The body count rises as we make it to the halfway point of FX’s Fargo season four. Episode five, “The Birthplace of Civilization,” kicks off with the police raiding a jazz club where Loy Cannon’s son, Lemuel (Matthew Elam), is hanging out enjoying the band. The raid was arranged by Josto (Jason Schwartzman) who’s standing across the street gloating as it goes down. He tells his brother, Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito), this is how you take down Loy’s criminal enterprise.
And speaking of Loy (Chris Rock), he’s with his men delivering the 300 stolen guns to Mortie Kellerman (Kai Lennox). Loy reminds Mortie that by accepting the weapons, he’s pledging his loyalty. Mortie’s told they’ll call him when they need him.
After the gun business is wrapped up, Loy issues orders to head to the funeral home and get the address of where the women who robbed his place are holed up. Loy claims the funeral home is now his and if the Smutnys don’t divulge the whereabouts, they’ll pay with their lives.
Loy’s interrupted by the arrival of cops. Detective Odis Weff (Jack Huston) leads the group raiding the warehouse, lying that Loy’s men are breaking the law. He picks up the bag of money next to Loy and claims it as his.
Loy reveals he knows who Odis is and he’s heard the story of what Odis did during the war. He explains to all those within earshot that Odis was in charge of sweeping for landmines. One day he simply laid down in the grass and failed to do his job. As a result, a colonel was blown to pieces after Odis lied and said the field was cleared.
Odis tells the officers to take everyone except Loy into custody. Odis warns Loy that Josto Fadda sent him to deliver a reminder he needs to stick to the deal.
U.S. Marshal Dick ‘Deafy’ Wickware (Timothy Olyphant) is hidden in the dark, seated in his car and watching Loy’s warehouse. He witnesses Odis walking out with a large bag.
Over at the hospital, Nurse Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley) is trying to nap as she sits by an extremely ill patient’s bed. He’s groaning in pain and Oraetta shushes him.
Ethelrida (E’myri Crutchfield) is at home working on a letter to Dr. Harvard. She’s put two-and-two together and realizes Oraetta has been killing patients. Her father comes in and reminds her it’s time for bed, and she asks what laudanum is used for. She admits to seeing it at Oraetta’s place, and Thurman (Andrew Bird) explains it’s a very powerful painkiller.
Ethelrida asks about her aunt, worried she’ll never see her again. Reluctantly, Thurman reveals she’s at a hotel downtown but warns Ethelrida to stay away from there. He also warns his daughter to avoid Oraetta, given the fact they’re now living outside the law. Plus, he’s pretty sure she poisoned the pie she baked them.
Ethelrida doesn’t go straight to bed when her dad leaves. Instead, she finishes the letter warning Dr. Harvard many patients have died in mysterious circumstances under Oraetta’s care.
Over at the Fadda place, Josto chats with Rabbi Milligan (Ben Whishaw) as Rabbi helps Satchel learn math. Josto believes he’s got Loy on the run now and that Gaetano will go home since there isn’t a war to be fought. Rabbi Milligan doesn’t think that’s necessarily true. He’s certain Gaetano’s there to take over…and there’s only one way to assure that won’t happen.
When Josto leaves, Rabbi Milligan warns Satchel to be ready. “When the shooting starts, we vanish,” says Rabbi.
Ethelrida disobeys her dad and heads over to the New Parie Hotel. Her aunt, Zelmare Roulette (Karen Aldridge), and Swanee Capps (Kelsey Asbille) let her in and immediately ask about food. They’re starving since they can’t go out and ecstatic to learn she has some pretzels. Zelmare wants her niece to drink with them, since it’s Ethelrida’s birthday. They need to celebrate now because Zelmare can’t make it to her sister’s house for cake.
Ethelrida asks for advice on what to do if she sees something wrong. Zelmare replies by way of explaining the differences between being a criminal and being an outlaw. She and Swanee are outlaws since they don’t live by any rules.
Many of Loy’s men, along with his son, are locked up in the same jail cell. They argue and place blame but are silent as Josto arrives to speak with them. Josto goes into a lengthy tale about crime stories. He claims Americans root for the guy with the guns who takes what he wants. Americans don’t root for victims unless the takers are Black.
“See, Johnny Society looks at me and they see a fella that’s using crime to get ahead. But you…all they see is crime – and that’s why you’re going to lose,” explains Josto. He tells the men to advise Loy it’s time to surrender.
Rabbi sticks around for a minute after Josto leaves. He wants to know how Loy’s going to respond and learns there’s no going back. He tells them to let Loy know he’ll keep Satchel safe – no matter what.
Dick heads over to Odis’ house and demands to be let in. Dick reveals he knows about the big raid from the prior evening and suggests Odis call him next time if he needs help. He looks around at Odis’ things and spots a photo of a woman. It turns out she’s Odis’ deceased fiancée who was raped and murdered while he was in France. The day he received the news of her murder is the day he laid down in the grass instead of doing his duty and clearing landmines.
Dick reveals he’s ready to go shake some trees to find Zelmare and wants Odis with him. Odis doesn’t want to go, and Dick leaves it at that.
Gaetano and Constant Calamita (Gaetano Bruno) head over to a little restaurant. A waiter’s hanging out outside on a smoke break and watches them cross the street. He chuckles when Gaetano slips on some ice and lands flat on his back. Constant’s first instinct is to take the guy out, but Gaetano holds him back.
They settle in for a cup of coffee and discuss Josto. Constant suggests they make a real move, but Gaetano’s distracted by the coffee. He hates it and can’t believe Americans serve it with milk and sugar. He gives the waiter – the one who laughed at him outside – a hard time about the horrible coffee. He’s also not over the fact the kid laughed when he fell. He shots the waiter in the chest and also takes out another worker who witnessed the shooting go down.
Thurman decorates the house as Dibrell (Anji White) finishes up working on Ethelrida’s birthday cake. Dibrell’s still upset about Thurman accepting money from her sister and doesn’t smile as she puts the finishing touches on the cake.
The decorating’s put on hold when Loy arrives with Fadda’s youngest son, Zero (Jameson Braccioforte). They all take seats at the dining room table as Thurman explains the decorations are for Ethelrida’s 17th birthday. Dibrell’s shocked when Loy says Thurman paid him back with his own money.
After Loy explains he traded his own son for power, the Smutnys realize just how precarious their situation is. Loy instructs them to sign over the deed to their business that afternoon. Dibrell attempts to beg him to reconsider but Loy’s having none of it. He also demands to know where Zelmare is, revealing he knows she’s Dibrell’s sister.
Thurman stumbles through his apology, confessing he didn’t know where Zelmare got the money. When Loy threatens to kill them and wait around for Ethelrida, Thurman and Dibrell know they have no choice but to give up Zelmare’s location.
Ethelrida’s called into the principal’s office at school. U.S. Marshall Dick Wickware has asked to speak with her, having put all the pieces together. Dick lists the crimes her aunt and Swanee committed that got them convicted and thrown in prison. Ethelrida had no idea her aunt was a vicious killer who murdered a pregnant woman and her husband for $9.58. Swanee was part of a crew of bank robbers who killed a father of three.
Dick knows Ethelrida’s protecting her aunt but believes she should act in a civilized manner now. Ethelrida replies, “Civilized? You know, do you not, that Africa is the birthplace of civilization which means both your ancestors and mine came from the same green savannah.”
Dick’s momentarily stunned but recovers enough to demand Zelmare’s address. If she doesn’t give it up, he’ll see to it that she’s expelled from school.
Loy’s crew arrive at the warehouse after their release from jail. Loy refuses to listen to Leon’s apology for not better protecting Lemuel and instead tasks him with taking his son home. The rest of the men are instructed to arm themselves.
Dick calls in for backup as he heads to the New Parie Hotel. However, he’s beaten to the punch by Loy. Loy’s men bust into the hotel room and after Zelmare and Swanee sass off, Loy says, “God help me, I love a girl with spirit.”
Loy makes them get dressed, informing them he’s going to put them to work as his soldiers.
Dick arrives in the hotel room, but they’re already gone. He spots them being shoved into a car and realizes he was just a minute or two too late.
Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman) is shocked to see Constant Calamita seated in place of Fadda consigliere Ebal Violante at the restaurant. Gaetano’s enjoying some ice cream at a nearby table when Constant asks Doctor to join him at the table. Constant says Doctor’s meetings with Ebal are over. He explains he was once a baby in a box making his way to America on a boat. His mom died on the voyage over and he was alone. He’s telling this story to drive home the point there’s nothing tougher than an orphan in the box.
His threats don’t affect Doctor Senator who issues his own dire warning in return. Doctor explains respect is earned and Ebal had earned it. On the other hand, Constant and Gaetano are just boys making a mess that one day he’ll have to clean up.
Neither Constant nor Gaetano say anything as Doctor rises to leave. Doctor’s made it across the street when Constant exits the restaurant and shoots Doctor multiple times.
Doctor falls to the ground. He’s already dead when Constant shoots him again.
Hours later, night has fallen as Loy and his men stand over Doctor’s dead body. They’re disgusted Doctor Senator’s body is still just laid out in the street. As sirens sound, Loy is ushered into his car.
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