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The title comes from the phrase "A man, a plan, a canal, Panama", a well-known palindrome (a phrase that reads the same forwards or backwards.) It refers to the many plans in this episode that "move backwards" and go awry (Nucky's plan to stage a hit on Joe Masseria, Margaret's plan to run away with Owen, Van Alden's plan to sell alcohol on the side).
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According to creator Terence Winter, the scene where Owen died was going to be shot when "there was an accident on the set where we were about to shoot - a big plaster rosetta fell from the ceiling - and we pulled the plug on it and decided to shoot it another day. But then we got back to the office the next day and Tim Van Patten said, 'Do we really need to see it? It might be more powerful to not see it.' So we decided to wait until we got the entire episode done and watch a cut of it and see what it felt like. And it was actually more powerful without it seeing it. [...] And it was almost more gut-wrenching to not know in advance what happened [to Owen]."
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