‘Fargo’ season four episode four recap: who is the zombie haunting the Smutnys?

**Spoilers for 'The Pretend War' below**

A sharp blade comes in handy in Fargo, but a sharp tongue is even more useful. Jason Schwartzman’s Mafia don Josto Fadda found out as much this week (Fargo season 4 episode 4), as he brought his stubborn brother Gaetano to heel through threat of violence but was kept in order himself (and thoroughly dominated in the bedroom) by nurse Oraetta Mayflower.

Fargo doesn’t seem quite sure whether it’s a Mafia drama or a spoof of a Mafia drama this season, which oscillates wildly from murky intrigue to quirky character stuff (and this week, to horror). That’s part of the fun of it though, with absurdity and whimsy often occupying the same scene as menace and violence, sometimes even the same sentence.

Cheery Midwestern line of the week: “You know, I was reading the most delicious article last night about Istanbul!”


These were Oraetta’s first words after having sex with Josto for the first time, the Mafia boss clearly turned on and terrified in equal measure by Jessie Buckley’s eccentric nurse. Oraetta is besotted with Josto and already planning a couples vacation, too manic to even consider that, in the Mafia, you don’t exactly get a generous holiday allowance. That’s a shame, because Buckley and Schwartzman are a dream comedic pairing, and a standalone episode with just the two of them knocking about in Istanbul would be a delight.

Jessie Buckley
Jessie Buckley as Nurse Oraetta Mayflower. Credit: FX

Classic ‘Fargo’ moment: angry snowballs with the Mafia

After leaving Oraetta’s apartment, Josto was intercepted by Rabbi Milligan (Ben Whishaw) and informed of last week’s unauthorised, bungled hit on the Cannon boy. He then proceeded to express his frustration in the most Fargo way imaginable, hurling snowballs at nothing in particular.

Josto later seemed to get his message across to Gaetano that he’s not to run the show while the boss is away, spraying a few bullets around his brother before pointing a gun directly at Gaetano’s crotch. It’s a temporary fix, and hot-headed Gaetano is only ever going to be trouble. The Faddas and the Cannons rivalry is a tinderbox at this point, and Gaetano is a short-fuse match wandering around in the middle of it, rubbing up against the wrong people.

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Jason Schwartzman as mob boss Josto Fadda. Credit: FX

The most ‘Fargo’ character name: Miss Florence Quillerman and Mr Lamar Huddle

These were the departed whose newspaper obituaries and personal effects Ethelrida (E’myri Crutchfield) found in Oraetta’s closet, during the first shift of her new job cleaning for the nurse. It was almost like Mayflower wanted her new protégé to discover her predilection for bumping off the sick and elderly, and Ethelrida seemed as intrigued as she was shocked by the discovery.


Could we have an assassin of sorts in the making? It seems likely – and quietly getting rid of people is a skill that would come in handy for Ethelrida. Her family’s attempts to get out from under the thumb of the Cannon Limited this week only put them further beneath it.

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E’myri Crutchfield as Ethelrida Pearl Smutny in ‘Fargo’ season 4 episode 4. Credit: FX

UFO watch: still no UFOs, but a zombie!

Frankly, we couldn’t make head nor tail of this episode’s undead man with a disfigured/half-decomposed face, who first haunted Ethelrida and then later her aunt Zelmare. NME can just about get on board with UFOs existence in this world, but Fargo containing zombies too would just be a bit silly. More likely, this figure isn’t real but a nightmare or a ghost story that haunts the Smutny family, a link to the funeral-service family business. Is the mystery man a past client that they perhaps put in the ground too early? Or one of Oraetta’s victims? There’s been a lot of talk among characters this season about the history of violence and how it is handed down through generations in America, so this apparition could fit into this. The figure’s first appearance came in tandem with the show’s weekly ‘out of the respect for the dead, names have been changed’ titles too, which can’t have been an accident.

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Timothy Olyphant as Dick ‘Deafy’ Wickware. Credit: FX

This week’s biggest question: can Wickware (Timothy Olyphant) bust the Faddas?

Possible zombies aside, ‘The Pretend War’ also saw Loy Cannon (Chris Rock) try to flip Rabbi Milligan – unsuccessfully, for now – and US Marshal Dick Wickware decide to stick around in Kansas City and investigate its strong organised crime presence further. He’s thoroughly onto partner Odis Weff, but instead of calling out the detective’s corruption, he seems to be using him to get closer to the Mafia. This led to another supremely Fargo moment this week, when the Faddas thought Wickware was going for his gun, only to produce from a jacket pocket his beloved carrot sticks. Wickware is tough and charismatic, but frankly hasn’t been getting the screen time befitting of a hero. Expect to see him choke to death on one of those carrot sticks, accidentally or otherwise, before the season is out.

Fargo season 4 episode 4 aired on Sunday night (October 11) on FX in the US, with a UK broadcast on Channel 4 expected sometime in 2021