This FARGO review contains spoilers.
Fargo Season 4 Episode 10
Fargo did itself a disservice with last week’s episode. By successfully presenting a small-scale, mostly self-contained story, it’s made this season’s sprawl and lack of focus more obvious. “Happy” is the penultimate episode of the season which means the season’s many threads need to start coalescing or ending, but unfortunately this doesn’t happen particularly gracefully. The timing on many of the episode’s plot points, like the introduction of the titular character Happy and Ethelrida’s reintroduction into the main story, feel like they are occurring far too late to make a significant impact.
Impact feels dulled right from the episode’s beginning, as we bizarrely begin with a time jump. Instead of having the Fadda brothers’ actions informed by their immediate grief over losing their mother, or Loy’s machinations influenced by the loss of Satchel, we needlessly move beyond these moments. The last episode saw Oraetta feeling the need to flee right away, but instead she just hangs out for a couple of weeks, taking no significant action against Ethelrida? It really just doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The time jump allows there to be a larger body count in the Fadda and Cannon war, but couldn’t that have been achieved without moving ahead a couple of weeks?
Still, the war is out of control and causes Loy to reach out to his wife’s cousin Happy, a crime boss from the country. Happy and Loy have a contentious relationship, made worse by the way Loy treated Leon a few episodes back. Loy’s reluctance to hear Happy’s advice feels like it could have been a dynamic introduced earlier, in the wake of Doctor Senator’s death. Buell makes a stern appeal for Happy’s help based on their shared past and it’s another example of the series now realizing what a commanding presence J. Nicole Brooks can be.
Unfortunately, Happy uses Loy’s weakness and goes directly to the Faddas, except the betrayal doesn’t quite sting since we’ve only just met Happy. The old timer is looking to have Leon take over Loy’s territory in exchange for peace with the Faddas, which is perfect for the Italians as they were looking for a weak replacement for Loy that they could push around. When Loy catches news, he has a moment where he really feels his mortality and his time in power passing him by, and it’s a standout scene in an episode with too few of them.
On the flip side of the war, the Faddas are interested in evening the score with Odis, who is now actively acting against them. It’s very broad, but I do happen to enjoy the dynamic between Josto and Gaetano now that they’re pals. Their stakeout of Odis’ apartment, where Josto interrupts his brother’s horror story to remind him to take stock of how far they’ve made it, communicates the season’s themes better than most things we’ve seen. There’s an attempt to add some gravitas to Odis’ demise, but it all feels so inevitable that it cannot help but fall flat. Things are made even worse by throwing in Gaetano’s death, who simply slips, trips, falls, and shoots himself in the head. I’m all for Fargo’s shocking accidental deaths, but maybe they could have tried a little harder on this one?
Finally, after waiting weeks, Oraetta simply walks over to verbally accosts Ethelrida for her stolen ring. Not quite the devious plan that we could have hoped for. Ethelrida has bigger fish to fry; she’s finally told about The Roach, the ghost of a slaver that haunts Dibrell’s family, and she’s trying to save her family’s business from Loy Cannon. Ethelrida wishes to rid herself of The Roach, but the old ghost is the one that protects her from an attack by Oraetta in the middle of the night. Ethelrida doesn’t need supernatural help to assist her in her face-to-face with Loy. She uses Donatello Fadda’s ring as a bargaining chip to gain back her family’s business and help Loy in his war. This meeting arguably should have happened sooner, but it is nice to see something that took place in the Ethelrida-Oraetta story have an impact in the season’s main plot. It’s not the big cliffhanger that would typically cap the penultimate hour, but it’ll have to do.
Barreling through stories and racing to the finish, there isn’t a ton to say about Fargo’s finish. I feel dispassionate about the season overall, just because it’s often felt like several different shows smashed together, just barely connected at the seams. There are often things to like in every episode, it just doesn’t often feel a part of what’s come before, in a way that’s difficult to explain. Next week, Season 4 of Fargo will come to a close, but will Noah Hawley and company be able to wrap things together in some capacity that feels satisfying or whole?