Chris Rock plays a dramatic role as a gangster in FX’s ‘Fargo’

CHRIS ROCK AS Loy Cannon with his crime family, including Glynn Turman (immediate right of Rock) as Doctor Senator.

By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J.

“Fargo” – Season Four

Returning to FX (and also playing on Hulu) is its anthology series “Fargo,” which is in its fourth season. It’s been a few years since the last season, and this season takes on another shade—so to speak. Each season deals with a specific crime, and situations don’t run successively. In Season Four, Chris Rock stars as a gangster who is in battle with the crime family of the day. It is set in Kansas City in 1950, with the stockyards as the currency of the day. And as history tells us immigrants were always trying to assert power on whichever group had come before them. Rock, as Loy Cannon, goes up against the Italian Fadda family. This is after Jewish and Irish families had previously been under control. The custom is for each family to trade their sons into each other’s family. I believe this is for insurance that the two families will abide by any agreed-upon covenants—lest the opposing family would kill a young boy who didn’t belong to them.

The other syndicates worked reasonably well among each other, but here comes an African-American crime boss, and many feathers are ruffled. Rock has held his own in the first two episodes, which premiered on FX on Sunday, September 27—with new episodes screening each Sunday. Veteran actor Glynn Turman plays the accountant named Doctor Senator who is a bit measured about the direction in which Rock should go. Jessie Buckley plays a nurse who is busier taking life than restoring it, as she’s committed to injecting lethal concoctions into selected patients.

ANDREW BIRD AS Thurman Smutny and his daughter Ethelrida Smutny, played by E’myri Crutchfield.

A surprising supporting cast is the funeral director, who is white, married to a Black woman and the couple’s brilliant, defiant daughter named Ethelrida Smutny, played by E’myri Crutchfield. The Smutnys have their own set of problems, as they make a deal with the devil—so to speak—by borrowing money that they will have difficulty paying back. Ethelrida, who is a young teen, promises to add some splash to this season, as she is curious and doesn’t seem to be bond by class or race restrictions of the time.

Reportedly, this season, which was filmed in Chicago, had to shut down near the end of its production because of COVID-19. Scenes were shot in nearby Oak Park, Evanston, Rogers Park and Blue Island, among other locations. This period piece shows Rock as we have never seen him before—in a serious dramatic show—and it offers entertainment in the vein of “Boardwalk Empire.”

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