In a history report, Ethelrida introduces us to the main concepts and conflict of the season. In the pursuit of the American Dream and equality, several groups considered to be “Others” in the United States fight and kill each other over whatever power that they can grab. A great microcosm of the entire saga can be found in Rabbi Milligan’s story. The youngest son of the Irish Milligan Concern, Rabbi earned his nickname after his father sent him to live with the rival Moskowitz crime family. The families believed that exchanging sons would help them keep the peace, but the Milligan’s taught their boy well, and he helps them infiltrate the Moskowitz compound and wipe them out.
When the Fadda Family become the next immigrants on the block, the Milligan’s offer teenage Rabbi up again in a similar agreement, but this time, the teenager grows jaded about his ruthless family’s willingness to just use him as a sacrifice, and he helps the Fadda Family gain the upperhand. Family head Donatello even goes as far as having Rabbi kill his own father. In the Milligan patriarch’s dying breath, he puts a curse on the Fadda’s and their children, which certainly bodes well for the season, doesn’t it? It’s a brutal origin story for Ben Whishaw’s character and instantly makes him a character to watch.
Now years later, Loy Cannon follows tradition and sends his young son across the aisle to live with the Faddas and vice versa. The leaders of the two organizations are somewhat cordial, but it’s obvious that there’s a lack of respect on both sides despite the African Americans and the Italians being “in the gutter together.” Donatello’s son Justo seems to be the most oblivious to the similarities between the two groups, and just as his father is trying to impart that wisdom on his hot-headed son, a classic Fargo mishap changes the power structure of the Fadda Family forever.
Donatello’s “shooting” is a great sequence. Hawley creates tension by misdirecting you to believe that some black young men passing by pose a threat to the Faddas. He then cuts the tension with Donatello passing some extreme gas, and just when it seems like the coast is clear, a botched BB gun shot pierces Donatello’s neck and sends blood spurting everywhere. The Fadda’s try to get their boss admitted to a nearby, reputable hospital, but a snooty doctor turns them away for being Italian. When they finally get Donatello checked in elsewhere, Justo discriminates against an Asian doctor, not realizing the irony.