As Godfather of Harlem comes for its third season, Forest Whitaker as gangster Bumpy Johnson continues to shine. The vintage musical flare and the crackling intensity in critical passages where we just get to sit with all these complex personalities give the story a stronger life of its own. The series still has its foundation in major incidents, and the basic arc of time hasn’t changed. However, Godfather of Harlem shines brightest through all the murkiness of the world the characters inhabit, whether it is a man getting crushed to death in a car or more shootouts with people being blown away.
In Godfather of Harlem season, 3 Bumpy is determined to keep Harlem under his thumb. A growing number of people, both within and outside of the government, have their sights set on him. The only way for Bumpy to protect what he has worked so hard to build since his release from prison is to take some calculated risks and forge some unexpected partnerships. Whitaker does an amazing job of bringing Bumpy to life, a complex character who fights with how to proceed into the future. Every chance we get to see him loosen up only serves to reinforce his status as one of the finest performers now active in the industry.
Whitaker’s acting conveys this clearly, from the rage in his eyes to the snarl in his voice. Though his subtle performances are just as impressive, his more flashy ones are nonetheless excellent. The other primary actors are all fantastic in their own right, Whitaker is a lot like Bumpy in that he can carry the show by himself. The tale and the acting seem to be less interesting in the scenes where we aren’t with him. we missed Nigél Thatch’s nuanced acting and his knack for finding beauty in the midst of tragedy. Jason Alan Carvell has the potential to fill the role, but the current iteration of the series isn’t doing him any favors. In particular, the series dashes of black comedy offer welcome nuance to the story’s smaller moments and help to smooth over the plot’s other tough spots. As always, Whitaker gives another stellar performance at the forefront.