Bumpy and Chin’s relationship is tested in “The Geechee”, and Malcolm finds himself a target of the FBI and the Nation of Islam.
This recap of Godfather of Harlem season 2, episode 4, “The Geechee”, contains spoilers.
There’s still something odd and a bit amusing about seeing Bumpy Johnson and Chin Gigante chilling out and being besties, which is how “The Geechee” finds them in Bumpy’s titular lounge bar, named after his ancestors who were “particularly rebellious against their slave masters”. Chin laughingly suggests that must be where he got it from, and Bumpy quips back that if he opened a two-floored nightclub, he could call it “Double Chins”. They laugh together. They celebrate their quadrupled profits. And that’s entirely the problem.
When two men, one of Bumpy’s and one of Chin’s, are found hanging in a warehouse, it becomes obvious that someone doesn’t like the two of them being in business. Was it a leak on the French side of things? Jean Jehan insists not. The likelier culprit is one of the Italian bosses, which isn’t an idea Chin likes. Either way, if they can’t get to the bottom of things, their deal with the French Connection can’t continue, so they need to stick together.
This isn’t the only partnership that is being divided in Godfather of Harlem season 2, episode 4. Malcolm comes home to discover that the Nation of Islam is no longer footing the bill for his home and that his wife, Betty, has received a letter, supposedly from Elise, claiming she has been sleeping with Malcolm for over a year and is pregnant with his child. Who’s at fault here? The Nation? Or the FBI, two representatives of which are parked outside? The Nation certainly isn’t shy about giving Elise herself an ultimatum when she meets with them later in “The Geechee”, but she’s convincing enough in how she denounces Malcolm to be able to stay among them, even if any more contact with him is expressly forbidden. Brother Charles, moved by Elise’s denunciation, suggests to her rather unsubtly that Malcolm is to be killed, which prompts Elise to visit Betty at home to tell her and Malcolm about Brother Charles’s intentions. Malcolm gets a standout moment here in “The Geechee” when he foils Charles’s attempt to plant a bomb in his car and throws the device into the vehicle of his FBI minders, telling them to take it to J. Edgar Hoover and tell him how good a job they’re doing of protecting him.
Just as Bumpy predicted, Joe Bonanno shows up, but not to admit to the murder of his man — he claims not to have done that, even if one of the other bosses might have. Instead, he admits that he made a mistake not getting in on the Ten Harlems deal when he had the chance. Now he has a counter-offer, a 60/40 split — more favorable than the 50/50 one Bumpy currently has with Chin — but Bumpy believes that keeping one’s word is a more important asset than whatever Bonanno might turn out to be. He won’t turn on Chin, even though Bonanno assures him that Chin is going down and that within a day, Bumpy will likely change his mind. “Believe it or not, I respect you, Bumpy,” says Bonanno, “You’re a smart guy for a colored.” Talk about a backhanded compliment.
Chin also gets a visitor in the form of Joseph Magliocco (Michael Rispoli), a 20-year friend of his who has heard about his troubles at the warehouse and claims that the Lucchese and Gambino families are teaming up against him and Bumpy. He proposes that Chin team up with him and Bonanno, which Chin claims he’ll think about, not that he seems entirely convinced.
Elsewhere, Powell wants Mayme to shed some light on the civil rights struggle from the perspective of a Black woman for the benefit of a returning Amy Vanderbilt since her very public chatter about the role of white women in that struggle is going to be an important element in progressing the cause. Of course, Mayme can’t stand Amy, whose affair with Bumpy she still doesn’t know the extent of, but she nonetheless reluctantly agrees to toe the line so that Amy “can see how the other half live.” Is that a bit hypocritical coming from the moneyed wife of a mob boss? Possibly, but Mayme’s right that Amy is pretty difficult to like, and that it requires a great deal of compromise to turn to white women to speak on behalf of the Black struggle.
There’s also the matter of Stella and Ernie, who after killing Benny last week are now struck with keeping the whole thing quiet, a task made immeasurably more difficult by the fact that Stella confessed that Benny was dead to Teddy’s mother, Delia. Ernie later takes a suitcase full of cash to Delia asking her to leave town. At first, she refuses, but a gun to the head persuades her to reconsider. It’s not exactly a friendly way of doing business, but needs must.
After Bumpy’s men follow Joey Magliocco from Chin’s social club to Bonanno and back to Chin’s place, Bumpy realizes something is afoot and heads out to determine what’s what. A tense standoff ensues when he gets there, but Chin is adamant that the Families need to be cut in since united they’re too powerful. Chin claims to be worried about the safety of his family, and all the money in the world isn’t worth losing them. He proposes everyone meets at the Geechee to discuss a fair split, though based on Joey’s attitude, it seems unlikely that fairness will factor in either way.
And fairness doesn’t factor in, but not in the way you might expect. Bumpy, Chin, Magliocco, Bonanno, and Jean Jehan all sit down for the meeting, but it quickly becomes apparent that Bumpy and Chin have been in it together since the beginning. Chin shoots Magliocco dead, and Bumpy holds his trademark razor to Bonanno’s throat to make the warning clear. Unless he wants the other families to know he tried cutting them out, he’d be better off keeping this quiet.
Godfather of Harlem season 2, episode 4 ends with Amy and Mayme’s appearance on the Mike Wallace Show, where Mayme speaks on the inability of white people to truly empathize with the Black experience, and promotes listening, empathy, and faith as a montage shows Elise praying over a meal with Malcolm and Betty, and blood being mopped from the floor of the Geechee, right back where we started, with Chin and Bumpy once again agreeing to stick together. This time, it’s a little bit easier to believe.