TV: Fargo Season 4: Episode 10: Happy - Reviewed

Photo Courtesy of FX

“And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.” 

That phrase seems appropriate for this week’s penultimate episode of Fargo, entitled Happy, as last week’s odyssey felt like a much-needed detour, whereas this week felt more status quo. That’s less a complaint and more of a shrug, if you will, which is exactly how Happy feels, despite some entertaining moments. 

On a recent bonus episode of my favorite podcast, Chillpak Hollywood Hour, host Phil Leirness spoke with fellow podcaster Marc Hershon about Season 4 of Fargo, where Hershon theorized that the reason this season is getting less critical favor than that of previous years is because there’s no obvious heroic lead with whom the audience identifies. 

As a brief refresher: Season 1’s heroin was Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman); Season 2’s wise-beyond-his-years mainstay was Molly’s father, Lou Solverson (played by both Keith Carradine and Patrick Wilson); and Season 3 saw Gloria Burgle (the always stellar Carrie Coon) trying to solve her stepfather’s murder. 

It has been argued by some that Ethelrida (E'myri Crutchfield) is meant to is meant to be that beacon of hope this year, which Happy somewhat hints at, however, while her intentions might be noble, she might not be as saintly as we’d hoped. 

Happy focuses on the bloodshed between both the Cannon Limited and the Fadda Family, with Loy (Chris Rock) continuing to face an uphill battle to win the war and seize the control he so desperately wants. Enter Ethelrida in the final scene, who has mostly been relegated to the side this year but has managed to put all the pieces together. The offer is simple: She has information involving Oraetta (Jessie Buckley) that Loy can leverage to win the war, which she’ll provide if he allows her parents to be free from his control. 

Ethelrida is also not a member of law enforcement, which also separates her from past seasons. In fact, this year, the only police officer of importance who is still breathing at the start of Happy is Odis (Jack Huston), finally feeling as though answers to no one. The euphoria is short-lived, sadly, as Josto (Jason Schwartzman) makes it clear that Odis will pay for his betrayal. 

This leads to some comedic bits between Josto and Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito), both of whom are finally embracing being brothers and seeming to enjoy one another’s company. I won’t spoil what happens next, suffice it to say that it involves Gaetano, Odis and an act of God moment that’s just as good as last week’s tornado touchdown, if not better. 

Happy gets its title, presumably, from two places: The obvious one is the character of Happy Halloway (Edwin Lee Gibson), Leon’s (Jeremie Harris) cousin, whom Loy recruits in a desperate act to gain an upper hand with the Faddas; the other, more speculative one is from the happiness that every character is trying to achieve and the price they’ll have to pay as a result. 

Loy wants to win the war, but he’s lost 27 men and counting; Josto also wants to win the war but his family is rapidly disintegrating before his eyes; Odis wants to be his own man; Ethelrida wants her family free of debt, monetary and otherwise; and Satchel (Rodney L. Jones III), in his own way, is trying to take control of his own life, too. 

No one is truly happy this season. It’s as if each character can see happiness in the distance but is ignoring the obstacles and the lives that exist between them and paradise. 

Despite a lot of moving pieces both this season and in this episode, Happy feels like a bridge more than anything else. I’ll reserve final judgement until after next week’s finale, but I’m starting to worry that this year’s missteps, much like the game Ethelrida is playing with Loy, won’t justify the means.

--Matt Giles