When we last visited Fargo, a series now set in Kansas City, we watched a familiar face, playing an unfamiliar character, launch a raid on the King of Tears mortuary. “Raddoppiarlo,” season four’s third episode, wastes little time revealing the details of Timothy Olyphant’s character. He’s U.S. Marshal Dick “Deafy” Wickware, a tracker on the trail of the two escaped prisoners we know to be holing up somewhere in the King of Tears. He’s also Mormon, which means he abstains from caffeinated beverages “both warm and cold,” distrusts Missouri for its longstanding “kill order” on people of his faith, and has some unorthodox notions about the tribes of Israel vis-à-vis the settlement of North America and the color of others’ skin. His nickname comes not from a hearing impairment but because, as he puts it, “I hear what I want to hear,” a tendency we’ll soon see him put to use in dealing with some hostile comments from his Kansas City partner, Odis Weff.
He’s also very good at his job, at least up to this point, arriving with a long track record of getting his man (or woman) and skillfully following a trail of rumor to Zelmare and Swanee. The only problem: After searching five of the morgue’s chambers, he and his men get so disgusted by a particularly grody corpse they neglect to check the sixth, where the fugitives quickly took up residence after Deafy kicked down the door. Deafy thinks he’s reached an unexpected dead end, but really he just gave up inches from the finish line. Another sign he has his limits: Deafy and Odis watch Oraetta, an actual murderer, cross the street in front of them. Then again, how could they know?
Theirs is a tense partnership anyway. Odis resents being taken off the St. Theclas hospital murder, leaving the Faddas exposed to whatever non-corrupt cop picks up the assignment. He’s also peeved that both his boss and Deafy make an issue of him spending time with the Faddas in the first place, with Deafy making some unflattering remarks about “spaghetti-eaters” to drive the point home. Odis’s defense — that Deafy’s being prejudiced — is 100 percent correct in principle but zero percent correct when applied to the Fadda family.
Not that it makes sense to think of the Fadda family as a monolith. Josto’s nervously preparing for his impending nuptials — nope, scratch that. Josto’s busy stalking Dr. Harvard from the St. Theclas parking lot and plotting ways to exact the revenge he didn’t get to exact when his men failed to kill him. His dark reverie gets interrupted by the arrival of Oraetta, who’s even more cheerful than usual after landing a nursing job at the private hospital. Seeing Josto just perks up her mood further, convinced as she is that he’s courting her even though, once again, he can’t remember having met her, either at the hospital or his father’s funeral. After she administers a businesslike but apparently satisfying hand job (while singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”), he at least asks her name, a question she laughs off as a joke. Love truly is strange.
Meanwhile, back at Fadda headquarters, Josto’s little (but quite big) brother Gaetano is sizing up his chair — literally and otherwise. It’s not the subtlest bit of symbolism, but nothing about Gaetano is particularly subtle. Neither is Salvatore Esposito’s performance, but it’s certainly electrifying, whether he’s going face-to-face with Josto (with Jason Schwartzman nicely playing a man trying to convince himself and others that he’s not in over his head) or bugging out his eyes as he rallies/bullies some Fadda foot soldiers to his side before sinking into wistful melancholy while staring at a picture of his family’s home. It’s funny, scary, always riveting work.
Last week, Gaetano squared up against Doctor Senator, and it seemed like they might be something of a matched set as two men of bullish will. But there’s more to Doctor than just forcefulness, and this week we discover his true equivalent on the Fadda side is the cool, strategic-minded Ebal Volante (Francesco Acquaroli), whom he joins for breakfast and conversation designed to keep the peace between the two sides. It doesn’t quite go according to plan, or at least according to Constant’s plan. Rather than a direct discussion of the slaughterhouse issue, Constant finds himself listening to a long, meaningful description of Doctor’s World War II service, when he and other Black soldiers were promised a “Double V” for their service: a victory abroad against the Axis forces and a victory at home in the form the rights and respect previously denied them by prejudice. Doctor did his part and then some, luring no less than Hermann Göring into a detailed confession at Nuremberg, only to realize that he was just being used, as a Black man, to make the Nazi squirm. In conclusion, he offers Constant this: “You say ‘Respect the deal.’ I say excuse me if I say ‘Our word is exactly as good as yours.’”
Where Esposito offers one kind of stand-out performance, Glynn Turman offers another. He’s mesmerizing in his understated intensity when monologuing but also an excellent scene partner, whether he’s playing off Acquaroli or Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon. Loy’s a terse, collected type who still needs someone to tell him when he’s overstepping or not asserting himself enough. Doctor has clearly been an excellent consigliere, at least so far. The big question: will he be able to keep the operation together in the war that’s about to arrive? Will anyone?
Two events escalate tensions. Though Swanee falls victim to the ipecac-laced apple pie — which spends much of the episode sitting on the table waiting to be eaten; call it Chekov’s pie — she and Zelmare successfully rob Loy’s headquarters. The incident leaves three dead (and more traumatized by all the vomiting and farting). It also leaves the Cannons confused as to what’s going on. Another troubling development: at Gaetano’s behest, the ghoulish strongman Constant Calamita (Gaetano Bruno) and, reluctantly, Rabbi Milligan, attempt to kill Loy’s oldest son Lemuel (Matthew Elam), a bebop enthusiast whom Loy fears will spend more time pursuing jazz than his education. Rabbi intentionally blows the job at the last second, but trouble’s set to arrive anyway. Just think, when Loy enlisted the ambitious Leon (Jeremie Harris) to keep Lemuel on the straight and narrow, he thought jazz would be Lemuel’s biggest problem. But it now looks like Leon will have an even bigger job on his hands.
• Rabbi and Satchel’s relationship is shaping up to be one of the season’s most intriguing. They’re both outcasts who feel alienated from their respective families. They also seem to feel bound to their fates. The last thing Rabbi wants to do is kill Leon but — at least until the last moment when he hesitates pulling the trigger — he feels he has no choice. He seems genuinely fond of Satchel, however, when he delivers the parting words, “If I don’t come back, I’m dead or in jail. Do your lessons.” It’s more paternal than we’ve seen Loy be with Satchel, honestly. (And, keep in mind, we still don’t know the secret origin of season two’s Mike Milligan.)
• We have seen Loy be paternal with Zero but, at episode’s end, hurting Zero seems to be very much on the table as an option, even if it’s not one Loy wants to engage in at the moment.
• Loy’s not the most likable guy, and this week Rock gets a chance to play that up nicely via a sadistic interaction with a man on the street who asks him for money.
• This episode clarifies Zelmare and Swanee’s relationship. They’re more than just friends and business partners.
• The devil hangs around the edges of this episode. Deafy suggests he might be at the root of Odis’ condition. Swanee, echoing Zelmare, brings up a family curse possibly caused by the devil following the Roulette family from Mississippi to Missouri. “People think it’s houses get haunted,” Swanee tells her before taking a long drag on her cigarette. “But it ain’t.” Put a pin in that line. It seems likely to echo through the season.
• If the line “Girl, you got a panty on your head,” sounds familiar, there’s a reason.
• Leon’s supposed to be keeping Lemuel away from the siren song of bebop music, but the glimpse we get of them together suggests Leon’s just as enthused by the then-new sounds emerging in the jazz world. Loy doesn’t get it. He sees jazz as a choice between Dixieland or Big Band. There’s a generation gap here, and it might end up cutting deeper than musical preferences.