All of Nucky’s tinkering and string-pulling eventually pays off when women get the right to vote. Naturally, the one woman who matters to him hesitates to tell her friends to vote for Bader, his man in the upcoming mayoral election. Damn women and their independent minds. Speaking of which, Margaret suggests ever-so-calmly to Nucky that Harrow, he of the hole in the head, is scaring the bejesus out of her children. Not to mention serving as an especially pointed symbol of the wages of war, given Nucky’s near miss at the recent boardwalk shoot-out. Nucky tells her Harrow is there for her protection, so, being Margaret, she makes a calculated bow to Nucky’s will. And it serves as a reminder that she’s not always right when Harrow (having remembered to put his Phantom of the Boardwalk mask back on) proves quite charming with the children. She apologizes for her treatment of him, and he tells her he understands her anxiety because even he has to look at himself in the mirror on occasion.
All the while, Van Alden’s obsessive little world continues to crumble around him in the aftermath of stool pigeon Billy’s murder. He desperately turns to Margaret. He lectures her about how she has failed her old self — that lovely, hopeful young thing from Ireland — by consorting with Nucky, then outright tells her that Nucky killed her abusive husband. She sees the leering in his eyes, though, and tells him to take a hike, so he threatens her with the very fires of damnation. As is his power as a low-level Federal agent. Then he hits up a speakeasy, gets absolutely three-sheets wasted, and bangs Lucy, face down, and is of course utterly dejected for the lapse afterward. But with their mutual and abject lack of self-worth, not to mention opposite-yet-equal sexual desperation, this could be the start of a beautiful friendship.
But back to Margaret, who that night carries on a fantastically evenly matched debate with Nucky. He attempts to convince her that his job is not all about election rigging, favor swapping, and power brokering, but more in fact about “overseeing.” Uh-huh. Drunk on a few sips of bootleg champagne and her first chance to vote, Margaret wants to believe that candidates should be qualified rather than connected, skillful rather than slick. She ultimately decides to humor the Nucklehead and delivers an expert speech in support of Nucky’s candidate, only to be disheartened when she sees Nucky laughing and schmoozing like always in the moment after. That night when Nucky comes home late, saying he had “business” downtown (more on that below), Margaret takes a good long look at herself in the mirror and doesn’t like what she sees one bit.