4×05: “The Birthplace of Civilization”
Directed by Dana Gonzales
Written by Noah Hawley & Francesca Sloane
* For a recap & review of “The Pretend War,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Camp Elegance,” click here.
When cops bust up a jazz joint, Lemuel and Leon get caught in the middle of it. They’re both beaten down by the pigs, then they’re taken in and arrested. It’s all the doing of Josto, choosing a different route than attempting to kill Loy’s boy. Meanwhile, Cannon is trading “guns for loyalty” in an effort to bolster their ranks should a war with the Italians actually finally erupt. Soon there’s cops at the slaughterhouse muscling over his men. Odis has come to throw a bit of weight around. Also seems that Loy knows a lot about the detective, who was a minesweeper during the war. He tells the story of how Odis apparently laid down and got his Colonel killed because of an errant mine. The detective tells everyone to leave, having a moment alone with Loy. He delivers a message from Josto, but Loy continues to dig into the cop.
Ethelrida’s working on a letter to Dr. Harvard about Oraetta, after finding that closet full of murder. She and her dad talk about some of the drugs she found over at the nurse’s apartment briefly. She’s smart enough to know something was definitely very wrong over there. Ethelrida starts asking about her aunt, whether they’ll see Zelmare again. Thurman’s a little reluctant to talk about his escape fugitive sister-in-law, warning his daughter not to go see her where she’s staying.
A difficult conversation comes up between Josto and Rabbi. They speak about Gaetano, how he’s definitely trying to takeover things there in Kansas City. Josto knows that, he simply can’t bring himself to face exactly what he’ll have to do in order to solve the problem. Rabbi knows it’s going to take Gaetano’s death for things to be settled. When Josto’s gone, Rabbi tells Satchel that when “the shooting starts” they’ll get out of there.
Ethelrida doesn’t listen to her dad, going down to see her auntie and Swanee at their hotel room. They sit around for a drink—the young girl refuses one. Ethelrida has morality questions to ask. She probably isn’t in the right place for a discussion of morals. Zelmare and Swanee both have things to say about criminals, outlaws, and society. They prefer to see themselves as outlaws, rejecting “the game” of society.
At home, Loy and his wife fight over the state of their family. In lockup, Leon and the boys talk about how bad things went the night before at the club, how things will go from here. They’re interrupted by a visit from Josto. He’s come to gloat, rambling about how “America is a crime story.” He points out the racism in how white Americans see Italians v. Blacks—Italians are seen as using crime to get ahead, whereas Blacks are simply seen as crime. Ugly, but true. And Italians like Josto double down on racism, treating Black people with disdain. At least Satchel has Rabbi in his corner.
When Deafy surprises Odis by dropping into the man’s house, he gets the real story of what happened the day the detective, in his previous time as a soldier, laid down in the minefield. It’s because Odis received a letter to let him know the woman he was hoping to marry was raped and murdered. He keeps a photo of her hanging on his wall. Deafy came to tell Odis he’s heading out to shake a few trees.
A kid laughs at Gaetano falling on ice “like Charlie Chaplin,” nearly provoking violent rage. At least that’s what the boy thinks. Thankfully, Gaetano and Constant are going for a drink to talk about what’s going on with Josto. Big brother Fadda’s more concerned with America’s coffee and white “Lady Jesus,” and aggressively sweeping. He decides to go the way of violent rage anyway, killing the boy and the bartender, too. He’s going to be such a huge problem for his little brother.
Loy drops in to the Smutney home to discuss being paid back with his own money. He believes they were complicit in the robbery. He also makes the couple aware he’ll do “whatever it takes to win,” making sure they’re proper scared of him. Loy explains to the couple he now owns their business and that they’ll sign over the deed today. On top of that he wants to know where Zelmare is, he knows she’s Dibrell’s sister. He’ll get his answers, even if he has to do serious violence. Nasty.
At school, Ethelrida gets her own surprise visit—from Deafy Wickware. The U.S. Marshal’s come to speak with the girl about her auntie Zelmare, telling Ethelrida all about a horrific crime involving a pregnant woman that Zelmare committed to land herself in jail. He gets on with nonsense about “civilised manner“—code for white—and so Ethelrida schools Deafy about Africa being the “birthplace of civilisation.” Dicky threatens to have her expelled if she won’t give up Zelmare, and this is tough for an honest girl like Ms. Ethelrida.
Not long and Loy’s got Zelmare and Swanee at the end of a gun. They’ve arrived before Deafy and the cops. What Cannon proposes is actually using Zelmare and Swanee for his purposes. He needs “invisible soldiers” that his foes won’t see coming. He’s plotting hard against the Italians. And they swoop the two women out of there just in time to avoid Deafy, though the marshal’s hot on their tail.
At the diner, Doctor finds Constant and Gaetano awaiting his arrival. Not what he was expecting. Constant talks a pretty good game until Doctor gives it back to him. He wants to threaten without saying too much. Then there’s Gaetano, eating like a pig in the background. Constant pulls out his knife and keeps talking, telling Doctor about being a “baby in a box” coming to America with his young mother who caught tuberculosis and died. It’s all a way to be macho, to threaten. However, something tells me Doctor isn’t a man who takes threats lightly. When he goes outside, he’s gunned down by Constant before he’s able to pull his own piece. This will have serious consequences. Doctor was Loy’s right hand man.
Another solid episode. Sad to see Doctor get killed like that.
But it’s going to drive the story to some wilder places, no doubt.