In the wake of the Nucky-Rothstein War, transition and confession emerge as the thematic elements "A Return To Normlacy" hinges upon. The war we were promised all season comes with a few bangs but without the urban warfare we may have (unreasonably) expected, given the tempermants of the two main opponents. Instead of all-out gangland violence, we get a conflict settled on the side of a road between two gangsters wearing suits, along with several revelations (Lucy's pregnant with Van Alden's baby!) that leave us quite eager for Season Two. The final conflict is filled with more one-on-one dramatic scenes than handgun exchanges, which is a good thing. Each major character enters and exits the episode revealing more about who they are and why they have to be this way. Van Alden, having convinced his superiors that Sepso died of a heart attack instead of baptismal drowning, confesses to his wife that he wants a career change, that he is unhappy - with no acknowledgment of a similar confession he received from his wife weeks ago. The Commodore's maid confesses to poisoning her battle ax of a patient. Jimmy and Angela simultaneously address and side-step the cracks in their relationship, with Jimmy revealing what parts of him from the war came back with that he wishes didn't. The Governor even tells Jimmy the true story behind the incarceration that kept him out of his son's life, and the role Nucky played in that.
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