Nights in Ballygran

"Nights in Ballygran"
Boardwalk Empire episode

Jimmy tells Pearl a story from his childhood
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 5
Directed by Alan Taylor
Written by Lawrence Konner
Original air date October 17, 2010 (2010-10-17)
Running time 53 minutes
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology

"Nights in Ballygran" is the fifth episode of the first season of the HBO television series Boardwalk Empire, which premiered October 17, 2010. It was written by co-executive producer Lawrence Konner and directed by Alan Taylor. "Nights in Ballygran" received positive reviews from critics.

The episode is set during Saint Patrick's Day and progresses the relationship between Nucky and Margaret.

The title is taken from the title line of an Irish folk song, Carrickfergus.


Margaret wakes to see ward boss James Neary's men offloading beer barrels into a garage behind her house. She meets Nucky on her way to work, but he disappoints her with his sudden aloofness. After discussing the garage at a Temperance League meeting, Margaret and a colleague manage to meet with Nucky, who promises to take action but does nothing. Margaret sees the deliveries again that night; brushed off by Neary and ignored altogether by Thompson, she reports Neary's garage to Van Alden. The agent initially dismisses the operation as one of hundreds in the city, but she catches his interest by mentioning that Neary works for Nucky Thompson.

As Nucky and Eli prepare for the St. Patrick's Day celebrations, Eli mentions his coming re-election campaign and presses to "say a few words" at the Celtic Dinner, a gathering of local Irish bigwigs. Nucky is skeptical of Eli's efforts to improve at public speaking but reluctantly accedes. Local dwarves, who work at a boxing ring, have been hired to dress up as leprechauns for the Dinner. When they complain about the degrading gig, their leader Carl promises to have Nucky double their pay.

In Chicago, Jimmy takes care of Pearl after her attack, but she continues her spiral into depression and laudanum addiction. Johnny Torrio orders her evicted because her scarred face prevents her from working as a prostitute. Jimmy offers to pay for her keep, but realizes he cannot afford to. Pearl seems to understand her predicament: later that night, she drunkenly flaunts her scarred face in the lounge and, after a last kiss with Jimmy, finally shoots herself while he is washing up. Subsequently, Jimmy visits an opium den in Chinatown.

Nucky meets with his ward bosses, who anticipate large profits from selling booze on St. Patrick's Day. Nucky jokes about Eli's upcoming speech at the Celtic Dinner, to the amusement of everyone but an offended Eli. Carl comes to see Nucky, who bribes Carl into selling the other dwarves on a much smaller raise.

In New York City, Arnold Rothstein reads a newspaper article about the Black Sox Scandal and tells his lawyer he is worried about his involvement becoming known.

In the Darmody apartment, Gillian suggests that Angela should stop waiting for Jimmy and start over with another man, even offering to raise Jimmy's son for her. Angela angrily rejects her offer and leaves to meet a "friend", who is later revealed to live in the boardwalk's photography studio.

At the Celtic Dinner, Eli's speech is a debacle, inflaming a factional dispute and forcing Nucky to intercede. Eli drinks heavily and reveals his resentment of his brother's easy charm and diplomatic skill. Van Alden, acting on Margaret's information, raids the dinner, arrests James Neary in front of Nucky, and shuts the event down. Nucky sees Margaret with the Temperance League, cheering on the raid, and realizes what she has done. Later that night, he visits Margaret's home unannounced. The couple abruptly embrace and begin a physical relationship.


Critical reception

IGN said the episode was "Outstanding" and gave the episode 9/10. They said "For those who are still on the fence about Boardwalk Empire's greatness, shut up and watch episode five, "Nights in Ballygran". The episode features the show's strongest character interactions yet, as Margaret's role in the Temperance League threatens both Nucky's political and criminal enterprises as Federal Agent Van Alden applies pressure to both." "The more shows like this make it harder for their main characters to do the right thing - the farther away they get from what the right thing is - is when television approaches being great. With "Nights in Ballygran", Boardwalk pushes past great and puts its sights on landmark." [1]


The episode rebounded a bit to a 1.3 adults 18–49 rating after the previous week's plunge to a 1.1 rating and received a total of 2.850 million viewers.[2]


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