‘How To Become A Mob Boss’ Episode 1 Recap & Ending: How Does AL Capone Come To Power?

How to Become a Mob Boss dwells on the life stories of gangsters from different eras and different parts of the world. The Netflix documentary series is stuffed with information on the underworld and the different motives of the underworld kingpins making their way into the world of darkness. The first episode depicts the life of Al Capone and his journey from the streets to a skilled businessman. There is very little that we know of the underworld, and these episodes shed light on the way the mafia world works, enhancing our knowledge in this segment. How did Al Capone make his way towards becoming a boss in the underworld? What strategies were used by him to get rid of his rivals? Let us find out!

Spoilers Ahead


What Is The Key To Becoming A Mob Boss?

A real mob boss has to have true leadership qualities within him to effectively run criminal operations and has to know the tactics of beating the system. A former underboss, Sammy “The Bull Gravano,” states that the underworld is a 2 trillion dollar industry and one has to earn their position in the industry. Renee Graziano, the daughter of the Bonanno crime family, states that in order to reach the top of this profession, one has to be an earner and know the way of business. Elie Honig, the prosecutor of the southern district of New York, is of the opinion that the mob boss has to be ambitious and smart and should know how to motivate others. The lack of education for some youngsters unlocks the criminal potential within them at an early age. John Gotti, a New York City mob boss, had set an unconventional record in the crime world. He had been arrested five times before his 21st birthday. Salvatore Riina, a Sicilian mob boss, was charged with his first murder case at the age of 18. The criminal minds of underworld personalities can be recognized in an individual at an early stage of life.


How Did Al Capone’s Underworld Life Begin?

Al Capone was a barber’s son from Brooklyn, and his family was into the profession of pasta making in Italy. He was inspired by a local mobster, Don Battista Balsamo, at an early age. His criminal mindset was evident at a young age, as he used to beat up other kids his age to take money from them instead of working to earn a living. It is important that a mob boss be guided by a mentor at an early stage in his life. Falling into the wrong hands might get them into trouble. Al’s first mentor was John Torrio, and he started his career by running errands for him, delivering guns in paper bags, and collecting money from brothels. He had become a father figure for Al. He had taught Al to keep his mouth shut in adversity; staying on top and making money are the keys to gaining power. His second mentor was Frankie Yale, who was a violent man who taught him other sets of skills. He taught him that it was important to get the point across that one means business. He also taught him to never get outgunned and to ensure that his reputation precedes him.

In 1918, 8 years before his life as a boss in Chicago, while he was paying his dues by working as a busboy, he laid his eyes on a woman. His approach to the woman was resented by her brother, an associate of the New York mob boss, Lucky Luciano. He got into a fight with Capone and slashed his face with a knife. Capone wanted to seek revenge and approached Frankie, but was refused. Later, when he had gained his authority as a boss, he had taken in Luciano as an associate, making him do all the odd jobs. This brings out his revenge-seeking mentality, a mindset common for a lot of underworld kingpins.


What Business Ideas Does Al Conceive In Chicago?

In 1920, five years before he became the boss, he decided to move to Chicago. After World War I, the elites of the US Congress decided to make alcohol illegal to ensure greater American prosperity. Capone knew that the masses were not going to embrace the law set by the constituency, and he recognized a business opportunity in this crisis. He decided on bootlegging alcohol from across the Canadian border. He wanted to make a lot of money to stay in power and, hence, indulged in investing in illegal breweries. When the cops came to intervene, they were bribed, and the cycle went on. After coming to Chicago, Al reconnected with John Torrio, who realized that Al had the capability of a great businessman within him and that he would make a smart and charismatic leader. However, Torrio’s boss, Big Jim Colosimo, did not approve of the business and wanted to get involved in bootlegging. As he had become a barrier in the path of Al’s business, he decided to kill Big Jim. He reached out to Frankie Yale for the job and paid him 10,000 dollars for it. The murder of Big Jim pushes up the ranks of both Torrio and Al, making them prominent figures in Chicago. In the next few years, Capone and Torrio would take over nine breweries, controlling the booze business and making profits worth 3 million dollars a year. Shootings and turf wars in Chicago became quite common as a result of rivalries between various bootlegging gangs.


How Does Al Show His Loyalty To Torrio?

A northern rival, Dean O’Banion, tried moving into Torrio’s territory of business. Al had asked Frankie Yale to kill him, which got his job done in a jiffy. However, the many friends of Banion were waiting to take revenge on Capone, which made him pay more attention to his self-protection. Torrio is, however, not bothered much by his protection and gets shot by Banion’s accomplices. Despite getting shot five times, he survives, and Capone has given it his all to stay by the side of Torrio and help him recover. His loyalty was paid back by Torrio when he decided to return to New York. This made the 26-year-old Capone the new underworld boss of Chicago.


What Happens After Al Becomes The Underworld Boss?

Becoming the boss was not that easy in the first year, as his life was under constant threat. Within 1926, just one year after Capone became the boss, there were more than 500 Chicago gangster killings. He had to secure his life, just like Nicodemo Scarfo, the Philadelphia Mafia, or Vic Orena. Nicodemo had killed his Greek rivals within two years of his reign to take over the drug cartels and secure his own business and life. Vic had killed Thomas Ocera within the first year of his reign in Colombo to secure his finances. John Alite, the former enforcer of the Gambino crime family, is of the opinion that if opponents smell weakness, then you will be killed in the business.

In order to secure his position and send out a message to the rival bootleggers, Al plans a shootout on April 27th, 1926. He tries killing his opponents, but instead murders Bill McSwiggin, the state’s attorney, unknowingly. He had no idea that Bill had gone out with his rivals that night. This led the entire Chicago police force to hunt him down, forcing him to seek refuge underground, from where he follows the news about himself. He, however, steps out of the shadows and calls a press conference. He fabricates a story that McSwiggin was his guy and was on his payroll. He denies being involved in his murder and openly declares himself as the new mob king of Chicago. All spotlights remain on him for the next 5 years. Later, he gets nabbed for being involved in tax evasion and gets a sentence of 11 years in prison.


Final Thoughts

Despite the vileness of Al Capone’s character, there is a charismatic quality about him, which engages us in the first episode of How to Become a Mob Boss. His charisma and tenacity had dragged him up from the streets and helped him reach the zenith of his success. The episode has meticulous details to explain the life story of a wanted criminal. The animated clips in the documentary, along with the real-life pictures and documents to back the claims, have made the execution of the episode bulletproof. The 26-minute documentary has been entertaining with its unconventional attempt at glorifying a villain’s life and portraying the power that an antagonist like him possessed.


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Debjyoti Dey
Debjyoti Dey
Debjyoti’s obsession with creativity and travel fervor has helped her branch out into the entertainment genre. Her love for psychological thrillers helps her get a daily dose of adrenaline. A regular caricature of the films and its characters is what keeps her going!

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