REVIEW Fargo (S4 E4/11)

“Goodness, your mind’s a clutter of grievances”

Oreatta Mayflower’s comic comment after another eye-opening and perversely hilarious sex scene with Josto Fadda in this episode serves is as oddly funny a scene as you’re likely to see. Both clothed, she has her hands clasped around his neck and she straddles him.

There’s something primal, sadistic and yet something to very funny about this scene. It’s almost as if Oraetta actually likes him, because she only goes so far.

“Jesus Christ,” Josto gasps. “What was that?”

It symbolises the episode – titled The Pretend War – as a whole, as it’s a warm-up of sorts, a precursor to mayhem later on in the series. Everything slows down in this instalment, too, after the helter-skelter of the first three episodes – connections are made, and characters jut up against each other.

Young Etherida Sumptey is starting to fit into this. To begin with it was difficult to see how she slotted into the whole piece but now, after episode four? She accepts Oraetta’s offer of her cleaning job and gets to work on her apartment. The murdering nurse tells her not to go into a particular closet… which, of course, is red rag to a bull. Inside Ethelrida finds her stash of poison, and souvenirs from all the old men she has put to death. Before she begins work on the apartment, she bumps alsointo Josto, on his way out after having sex with Oraetta.

At the Sumptey home, Truman – in debt to a loan shark – accepts Zelmare’s bag of cash to pay off someone who loaned him some money. So Thurman heads around to Loy Cannon’s place to pay him the money he owes him. Yes, Truman borrowed money from Loy Cannon.

And, of course, this money was stolen by by his sister-in-law Zelmare from Loy Cannon himself.

Ethelrida is connected to Oraetta, who is (more than) connected to Josto Fadda. Her father Thurman is connected to Loy Cannon. Everything is slowly to come together.

Meanwhile, in the war between the Faddas and the Cannons, Josto finally finds out about the botched assassination attempt on Loy’s eldest son. He’s not happy at all, and once again steps away from the violent route – instead he orders his KCPD lackey Odis Welf – he of the OCD door knocking – to put the squeeze on the Cannons.

Quite rightly, Josto recognises that there are more ways to skin a cat. Whether Gaetano will acquiesce to what he perceives as a ‘weak’ option is another question entirely.

So we’re getting a simmering war between the two gangs, and now a simmering war between Josto and Gaetano. After the Cannon gang hijacks a truck full of guns driven by Constant Calamita, it’s clear that this could explode at any moment. The hijack scene is another bravura, with the Cannons surrounding the truck in ring of fire, and one of the gang branding Calamita with the barrel of his gun after holding it in the fire.

There’s also another great scene once again involving Doctor and Egil in the diner. This time it’s Egil’s turn to monologue, telling his rival that when he came to America it took him time to understand the American Dream – the land of the free and the home of the brave, yes, but also a land of slavery and the double-cross. “To be American is to pretend, capisce?”

It’s another explicit way in which Noah Hawley is trying to deliver the Big Theme in this series – questioning the very country that these groups jostle for power in. Opportunity, sure, but at what price? 

It’s another good episode, and yet I was still left wondering how all of these different factions will either unite or destroy each other.

Random notes…

Fargo has often dealt with the supernatural, and got our first taste of it in series four – both Ethelrida and Zelmare were beginning to see ghosts in the Sumptey household.

Everyone is quite evil in this series. Really. Take folksy Sheriff Dick ‘Deafy’ Wickware. He explained to Constant and Gaetano that back in Salt Lake City they dealt with Italians like them by stringing them up and dragging them down the road until their heads snapped off. Do not think this folksy sheriff is anything other than a mercenary bigot.

Another man who’s starting to bear his teeth is Loy Cannon – first with Rabbi and then with Thurman at the end. He also tells Doctor that if the Faddas touch his son, that the order is to kill them all. Chris Rock is acing this serious acting business.

Despite Josto’s attempts to assert his power on his gang, his chair – his father’s old chair – is still too big for him. A telling metaphor if I ever saw one.

Talk about dirty money. Even after Zelmare washed her takings, Loy Cannon smelled something distinctly ickey after Thurman left the house.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 4 out of 5.