At the end of last week’s stellar season premiere, Nucky’s new bodyguard slices the ear off of a would-be assassin. Episode Two, “The Good Listener,” continues this auricular theme in both its visuals and its message. The opening shot is of Eli’s ear (both the outer and the inner) as Eli lies passed-out, drunk on the floor. He awakes to a new Federal Treasury Agent—one not on the Capone payroll—raiding his warehouse. We find out later that this new Fed is Elliot Ness, played by Jim True-Frost (Pryzbylewski from The Wire). True-Frost, in a nice hat tip to his former show, tells his agents to “Put the cash on the table,” a refrain similar to that of the Baltimore PD, who wanted “Drugs on the table” for their press conferences.
The rest of the Chicago characters, absent last week, are also featured in “The Good Listener.” Capone, now the boss of bosses and a worldwide celebrity, isn’t listening to anybody (not that he was ever interested in other people’s opinions). Instead, he’s giving interviews to Variety Magazine while clownishly shouting and joking to a room full of yes men. His inattention is costing him, and not just the twenty grand that Ness seized. He’s allowed a mole to penetrate his organization at the highest levels, an oversight that will eventually lead to his downfall.