Fargo recap: A den of double-crossers
Kansas City remains up for grabs in Fargo’s seventh episode, “Lay Away,” but that’s not to say that criminals aren’t trying to seize control of the city. On the contrary, double-crosses abound, as both sides in the brewing gangland war attempt to gain the upper hand through duplicitous means.
Fulfilling her promise, Oraetta bakes up a batch of Dr. Harvard’s beloved macaroons and delivers them to his office. Though he’s not hungry, he acquiesces and tries a vanilla one, which he finds delectable. Unfortunately for him, it’s poisoned (per Oraetta tradition), and as he collapses in a chair, gasping for air, she pilfers from his desk drawer the anonymous letter (signed, “a concerned citizen”) accusing her of past professional misconduct. Before leaving, she lets out a fake scream so Harvard’s secretary will rush to his rescue.
Josto and Constant stare at the dead body of Antoon. Josto blames this on Rabbi (correctly) and orders Constant to “hunt him down. You alone.” More importantly, he also wants Constant to execute Satchell. Josto is setting Constant up for a big fall, but the hitman doesn’t realize it and agrees. They leave Antoon lying in the snow “for the birds.”
For daring to advise Loy that he should kill Gaetano in retaliation for Doctor’s assassination, Leon is mocked as “Mr. I See Myself as Managerial” and then punched and belt-whipped by his boss. Opal stops Loy from doing further damage to Leon. Loy then takes a phone call, telling the person to meet him at his place at 3 p.m.
Watching Loy’s headquarters, Weff is joined in his car by Defy, who lectures him about the Mormon concept of “blood atonement,” which stipulates that those who disobey God’s commandment “Thou Shalt Not Kill” will receive no forgiveness in this world or the next, and can only have their sins wiped clean by being killed themselves in a sacrificial manner. Defy dissuades Weff from storming Loy’s warehouse and reveals that he knows Weff is on the take and resents being manipulated by him. Weff lashes out by stating that if he knew the whereabouts of Defy’s Mormon God, he’d murder him. This ends their partnership, and Defy leaves Weff with a parting warning: “Careful how many sides you play, palomino. Even a gold coin’s only got two faces.” Alone, Weff smacks himself in the head.
Buel’s grammar lesson to her kids (including Zero) is interrupted when Constant appears on her doorstep. He asks how many children are home; she responds by rhetorically asking if he thinks mama lions are in cages at the zoo for their own protection — at which point she raises a loaded shotgun to his chest. He tips his hat and leaves. Later, he investigates Satchel’s room. In the boy’s bedside bible, he finds a newspaper clipping with an ad for Uncle Jack’s Feed & Seed.
Ethelrida encounters a handsome African American boy delivering boxes of American brand cigarettes to the funeral home. Flustered, she runs back upstairs. He checks out the main parlor, and when his back is turned, the coffin begins to open from the inside. Not seeing this, the kid approaches the coffin, knocks on it, and asks, “Anybody home?” Upon receiving no answer, he gets back to work.
Following a car ride in which he recalls his recent conflicts with Gaetano, Josto arrives at Loy’s for a meeting (which he initiated with the earlier call). Accompanying Josto inside, Ebal apologizes for the murder of Doctor, who was his friend. He says that Gaetano is — according to New York — an untouchable man. He offers Loy a trade: Gaetano for control of all the east side slaughterhouses and the trucking routes to Cleveland and Dallas. Ebal promises that should Loy accept this offer, Gaetano will be shipped back to Italy.
At this, Josto sets his Machiavellian plan in motion. Ignoring his consigliere's stern looks, he tells Loy that Gaetano is responsible for Doctor’s death and the attempt on Lemuel’s life, and that Gaetano’s right-hand man Constant has done something even worse (“a sin. A horror”): he’s murdered Satchel. Earlier in this conversation, Josto remarked that Gaetano is “more animal than people” and likened him to Cain, and he now begs Loy to react to this atrocity by killing Gaetano, rather than Zero. Loy demands to see Satchel’s body as proof (Josto says Constant hid it somewhere). He squints intently at his Italian adversary, trying to ascertain if he’s being played or not, and then screams at them to get out.
That night, a grieving Loy remembers promising Satchel that he’d come home one day. He thinks about strangling Zero when the boy exits the bathroom but reconsiders. He informs Buel that Satchel is dead (she lets out a bloodcurdling scream). Awake in bed, he revisits his last conversation with Satchel at the playground meet, when he told the boy, “Where we’re going, the smartest man wins — to the top.”
The next morning, Loy has Opal pull their car over. With anger, frustration, and resignation over the fact that he’s once again been exploited and screwed over, he stares at a billboard for the new Diners’ Club Credit Card.
Entranced by a memory of laying his head in the lap of his fiancée, Weff packs up his apartment. Before he can skip town, Opal picks him up and brings him to Loy’s gym. In the locker room, Swanee and Zelmare deliberately make Weff anxious. Loy enters, has Weff close his ears, and gives the women 10 p.m. train tickets to Philadelphia; they’re never to return. Although they don’t want to go, Loy threatens to hurt Dibrell, which convinces Zelmare to obey.
Loy turns his attention back to Weff. He explains to the cop that the Italians are trying to make him behave like an animal. Describing the Faddas’ strategy, he seethes, “You get in the dirt yourself and you show ‘em how to be an animal. You show him how to hate. You show him how to be cruel. You kill his friends. Murder his child…They can’t rise to our level, so they gotta drag us down to theirs. But it’s a trap.”
Opal believes the solution to their problem is simple: “Kill or be killed. Win or lose. It ain’t complex.” Loy thinks differently. He says America’s favorite type of criminal is the confidence man who tricks you into robbing yourself, “because in America, people want to believe. They got that dream. And a dreamer, you can fleece.” Loy won’t be fleeced by Josto, and he lets Weff know he’s going to help him defeat the Italians.
Shortly thereafter, Loy visits Gaetano, who’s reciting the names of the many men he’s killed, and how he did the dirty deeds. Loy tells Gaetano that his brother has offered the stockyards in exchange for Gaetano’s life. Loy intends to keep the stockyards, but he frees Gaetano, saying “This thing is done.” Outside, Loy sends Omie to murder Constant. By Loy’s side, Opal sighs, “I sure hope you know what you’re doing.”
- The Smutney funeral home ghost continues to be the series’ biggest mystery. It also feels like a device similar to the UFOs in season two – namely, inexplicable otherworldly phenomena that speak to the cosmic forces at play in this story.
- The shot of Oraetta from Harvard’s perspective – drenched in radiant light that turns blood red – further marks her as an angel of death.
- We don’t see Dr. Harvard perish on-screen, but one presumes he’s a goner, since otherwise, Oraetta has doomed herself.