Godfather of Harlem Season 1 Episode 10 Recap and Review: Chickens Come Home to Roost
A spoiler-filled recap and review of Chickens Come Home to Roost, the season finale of Godfather of Harlem Season 1, starring Forest Whitaker
(Spoilers ahead for Godfather of Harlem S1E10 and episodes before it)
Godfather of Harlem S1E10 is titled Chickens Come Home to Roost, after the famous phrase used by Malcolm X to describe the assassination of President Kennedy. The season finale is set against the backdrop of no less momentous an event in history than JFK's assassination. And yet, this episode of Godfather of Harlem doesn't feel very urgent. It's a bit of a slow burner until it gets near its end.
It begins with Bumpy Johnson being summoned by the Italian mob families to answer for his 'crimes'. They charge him with killing Chin Gigante's made man Zombrano, Bonanno's man who was sent to kill Rev Powell, and Bonanno's son Lorenzo. This last is a false charge and Bumpy denounces it but confesses to the others. But before they can sentence him to death, he reveals that he has in his possession records of the transactions of their shadow company Bowery Lane, which include proof of his own tax evasions, and these will be sent to Senator Powell's congressional sub-committee for organised crime if they touch him or his family or men. A sort of mutually-assured destruction, as he terms it. This keeps them off his trail, but not for long. Because soon after, President Kennedy gets assassinated and with him the push to continue investigations on the Italian mafia goes away too (JFK's brother Bobby Kennedy, we find, has been leading the fight against organised crime and without his brother's support he is unable to continue that). Bumpy suspects JFK's assassination was mob-motivated but Powell isn't ready to buy his theory without proof.
We see widely different reactions to news of Kennedy's death. Powell is genuinely crushed by the news, Bumpy and his family are in shock, but the mafia celebrates it. Chin immediately starts plotting to kill Bumpy now that his leverage will disappear with the investigation. Bonanno wants to play safe but Chin says he can bring in a Sicilian assassin called a "Zip" to take care of Bumpy without getting themselves incriminated. Bonanno agrees to this plan and the man comes to New York with his girlfriend in tow.
Malcolm X has yet another reaction to JFK's assassination. He feels the white man's violence has boomeranged on him. Elijah Mohammed sends Malcolm in his stead for an interview — incidentally, with the same reporter who got Powell into trouble with Esther James — but with explicit instructions to not comment on the assassination. Malcolm tries to obey but when the interviewer keeps prodding him, he finally says JFK's death is like "chickens coming home to roost" and that's not something he feels sad about. The Prophet is upset and feels Malcolm has undermined his authority. In order to disassociate the Nation of Islam from Malcolm's words he "silences" him for 90 days — a sort of suspension.
Meanwhile, JKF's assassin Lee Harvey Oswald is shot to death right outside the station where he was held in the presence of some 50 cops. Bumpy is shaken by this and recognises that his family could be in danger. He decides to pack them off to the South. And by family, he means, Mayme and Margaret, as Elise points out. Bumpy says he loves Elise also but assumes she cannot leave because of her work with Malcolm X. Elise, who has previously overheard other members of the Nation plotting against Malcolm, tells Bumpy about his suspension. Bumpy talks to Malcolm, and the latter tells him of his disillusionment with the Prophet and how there are people plotting to even kill him. To which, Bumpy says, "Not on my watch," showing the bond these two share.
Oswald's killer is found to have connections to the mob, as Bumpy suspected and Powell sees an opportunity in this to deflect attention away from Esther James' ongoing court case against him. He calls a press conference but before he has a chance to reveal what he suspects about Oswald's death, Esther James enters with the cops to arrest him for criminal contempt of the court (Powell has been ignoring subpoenas). Rev Powell is thus forced to go into hiding and we see him trying out a hilarious disguise, wearing a silly woman's wig. Soon the Congress turns its attention to uncovering Oswald's communist links and drops the investigation of the mafia.
JKF's assassination also has an effect on Teddy Green, who decides life is too short and he wants to be with Stella Gigante come what may. He openly comes to her home and tells her so. And when he gets a chance to perform at the famous Apollo theatre and the offer to move to LA for a record, he gets tickets for himself and Stella to go to California like she always wanted. Stella's stepmom goes and complains to Chin about Teddy's visit, but he says he won't do anything as he's promised Stella to stay out of her life. Chin's right hand man goads Ernie to kill Teddy and says he'll do it himself. Ernie goes to the Apollo but only to warn Stella and Teddy, but he's too late. Chin's man shoots Teddy, who seemingly dies.
Bumpy sends away his wife and child and comes home alone. The Sicilian assassin attacks him and after a struggle seems about to kill him, when Elise walks in. I really thought my previous prediction was going to come true when Elise is about to be stabbed by the assassin, but Bumpy saves her. And she in turn saves him...by slicing the assassin's throat! Bumpy calls and tells Chin his assassin is dead and warns him he will be next. Chin asks the other mob bosses, who have all got together to celebrate the end of the investigation into their affairs, for their sanction to kill Bumpy. They give it and now Chin is free to openly go after Bumpy.
The episode ends with Malcolm X realising he no longer wants to be part of the Nation of Islam. He leaves behind his NOI pin and walks out of mosque #7. Bumpy meets him there, they shake hands, and walk away together. Signalling a new beginning to their friendship. Bumpy quotes Langston Hughes' poem in this episode: "What happens to a dream deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun?" That poem answers the question with another rhetorical, "Or does it explode?" Both Bumpy and Malcolm's dreams have been deferred by the end of this season of Godfather of Harlem. This season finale may not have been particularly explosive, but perhaps the explosion too has just been deferred until Season 2. There's no official confirmation yet of a second season, but it will surely arrive. And until then, adieu and thanks for reading!
(Godfather of Harlem Season 1 is currently streaming in India on Hotstar)