Oraetta (Jessie Buckley) doesn’t get much screen time in the latest episode of Fargo. We see her briefly at work, where she’s struggling to not dispatch a moaning patient, banging her own head against the wall repeatedly instead. She is on Ethelrida’s (Emyri Crutchfield) mind, though. The birthday girl uses the eve of her 17th to pen a letter to Oraetta’s new boss, pretending to be a longtime colleague who has noticed a string of unexplained deaths at the nurse’s hand.
We don’t know if Ethelrida sends the letter after having her father (Andrew Bird) tip her off to Oraetta’s likely poisoning of the pie she gave them and her aunt Zelmare (Karen Aldridge) advising inaction in response to noticing something amiss in the world. We do know, though, that Ethelrida has given Zelmare and Swanee (Kelsey Asbille) up to Marshall Dick “Deafy” Wickware (Timothy Olyphant). He appears at her school, cementing in the minds of the bigoted principal and his icy secretary that Ethelrida is trouble just by asking for her, then threatening the A student with expulsion if she doesn’t cough up her aunt’s location. The combined threat of expulsion and truth of the violent crimes that led to Zelmare and Swanee’s imprisonment do the trick.
Unfortunately for Deafy, Thurman also gives up the outlaws’ location — to Loy Cannon (Chris Rock). Loy’s response to the Smutneys paying back their debt with the money Zelmare stole from him is to take possession of the funeral home and to trade the Smutneys their lives for the whereabouts of their would-be saviors. Loy reaches the women moments before Deafy, enlisting them into his army to be invisible soldiers fighting the Italians instead of just killing them outright.
(Side note: Zelmare and Swanee’s scene of thesaurus-led dialogue just before Loy’s arrival is a microcosm of Fargo‘s style.)
War is definitely coming. Josto (Jason Schwartzman) tries to shut down his brother by demonstrating the “right” way to pay Loy back for their recent strikes. Instead of assassinating Loy’s son, he has him picked up (and roughed up) by the crooked police in a raid on a jazz club. He also has Odis (Jack Huston) lead a raid on Loy’s warehouse, where Loy’s crew is arrested en masse and Odis both takes the $20K that keeps changing hands and delivers a message from Josto: “Stick to the deal.”
Josto feels pleased with himself after this, but Rabbi (Ben Whishaw) warns him that his demonstration hasn’t impressed Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito), and that unless Josto takes care of the threat his brother represents more decisively, things will escalate. He forecasts a trainload of guys from the old country arriving to support Gaetano in taking over. Josto doesn’t seem to take Rabbi seriously, so Rabbi warns young Satchel Cannon (Rodney L Jones III) that when the bullets start flying, they’ll need to be ready to vanish.
Gaetano soon proves Rabbi’s instincts correct. With his right hand man, Constant Calamita (Gaetano Bruno), bearing witness, he shoots a diner owner and his busser for their lazy Americanness. This act empowers Constant to do some shooting of his own. First Constant tells Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman) that the talks between him and the Fadda consigliere are over, and when Doctor isn’t impressed by the veiled and less veiled threats and walks away, Constant shoots both Doctor and his driver in the street. Loy has sold the guns he liberated from the Italians to a concern in Fargo for cost-plus-devotion, and the look he gives his trusted adviser’s corpse on the snowy ground suggests that it’s time to call those fells out to Kansas City to put the Italians down.
A subplot woven into this episode is Odis’ back story. Loy attempts to humiliate him in front of his officers during the warehouse raid, telling the group that Odis was a minesweeper in World War II, and that his overwhelm led to a catastrophic failure. Loy says that Odis laid down in a field instead of sweeping it for mines, and an arriving colonel died as a result. Later, Odis tells Deafy that what really happened was he’d received a letter from home telling him that his fiancee had been raped and murdered. The overwhelm wasn’t from his military duty, but from the horrible news from home. He laid in the field for hours, looking at the clouds. Either way, the suggestion is that that moment is responsible for his OCD.