There were moments of brilliance in Fargo season four, with sharp dialogue and beautiful cinematography, but taken as a whole it felt uneven. There was a chance to tie up all the loose ends in this week’s finale, but few would argue that ‘Storia Americana’ did the job. Ultimately, this was a fairly deflating climax – even if the increased scale and ambition was welcome. Let’s look at how the season wrapped up, starting with by far its biggest talking point.
— Fargo (@FargoFX) November 25, 2020
How did ‘Fargo’ season four finish?
In a special post-credits sequence, we saw a shot of Satchel Cannon, youngest son of mobster Loy, overlaid with an image of season two character Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine), driving from Kansas City to Fargo where that season’s events took place. Mike shared a surname with this season’s Rabbi Milligan (Ben Whishaw), and so it turned out that Satchel Cannon would grow up to be Mike.
With his father dead and the Cannon Limited crime outfit in pieces, Satchel took on a new identity, and started using Rabbi’s name in honour of the kindness the Irish gang member showed him and the protection he afforded him. It’s not a huge leap to imagine the quiet, shy Satchel growing into the more confident, brazen Mike. This was a fun bit of retroactive continuity, the kind Breaking Bad was so fond of.
Line of the week: “Can you shoot him first so I can watch?” – Oraetta Mayflower
As predicted in last week’s recap, Loy used late mob boss Donatello Fadda’s ring to pin the don’s murder on his son Josto (though it was never totally clear if Josto (Jason Schwartzman) did order Nurse Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley) to murder his father or not – they were high at the time and his words were ambiguous).
Cast out by the rest of the gang and usurped by his consigliere Ebal Violante, Josto was taken to a pit with Oraetta and promptly shot in the head. And that was that. It was a surprisingly swift and linear ending to the story of Josto and especially of Oraetta, who deserved a bigger pay-off after her character was so patiently built up across the season. Still, “Can you shoot him first so I can watch?” was a nice line to bow out with.
Classic ‘Fargo’ moment: knifed on the veranda
I’d half-forgotten that Zelmare Roulette was still alive, but perhaps that was the plan, as her return came as a surprise in the finale. Who could have expected Ethelrida’s aunt to pop up and stick a knife between Loy’s ribs as he returned home from grocery shopping?
It was a tragic ending for Loy, who was pleased to have Satchel home safe, and despite being screwed over by the Faddas seemed ready to retire and live out the rest of his days with his family. Chris Rock was a great addition this season, another all-star comedian to show an immense natural talent for acting.
Zombie watch: nothing to report
Theodore Roach, who we were clued in on last week, didn’t make an appearance in the finale. His absence only compounded what a weird and superfluous anomaly the walking dead were this season.
Where does season four rank in the ‘Fargo’ anthology?
Of the two main conclusions to this story, Ebal Violante’s coup of the Fadda family, though undramatic, made sense. I don’t think he was certain Josto had plotted to kill his own father, in fact he probably doubted it, but it was a convenient excuse to oust Josto, who as a mob boss was ineffective to the point of absurdity. Ebal’s subsequent betrayal of Loy Cannon worked too, a timely reminder in the post-Trump political landscape that while a new leader may be more polite and reasonable, that doesn’t mean they have different goals and motivations.
Less effective, however, was the Smutny side of the story. Ethelrida was pegged as a main protagonist early on, but her character never really went anywhere. One sub-plot about the Smutnys’ financial woes was all but dropped a few episodes back. When the season wrapped with the precocious teen writing up its story as homework (a tired trope, to say the least), it felt strange. Does Ethelrida even know the half of the story she wasn’t there for? That was the problem with this Fargo outing – from Dick Wickware to Gaetano Fadda to Oraetta Mayflower, it had plenty of engaging supporting characters, but felt slightly hollow at its core.
‘Fargo’ airs Sunday nights on FX in the US, with a UK broadcast on Channel 4 expected sometime in 2021