'Godfather of Harlem' Episode 9 review: Adam Powell walks away with a win while Chin frames Bumpy to set up a fascinating finale

Bumpy was shown to have a fight on his hands since his homecoming and his rivalry with Chin that began then is all set to come to a boiling point now that he's framed for Lorenzo's death.


                            'Godfather of Harlem' Episode 9 review: Adam Powell walks away with a win while Chin frames Bumpy to set up a fascinating finale

This review contains spoilers for 'Godfather of Harlem' Episode 9: 'Rent Strike Blues'

As the title suggests, the penultimate episode is set in the backdrop of the '63 Harlem rent strikes. The rat-infested slum dwellers and the gangsters who own the controlling interest along with the religious groups who hope to save the city all look for grabbing a slice of the pie. Adding to these are smaller plotlines that make 'Rent Strike Blues a shocker of an episode setting up a riveting finale. 

The series starts off with Bumpy Johnson (Forest Whitaker) realizing that Amy Vanderbilt (Joanne Kelly) is involved in the rent strikes and is one of the members funding Adam Clayton Powell Jr.'s (Giancarlo Esposito) lawyers to help expose the names of the mobsters behind the shell company. All it takes for a Bumpy-Amy steamy washroom sex is the latter's line "do anything to advance the cause of the negro". Guess all those sexual advances got a little too hot for Bumpy to handle. 

Meanwhile, the Joe Bonanno (Chazz Palminteri) and Chin Gigante (Vincent D’Onofrio) war is still underway and Chin does what he does best. He reveals to Frank Costell (Paul Sorvino) that it was Bumpy who murdered Richie Zambrano (Louis Cancelmi). Things look south for Nigel Thatch's Malcolm X when Elijah Mohammed (Clifton Davis) expresses his disappointment in his successor's efforts to save Harlem by being politically active. Ernie (Rafi Gavron) manages to find Flossie (Nikkole Salter), the working girl who was witness to Zambrano's death who meets a bitter end at Chin's hand. 

While 'Rent Strike Blues' focusses its attention on the strikes, there's still enough time to spin-off some private life plots and one of it is Bumpy's displeasure with Mayme (Ilfenesh Hadera) who was photographed with former affair man, Doug Johnson and it makes the front page. When confronted, she retorts back with his Amy connection. Well, as far as marriages go, this one's case dismissed. And since, the discussion is on relationships, Teddy (Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is now a local celebrity and has moved up in the world. No more Stella Gigante (Lucy Fry) and he openly says he doesn't need "the confused little white girl"

Powell walks away with a win (EPIX)

Chin's biggest weakness is his daughter. Stella attempts suicide after Teddy's prickly statements and Chin uses that as a stage to act and claim his innocence in the murder of Lorenzo Bonnano. However, his one-up against Bumpy could be short-lived as Powell fights the rent issue in court and names the Italian gangsters as the owners. And even though Bumpy was one of the members back in the day, Mayme convinces the flamboyant reverend. The judges rule in the tenants' favor and now in return, Bumpy discreetly knocks off the gangsters who planned to murder Powell before the hearing. 

There's still enough threads to tie-up and 'Rent Strike Blues' manages to weave in multiple plotlines and not confuse the viewers. Bumpy was shown to have a fight on his hands since his homecoming and his rivalry with Chin that began then is all set to come to a boiling point now that he's framed for Lorenzo's death. Where will this lead the man? 

Simple message in this episode— Powell was the winner. All the ones who hoped they could go away scot-free haven't, barring Bumpy who seems to have fallen to the cliched phrase, 'From the frying pan into the fire'. If anything, 'Rent Strike Blues' sets up a fascinating finale. 

'Godfather of Harlem' airs Sundays on EPIX. 

If you have an entertainment scoop or a story for us, please reach out to us on (323) 421-7515