4×02: “The Land of Taking and Killing”
Directed & Written by Noah Hawley
* For a recap & review of “Welcome to the Alternate Economy,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Raddoppiarlo,” click here.
A couple prisoners have made the long escape from jail and, naturally, they celebrate. Cue “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” by Roger Miller. The two prisoner women— Zelmare Roulette (Kare Aldridge) and Swanee Capps (Kesley Asbille)— go to a nearby bar to wash up. Zelmare steals a woman’s fancy clothes, then Swanee finds a man whose clothes she likes just fine. That night, Dibrell and Thurman get a knock at the door. Turns out that Zelmare is Dibrell’s sister. She and Swanee have turned up at the Smutney house. They claim they were just released from prison. Thurman is more inclined to have company than Dibrell, and Ethelrida is thrilled to see her auntie again. The two escapees sit down at the table for food, though it isn’t long before Dibrell figures out what’s really going on. Zalmare knows plenty about her sister’s life despite having been in prison. She knows her sister and brother-in-law are in debt to “big–time leg–breakers.” I knew the Smutney family were going to cross with the mob in Kansas City somehow. Elsewhere, the Italians are doing a drive-by shooting to try and take out the private hospital’s administrator, Dr. David Harvard.
At another funeral home across town, Ethelrida sees Donatello Fadda’s body is being viewed by family and other mourners. She runs into Oraetta, who continues to be creepy. Oraetta’s dropped by to offer condolences, in spite of being Donatello’s murderer. Josto is all out of sorts, trying to make sure Dr. Harvard has been killed in the shooting. There’s also his father’s missing ring. Josto’s brother Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito) talks to him about when the Fadda family used to work for Il Duce a.k.a Benito Mussolini. He says that at one time Mussolini was good for the family. But the dictator ran his course, and then they had to “make a choice.” This is all to say that there are priorities as a Fadda: “Business, family, country.” Certain things take precedence over the other.
The shooting’s being investigated by Odis Weff (Jack Huston). He talks with the surviving Dr. Harvard, hellbent on finding the “hatchet man” that tried to kill him. Harvard knows it’s the Italians, though he’s quite an awful racist about it rather than sticking with strict evidence. Weff doesn’t appear to have much time for all that, only concerned with the law and truth. We see that he has obsessive compulsive disorder, called a “retard” by Harvard— goes to show how far medicine and psychology have come in just 70 years.
Soundtrack: “No. 1” by the Funky Dawgz Brass Band
Loy Cannon and the young Fadda boy actually bond somewhat. He explains to the kid that when people respect you, they speak to you eye-to-eye and meet you on “your level.” Things have changed with the trade of sons, too. Donatello’s gone, now that means Loy has to deal with Josto, as well as the slightly more hot-headed Gaetano. Loy and his son get time together. He sees that Rabbi Milligan is looking out for the kid. He likewise tries to maybe find common ground with Rabbi, knowing Milligan is an outsider among the Italians. Later, Loy talks with Doctor about what’s going on with the Fadda family. They think a “power struggle” could emerge between Josto and his brother. Loy’s trying to sneak a fast one about control of the slaughterhouse past the Faddas, hoping to con them into believing Donatello had given his blessing prior to dying.
Josto’s men all think Cannon and his men are going to hit them soon. Most of them are pretty racist; ironic, considering they occupy a similar space in American society in the eyes of white people. Not everybody wants to start killing, knowing it’s “bad for business.” Gaetano would rather kill everybody, whereas Josto wants to honour his father’s deals with Cannon. We further find out Josto’s getting married to Dessie Gillis (Katie Kershaw), no matter that his soon-to-be father-in-law sees him as a “guinea greaser.” The whole arrangement’s a political deal between the two men. Soon, Dt. Weff turns up asking questions about the Harvard shooting and their hospital visit the night before. He’s on the Italian payroll, attempting to spin things their way to keep them out of legal trouble. And Josto’s men are going to make sure Harvard is moot eventually.
At the hospital, Oraetta’s making sure another patient dies. Only this time she’s caught in the act. She’s brought to the administrator’s office and admonished for her actions. She claims it was merely an incorrect dosage issue. However, there have been concerns about Oraetta’s care before, from patients dying in her care and improper medicinal requests on her part. Now she’s being fired from her position. Oraetta says she’s being used as a patsy to cover up incompetence by doctors. She manages to squeeze out a couple months severance pay and written reference. No job gives Oraetta more time to concentrate on being utterly fucking strange, offering Ethelrida some work after school, and pie. That night, Oraetta’s at home baking and including a heavy dose of ipecac. What is her deal?
Doctor’s got a crew of men out at the slaughterhouse. They’ve all got themselves weapons, so it isn’t going to be a friendly house-call. They charge inside and start a hostile takeover. Doctor explains to the white men working there’s about to be a “transition of power” in the business. The slaughterhouse is quickly converted into a Black-owned, Black-operated business by the time Gaetano and others arrive. Doctor talks about how even food speaks of class and race in America, such as how his father was a butcher but they only ever ate pig’s feet and ham hocks, never the good cuts. Gaetano calls American the “land of taking and killing,” not one of giving. Doctor tells him Donatello made a deal with Loy for territory. He even says so in Italian.
None of this is easy for anybody. Loy and his family are without their son. Josto and Gaetano fight over everything, even the seat at the head of their family’s dinner table. There’s so much more violence to come between the Faddas and Cannon’s syndicate. And what about Oraetta? What is the purpose of making the Smutneys sick with her pie? She delivers it right before Dick Wickware (Timothy Olyphant) and the cops are about to kick down the family’s door. Whoa.
A solid episode that ensures Season 4’s going to be an interesting, intricate ride. Another great cast this year with some truly fun, warped characters they can sink their teeth into under the direction of Hawley’s eccentric vision. Looking forward to more.