Episode two begins with Arhtur Rothstein, Lucky Luciano's mentor and father figure, having a streak of bad luck. Nothing is going his way. Rothstein loves high stakes gambling. He is addicted to gambling. Rothstein joins a three day poker game with big mobsters from out of town. He loses a great deal of money. He finally gets fed up and leaves the game, saying he isn't going to pay because the game is fixed. He is gunned down and murdered. Meyer Lansky gets the call that Rothstein is dead and has to tell Lucky. Lucky takes the news hard. He decides to put off his hit on Joe Mazaria for the time being. Dozens of gangsters come to New York for Rothstein's funeral. Many gangsters liked Rothstein because he helped everyone.
A big problem for the mob takes place when the government raids speakeasies and arrests many gangsters. This is all brought about because of Al Capone, in Chicago, who is ruthless and out of control. He leads the big gangland murder called the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and gets the attention of the Feds.
|St. Valentine's Day Massacre|
The Feds get involved and the mob is losing money. Mazaria goes to Luciano, knowing he was friendly with Capone in his younger years. He wants him to rein in Al Capone and keep him under control so his acts aren't publicized and don't attract the attention of the Feds. The Feds are cracking down on the mob. There is a big meeting of the mob, all the important mobsters are invited, including Al Capone. They start complaining that because of Al they are losing business. Al gets mad, and says he isn't turning himself in. Lucky talks to Al and tells him this is about the greater good. The law isn't going to let up on them. Lucky tells him to plea to a minor charge and he will look after his business for him while he is away. He convinces Al to take the fall, and he is sentenced to just a year in prison thanks to mob connections. Lucky earns big points and respect with mobsters across the country.
The Stock Market crashes, worst economic disaster of the country. Luciano sees this disaster as a big business opportunity. They use the money they made in bootlegging during prohibition to give businesses loans at high interest rates. Loan sharking brought in big money. When people didn't pay the loans, gangsters were sent out to beat them. People learned to pay off the mafia. If they didn't pay the mafia, they would take 10% of their business. Luciano was earning 20% interest every week, but still had to give a cut to Joe Mazaria. A surprise attack in May, 1930 leaves one of Joe's warehouses in ruins. It's a rival mob boss from Sicily looking to start a war. They target Joe's operation in New York. Mussolini was doing away with the mafia in Sicily and imprisoning them. They leave Italy to come the United States to establish themselves here. Mazaria talks to his crew and wants them to watch every move the Italian mobster, Salvatore Maranzano, makes. In May of 1930 an all out war breaks out as Mazaria and Maranzano fight to take control of New York. The streets are turned into a battle field and it's called the Castellammarese War. Anyone in the street could be killed. One day the rival mob kidnaps Lucky Luciano as he walks the streets with Meyer Lansky. The sicilian boss, Maranzano, has his men give Lucky a beating and torture him for 8 hours, to send a message to Mazaria and his crew. Luciano is taken to Staten Island where he is dumped and left for dead. Luciano survives against all odds. His quick recovery earns him the nickname "Lucky." Luciano decides that Mazaria has to be removed because he feels he is the better boss and he wants to form an alliance with Maranzano.
Lucky goes to meet with Maranzano. He tells him he respects him and wants to work for him. Maranzano is skeptical because he works for Mazaria. Luciano tells him he will kill Mazaria himself. Maranzano says he respects him and he will give him a "cut" of Mazaria's money. Luciano says he doesn't want a cut, he wants it all. Maranzano agrees. And Luciano says, no more boss of bosses.
Luciano wants to put an end to the Mazaria-Maranzano war by killing Mazaria. Luciano needs to buy the loyalty of Mazaria's bodyguards so they can get close to Mazaria to kill him. There is no loyalty, everyone can be bought for a price. Luciano invites Mazaria to his favorite restaurant in Coney Island. Luciano leaves to go to the bathroom and two mobsters come in and shoot Mazaria in cold blood. Joe "the boss" is dead after running things for 10 years. Luciano inherits the empire, but still has to answer to Maranzano. Maranzano calls a meeting of the most powerful mobsters in New York. He announces the war is over. He wants all the bosses to serve under one boss. Maranzano declares himself to be "capo di tutti capi, the boss of all bosses." Luciano doesn't like this. Soon after the meeting Maranzano becomes paranoid and is convinced the other bosses are conspiring to kill him. He wants to kill everyone around him who he suspects might betray him. First on his hit list is Lucky Luciano.
Frank Costello learns there is a contract out on Luciano. They have to kill Maranzano before Luciano is killed. They have to figure out a way to get to him. Luciano gets an idea. He knows the IRS is investigating people for tax evasion. The IRS is going to be the one who will put gangsters in jail. Luciano, together with Lansky and Seigel, devise a plan. They disguise themselves as IRS agents and pay Maranzano a visit. In no time Maranzano is dead. In less than 5 months Lucky has taken out the two biggest mob bosses in New York and can now take his place as the king of New York.
Picture credit: AMC