Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley & Lee Edward Colston II
* For a recap & review of “The Nadir,” click here.
* For a recap & review of “Happy,” click here.
This chapter of Season 4 begins with a quote from Bertrand Russell. Then we see a familiar book: The History of True Crime in the Mid West. A very Italian Western-style version of the Fargo opening theme plays, too; I dig it, almost sounds like something Ennio Morricone would’ve written and conducted. This episode starts off in black-and-white. One of Loy’s men, Omie Sparkman, is waiting out along a road where he notices a marker stone for the discoverer of Pluto, Dr. Clyde Tombaugh. Soon, the sound of a man in the car’s trunk can be heard. Omie opens it up and questions the guy about Constant Calamita, who was looking for a bunch of guns. Further up the road he stops at a gas station, asking the old man there if he’d seen a “real skeletal–looking” Italian recently. But no luck. Omie works out a deal with the old fella to pull his vehicle around back to wait, hoping Constant might show up, in exchange for some painting. Good to have an extra hand for labour stuck in the trunk.
Later, once things are done, Omie and the Italian have a race-based conversation. Omie’s not entirely thrilled with it. Eventually, the Italian tells the story of a turtle, trying to make an analogy about race, class, or any hierarchy in society that keeps people down. A car pulling up to the station interrupts them. When the Italian makes a run for it he’s gunned down, right as Constant pulls up next to the place.
Not far off on the same road just one day prior, Rabbi and Satchel are trying to keep surviving while on the run. On the radio we can hear the battle between “communistic atheism and democratic Christianity” raging, as an announcer is about to get into some specifics about the age of McCarthyism, which Season 4 takes place in the middle of somewhere. After a while, the runaways get to Liberal, Kansas where they go to a place called Barton Arms; the place is marked with a historical plaque for the Mellon Mounds, named after a family that lured people in with room and board before killing them with a hammer.
Rabbi checks in at the hotel. He’s asked a strange set of questions including political affiliations and if he follows the New or Old Testament. The hotel’s owned by Iola and Picola Crumb (Cordis Heard / Linda Reiter); they don’t particularly like each other, so the place is divided between east/west, and one of them’s not a fan of Black people. A strange hotel, full of strange people. And Satchel’s got to stay there alone for a bit while Rabbi heads out to secure some cash he stashed away for just such a dire situation. Except when the Irishman goes to where he hid his money, it’s no longer the same feed store, now an appliance place. That means the money’s lost. Or is it?
At the hotel, Satchel makes a couple friends. First, he comes upon a dog. Then he runs into a man called Hunk Swindell (Tim Hopper), an aluminium siding salesman with an affinity for Dale Carnegie classes. It isn’t long before Rabbi gets back and they head to the room again. He tells Satchel they don’t need “unwanted attention” right now, especially while he’s still trying to figure out his cashflow problem. When dinner’s ready, everyone gathers at the table with the two warring sisters. Quite the juxtaposition of odd characters at one table.
Once Rabbi and Satchel get going the next day, they head back to the appliance store. Of course the owner and his brother clearly know about the money from the now demolished wall. Rabbi confronts them at gunpoint, asking for them to cough it up. One brother reveals what’s left of the money is in their safe. The other brother yaks on about “the American way,” and he’s right: the American way is basically show up where you want, take what you find. Outside, Satchel gets accosted by a policeman who gets increasingly more aggressive until, luckily, Rabbi comes back out.
Later, Rabbi discovers it’s Satchel’s birthday. The kid just wants to keep the dog, it’s his only wish. Rabbi also figures it might do him well to get the boy a birthday treat. He finds out the gas station down the road might have something appropriate for a sweet bite to eat. Love the sign Rabbi sees, first reading THE FUTURE IS and later reading THE FUTURE IS NOW. What I find most interesting is that he gets upset that it’s unfinished originally, then he’s upset that he doesn’t understand what it means. Basically, the future’s uncertain, and it’ll never be exactly what we want. However, THE FUTURE IS NOW is best taken as, here, meaning Rabbi should make the best of every moment, particularly given his and Satchel’s predicament.
When Rabbi gets to the station he finds the aftermath of Omie’s visit. Now Constant’s there with Omie at the end of his gun. He notices Rabbi in the window, and a gunfight erupts. Rabbi almost gets shot down when Omie comes out firing. Sadly, Omie’s killed, and Rabbi gets his gun ripped from his fingers by a piece of flying wood. A twister sucks Constant up and starts destroying everything in its path, sucking the car and Rabbi into it, too.
Satchel wakes on the floor of their hotel room. He can’t find Rabbi, so he goes looking. He talks to the bandaged man in the room next door, though soon gets creeped out and heads back to the room. He stays there with gun in hand, protecting himself and the dog. Lots of Wizard of Oz elements here with the twister and the dog, all of which takes place in Kansas; we also change over from black-and-white to colour when Satchel leaves the hotel room in the morning. What’s Satchel left to do now? He was instructed that if Rabbi didn’t come back, he was either taken or he’s dead. So, this leaves him and his little dog too, walking the road all alone into the future.Probably my favourite Season 4 episode. Just magic.