Remember. History is written by the victors.
The episode begins with a montage to the fallen- all those whom we’ve lost thus far this season, all set to the tune of Johnny Cash’s “What Is Man.”
In present day, Loy’s operation heads out of the mortuary, with Lemuel handing Thurman the key to their business. Even Lemuel is impressed by Ethelrida’s ingenuity.
Dr. Harvard, meanwhile, talks of how there was a murderer among them, all this time. However, as he later heads out, he’s attacked by Josto and put into a vehicle, alongside Milvin.
Not long after this, the two are shot and killed. Josto tosses his cigarette onto some nearby gasoline and walks away as the car goes up in flames.
Oraetta has, to her surprise, been sprung free. From whom? No idea. Not yet, anyway.
Loy, having given the ring to Ebal, tells him that if he wants this war over, he needs to get his house in order.
While Happy dines with some of his men at a hotel and talks about a recent getaway, Josto is awakened to learn from Joe Bulo that it’s over: his men got Cannon.
How? Well, we don’t see the shot, but we do see Leon walk behind and point a gun. However, Opal gets the drop on Leon and strangles him to death. Happy doesn’t get a happy ending, either.
Josto is elated, but it turns out that everyone has assembled- Nurse Mayflower included. Naturally, Josto has no idea why the Angel of Death is here. Josto tells everyone that Gaetano didn’t make it, but right now, Josto stands accused of crimes against the family. He put his needs against the needs of the family. Not to mention he conspired with Nurse Mayflower to kill Donatello.
Mayflower maintains her ‘innocence,’ saying that Josto did say that Donatello was in a lot of pain and he didn’t like to see him like that. Plus, Josto did spend all that time in Mayflower’s apartment. Josto reminds everyone that he’s the boss, so he orders everyone to stop now, especially since they’re listening to this crazy woman.
But to Ebal, they live in the new world and need a new way. Less about family and more about business.Ebal brings up Mayflower’s past murders, including the attempted assassination of Dr. Harvard. Josto can’t believe that he’s being accused of ordering his own father’s death. Ebal proposes that Josto killed Gaetano and Donatello in order to take over. This is why families don’t work- because families are crazy.
Josto threatens to tell New York about this mutiny, but New York is already aware of what’s happening. With that, Josto is dragged out of the room. But so is Nurse Mayflower.
Joe Bulo and another henchman take the two for a drive. Mayflower tries to explain herself to Josto, but he’s in no mood to talk with this demented hag. When Mayflower starts beating on Josto, Joe Bulo takes out his gun and tells them to cut the shit.
The two are driven to a field and led at gunpoint to a freshly dug grave. Josto admits making some mistake, but he acknowledges that there’s been enough killing. They eat each other and forget, but for what? This is the ladder, but there’s nowhere to go.
As for last requests, Mayflower asks if Josto can be shot first, so she can watch. Okay. Joe Bulo obliges, shooting Josto right in the head. After Mayflower has one last look at the ghost of Theodore Roach, she is soon executed by Bulo and falls into the hole, right alongside Josto.
Loy and his family arrive home, but find the front door ajar. As he tells his family to wait, he pulls his gun and heads inside. He heads to the kitchen table and finds a bowl of soup and arranged figurines, along with a red cap.
Loy heads upstairs and finds Satchel asleep on his bed. He calls out to his son and embraces him, yelling out to Buel that their son is alive. Indeed, Satchel heads downstairs and embraces his mother.
Businesses continue to boom in Kansas City. Loy and Ebal come to terms with business back to usual, but Ebal has a few adjustments. Loy looks over the details, which includes Ebal taking half of the Cannon Limited’s businesses. Loy is livid, but Ebal tells him that this is their new plan for the future. Not to mention expansion beyond Kansas City. Loy is one man in one city. The Italians, though? They are the sea.
Ebal knows that Loy could just kill him, but Ebal points out that there are many men standing behind him, not to mention the ones that follow. Ebal isn’t taking half, but leaving half. Loy can do what Ebal says, or he’ll be killed and replaced by someone who takes orders. End of story. Aghast, but without a response, Loy takes his leave.
Following this meeting, Loy instructs Opal to go home, telling him the war is over. As Loy walks up the stairs to his home, he smiles at the sight of his family enjoying themselves, including Lemuel with his saxophone.
But lest we not forget Zelmare. She guts Loy in the back and turns him around to stab him, several times, telling him that this is for Swanee.
Satchel, having seen this, rushes outside and finds Zelmare standing with a bloody blade in her hand. She instructs Satchel to keep quiet as she drops the blade and walks away. As Loy bleeds out, he touches his son one last time as he dies.
We jump to the Smutnys, as Ethelrida reads her history report to her parents. We are Black, White, foreign born, and domestic. This, as it turns out, is her history report. With that, we pull back the curtain as the season ends.
But wait. There’s more. We jump ahead in time with a flash-forward to Season 2 as Satchel, now Mike Milligan, is on the road with one of the Kitchen Brothers as he loads his gun. With that, now we can say that the fourth season of Fargo has come to a close.
Removing the commercial breaks, it’s amazing how quick this finale flies by. I think this could be one of the shortest episodes of the season, if not the series. That’s not a bad thing if plot points can be wrapped up in a meaningful way, even if this is the world of Fargo, but it was a fast episode. It gave us time to breathe, but I guess I expected a bit more of a substantive finish.
Let’s talk about that stinger, though. So the theories ended up panning out after all: Satchel does indeed grow up to become Season 2’s Mike Milligan, with Satchel taking on the name of the adoptive father who helped bring him up in the world. Nice connection and is believably handled, as Joe Bulo worked with Mike Milligan in the 1970s, so bringing in Bulo helps solidify what many suspected about Satchel’s future.
I liked the flash-forward, but I sort of wish it had been a new scene, rather than just inserting a brief snippet from Season 2. Compare this to Betsy’s vision in the Season 2 finale, “Palindrome,” where we saw Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Joey King, and Keith Carradine return for a new scene. Not just new footage, but how Betsy interpreted the future. Here, it’s more like confirmation for viewers who suspected Satchel is Mike.
It’s not a bad thing. I’m all for the seasons connecting to one another, and this did reinforce the path that Satchel would take. If I had to guess, Zelmare might be one of his future targets.
Right before the halfway point of this episode on first viewing, amidst the violence, it dawned on me that ‘Wait, Zelmare is still out there.’ The show wouldn’t have her survive the train station massacre just to leave that plot thread dangling. So it was never a matter of whether Zelmare would show up, but a matter of when. Considering Loy told Deafy where Zelmare and Swanee were headed, this is her brand of justice.
Remember, she’s not a criminal, but an outlaw. So she’s living by her own rules. To her, as she tells Loy, this is revenge for Swanee. Whether she searched for Odis, considering he’s the one who pulled the trigger, I don’t know. Odis is dead, but does Zelmare know that? Would she try and find him? She has a justifiable reason in going after Loy, but I also wonder if she’d go after the one who did the killing, too.
Either way, Loy met his tragic, if not expected, demise. Things were going a bit too well for him, between winning the battle- not the war- and reuniting with Satchel. In the world of Fargo, tragedy is right around the corner. I thought tragedy would strike the Smutnys, even though Satchel no doubt has Zelmare in his sights, but they got off free with Loy holding up his end of the bargain.
He ended the conflict with the Faddas, got his son back, and weeded out and eliminated the traitors in his ranks. Things were looking up for Loy. But then Ebal altered the deal and reminded Loy how outmatched he was. For someone who had his credit card idea stolen, not to mention the ongoing challenge of being a Black mob leader, this shouldn’t be surprising to Loy.
Loy reacts like he’s suffered a major indignation, and he has, but what did he expect? That Ebal would honor their agreement? They’re in new territory now, and the Italians vastly outnumber the Coloreds as far as reach and influence. Loy is but one man who can be replaced by a pushover. He’s limited to Kansas City, but the Faddas are everywhere.
I maintain that Loy only won a battle, but he lost the war. Josto and Gaetano aren’t an issue anymore, but Ebal is and is far more measured and level-headed than either of the two brothers. He can exert influence and pressure on Loy without losing his composure, making him a more challenging adversary for Loy than Josto was.
Because to Ebal, it’s not about family, but the business. They’re in new territory now, and you can’t have dissident elements like Josto or Mayflower floating around. Whether Ebal actually believes Josto ordered Donatello’s death, I don’t know, because I want to believe that Ebal is smarter than that. That or these people don’t know the meanings of the words ‘figuratively’ and ‘literally.’
Josto wanted Mayflower to take care of Donatello, but not to kill him. Obviously not. He wanted to lead, but not if it meant getting rid of his father and brother. Though anyone would have a heard time believing that Gaetano slipped and blew out his own brains, so I can sort of buy the Faddas not believing that Gaetano accidentally killed himself.
From the start, while Josto may have been calmer and more collected than Gaetano, he was still in over his head and lacked the leadership presence that his father had. He would easily become just as much of a pushover as he wanted Loy to be. He acts on impulse, proving this when he has both Milvin and Dr. Harvard killed when they’re no real threat to him.
Plus, he still thinks he’s in a position to bargain for his life once confronted. But the moment the entire family plus Mayflower confronted him, he should have realized that it was already over. I did like him trying to barter with Joe Bulo, saying there’s been enough killing and that they exist on a ladder with nowhere to go. He’s right, yeah, there’s been enough carnage, but he did contribute to that.
As did Nurse Mayflower who, while not the constant threat that Malvo, Mike Milligan, or Varga were, was still an interesting wild card. In hindsight, I wish we’d gotten more into her head to learn more about why she kills certain patients, since she bothered talking about her upbringing, but perhaps that’s better shrouded in mystery. She’s just a nut who kills because she can and has always gotten away with it. Until now.
It’s interesting how this all comes back to Dr. Harvard. Had he not survived, Mayflower would probably in the clear. As she pointed out previously, no one would take Ethelrida’s word over hers. But fate had other plans for the nurse, who at least got her last request of seeing Josto die before her.
Despite the role she played in her meeting with Loy last week, Ethelrida once again fades into the background. True, she does clear her family and Loy does hold up his end of the bargain, but she doesn’t contribute much to the finale beyond reading her history paper. Perhaps Ethelrida had nowhere to go as a character. She figured out Mayflower’s misdeeds all on her own.
More than that, she’s already a smart cookie and didn’t get too mixed up in the ongoing gang conflict. She was the outsider looking in, but considering how this season started with her, I just wish she played a somewhat more prominent role throughout. What that would be, I don’t know, since she doesn’t come to Loy until after she has the proof on Mayflower. Still, the girl is clearly going places, which is great.
Despite my issues with the finale, Fargo still had a very strong fourth showing that managed to, like other seasons, tell its own story while still being a part of this greater universe. The tone and period helped give the season its own identity, though I maintain that it took a bit for this to feel like the Fargo we know. Like other seasons, I would very much recommend it.
I don’t know just yet how I’d rank it. I still have Seasons 1 and 2 neck and neck, as those were some quality seasons and high benchmarks. At the moment, I think Season 4 could be placed just slightly ahead of Season 3, but that could change over time. At the end of the day, Noah Hawley delivered another great season of television.
Like the end of Season 3, I have no idea when, if at all, we could return to the world of Fargo for a potential fifth season. But until that date comes, it’s been great returning to this world and hope you enjoyed it as well. Would love to know what you thought of the season. Let me know what you think and thanks for reading along.
Until next time. Aces.