Fargo really hit its stride this week. The double-bill opener introduced so many players that you could scarcely remember their faces let alone their names, but in Fargo season 4 episode 3 the pace slowed slightly, and we got to spend some time with the intriguing new characters being sculpted by a star-studded cast.
The episode title, ‘Raddoppiarlo’, appears to be an altered version of the Italian word raddoppiare – to double something – and indeed it saw tension ratcheted up between Chris Rock’s African-American syndicate The Cannon Limited and Jason Schwartzman’s Italian-American gang the Fadda family.
Cheery Midwestern line of the week: “Jesus on a stick!”
It wasn’t so much this line as the offence Marshall Dick Wickware took to it that got the episode off on a comedic note. “I can safely say you blaspheme more than any man I’ve ever met, and I’ve been to Cleveland!”
It was a fine introduction for Timothy Olyphant and a typically Fargo one, in which we learned that in addition to being a straight-shooting officer-of-the-law he is a Mormon with a penchant for carrot sticks.
We saw Wickware teamed with Jack Huston’s crooked cop Odis Weff, a deeply-flawed partnership brokered by the police chief and vectored toward the Faddas and their involvement in the hospital shooting. Wickware and Weff are most notable in their absence so far. Whereas in previous Fargo seasons detectives have been a huge part of the action or even served as protagonists, right now there’s barely any police presence at all amid the gang warfare.
Classic ‘Fargo’ moment: hymns and handjobs
The very random but entirely welcome interruptions of Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley) continued tonight, as the nurse charmed her way into a job at the hospital that refused Donatello Fadda as a patient in episode one. Spotting Josto spying on the hospital’s director, she mistook him for a lovelorn suitor and jumped into the new mafia boss’s car. In the space of two minutes, Josto was offered a line of cocaine and given an unsolicited orgasm while Oraetta sang a hymn. He was confused to say the least, as were we. Oraetta’s connection to the main plot of the season – if there even is a link there – remains intentionally unclear, but Buckley always gives such an engaging performance that you already look forward to what strange way she’ll pop up next, and these more standalone scenes break up the mob war action nicely.
The most ‘Fargo’ character name: Kelsey Asbille’s Swanee Capps
Let’s give the award to Swanee this week, who had a memorable episode thanks to her becoming surely the first bank robber to shake a place down while suffering from severe food poisoning. As her partner-in-crime Zelmare gave Cannon’s bookies both barrels, Swanee, alas, gave it at both ends, in what was amazingly not even the first scene involving both flatulence and death this season.
Aunt Zelmare stealing from the Cannon Limited will no doubt cause serious trouble for Ethelrida and the Smutney family next week (still keeping up with the names?), as we know they’re indebted to Cannon’s crew. Can the smart and apparently honourable Ethelrida extricate herself from this perilous situation? If she does, it’s hard to imagine it won’t involve a little help from our premature-euthenasia-loving nurse, Oraetta.
UFO watch: still nothin’
No sign of the UFOs of Fargo past (well, future on this timeline), but that’s a mercy quite frankly, as there’s more than enough plot to follow in the show anyway.
This week’s biggest question: will Josto side with Rabbi or Gaetano?
Rabbi Mulligan (Ben Whishaw) foiled the hit on Loy’s eldest son in ‘Raddoppiarlo’, suspecting it wasn’t Don Josto who ordered it but his bloodthirsty brother, Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito). But will Josto reward Rabbi for his loyalty, or allow Gaetano to punish him for his disobedience?
What did seem clear this week is that Rabbi doesn’t feel a huge affinity to his Fadda family, at least not now Donatello is dead and the gang has fallen under the control of his less dignified sons. Rabbi has really taken the traded Cannon son, Satchel (Rodney L. Jones III), under his wing. Is he teaching him to be loyal unto himself, just as Rabbi once was? That feels too obvious a trajectory for a show this smart, though the conclusion could fall somewhere in this ballpark.
“If America is a nation of immigrants, then how does one become American?” Ethelrida’s words still ring out from episode one, and you could see how Rabbi, Satchel and traded Fadda son Zero might take the view that whatever the answer is, it doesn’t involve clinging to the identities and nationalities that have so far only caused them suffering.
What this episode, masterfully directed by Dearbhla Walsh, really showed though, was that as interesting as these gang dynamics and twists and turns can be, the joy of Fargo lies in its sheer oddity.
‘Fargo’ airs Sunday nights on FX in the US, with a UK broadcast on Channel 4 expected sometime in 2021