A Look at Fargo- Season 4, Episode 8: “The Nadir”

The absolute lowest.

The Nadir- Josto and Dessie talk about their upcoming wedding day- Fargo, FX

The episode begins talk of an Election Day wedding. Josto talks it over with Dessie and Milvin at breakfast, maybe in June. Josto doesn’t want to wait, even though there’s the possibility that Milvin could lose the election. Still, Dessie is hopelessly in love with Josto, so she’d prefer to get married as soon as possible. Why not get the American Dream started when you have the opportunity?

The Nadir- Oraetta tells Josto about her mother- Fargo, FX

Oh, and Josto is still into some freaky shit with Nurse Mayflower. When the two, ahem, finish, Josto asks Oraetta if she likes being a nurse. She doesn’t just like it- it’s her calling. Josto informs the nurse that she’s getting married in March, but it’s just business. Josto remembers that Oraetta talked about spending a lot of time in the hospital when she was a kid, due to her mother, who kept up her spirits.

The special juice helped with that, of course. Mom was close to the doctors, which is why Oraetta got such excellent care. Care for what? A kind of malaise. Failure to thrive is what Oraetta heard the doctors say more than once. Josto confirms that this marriage has been on the books forever, but when asked if he actually loves his bride-to-be, Josto’s only compliment is that she knits.

The Nadir- Oraetta calls and learns that Dr. Harvard is still alive- Fargo, FX

Josto then asks what saint Oraetta’s mother was like, but she was just the patron saint of Oraetta. When Josto goes to take a leak, Oraetta makes a call under a false identity- and accent- about Dr. Harvard, who has, in fact, made a full recovery. Well, surprise! Josto returns and explains the power share and son exchange between the families.

To Josto, the devil is an Irishman, and he did things to Josto- things that you should never do to a child. Oraetta doesn’t want to hear that, but Josto likes that she gets him. In fact, he thinks that he loves her. For reasons I can’t determine, this pisses off Oraetta, who orders Josto to get the fuck out of her home.

The Nadir- Josto surprised to see that Gaetano is still alive- Fargo, FX

Josto’s problems don’t end here. He returns to Joplin’s to find that Gaetano is, in fact, alive. Gaetano goes on the attack and flips his brother onto a table. That’s how Italians say hello, I guess. He knocks Josto out, but when he later wakens, Gaetano greets his brother and berates him for murdering a child in exchange for having him killed. Gaetano realizes that if he had died, Josto would take over the family.

The Nadir- Gaetano is proud of Josto- Fargo, FX

Gaetano is the lion, while Josto is the snake. Josto thinks that he’s dreaming, but he is very much not dreaming. Gaetano is the bull, but he tells Josto that he, in fact, has the strategy. He thinks that Josto is weak, calling him a chameleon. He drops to one knee and vows to safeguard his younger brother, adhering to his will in all ways. Josto accepts this oath of poison, knowing that from now on, no men will judge Gaetano.

Instead, Gaetano will judge himself. If Gaetano betrays Josto, then Josto will kill Gaetano himself. Gaetano rises as the two brothers hug. Who knew that it took potentially killing a child to ensure that two brothers get along?

The Nadir- Loy learns that Josto and Gaetano are on good terms- Fargo, FX

Opal, meanwhile, reports to Loy that this plan didn’t work: Josto and Gaetano are tighter than ever. So what’s Loy’s plan now? In a word: Fargo.

The Nadir- Dibrell and Buel chat and have a drink- Fargo, FX

Dibrell receives an unexpected visit from Buel, who has come to see her son. She remembers visiting this funeral home five years ago. She’s unable to help Dibrell, saying that she knows that once they start drinking, they’ll start reminiscing until Dibrell asks Buel for help. Buel explains that people come to her husband in search of money. They all figure that they have nothing left to lose, but there’s always lower you can go.

Dibrell acknowledges that we can never know God’s plans, but we can do is have faith. She asks Buel if her eldest knows, and he doesn’t. Dibrell knows that she and Thurman have made mistakes. They aren’t looking for charity, but an opportunity to make things right. Her daughter can’t fall just because she was too stubborn. She’s willing to do what it takes, if she gets a fair shake. Buel asks if Dibrell would hold the service.

She would indeed.

The Nadir- Leumel pops by Ethelrida's room- Fargo, FX

Upstairs, Ethelrida looks over Donatello’s ring when Lemuel enters her room and looks over her records. Even with his interest in music, he has prospects beyond that. He’s a fan of this up and comer named Charlie Parker. No structure to his music, though. He just goes where the music takes him. Ethelrida, by comparison, likes structure.

Dibrell enters and informs Lemuel that his mother is here. She then advises Ethelrida to stay away from him, as he is her captor, not her friend. Right now, Ethelrida can’t afford to make mistakes.

The Nadir- Oraetta learns that Dr. Harvard has been transferred to an out-of-state hospital- Fargo, FX

Over at the hospital, Oraetta learns that Dr. Harvard has been transferred to a hospital that specializes in treating poisons- there was strychnine found in his system. Mayflower learns from another nurse that the authorities thought it best to move him out of state, given the prior assassination attempt on his life. Huh. Apparently there are hospitals that specialize in treating poisons. Who knew?

The Nadir- Oraetta finds Ethelrida's notebook and looks at the anonymous letter- Fargo, FX

Anyway, Nurse Mayflower returns home and begins packing up all of her shit, including all of the shit in her closet. It’s here that she now stumbles upon Ethelrida’s notebook. Putting the handwriting alongside that of the anonymous letter detailing Oraetta’s actions, stealing medication, and killing patients, Oraetta finally puts two and two together…

The Nadir- Deafy orders Opal to step aside- Fargo, FX

Loy arrives at home to wash up while Opal keeps watch. All is quiet on the streets of Kansas City, until Deafy arrives out of a nearby vehicle. Deafy isn’t intimidated by Opal’s weapon, as he orders him to stand aside and let the lawman execute his duty.

The Nadir- Deafy tells Loy why he came to Kansas City- Fargo, FX

Indeed, Loy returns downstairs to find Deafy in his home. Deafy rejects a drink and informs Loy that he’s not looking for his family, even though they’re far way. Deafy came to Kansas City for a simple objective. Loy tells Deafy that he promised those ladies no harm would come to them, so that makes him accountable. But as far as Deafy is concerned, the criminal rejects accountability. They also reject morality and ethics.

The Nadir- Loy tells Deafy how to find Zelmare and Swanee- Fargo, FX

However, Loy doesn’t strike Deafy as the man who does wrong. There’s a code about loyalty. The criminal detaches from the civilian world. And yet here’s Loy- family man, deacon in the church, member of the community. The criminal can be all of those things, but the Lord knows that it’s a disguise, as far as Deafy is concerned. How does Deafy know this? Because he knows all about the son exchange to attain power.

The Nadir- Loy warns Deafy to not return to Missouri- Fargo, FX

Deafy pulls his gun, saying that if Loy could sacrifice his young, like Isaac did, then giving up Zelmare and Swanee should be as easy. Loy laughs. He finds Deafy unfriendly, but it’s in a way where it sounds like Deafy is doing Loy a favor. Sound familiar? He reveals that Zelmare and Swanee are to board a 10 o’clock train to Philadelphia.

However, Loy advises Deafy to not return once he crosses the state line, as he won’t be safe in Missouri anymore.

The Nadir- Deafy informs police squad about Zelmare and Swanee's location- Fargo, FX

Deafy isn’t foolish enough to charge in alone. He relays his information to the squad, but before they can go into action, he prays. Odis wants in on this, as he’s been thinking about what Deafy said. He wants to be a cop again, no bullshit. Deafy agrees, but he wants to know who Odis was talking to on the phone. Turns out that Odis was talking to Loy Cannon. He wants the girls caught or killed so they don’t seek revenge.

The Nadir- Odis tells Deafy that he's ready to be a good cop again- Fargo, FX

Odis brings up his condition. He’s been called twitchy his entire life, but he feels in charge when he has power. Police have power, but being a copy is risky. That, in turn, makes him nervous. He makes deals to look the other way. It’s less risky, but also less powerful, so here comes that feeling again, as if Odis is drowning on dry land. Deafy’s response that if Odis wants to die like a man, he must live like a man.

The Nadir- Swanee and Zelmare at the train station- Fargo, FX

Indeed, Zelmare and Swanee arrive at the train station for their train to Philadelphia with just a little over 15 minutes to spare. Swanee goes to get some sweets, pilfering some while the candy man isn’t looking. Rude.

The Nadir- Deafy tells Odis about an amazing pelican- Fargo, FX

Outside, Deafy and Odis arrive, with Deafy helping calm Odis’ nerves with a poem about an amazing pelican. Make of that what you will. Odis takes his sweet-ass time getting out of the car, though.

The Nadir- Deafy tells the officers that the plan is to bring in the fugitives alive- Fargo, FX

While Zelmare and Swanee snack on their candy, realizing how much they’ve come to love Kansas City, Deafy informs the officers that the objective is to bring in the ladies alive. If they fight back, however, drop them where they stand.

The Nadir- Zelmare and Swanee open fire at the train station- Fargo, FX

While Swanee catches a glimpse of that haunted figure, Zelmare spots Deafy from affair. The ladies reveal their weapons and prepare for a hell of a shootout. They open fire on some of the officers, throwing the train station into an absolute frenzy.

The Nadir- Deafy and Odis corner Swanee and Zelmare- Fargo, FX

By the time Odis finally enters the train station, the shooting has stopped as he walks across a trail of bodies. He scans the room and hears more gunfire break out. As he heads upstairs, he sees that Deafy has cornered the women, who have run out of ammunition.

The Nadir- Odis shoots and kills Deafy- Fargo, FX

When Deafy tosses the cuffs for Odis to make an arrest, Odis instead shoots and kills both Deafy and Swanee. Before he can kill Zelmare, though, she runs for the hills after spotting that haunted figure.

The Nadir- Josto and Gaetano's mother tells them to come inside- Fargo, FX

We return to the Faddas as Josto and Gaetano prepare for the day. Gaetano offers his brother a drink and inquires about Calamita, so Josto reveals that Calamita is looking for Rabbi Milligan and Satchel. Also, Antoon is dead. Gaetano wonders if Rabbi Milligan will just run straight to Loy, given his loyalty to the boy. Mom comes outside and tells the two to come inside, as they might catch a cold.

The Nadir- Fargo crime syndicate opens fire on the Fadda family- Fargo, FX

But the boys insist that they don’t catch colds. You know that they could catch, though? Bullets, courtesy of men from Fargo, as another shootout ensues. They manage to gun down some of the Faddas, but Gaetano fires back, killing some of the Fargo men in the process and forcing the men to retreat.

The Nadir- Josto and Gaetano find that their mother has been shot- Fargo, FX

At the sound of their mother screaming, the two rush inside and find that their mother was caught in the crossfire and has been killed as a result.

By definition, the “nadir” is considered the absolute lowest point that a person, place, or thing can reach. For some, but not all of the characters this week, we do approach that point. While not every character hits rock bottom in “The Nadir,” this episode pretty much ends any attempt at negotiation. The Cannons and Faddas were already at war, and this episode just poured gasoline onto that fire.

The Nadir- Josto and Oraetta, post-coitus- Fargo, FX

In a strange twist of fate, however, things start on a somewhat high note for Josto. I say somewhat because he does still get kicked out of Nurse Mayflower’s home. Still, on the verge of marrying Dessie and getting into Gaetano’s good graces, things were looking up for Josto. Not that Gaetano let him off easy. He did still push for Loy to have him killed.

The Nadir- Gaetano embraces Josto- Fargo, FX

Still, it shows the ruthlessness that Gaetano figured Josto never had. It’s a strange way to get the brothers on one accord, yet it works so well because we’ve seen Gaetano call out Josto’s lack of brutality. I said before that Josto ordering Satchel’s death would push him past the point of redemption, and I still maintain that, but it seems to have worked in his favor now that he and Gaetano are on the same page.

The Nadir- Gaetano opens fire on the Fargo crime syndicate- Fargo, FX

Until the ending, anyway. Trust the Fargo crime syndicate to make a statement, as we see at episode’s end when Loy has no choice but to bring in the heavy artillery. With Josto and Gaetano getting along as brothers would, what choice does Loy have but to escalate things?

After the shootout at the train station, I didn’t think we would get another shootout right after that. But at the same time, Loy asking for Fargo’s assistance was set up in this episode, and after Josto and Gaetano appeared to be on cloud nine, this was the perfect ambush to bring them crashing down to Earth.

That their mother was one of the casualties- even though it was very telegraphed- could not only unite them more, but maybe even bring out some of the brutality that Gaetano sees in Josto.

The Nadir- Loy smokes- Fargo, FX

Loy already had his low moment when he was led to believe that Satchel was dead, even though it’s clear he doesn’t buy that. While Loy’s men have questioned whether he truly knows what he’s doing, he’s never hesitated in his decisions. Despite the risks in actions such as letting Gaetano go or having Zelmare and Swanee work for him, his plans have all worked out in his favor. Until now.

He figured that he could drive a wedge between the Faddas by letting Gaetano live, but he couldn’t account for Gaetano being impressed that his brother put a hit out on a child. This episode has Loy ordering moves, much less making them.

He points Deafy in the direction of where to find Zelmare and Swanee, knowing that both of them could die, but he still had Odis in his back pocket as well. The fact that Zelmare ran out of that train station alive will no doubt set her on a collision course with Loy.

The Nadir- Deafy at the train station- Fargo, FX

Moving over to the train station, though, I’m glad that Deafy didn’t do the expected TV thing and rush into the train station alone. It would be easy for him to just take Loy’s information and try to arrest Zelmare and Swanee on his own. That never ends well on either TV or film, so I appreciate that he brought the police squad with him.

The Nadir- Odis steps over bodies at the train station- Fargo, FX

Though I don’t like that the majority of the shootout took place off-screen, it was still quite a massacre nonetheless. From the moment Loy told Zelmare and Swanee to live, I thought that they either wouldn’t make it to the train station or at least one of them was going to die.

The Nadir- Deafy's dead body- Fargo, FX

Sure, Swanee bit the dust, but I didn’t expect Deafy to bite it in the same episode. Then again, Odis did reveal that Loy called him, but it’s possible he didn’t reveal all the details of their conversation. Him not killing Zelmare is sure to cause more a headache for both himself and Loy, though. But the fact that Zelmare spotted that haunted figure could mean that we’re not done with him yet, either.

The Nadir- Haunted figure stares at Zelmare- Fargo, FX

That or he’s an arbiter of death. Your call.

The Nadir- Odis tells Deafy about his twitch- Fargo, FX

Back to Odis, though, this was the most we’ve gotten about him detailing why he’s so jittery. It’s been hinted at and discussed all season, but it makes sense for Odis to lay it all out at the same time when he wants to come clean. Being a cop is a risky undertaking, but looking the other way is just as risky when you can be caught. Odis is ready to do the right thing.

But then he kills Deafy. Similar to Rabbi Milligan killing Antoon, it’s just going to create more headaches for him.

The Nadir- Oraetta learns that Dr. Harvard made a full recovery- Fargo, FX

He’s not the only one with headaches. The fact that we didn’t see Dr. Harvard die showed that Oraetta wasn’t out of the woods. That would be too easy, especially if he died off-screen. So him being alive and out of reach for Oraetta means that it’s time to pack up and hit the road, Jack. Seems easy enough when she can just cut and run without tying up loose ends.

The Nadir- Oraetta discovers Ethelrida's notebook- Fargo, FX

Until she comes across Ethelrida’s notebook. While I question why it’s taken so long for Oraetta to find that, she now has a reason to stay and get her revenge on the Smutny girl. What avenue she’ll take remains to be seen because Ethelrida is aware of her methods. She can’t poison Ethelrida because she knows about that and would think twice before trying any desserts.

Plus, the Cannons are now taking up shop in Ethelrida’s home, so I have to imagine that if Oraetta tries to kill Ethelrida, she’ll arouse the attention of the Cannon Limited. Lemuel seems to have a thing for Ethelrida, so her potential death could just spell doom for Oraetta. So what does the nurse do?

The Nadir- Oraetta realizes that Ethelrida wrote the anonymous letter- Fargo, FX

She could just run, but that letter will always be dangling over her head. With Ethelrida being out there with the knowledge that Oraetta is a killer, the nurse can’t leave anything to chance. But her options are limited because Ethelrida will no doubt be anticipating it.

The Nadir- Ethelrida and Lemuel talk about music- Fargo, FX

I’m still baffled that a girl as smart as Ethelrida hasn’t caught onto the fact that she left her notebook behind. She’s got to know at this point that she doesn’t have it in her possession, and it would make no sense to intentionally leave it and draw suspicion to herself. I’m chalking this up to the plot demanding it to happen, because Ethelrida is too smart to make such a mistake.

Nonetheless, this was a very explosive episode as we get closer and closer to the season finale. We lost some great players with the deaths of Swanee and Deafy, while Josto and Gaetano aren’t going to just overlook their mother being killed as a result of the shooting. Things are only going to get worse before they get better. We’ll see how things continue to play out next time.

See you then.

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