‘Boardwalk Empire’ Season 3, Episode 3: ‘Bone For Tuna’ Recap

Published 3 years ago by

Kelly Macdonald and Steve Buscemi in Boardwalk Empire Bone for Tuna Boardwalk Empire Season 3, Episode 3: Bone For Tuna Recap

At this point in season 3 of Boardwalk Empire, it’s difficult to tell if Gyp Rosetti (Bobby Cannavale) is maddening, entertaining or some spectacular concoction of the two. The series has always had some eccentric and volatile personalities, but none so prone to neurotically searching for pejorative meaning in the context of every sentence as Mr. Rosetti.

The gangster is still hanging around Tabor Heights, ready to intercept caravans of booze en route to Arnold Rothstein (Michael Stuhlbarg) in New York, so, rather than risk bloodshed and further delay Rothstein’s shipments, Nucky (Steve Buscemi) sits down with Gyp to discuss his feelings on the matter and tries to make amends. Since Rosetti is the type of person who could “find an insult in a bouquet of roses,” it’s only a matter of time before Nucky’s cool, business-like demeanor (or anything else, really) rubs Rosetti the wrong way and the fireworks start. But for the most part, things go well; Nucky offers Rosetti another month’s worth of booze and, as an undeserved apology, even invites him to a private dinner in Atlantic City.

At dinner, Nucky anticipates Rosetti’s reaction to a comment, which nearly ends with a Rosetti flare-up, but he diffuses the situation basically by asking if that’s the road they’re headed down. The trick seems to work, and the pair get on cordially enough until Nucky fails to show up the next morning and personally see to it Rosetti’s rum is handled with care. This, in and of itself, is likely insult enough, but things get completely misconstrued when Owen Slater (Charlie Cox) reads a message from Nucky as “bone for tuna,” rather than “bon fortuna.” Nucky’s absence, Owen’s sloppy listening skills and what Rosetti perceives as a backhanded, condescending “good luck,” results in a prolonged stay in Tabor Heights and to commemorate the occasion, a sheriff served up extra crispy.

Bobby Cannavale in Boardwalk Empire Bone For Tuna Boardwalk Empire Season 3, Episode 3: Bone For Tuna Recap

If there’s one thing that ‘Bone for Tuna’ excels in showing, it’s how one tiny, misperceived slight can snowball into a catastrophic mess. More troublesome yet, it seems the Sicilian’s penchant for fixated thought has rubbed off on Nucky, who, plagued with sleepless nights is caught between an inattentive lover in Billie Kent (Meg Steedle) and a distant, yet troublesome wife in Margaret (Kelly Macdonald). With his thoughts on the absent Billie, Nucky somnambulates his way through a ceremony with the Church regarding his endowment of land, while Margaret essentially uses the whole thing as a means by which to ambush a doctor into starting a prenatal clinic at the hospital. The whole thing manages to make Nucky feel isolated and alone, something that troubles him nearly as much as the recurring dreams of a young Jimmy Darmody, which his mind essentially decides is the beginning of how things started to change.

It likely doesn’t help that Nucky is reminded of the fact after seeing Gillian (Gretchen Mol) greet Rosetti at The Artemis Club. Gillian’s been on the sidelines so far this season, but her conversations with Rosetti and Lucky Luciano (Vincent Piazza) have revealed that she’s been reduced to paying Nucky for a piece of whatever her club brings in, and that she’s partnered up with Luciano – who’s not very attentive when it comes to matters of upkeep on the house. Surprisingly, we find out Luciano is of a mind that Jimmy’s coming back, which poses the question: just who is aware that he’s dead? While Rosetti doesn’t manage to get such intimate details from Gillian during their conversation, there’s quite a lot to be inferred from her reply to Gyp’s question of, “Lose your own flesh and blood, what do you have?”  As Gillian states: “You don’t have anything.”

One may, however, have the act of vengeance, as Richard Harrow (Jack Huston) demonstrated in the season premiere. So far, the dismissive way in which most everyone treats Richard has worked to his advantage. No one connected him to the death of Manny Horvitz, and he’s managed to come across knowledge that Mickey Doyle (Paul Sparks) is taking credit for his kill, as a means to threaten a few extra hundred dollars from his customers. This doesn’t sit too well with Richard; the Manny hit was meant to send a message, it was retribution for his taking of an innocent life – one that Richard cared deeply about. His explanation to Nucky seems to suffice, and when questioned about reprisal for Jimmy, Richard essentially chalks it up to Jimmy being a soldier; sometimes, soldiers die. Richard is certainly capable of much more than restocking liquor shelves and taking soon-to-be messed up kids to the circus. Now Boardwalk Empire is in a race to find out who sees value in Richard first, Nucky or Gillian.

Steve Buscemi Boardwalk Empire Bone For Tuna Boardwalk Empire Season 3, Episode 3: Bone For Tuna Recap

The same can be said for the wayward Nelson Van Alden (Michael Shannon), who is getting razzed by his co-workers for his rather straight-laced demeanor. Thankfully, Nelson’s new wife is full of positive reinforcement, which, in turn results in Nelson blowing off some steam at a local speakeasy, and later, offering a bribe to a Prohibition agent to avoid being arrested. It’s one annoyance after another with these iron salesmen, and rousing morning speeches about the state of smooth clothing aside, it doesn’t seem like George Mueller is long for the world of door-to-door sales. Van Alden’s proven himself capable (and entertaining) at enforcing his will in the past, so with sales down, ink on his good work shirt and an incredibly small apartment he’s sharing with a new wife and two kids, good ‘ol George Mueller’s likely going to be paying a visit to the flower shop of Dion O’Banion (Arron Shiver) pretty soon.

With the state of affairs out of the way, and a fairly potent demonstration of just how fragile everyone’s business and egos are, Boardwalk Empire looks ready to heat things up and get into the meat of season 3.


Boardwalk Empire continues next Sunday with ‘Blue Bell Boy’ @9pm on HBO. Check out a preview of the upcoming episode below:

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  1. Lovely homage/reference (perhaps) to The Conversation in this episode. This was actually the first time I didn’t have a smile on my face whenever Gyp was on screen. What seemed comedy at one point is now just outright hostility. A lesser drama would show some contrived back story of how Gyp was bullied at school, never got good grades so everyone thought he was stupid etc (my favourite character trait with him is he always asks for an explanation to a sentence, just to see if he gets patronised). Boardwalk just gets on with it, allowing us to paint the dimensions ourselves.

    My only complaint is that the Gyp storyline overshadows the rest of the subplots to the point it does make each episode kind of drag whenever he’s not on screen. Perhaps churlish and I suppose you should give Mr Cannavale credit for making it feel this way. What’s that showbiz saying? ‘Always leave them wanting more…’

  2. starting to feel like Eli how in the hell is mickey doyle still alive? lol i thought for sure richard was going to blow his brains out last night. this guy just keeps showing up!

  3. Well the scene with Nucky and Richard threw a cog in the idea I had about Richard and Gillian working together to bring down or kill everyone involved in Jimmy’s death.
    Maybe getting Nucky to believe he’s safe is part of their plan but I don’t think so and I should just admit I was probably wrong.
    I really can’t decide how I feel about Gyp yet. On the one had I think he’s entertaining to watch but at the same time I wonder how he’s lived even this long. I think even the guys who work for or with him wouldn’t mind if someone killed him because he’s the type of guy who’d kill his closest ally on a whim. And the fact that he’s just acting like a spoiled brat when it comes to business doesn’t help his cause.

  4. Best scene yet this season with Richard bringin Mickey to see Nucky. I have a feeling it will be the best for a few episodes. Harrow Doesnt even need to say much and he has the presence on the screen. If they ever kill him off this show im done watching. He just seems to be the most interesting character.
    But that conversation was just just short and supremely sweet.

    • Agreed. Richard Harrow is that character that you know at some point is going to go off into a killing spree at some point and it will be epic. Soo killing him off would just destroy the show for me. I think they are trying to make Gyp into that type of character but it’s not being pulled off all that good. Nucky is just Nucky and is at time point just there. I can’t wait until Capone starts taking a bigger role. I would rather watch Capone than Nucky at this point.

  5. This series is so awesome, I end up watching the episodes twice every week because I get stuck analyzing the information in the backgrounds of every shot. I love period pieces so you know I love me some Boardwalk Empire!

    This episode was crazy good but I feel like they should have squeezed in a little bit of Chalky White time, that guy is mad interesting and I wonder if he’ll be playing a larger role this season or if he’s just residual from last season.

    • I have to agree with you on that one. I think everybody is always going to want to see more Chalky, more Harrow, and more Capone. They’re just fantastic actors and great dialogue.

  6. Amazing how NOBODY picked up on the church ceremony mentioning Nucky’s middle name – “Mallocheye” (at least that’s how I assume it’s spelled. That is a play on the “mallochio”, which means “evil eye” in Italian. Come on people, I’m not even a good hidden meaning person, but that seemed obvious and I haven’t seen one critic mention it.

      • Actually, as Nucky is Irish, I believe it would be Malachy. Most likely named after Saint Malachy an early Irish saint. I don’t think for his background and time period there would be much pulling of names from other religions.

    • ACTUALLY Joe M.,

      In Mr. Thompson’s case Malachi is an Irish name meaning, messenger of God. Makes sense since he is Irish and all… maybe brush up on those “hidden meanings”…

  7. Ok now somehow I have missed somthing here. How did Fed Agent/Iron Salesman Van Alden wind up with two kids already?? Has that much time elapsed since he divorced and married his nanny for the babe he had with good ol Lucy??

    • I think the timeline has been about 18 months since the end of last episode of Season 2. That would give Van Alden time to father another child. I want to say that it is now 1924 but I could be mistaken

  8. I’m very surprised Rosetti isn’t already dead. You’d think Rothstein would have a problem with his liquor being cut off/intercepted by Gyp would be enough to get him killed. Not to mention his over-the-top attitude and temper.

    I asked previously why is Richard sticking near Jimmy’s kid considering how rudely and condescending Gillian treats him AND when you factor in Margaret treating him very nicely and apologizing to him, which I’m sure hasn’t happened before, he’d be on Nucky’s side. If its solely due to trying to watch out for the kid, why hasn’t he killed Gillian already since she’s hell bent on wiping out any trace of the boy’s mother.

    I don’t really like Bobby Canavale (sp?) so its hard to care about his character other than he’s extremely annoying.

    I don’t know, I’m just not digging this season so far, it hasn’t gripped me like previously, could be due to the bimbo showgirl Billie (who’s just another Lucy) or the nutjob Gyp. We’ll see.

  9. I’m starting to think that Nucky is about to bring Harrow on as his enforcer full time. The telling thing about Nucky and Richard is that Nucky is aware that Rosetti was in Tabor Heights when the old man was killed on the road. (He was innocent) He is also going to find out about the sheriff who was roasted by Rosetti in Tabor Heights. Couple that with the fact that Harrow is interested in justice. He has repeatedly shied away from killing those who he feels don’t deserve it. If Nucky can recruit him to dispatch those who he feels “deserve” it, the top of the list is Rosetti.

  10. I’m not sure about the author’s assertion that Luciano thinks Jimmy is coming back. Take the scene where Lucky and Gillian are arguing about repairs on the Commodore’s mansion:

    Lucky: “Your name ain’t even on the deed, it belongs to Jimmy.”
    Gillian: “And he’ll sign it over as soon as he comes home.”
    Lucky: “Just knock off the screwball shxx, will you?”
    Gillian: “Meaning what exactly?”
    Lucky: “I ain’t got time, sweetie.”

    What I took from that exchange was that Gillian is either in denial or trying to cover up the fact that Jimmy’s dead. It’s been quite a while since Nucky killed him and it appears that the rest of the world is aware that Jimmy’s gone. You really have to ask yourself why Luciano would invest in the whorehouse if he felt that Jimmy was still alive.