And finally the blood starts to flow on Fargo. “The Nadir” minimizes its depictions of graphic gun violence by cutting away from bodies as they explode with gore, emphasizing expressions on faces and utilizing split screens to soften the impact. Then … it turns its camera to the carnage.
Two major plot lines advance in “The Nadir.”
First, Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley) learns three things that affect her intensely:
- Her lover, Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman), is getting married. He’ll go through with the political alliance his father arranged on Election Day.
- Dr. Harvard (Stephen Spencer) survived the strychnine poison she slipped into his macaroon. He’s awakened from a coma, been transferred to an out-of-state hospital for his own safety, and is fully recovered and able to testify against his attacker.
- Ethelrida (Emyri Crutchfield) wrote the incriminating letter to Dr. Harvard. While hastily packing her bags to leave town, Oraetta finally finds the notebook Ethelrida left in the souvenir closet. She compares it to the letter and finds a handwriting match.
The discovery that Ethelrida is behind the letter halts Oraetta’s “leave town” impulse abruptly. As Ethelrida goes about her business, learning French and flirting with Loy Cannon’s (Chris Rock) oldest son while he works around her home, she’s suddenly being watched by a very unhappy serial killer.
Noteworthy: Oraetta tells Josto that she was in the hospital a lot as a child due to “failure to thrive.” She says that her saintly mother was very good to the doctors, which is why she received such excellent care. She also cites her mother always giving her “special juice” as one example of her devotion to her daughter. I will bet money that this implies Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) combined with mama getting it on with the doctors.
The second plot line to advance involves the simmering war between Loy and the Faddas. Loy opted not to kill Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito), trusting that loosing the bullish Italian with the knowledge of his brother’s plan for Loy to dispatch him would result in bloodthirsty Gaetano killing Josto. Loy miscalculated, though. Although Gaetano does punish Josto for the plot against him, he’s so impressed by his brother’s wiles (ordering a child murdered in order to have someone else kill his brother- which Josto later reveals didn’t go to plan) that he swears loyalty to the diminutive Godfather, and they finally unite as a brains-and-brawn team.
The failure of his attempt to unravel the Faddas from within pushes Loy to call in reinforcements from Fargo, and a short while later there are “doncha know” white men stalking the Italians as they break bread with their mama. The Fargo crew surprises the Faddas with a burst of gunfire from the machine guns Loy sold them, and before Gaetano drives them back with two handguns, they’ve killed a bunch of foot soldiers and the Fadda matriarch.
Meanwhile, Marshall Dick “Deafy” Wickware (Timothy Olyphant) is determined to get his women. He confronts Loy with a handgun and a cutting remark about how a real family man who was truly loyal wouldn’t have traded his youngest son for money and power. He walks away with the knowledge that Zelmare (Karen Aldridge) and Swanee (Kelsey Asbille) are about to board a 10 p.m. train out of town.
Deafy rallies his police troops to take the fugitives down, preferably (but not necessarily) alive. Odis (Jack Huston) surprises him before they head out, explaining that his OCD has been an issue for him his whole life and has driven him to seek either power or safety as a means to calming the anxiety that drives his tics and twitching. He asserts that he just wants to be a cop again, and that it was his search for calm that initially led to his “deal with the streets.” Deafy agrees to assist in Odis’ return to manhood on the condition that he be honest about a phone call he’s just received, and Odis says it was Loy telling him to make sure the fugitive women do not get back to Kansas City- one way or another.
When the cops make their move on Zelmare and Swanee at the train station, the outlaws draw quicker and mow down all of the rank and file, as well as myriad holiday travelers.
Odis is slow to join his colleagues, apparently frozen by his risky return to ethical policing. When he finally forces himself out of the car, he has to step carefully over fallen officers and civilians to join Deafy in his final showdown with the outlaws. Deafy hands him handcuffs, satisfied that he’s finally caught his prey, and Odis surprises him with a bullet to the chest. He follows with a bullet between the eyes for Swanee, but somehow he loses Zelmare when she freaks out at the sight of her dead partner and makes a break for it. Odis is left sprawled on the floor with Deafy’s dead eyes passing judgment on him.