The episode begins with Ethelrida arriving at home one night. She finds her parents ready to greet her for her birthday, though a piece of the cake is suspiciously missing. Still, they light the candles and Ethelrida eventually blows them out. I guess Ethelrida later asked her parents why it looks like someone got first dibs on her birthday cake.
Also, who or what the hell is that behind Ethelrida?
Odis also arrives at home, but when he heads into the bathroom, he’s ambushed by Loy and his men- in a nice nod both the Fargo movie and No Country for Old Men, by the way. Odis tells Loy that he didn’t plan the raid- he was just following orders. Loy isn’t looking for his money. He’s lost people in this war, but he’s fighting more than Italians. More like 400 years of history.
Loy goes over to Odis’ figurines and asks Odis how they’d feel if they were owned or rose up and became citizens of the apartment. What if they asked for equal rights? Odis might not like that and he’d want to crush them, right? As far as Loy is concerned, that’s Odis’ mindset.
Maybe the Italians own Odis, but he has no idea what it’s like to be actually owned…until now. Odis is to help Loy win this war or Loy will put him underground.
Okay. Odis can agree to that. As Loy departs, Deafy watches from a distance…
The next day, Gaetano practices his stabbing while he and Paolo discuss Josto’s obsession with Dr. Harvard. At the sound of a car approaching, they peer outside and see two women approaching. Seems like nothing out of the ordinary until the two hear commotion. Gaetano hears further gunfire and prepares to load a gun of his own. At the sound of someone approaching, he opens fire, assuming it’s one of the women.
But it’s not. He’s killed Paolo instead. Whoops. Gaetano drops his bullets and attempts to reload just as Swanee opens fire on him first at point-blank range. Zelmare is disappointed, as Gaetano was needed alive, but it turns out that Gaetano isn’t dead. However, neither is able to move Gaetano’s body, so they just drag him out on a carpet.
Gaetano awakens before Loy, who asks if he’s familiar with Sugar Ray Robinson’s fighting record and history. A man will do whatever it takes to win his first break. After getting the title, you have to fight off everyone who wants to kill you. Loy’s associate here, Omie, is a fighter. Yeah, he’s skinny, but he’s got reach. Gaetano’s life could be one mistake after another, but Doctor Senator? That’s what would get Gaetano killed.
This gets a laugh out of Gaetano, but then Loy rings the bell and it’s fighting time.
Over at the hospital, Oraetta stops by Dr. Harvard’s office to discuss a patient afflicted with gout. Harvard received a strange letter about Nurse Mayflower and asks if she attends the funerals of her patients. The letter suggests that Oraetta’s behavior at her last posting requires further scrutiny. Harvard asks if she has keepsakes of her patients, as confiscating items from a patient is a crime.
Oraetta considers herself a Christian citizen of the highest caliber. Harvard won’t let Oraetta see the letter, and it’s from an anonymous writer, so Oraetta writes this off as cowardice and jealousy. It’s enough to convince Harvard, but he’ll still have to show the letter to Human Resources. Oraetta asks Harvard to consider if this was his own reputation- a baseless letter. After all, Harvard looked into Oraetta’s references, right?
Well, Dr. Harvard is convinced, and the matter will stay between the two of them. For now. Harvard puts the letter into a drawer while Mayflower heads back to her duties. Before leaving the office, though, Harvard cautions her against attending any further funerals.
Ebal returns to Kansas City and is joined by a Joe Bulo from New York. You remember him, right? Ebal informs Josto that New York will help out, but they have two weeks to fix their situation with the Cannons. Before Ebal can say the second condition, Calamita informs the two that Paolo has been killed and that Gaetano has been kidnapped.
There’s no telling if Gaetano is dead, though, in retaliation for what happened to the doctor. Ebal is surprised to learn that Doctor Senator is dead, but Josto is only focusing on the present. The order was put out, but not by him, of course. As for New York’s second condition: if Josto wants to be boss, he has to make things right with his brother.
Loy recalls a conversation with Doctor Senator about getting back Satchel. Doctor offers to talk to Ebal, but he’s certain of one thing: rescind Satchel now, and there’s no escaping war. The Italians are on high alert and Doctor is confident that war is approaching. But Loy knows a way to rectify this without war.
In present-day, Odis is brought to Loy, who tells the officer that he’s going to do something for him. Time’s up for kid-swapping. Odis is to driver to the Italians and bring home Satchel. Loy plans to kill Gaetano and take over, but not until he has his son back. Also, Loy isn’t asking.
So Odis arrives to meet the Faddas, where he sees Satchel reading with Rabbi Milligan. Before Odis can do anything, Calamita informs the officer that he’s in the wrong place. Since the Cannons have Gaetano, it’s now war. With that, Odis leaves with Calamita.
Ebal informs Josto that there’s been a trade for blood, as it’s what the brass in New York want. Josto considers Gaetano a tornado, even though Josto is the one calling the shots. However, Gaetano is too unpredictable to control.
Calamita brings Odis, who tells Josto that he’s been unable to give Deafy the slip. Josto wants Odis to find out where the Cannons have Gaetano, and he has until 2:30. If the plan is to lie down and roll over, then Josto won’t do it. But Gaetano would rather die than be traded. Ebal knows that they’re in a war, but there are rules.
Calamita knows that the Cannons aren’t playing by the rules, but Josto wants to know whose side is Calamita on? After all, it seems like Calamita has been following Gaetano’s orders. Josto isn’t a baby anymore. With that, Ebal and Calamita depart.
Josto then tells Antoon to take Loy Cannon’s kid for a drive, and to bring Rabbi Milligan to him. Zero and Gaetano could die for this. Not to mention New York, who still wants Josto to try and work things out with Gaetano. Still, the plan is to take Satchel for a drive, and Josto will handle the rest.
Rabbi Milligan is then summoned to meet with Josto, but only him- not Satchel. As for the boy, meanwhile, Antoon will take him for a drive.
Meanwhile, Oraetta can’t take her mind off of the anonymous letter. The patient’s continuing moaning continues to irritate her even further.
Rabbi Milligan is brought to Josto, who informs him that he’s back in the game. Rabbi is worried about the kid, but Josto tells Rabbi that Satchel is done. When Rabbi realizes what has happened, he heads back, but Satchel is long gone. Still, Rabbi demands to know where the kid has been taken.
Indeed, Satchel is on the road with Antoon, who talks about his time in America before he ended up in Kansas at the Camp Elegance Relocation Center. The food and smell brought him back. Every day, the sun would help him grow and he’d feel alive again. He carved his name on one of the stones- Antoon Domingo. That’s who he would become. He tells Satchel to go take a look, so the boy does.
As Satchel heads down the stairs, Antoon takes out his gun, but as his hand shakes, he can’t bring himself to kill the boy. Besides, Rabbi arrives and shoots him dead anyway. Rabbi tells Satchel that he won’t be a child soldier, just as he was. They’re going to find someplace quiet where Satchel can stay until the dust settles. Satchel is a bit scared, but Rabbi will protect him.
At the hospital, the patient’s moaning comes to a complete stop as Nurse Mayflower emerges from the room with a smile on her face as the episode comes to a close.
Much of this season has been about choice- or rather, a lack thereof. We don’t choose how or when we’re born, our family, or the circumstances that surround our upbringing. In the case of the sons between the warring families, they have no choice in whether they’ll be traded to the opposition. We rarely have a choice in the direction life takes us, but we can at least try to make the most of an unpredictable situation.
It’s what Loy has been trying to accomplish, as evidenced through his conversations with Doctor Senator and Odis. On a related note, it was nice to see the Doctor back one more time, even if for a brief flashback. Loy has been warned before that some things are just out of his control. No matter how much influence he believes he can exert, some outcomes are just inevitable.
True as that is, he can still try to tip the scales in his favor. Loy’s fighting a bigger battle than his conflict with the Italians. While not outright stated, it feels like he’s fighting for the soul of Black America as well. He talks about America’s history with Odis and how Blacks during the era of slavery didn’t have a choice in becoming someone else’s property. Any attempts at an uprising were crushed, as you know.
The same can be said here, where Loy is trying to plant his foothold beyond Black America, but America just won’t have that. Neither will the Faddas, who already look down on the Coloreds, though not with the same vitriol as White America. More so since both the Coloreds and Italians are seen as second-class citizens in the eyes of other Americans.
Loy says that a man will do whatever it takes to win his first break, and considering how proactive he’s been this season, he’s right. Starting with the slaughterhouse, he’s put himself in a position to stay ahead of the Faddas. He may want to win without a war, but with Doctor Senator’s murder, there’s no turning back, especially now that Gaetano has been kidnapped.
But to go back to something Loy told Buel, everything he’s doing is for his family. As much as he’d like to win the war with the Italians, and as much as he’d like for America to take him seriously, at the end of the day he’d love nothing more than to have Satchel back. No matter what’s happening in the war with the Faddas, Satchel is still not back at home, and I have to believe that matters to Loy more than anything else.
As we’ve seen with both the Cannons and Faddas, family is key. It’s why the attempted assassination on Lemuel crossed a line and why it’s so important that the Italians retrieve Gaetano. There are certain rules that you just don’t break, or at the very least members who should be considerd off-limits. Folks like Calamita and Gaetano are playing outside the norms, thus shattering any semblance of peace, if there was any.
Josto, for example, hates his brother, and seems almost relieved at the possibility of him being dead. However, as much as he wants to try and maintain order, things escalate far too quickly and out of his control. As such, he’s forced to adapt to the ever-shifting circumstances, even when he doesn’t have any good options.
So when he can’t keep the peace because some of his own men are making calls without his order, what choice does he have other than to up the ante? I’m sure that Josto doesn’t want to have Satchel killed, but this is the uncomfortable situation that he’s in and the price of war- a war that he’d rather avoid. It doesn’t help that New York is pushing him to take action and make things right with Gaetano.
Even if he’s making uncomfortable decisions, Josto is at least resolute in his choices. Gaetano, by comparison, is an unpredictable hurricane that can’t be tamed. Like an unstoppable brush fire, Josto can’t determine what Gaetano will do. More than that, he can’t determine who Gaetano will influence, now that Calamita has upped the ante by killing Doctor Senator.
There are so many moving pieces on this chess board, and Josto is trying to keep up, but between word from New York and Gaetano’s actions, it might be difficult for him to gain an advantage. But in war, nothing is certain.
By the way, speaking about New York…did anyone expect a younger Joe Bulo to make an appearance? Between this and Mort Kellerman last week, this season has more ties to Season 2 than I would have thought. I appreciate that Hawley slowly established this season as its own thing, but over time brought in connections that tie it to another season.
Nice connection and like the red scraper appearing in the first season, I like that these ties to the rest of the Fargo world aren’t thrown in your face. They’re underplayed and just part of the narrative, but if you’ve watched either the film or previous seasons, it’s a nice payoff and, like Mr. Wrench showing up in Season 3, a neat surprise.
But back to the episode, I appreciate that we got a bit more of Antoon before his demise, as he’s mostly been a background player. This was his moment to shine as he was put in the unenviable task of having to kill a child. Much like Rabbi, he didn’t have a choice in his upbringing, but he believed in the American dream that would improve his lot in life.
It’s unfortunate that Antoon met his end just when he backed down on killing Satchel. Again, who wants to be the one responsible for killing a kid who had no say in being traded to an enemy family? I say unfortunate because Rabbi Milligan killed him anyway, though there’s no way Rabbi could have known that Antoon backed down. If anything, I think Rabbi killing Antoon could just make things worse.
But Rabbi is willing to put everything on the line to protect Satchel. We’ve seen how much he cares for the boy and how much he’s willing to go against the Faddas to keep him safe. He already stood up to and ratted Calamita out to Josto, and now he’s killed one of the Fadda men to protect the son of Josto’s enemy. I don’t know if Rabbi makes it out of this season alive, but again, he has very few allies on his side.
On Satchel, by the way, there’s a theory floating around about his possible connection to Season 2. It sounds plausible, and I won’t get into it right now, but if it does end up paying off, we’ll talk about that later in the season.
Oraetta is still the wild card. She’s linked to a lot of the major players through her ‘relationship’ with Josto, killing Donatello, and having Ethelrida work for her. Yet she’s been in the background because she doesn’t feel the need to insert herself into every situation possible. It’s still hard to determine her end game, but Ethelrida’s anonymous letter was no doubt a surprise.
There’s no telling if Oraetta knows for sure that Ethelrida wrote that letter, as she only got to look at the handwriting for a moment. Then again, at this point she has to know that Ethelrida left her notebook in her closet, so if she went through it, she’d have an idea of how Ethelrida writes. At the moment, Oraetta has gotten Dr. Harvard off of her back, but for how long?
Plus, her smile at the very end of the episode, when I assume she’s killed the moaning patient, was just creepy.
That felt reminiscent of the smile Lester had back in Season 1 after he assumed he had successfully framed Chaz for Pearl’s murder. Yeah. Nurse Mayflower is kind of nuts.
So the war is continuing to escalate now that Loy has taken decisive action against the Faddas, but his son is now in the wind with Rabbi Milligan. There’s an air of unpredictability on both sides, and let’s not forget that Deafy is watching all of this play out from a distance, waiting to make a move. Like Oraetta, he’s another wild card to watch out for, no doubt.
See you all next time.