After a very long wait (only some of it due to the pandemic), Fargo is finally back. I reviewed the fourth season earlier this month, and I have specific thoughts on this week’s two episodes, “Welcome to the Alternate Economy” and “The Land of Taking and Killing,” coming up just as soon as I send a warning to the other rat…
“Here’s the thing about America: The minute you’re relaxed and fat enough, somebody hungrier is gonna come along, looking for a piece of your pie.” —Ethelrida Pearl Smutny
“But remember: We’ll be back. Because y’all just got here yesterday. But we’re part of this land, like the wind and dirt.” —Doctor Senator
Welcome back, Fargo. You’ve been terribly missed.
It has been three years, three months, and six days since the crime anthology’s third season ended. It was something of a disappointing season, particularly regarding its two central characters, feuding brothers Emmit and Ray Stussy. But it also closed very strongly. And though it took place in the early 2010s, its use of David Thewlis’ mendacious crook V.M. Varga felt very much like a commentary on the current state of America, where the rich and powerful can tell any lie out in the open and suffer no consequences for it. Fargo creator Noah Hawley said at the time that he wasn’t sure if he had a good enough idea to merit doing another season, and spent the next few years focusing on other projects, like Legion, his feature film directorial debut Lucy in the Sky, and a script for a long-gestating Star Trek movie.
Inspiration clearly struck him at some point, with a season that, in these two episodes, feels like an amalgamation of elements from prior seasons, even though we’ve traveled farther back in time and relocated from Minnesota to Kansas City. At the center of the narrative at this point is Ethelrida Pearl Smutny, whose cleverness — and the refusal of authority figures around her to acknowledge and celebrate it — evokes a bit of our old pal Molly Solverson. The series of gang wars is, of course, reminiscent of the main plot of Season Two. (As we’ll discuss in a bit, this season also feels like a not-so-stealthy origin story for one of that year’s most memorable figures.) And, as in Season Three, we have a period piece that is also unmistakably about the current state of life in America.
There is an awful lot going on here in terms of plot, character, and theme — perhaps too much. We’ll have to see how this all comes together by the end to know what’s essential, what’s a colorful enough flourish to justify its presence anyway, and what’s just pointless extraneous quirkiness. But “Welcome to the Alternate Economy” is so packed with people and mythology that it has to be presented as part of Ethelrida’s report. Her narration helps untangle a lot of the mess that will play out over the season, while also laying out the season’s major questions about what it means to be an American, and how minority groups are encouraged to fight one another rather than the system.
We begin in 1950, then quickly bounce back five decades for the arrival of the Moskowitz Syndicate. There were, indeed, many Jewish gangsters in the first half of the twentieth century (Meyer Lansky essentially invented modern organized crime as we know it today), but in this fictionalized Kansas City, they stayed in power only until the Irish arrived. Because this is Fargo, land of a thousand colorful names, the Moskowitz Syndicate must come up against not the Milligan Gang, but the Milligan Concern, and it is during this 1920 war that one of the season’s core ideas comes into place: The heads of the respective families will trade their youngest sons to keep the peace(*). A nice concept in theory, but the Irish prove more ruthless on this score, and the boy who will grow up to be called Rabbi Milligan betrays his new Jewish family to appease the father who traded him away — and who, at the tail end of a massacre of Moskowitzes, turns young Rabbi into a murderer, forcing him to shoot his counterpart in the rival family.
(*) The idea of taking/trading hostages in this manner has roots throughout various conflicts of the Middle Ages. Though it’s just as likely that comic-book fan Hawley was inspired by the plot of Jack Kirby’s Seventies New Gods comics, where the noble Highfather and the evil Darkseid agree to raise each other’s sons (respectively, Mister Miracle and Orion) to end their larger conflict.
As Ethelrida notes, the system was set up to keep new arrivals out of legitimate businesses (the Milligans no doubt were greeted in this country with store signs saying “NINA,” short for “No Irish Need Apply”), and whoever’s newest off the boat comes into conflict with the group who preceded them. So, soon, the Milligans are dueling with the Fadda Family, until another trade is arranged, with poor Rabbi again exiled from his own clan for the sake of the deal. Only this time, a fed-up Rabbi betrays his biological family rather than his adopted one, killing his accursed father and forever throwing in his lot with the Faddas.
Which brings us to our present conflict, between the Fadda Family and the Cannon Limited, named for budding black godfather Loy Cannon. As played by Chris Rock, he’s much cooler and more calculating than Donatella Fadda — or, after Donatella dies late in the premiere, his son Josto (Jason Schwartzman) — but he also has the built-in disadvantage of being part of a minority that even the other minority groups of the time looked down on, let alone the WASP establishment. When a friendly alderman gets Loy a meeting with local banker Clayton Winckle, Loy pitches him on what we know would make an early adopter rich beyond the dreams of avarice: the credit card. Winckle dismisses the notion of encouraging people to live beyond their means, then preying on them when they fall into debt, as “not what banking is all about,” but you get the sense that it is the messenger that he objects to more than the message.
Loy is able to cause enough trouble for Donatello that another trade is arranged, this one involving Loy’s son Satchel and Donatello’s boy Zero. And for a while, peace reigns. But a series of calamities — first Donatello being accidentally shot in the neck by some kids playing with a pop gun(*), then the smug Dr. Harvard refusing to treat someone who does not seem a “respectable American,” then unpredictable nurse Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley) deciding to euthanize the old man — takes Donatello out of the picture and leaves Josto and his Italian-raised brother Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito from Gomorrah) battling for control of the Family, which may have to be achieved by first establishing dominance over the Cannons.
(*) We often think first of the whimsy of Fargo, but Hawley and his collaborators are awfully good at suspense, too. The editing of the entire sequence where Donatello is shot is incredibly tight and tense, as it seems clear that violence is imminent, but not exactly who the victim will be, and how. (And even then, there is room for a joke, as Gaetano first appears to suffer a heart attack that is instead a brutal bout of flatulence.)
Framed by Ethelrida’s report, the whole violent affair seems utterly pointless. As she notes while describing all these warring factions, “None of them were white. They were Dagos, Negroes, mixed. All fighting for the right to be created equal. But equal to what? And who gets to decide?” Hawley says he tries not to get too cute with the names, but it’s hard not to notice that the two sides of this war are basically named Cannon and Fodder. Everyone looks down on everyone else. Dr. Harvard kicks the Faddas out of his hospital, and Josto in turn demands that Donatello’s South Asian physician be replaced by “a real doctor.” Mayflower is fascinated to realize that Ethelrida is biracial — or, as she puts it in the less kind parlance of the day, “the product of miscegenation” — and seems to hold herself above her. But all of their people came from somewhere else — whether in relative prestige like Harvard’s ancestors, in steerage like the Faddas’, or in chains like Ethelrida’s. The character with the clearest claim to being the kind of real American everyone keeps talking about is a relatively minor one so far: Swanee Capp (Kelsey Asbille), the half-Native American would-be bank robber who busts out of prison with Ethelrida’s aunt, Zelmare Roulette (Karen Aldridge), and who casually recalls being forced to attend white schools where they were mostly concerned with “raping the native out of me.” Whatever pain Swanee once felt from those assaults has been shrugged off, because she seems to understand the same thing that Loy tells Donatello: that “you think part of being an American is standing on my neck.”
As the various characters make moves and counter-moves — Josto attempting to murder Dr. Harvard as revenge for his (lack of) treatment of Donatello, Cannon consiglieri Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman) stealing a small business out from under the Faddas, and Gaetano for the moment stealing it back — the season has room for a pretty wide range of performance types. On one end is the understatement and commitment of Rock and, especially, Turman, who monologues as well as anyone who’s ever been on Fargo before. (Turman is always a pleasure to watch, and Doctor Senator, Esq was almost instantly my favorite character through the sheer charm of his performance.) On the other is probably Salvatore Esposito, who seems like the bully out of a Charlie Chaplin movie who was always grabbing the Little Tramp by the scruff of the neck. And there’s a wide range in between. Not all of it’s working at this stage, whether in part or in concert with others, but it’s also possible that many of the pieces are meant to seem mismatched. As a Minnesota transplant representing what we usually think of as Fargo country, for instance, Jessie Buckley seems to be in a slightly different show from everyone else, but it’s also clear quickly that Oraetta Mayflower has a wildly different agenda from the others. Jason Schwartzman’s not exactly playing subtle, but he sure is compared to Esposito, which only underlines the clash between the Fadda brothers.
The two-night premiere concludes on that most American of holidays, Thanksgiving, when the usual overeating seems on the verge of interruption by a few dozen cops approaching the mortuary where Ethelrida and her parents live (and where Zelmare and Swanee have been hiding out). Imminent violence in the middle of a celebration of how settlers first arrived? Seems about right for a start.
Some other thoughts:
* While watching Loy speak so loquaciously to the white banker, I couldn’t help thinking of Season Two’s Mike Milligan, the similarly talkative gangster from Kansas City played so spectacularly by Bokeem Woodbine. And that, in turn, made it hard not to think about the fact that Loy’s son Satchel is currently being cared for by Rabbi Milligan. All the seasons are connected in some way; could this violent mess turn out to be the origin story for our favorite prog rock group, Mike Milligan and The Kitchen Brothers?
* For your future reference, I made screencaps of the scene showing the names of all the Fadda and Cannon soldiers. There may not be a quiz later, but in many cases this will be the last time you hear some names (sadly, I don’t believe the phrase “Banjo Rightway” is ever said in dialogue), or the last time it’s clear who’s who. There are several characters on both sides who had some significant material very obviously left on the cutting-room floor of later episodes.
* There’s arguably no such thing as “too quirky” when you’re talking about Fargo, but I think that Odis Weff, the crooked cop and OCD sufferer played by Boardwalk Empire alum Jack Huston, qualifies.
* The Fadda and Cannon soldiers have relatively consistent looks, though there are subtle tweaks here and there, like Doctor Senator’s scarves or Gaetano’s cap. Still, there’s much more variety in the clothes of the show’s female characters, from Oraetta’s crisp nursing uniform to Zelmare and Swanee stealing the wardrobes of, respectively, a well-to-do white lady with a fur coat and a smug cowboy.
* Finally, among these episodes’ many hat-tips to the works of the Coen brothers: Hawley has said that Ethelrida’s history report was inspired by the opening narration of Raising Arizona; at the slaughterhouse, a cattle kill gun is used for its intended purpose, rather than how Anton Chigurh deployed it in No Country For Old Men; Nurse Mayflower bakes a pie with ipecac as the secret ingredient, when vomit is a recurring motif in Coen films; several of the brothers’ movies (including Raising Arizona and O Brother, Where Art Thou?) feature unusual prison breaks, like Zelmare and Swanee emerging from the tunnel.
The Advantages of Online Casino Welcome Bonuses
When it comes to online gambling, the industry is thriving in 2020. Although casinos are banned in many countries, people still find ways to enjoy their favorite games of chance. However, considering the level of competition on the market, it may be difficult for a beginner to find a good online platform and take advantage of all offers. In this article, you will learn the benefits of casinos’ welcome bonuses.
What Is a Sign-Up Bonus?
As we have already established, the industry is growing rapidly and companies are desperately looking for new ways to attract customers. A welcome bonus is often used by online casinos to get new leads and players in the future. However, the best casino bonuses can be easily used to the player’s advantage. Here are the main reasons you should not neglect this offer.
- It saves your money
Quite obvious, right? Well, this is the main reason why you should always use welcome bonuses in online gambling: it is always better to not risk your own money. It is especially true for beginners. Since they have no experience, it is fairly common for beginners to lose their initial investment and be done with gambling for good. However, if you use your welcome bonus as a way of getting the basics skills, the chances of success will rise significantly.
- It allows you to try several games
Another common issue beginners face is a lack of understanding of which types of games they want to try: slots, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. If you use your sign-up bonus, you will be able to play several games and choose the ones you like better. Moreover, you can take advantage of a welcome bonus on several online gambling platforms. That way you will try out even more options.
- It will make future gambling more profitable
Besides beneficial sign-up bonuses, good online casinos usually have great loyalty programs. For instance, the company may double up to five first deposits on the platform. If you invest 100 USD, you will get 200 USD to your account. More money — more games — more chances of winning.
Although a welcome bonus is a great way of upping your gambling game, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Firstly, a good bonus does not equal a good platform. Before choosing a casino, make sure that the company is legal and trustworthy. Since there are many scams right now, it is essential if you want to save your money. Moreover, check the available deposit/withdrawal methods and their terms.
We hope that this article has shown the true power of online casinos’ welcome bonuses and how you can use them to your own advantage. Follow our tips while choosing a platform and enjoy the best gambling experience.
3 Key Mistakes to Avoid When Playing Blackjack
Blackjack is the most popular casino game in the world. The card game, sometimes referred to as ‘21’, accounts for an average of 31 percent of all casino table traffic – this is consistent both online and in physical casinos. For reference, the second most popular is roulette (24%) followed by poker (21%).
It’s easy to understand blackjack’s popularity. It’s a simple game to grasp and offers players a mix of luck and skill: luck in the cards that are drawn, skill over how those cards are dealt and a player’s eventual hand. Compare that to roulette, which is based entirely on luck, and poker, which has a huge skill element to it.
However, while the beauty of blackjack is in its simplicity, there are also a number of complexities to the game, and as is the case with almost anything in life, you learn more from mistakes than successes.
With that in mind, here are three key mistakes to avoid when playing blackjack that can significantly increase your chances of winning, while limiting your losses.
Choosing the Wrong Table
Before a single card is drawn, being at the wrong table – whether live or online – is the first mistake to avoid.
First of all, each blackjack table will have different minimum bet requirements so avoid choosing one that is out of your budget. For instance, if you choose a table with a $100 minimum bet and your budget is $200, you might only play two hands.
Secondly, check the payout odds on the blackjack table. These are typically 6:5 and 3:2 and will affect how much gets paid out when you hit blackjack and land other bonus wins. Where possible, choose a 3:2 table as it pays out higher.
Thirdly, choose between a virtual and a live table. This is not so much a mistake to avoid but more comes down to personal preference. Virtual tables allow players to play against an automated computer, so you can play at your own pace, while live tables are usually quicker paced as human dealers are keen to move the game along.
When to Hit and Stand
As a general rule, most blackjack players know to hit when the hand is 12 and to stand when the hand equals 17. However, there are plenty of variables to consider that could influence when to hit and stand. Getting these right can really boost your chances of beating the house, while getting it wrong could prove costly.
One key move to implement is to always hit on a soft 17 – when the two cards are an ace and a six. This means that if you draw a 10 or picture card (jack, queen, king), then you convert your hand into a hard 17. It also gives greater flexibility if you draw a smaller value card as the ace can be used as a one.
While many players adopt a strict ‘never bust’ policy, meaning they always stand when their hand equals 12 or more, this can be ill-advised as it depends almost entirely on the dealer going bust.
Instead, analyze the value of your two cards compared to the dealer’s first card and weigh up the risk factor in drawing another card before the dealer draws their second. As a strict rule, if your first two cards equal 17 or more, then stand – anything else can be hit depending on the situation.
When to Split and Double
If you are playing in a blackjack tournament, either online or live, learning when to split and double can make all the difference to your chances of success. The same also applies to individual games of blackjack.
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Splitting is when you split two cards when dealt the same value cards, so a pair of eights for example. Doubling is when you are given the option to double your bet after being dealt your initial two cards.
While it can be tempting to split and double at every opportunity to increase your winning, doing at the right time is the key.
It is not recommended to split when:
- You are dealt two picture cards or two 10s
- You are dealt two 9s
- You are dealt two 5s
- The dealer holds a 10 or picture card
It is best to split when:
- You are dealt two 8s
- You are dealt two aces
- The dealer holds a 5 or 6 (as this is the highest probability of a bust)
Similar to knowing when to hit and stand, take a brief moment to assess the dealer’s drawn card compared to your own two cards and determine whether the probabilities are in your favour.
Likewise, knowing when to double down – when not to double down – can change the complexities of your blackjack game. A simple rule to know when to double is if your two cards equal 10 and the dealer’s card is between 2-9. Additionally, if you hold an ace, you can consider a double as these have the flexibility of playing as 11 or 1. But if the dealer’s card is an ace, ignore the double.
Blackjack may be a simple game but there are some important strategies to keep in mind next time you head to the virtual or live table. The game itself is still rooted in luck so there are never any guarantees to long-term success. However, by keeping these three important rules in mind, you can at least avoid making avoidable mistakes.
Top 5 Entertainment Activities for College Students
The life of college students is sometimes too complicated. They have to face tons of homework assignments that steal their time. Many students get stressed because of continuous learning. They seem to forget how to relax. If you’re a busy student, you should remember that you’re still young and shouldn’t waste this precious life stage. You can undertake some entertainment activities sometimes. Take your friends and organize funny games to unwind and let off some pressure. We asked writing experts from a professional essay service Smart Writing Service to share their ideas and provide you with top-5 entertainment activities for college students you may like.
Who Are You?
Students, especially freshmen, don’t know each other perfectly. They may be taken by surprise when some of them tell something quite unexpected about their hobbies, preferences, and so on. If you want to know other students better, suggest playing a game called “Who Are You”.
Form at least three teams. If there are many folks, you can form more teams. Choose a speaker of the game. It may be even one of your teachers or professors. All groups will be given topics to discuss. The speaker is supposed to announce a new topic every few minutes. You may discuss and answer the following topics:
- What is the greatest challenge you are facing?
- What do you like or hate most about yourself?
- What is your greatest value in life?
- What emotions do you express easily?
- What is the most valuable thing in friendship?
- Who you want to become in five years?
- What is your major objective for next year?
- Is there something you want to improve about yourself?
- What motto do you try to live by?
- Where would you like to travel?
- If you were to study abroad, what country would that be?
Students should write their answers on index cards. The speaker should gather the answers of every student and shuffle them. Afterward, he/she redistributes them randomly to students. Each person should guess whose card he/she is holding. Play this game after you spend some time together and already know at least something about one another.
Another fun activity is “Sentence Completion.” Most people like it because it’s commonly accompanied by laughter and good mood. It’s necessary to prepare a list of sentences. Those sentences should have a beginning, but with no end. Every student should finish the sentence he/she gets. Oftentimes, students give funny answers. At times, they are quite serious, and we can learn something important about other students. Here are several sentence beginnings you may choose:
- Before I came to college, I was interested in…
- When I was a child, I wanted to become…
- The best moment I remember most about high school is…
- My favorite pet is…
- The things I value most are…
- Five years from now I hope to be…
- My greatest personality trait is…
- My favorite subject at high school was…
- If I could change one thing in the world, it would be…
- My greatest fear is…
- After I graduate from college, I…
The Reception Line
You may likewise try another entertaining activity for college students. It is called “The Reception Line.” Gather all the mates eager to participate. Divide yourselves into two groups. If you form more, it won’t fit the rules of the game. Each person talks to the person in front of him/her until he/she must move. The person at the end of one line goes to the end of the other line. This method makes it possible to meet new people. Thus, students will learn more about each other. You can make shifts every next topic or set a limit. For example, the pair should discuss 5 topics and afterward move to change partners. Here are some interesting topics to discuss:
- Where would you like to travel?
- What motto do you try to follow?
- What is your favorite movie?
- What music do you like?
- What is your favorite hobby?
- Why did you choose this college?
- What do you like about college life the most?
You can likewise suggest a game, which offers only two options. It’s called “Take Sides.” Create a list of questions with two answers. Students should obligatorily choose one of them. Afterward, you may discuss the answers. Let everyone explain his/her choices. Thus, you’ll learn more about each other, and it will bring you closer. Here are several suggestions:
- Watermelon or banana?
- Sweat or bitter?
- Short trips every weekend or a journey around the world for three months?
- Partying or hiking?
- Listen or speak?
- Rock or pop?
- Morning or night?
- Superman or Batman?
- Robocop or Terminator?
- Harry Potter or the Lord of the Rings?
- Los Angeles or New York?
- Liberal or conservative?
- American football or ice hockey?
My Most Embarrassing Moment
You can likewise tell each other about the most embarrassing moments. It’s important to be honest and don’t imagine a story that never took place. All the participants should agree on this term. Commonly, it is a very entertaining activity. Students tell funny stories they’ve been through. It commonly makes them closer.
These activities for college students are very simple to follow. They are really entertaining. Mind that we have mentioned only 5 of them. However, you can try a hundred activities more. Use our examples to have fun and relax. They may inspire you and your friends to look for other entertaining activities.