhile, Chalky shows up with Purnsley to the house Purnsley had visited earlier as a way to remind the people there who runs this side of town. Purnsley, trying to cover his own tracks, shoots and kills the supposed leader of the operation, his dealer, and tells Chalky that the guy was in no mood to talk. Chalky pulls out of the man's jacket pocket a flier for Dr. Narcisse's production of "Ominira."Tolliver pays Clayton, Willie's college roommate, a visit in jail and offers him three packs of cigarettes to tell him everything he can about Willie.Chalky watches Daughter singing from his office above the main floor of The Onyx Club when Nucky drops in. Nucky asks Chalky about Deacon Cuffy and Chalky says, "He was where he shouldn't have been." Nucky presses and Chalky says he's "looking into it." Nucky suggests Chalky make a donation and Chalky asks if he's "done with the lecture." Nucky passes a glance at Daughter on the stage below and warns Chalky, "Don't let your life get out of hand."Downstairs, Nucky notices Mickey Doyle flirting with Sally. Nucky and Sally exchange a couple of thinly veiled barbs at one another's locales, with Sally acknowledging that Nucky must have been "slumming" down in Tampa and Nucky replying that "people just expect something different here." Mickey and Sally head out to Rendezvous Point and Nucky, finally having had enough, snatches Eddie's cane away from Mickey. He smacks Mickey in the face with the handle and Mickey makes a hasty exit. Nucky and Sally get back to their flirting and Nucky. We next see Willie laying in bed, staring at the ceiling while listening to his uncle and Sally going at it.Dr. Narcisse watches while full of emotion along with a small crowd to his luke-warmly received production of "Ominira." Afterward, his speech is interrupted by Chalky's clanking a trash can lid. When the crowd comes outside, Chalky makes a show (which he dubs, "Harlem by Torchlight") of setting ablaze a couple of packages of raw heroin, which Purnsley hands Chalky. He makes his implication clear, that Dr. Narcisse is the source of the heroin in the neighborhood.Willie meets Sally, and clumsily introduces himself as "Will-iam." She responds that she's "Sal-ly." They have breakfast on the deck outside before Nucky comes out. Sally says she and Will had been talking about his future. Will says he wants to learn how things work in the city, starting at the bottom and hoping to make good. He asks Nucky for a chance to show him he can be the person Nucky wants him to be. Nucky reminds him he also needs to be who he, himself, wants to be. Nucky agrees to "see what we can do."Dr. Narcisse comes into Daughter's room, where she's laying in bed. He sits next to her and puts his hand on her forehead. He talks to her about fighting her weakness "to give into melancholy." She's asks, "Did they like your play?" He says its symbolism "was beyond them," then tells her there was "a disturbance." She asks what happened but he doesn't say. He simply tells her to keep Chalky with her that night and "there will be another visitor."Sally prepares to leave while Nucky suggests that she not leave so soon. She asks him for $1,500 for having supervised the shipment and kept the boys in line. He hands it over.Tolliver sits across a restaurant booth from Eli and says he learned that Eddie Kessler was "part of a violent criminal organization that runs Atlantic City." Tolliver's "associate" forces himself into the seat next to Eli, who stops himself from making a scene. Tolliver tells Eli the whole story about Willie and Clayton's poisoning of Henry and Eli denies any of it happened. Tolliver pushes Eli too far, and Eli tries to stab him with a fork before Tolliver again talks him down from making a scene. Tolliver asks Eli to lead the FBI to Nucky and he and Willie will be just fine.Nucky gives Willie his first job: to work in Ed Bader's office and keep his eyes and ears open. Nucky asks Willie what he wants and Nucky says, "I want the family to be back where it belongs.""One step at a time," Nucky says. "Right?"Nucky hands Willie a copy of a book entitled, "Ragged Dick," saying his mother gave it to him and "there's a lot you can learn from it."Chalky gets dressed quickly while Daughter is still in bed. She tries to lure him back to bed. She starts asking him about his family while trying to tempt him into staying."When you sing," Chalky tells Daughter. "That sound -- like you're tying up a secret."She tells him she doesn't know any secrets, she just knows how she feels. "Spend your life walking over the world and never find your place, because there isn't one," she says. Chalky asks about Dr. Narcisse looking after her and she says, "That's not what he does."He tells her "The Old Ship of Zion," which he heard her sing, was sung at each of his parents' funerals and he knew when he heard it he would leave. She recognizes that he's walking over the world, too. He asks her to sing it and she does, softly. Tears start rolling down his face and she's several lines into the song when she stops and says, "It's wrong." Soon, there's a knock on the door. It's Purnsley. Chalky nods to Daughter to open the door. She walks into the next room, opens the door and Purnsley steps in.Daughter goes into the kitchen and Purnsley tells Chalky he was right, that Dr. Narcisse has been pushing the heroin and stabbed Deacon Cuffy, and adds that Dr. Narcisse is "boiling from this afternoon." Purnsley also suggests that Dr. Narcisse brought Daughter to town to keep him busy. Chalky tells Purnsley it "all worked out," but asks Purnsley one last question: How much is Dr. Narcisse paying him to screw him over. A fight ensues in which they struggle, crash through a glass door, Chalky pushes a shard through Purnsley's cheek but Purnsley ends up on top of Chalky, slowly choking him nearly to death when Daughter jams a knife into Purnsley's back. Daughter holds Chalky and talks him through regaining his breath.Eli gets home to a joyful family gathering, complete with Willie playing the ukelele and everyone singing along. Nucky is there, too. Willie stands and apologizes to Eli for disobeying him and not showing him respect. He asks for forgiveness and asks if he can come back home. Eli pauses for a long moment, then opens his arms to hug his son."Don't stop the fun on my account," he says.The singing resumes. Nucky comes over to Eli and quietly says, "Didn't I say it would work itself out?""You did," Eli says. "Thank you, brother."Nucky puts a hand on Eli's shoulder and walks back to his seat.

Directed by Timothy Van Patten  

Starring Steve Buscemi, Kelly Macdonald, Michael Shannon, Shea Whigham, Michael Stuhlbarg, more...

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