The Fargo Frozen Five is Uproxx’s weekly collection of thoughts, observations, and goofball screencaps from each new episode the FX limited series’ fourth season. We do not guarantee that there will be five items every week. There could be four, or six, or a dozen. Who knows? This show doesn’t follow the rules. We shouldn’t have to either.
EPISODE 4 — “The Pretend War” (or, “The Puke-Scented Loot Sack”)
5b. The episode opened with Cannon’s gang staging a theatrical gun heist involving a ring of fire, which was cool to look at and kind of hilarious to think about. The whole thing was ordered by Loy Cannon as retribution for the attempted hit on his son (ordered by Gaetano without Josto’s knowledge), which was itself ordered as retribution for the robbery at the slaughterhouse (committed by Zelmare Roulette and Swanee Capps, on their own, with no Fadda involvement). The result of it all is that we are now teetering on a violent mob war based on a series of misunderstandings that appear to be growing instead of shrinking as the season progresses. To quote Doctor Senator in his reply to the Fadda’s consigliere over breakfast: “It seems to me that you ain’t tracked into all the critical goings-on in your house these days.” This applies to everyone and is also something I now desperately want to say to someone, just once in my life.
5a. During the fire-circled gun heist, in response to Calamita’s relentless lip-running, a member of the Cannon gang held the barrel of his gun in the flames and then pushed it into the Fadda hit man’s cheek, leaving an O-shaped burn wound on his face. I point this out for two reasons:
- It does not seem like something I want to happen to me, ever
- It is actually the second time this year a prestige period crime drama has featured a red-hot gun barrel searing someone’s flesh, as it also happened to my sad king Matthew Rhys in the early stages of HBO’s Perry Mason
One more makes this a trend, like the time a couple of years ago when multiple television characters were killed in air conditioner related events, including one on Fargo that involved a character named Nikki Swango and the actor Scoot McNairy, whose real name sounds more like a Fargo name than half of the real characters in the show. This all has very little to do with anything beyond me just wanting to point it out. Moving on.
4b. A good lesson to take from this week’s episode: Don’t go snooping around people’s apartments when you’re there to clean them, because you might stumble upon their secret murder closet filled with poisons and mementos from the various murders they’ve committed while serving as a nurse at a number of hospitals. Admittedly, this lesson might be too specific to be helpful to most of us, but it sure would have helped Ethelrida, who left her journal in Oraetta’s murder closet while doing the aforementioned snooping. One imagines this will come up again, probably sooner than later. The woman already tried to incapacitate her with an ipecac-laced pie for the crime of — as far as I can tell — having gumption. Snooping around the murder closet probably ranks as a more serious offense.
4a. Although now that I think about it, I guess there are really two lessons here. That first one, yes, sure, but also it’s flipside: Don’t leave plucky neighborhood teens alone in your apartment if you have a secret murder closet in your hallway that is filled with incriminating evidence. Also a little specific, I guess. But still.
3. Hey, speaking of misunderstandings and poison, let’s briefly track the action around the slaughterhouse robbery:
- The Smutnys took a loan from Loy Cannon and got in too deep
- Zelmare Roulette and her partner Swanee Capps heard about this and busted out of prison in part to help
- Swanee ate about half of the poisoned by that Oraetta brought for Ethelrida
- Zelmare and Swanee robbed a slaughterhouse that had recently been taken from the Fadda family by the Cannons, and the poison from the pie caused Swanee to vomit all over the money
- Zelmare gave the money to Thurman Smutny to pay off his debt, which he did
- Loy Cannon smelled the puke on the money and appeared to put it all together, after originally blaming the Faddas
- Everything is going to heck in about six different directions
Fargo is a fun show.
3b. On the subject of Zelmare Roulette: Both she and her niece, Ethelrida, appear to be afflicted with visions of creepy zombie-type monsters and/or indoor rainstorms where the precipitation is drops of blood. This is obviously not ideal for either of them, or for me, as I do not like creepy zombies or raindrops of blood, in general. It does raise the important issue of how this all plays out, though. It could lead to nothing, really, and just serve as a window into the family’s mental health issues that cause them to be the way they are. It could also, because this is Fargo, a show that once featured a literal alien invasion, result in the creepy zombie bonking Gaetano Fadda on the head with a frying pan and leaving him sitting on the ground with little cartoon birds fluttering around his head. Could go a lot of ways, really.
2b. Really just a magnificent week for the Fadda brothers. Mainly Josto. I know I’ve been focusing mostly on my sweet “if Charlie Chaplin had been a rodeo bull” son Gaetano, but let’s not overlook the work Jason Schwartzman is doing here. There was the enthusiastic lovemaking and windpipe obstruction with Oraetta, there was the scene where he got to yell at some underlings about talking back to him, and there was the scene where he held a gun to Gaetano’s jimmies while staring him down. Both of them are just going so big with so much of this in a way that works well in contrast to the quieter Cannon/Smutny side of the equation. I really like the scenes where Josto and Gaetano play out their sibling rivalry six inches from each other’s faces. There’s a strange dynamic between them. It always looks like Gaetano is two seconds from whomping his brother on the top of the head so hard that he ends up planted in the ground like a carrot, and yet Josto still carries himself like the one in control. Would I watch an entire season about their childhood? I don’t know. Maybe. Probably. Picture a giant 8-year-old Gaetano terrorizing him elementary school. Maybe a cartoon. I’m willing to hear some other ideas here.
2a. Yes, yes, fine, Josto. But also: Gaetano. I was so excited when I saw the stand-off with U.S. Marshal Deafy Wickware brewing and I was only a teeny tiny bit let down that it did not explode like a can of soda in a campfire. I knew better. I knew it was too early for a full-on showdown. But I did kind of want it. I blame Justified for conditioning me to see Timothy Olyphant as a lawman and expect gunplay to break out. This did have a very Justified vibe to it, too, with two imposing figures trading barbs and stink eyes while a cloud of impending doom hovers over them. The main differences here are that a) there was that super Fargo thing where the strings kick in and the camera very slowly zooms in on someone to let you know things are about to get very intense, and b) Olyphant’s character was eating carrots while delivering his menacing speech about murdering mafia members in Utah by dragging them behind his horse until their heads popped off. My point is that I would really like to see Wynn Duffy from Justified introduced into the Fargo universe, exactly as is, Winnebago and all. That would be fun. For me. That’s what is important.
1. The biggest surprise of this episode, one filled with visions of monsters and fire-based gun heists and puke-scented money and secret murder closets, was that Fargo introduced us to the words “fluffy whiz bang”…
… and it was in reference to drugs and not some quirky hitman from Minnesota named Fluffy Whizbang. I’m somehow both ecstatic and very, very disappointed. I might go change my name to Fluffy Whizbang this afternoon to see if it helps. I don’t see how it can hurt.