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There's A Skunk in your Cellar
on 3 December 2013
The background theme in Season Four is the rise of black gangsters and the power of the FBI. Nucky owes Chalky White a big favour for saving his life in Season Three which he repays by gifting the Onyx Club to him. Chalky comes into contact with a sinister Harlem gangster called Narcisse who uses Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association as a front for his activities. He is pseudo-religious and rather than supporting the fight for social, political and economic freedom for black Americans he undermines it with hard drugs. The conflict between White and Narcisse runs through the entire season and drags Nucky into choosing sides.
Nucky expands his bootlegging operation into bringing up rum from Florida and he starts an affair with Sally who runs a bar in the alligator infested swamps. Margaret who terminated their marriage turns up in New York and meets an old friend.
Gillian has finally lost any custody or contact with young Tommy Darmody after a hearing finds she ran a bordello and she sinks deeper into desperation but a saviour appears. Richard Harrow suffers a crisis of confidence, as he finds he can no longer kill with impunity, but he too finds someone.
Van Alden just wants to be a family man in Chicago but gets caught between the ruthless O'Banion gang and the more ruthless Capones and must decide between them.
All the while, as the various plots unwind the Bureau of Investigation (an early incarnation of the FBI) and its new Controller Hoover, is looking at the rise of black power and the possibility that there is organised crime in America. They must choose one of these "threats" to America to concentrate their attention. The BI are just as merciless as any of the gangsters and as they seek to turn players to informers they might just bring down the whole house of cards.
Season Four then is a rewarding experience which takes a good long hard look at the race issues of 1920s America and the fledgling FBI adds a whole new level of tension to the business. Who can be trusted and who has been got at?