REVIEW Fargo (S4 E5/11)

As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions in the past, there’s really nothing quite like Fargo on television. Really and truly, it has provided me with so many great things over the years, whether it’s character or scenes or even, yes, whole series.

Its unpredictability often makes for exciting viewing, with sequences and characters so bold and memorable it’s impossible to stop watching.

Take this episode’s opening scene.

We’re transported to a smoky jazz club, where two members of Loy Cannon’s gang are enjoying a night away from the street battles. It’s such a tonally different, exciting scene that in many other series it would’ve felt out of place. But not here in Fargo.

Unbeknown to Lemuel and Leon, Cannon’s arch-rival Josto Fadda is putting the heat on the cops, and demands they start delivering value on his bribes. So the cops raid the joint, arrest and then beat the two gang members, with Josto goading them in a visit to the holding pen.

Odis Weff, too, is feeling the heat from Josto Fadda. As we know, this curious man with the extreme OCD is in the pockets of the Italians, and once again he does their bidding. Under instruction, he raids Cannon’s warehouse.

Odis Weff is an(other) outstandingly quirky character, but I do wonder whether his idiosyncrasies are idiosyncrasies just for the sake of it. However, all that being said, there was an opportunity at least to find out more about him. After his confrontation with Cannon in the warehouse – where the gang boss employed some Grade A psychological warfare and exposed some of Weff’s weaknesses – the tables were turned.

Cannon visited Weff, where his story unravelled – Weff was a mine-sweeper in World War II and suffered from PTSD because of it. He also revealed – via the visual prop of a group of dolls on a dresser – that his intended wife-to-be (his sweetheart) was raped and murdered while he was away on duty. No wonder he’s now a broken, nervous shell of a man; his pallid, drawn look is now given extra context.

But Cannon didn’t care for trauma or sentimentality. All he saw was a weak man ripe for manipulating, and he instructed Weff that he now worked for him.

He instructed him to go to the Fadda’s and take back his boy. The truce was over.

And boy was is ever it over.

Something that had been bubbling for five episodes was now well and truly boiling over. Acts of war were undertaken.

First, by the Fadda’s. Or, more specifically, Gateano, who took marvellously-featured Constant to the diner where Doctor Senator regularly meets with Ebal. Instead this time, it was all over for the avuncular, intelligent and worldly Doctor. After a terse exchange, Constant shot him dead in the street.

(There was also a scene where Gaetano and Constant went to a bar. Gaetano got angry after he was served sub-standard coffee and took out his aggression on the poor teenage waiter and the barkeep. It was all a little bit too much like Tommy DeVito in Goodfellas.)

As ever with Fargo, it was an operatic, elegiac scene, which not only the signified the death of a very likeable character but also a way of life. As Doctor hit the dirt, so did the old way of doing things, that almost civilised code of honour that old-school gangs (sometimes) adhered to.

Doctor’s death signalled a change in pace, and in atmosphere. And it also provoked Cannon – with his back to the wall – to come out finding. He captured Zelda and Swanee – thanks to Ethelrida – and instructed them to perform a daring raid on Gaetano’s hide out.

Chaos – and some farcical, cartoon-style humour – ensued, ending with Cannon holding the dangerous rogue Italian in his basement strapped as a hostage.

So this is where we are now. Point scoring, but oh-so-eloquent point-scoring. And, it has to be said, very verbose point-scoring – it seems that characters in Fargo can’t perform an action or a walk down the road without launching into some sort of monologue. Which is fine, because these passages of speech contain such fantastical words and affectations, but sometimes, just sometimes, less can be more.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.