The following contains spoilers for Fargo season four.
And if the future Mike Milligan is really Loy’s child, the Cannon crime family seems destined for a bleak end at the hands of the son it traded to another team. A team that will never truly accept him.
The show’s second season took place in 1979. It featured Kansas City’s Italian mafia executing a hostile takeover of the Gerhardt crime family in North Dakota. Regardless of what happens this season, set in 1950, an Italian crime syndicate will still be a powerful force in Kansas City 29 years later. And they will have a Black associate named Mike Milligan.
We don’t know how Mike Milligan came to serve the Italian mafia. But he played an important role for them in their violent power grab. They sent him north to take care of some very bloody business. He was no stranger to force, and not above murdering to survive and thrive. For a Black man to have that position in 1979, he clearly did something major to earn the trust of the Italian mob.
Ben Whishaw’s Rabbi Milligan earned that type of trust by betraying his own family. He secured his standing with the Faddas by shooting his own father.
We don’t know exactly why Rabbi Milligan murdered his dad. He told Loy Cannon it’s a “dog-eat-dog world.” He might have decided to join the winning team when he realized how the game would end for the Irish. Or he might have hated his father for trading him twice, even though he knew his son could be killed in the exchange. It’s also possible Rabbi Milligan resented his father who forced him to shoot the innocent Jewish boy who traded places with him. Likely it’s a combination of all those things and more.
No matter, we know an Irishman earned a spot alongside the head of an Italian family through blood. Now, all these years later, he is the one responsible for Satchel. And Rabbi Milligan knows better than anyone how it feels to be used as a pawn in a deadly game by power hungry fathers.
It’s not hard to see how Satchel could follow his protector’s path. The young boy is mad at his father for sending him away. It’s the kind of act that builds resentment. And keep in mind that it’s also 1950 in America. If you had to bet on a “winning team” in a war between white and Black Americans, you know who will come out on top. And if Loy Cannon asks his son to do something awful like murder another innocent youngster, the way Rabbi Milligan had to, Satchel might decide he’d rather point a gun at a guilty man instead. Even if that guilty man his own dad.
And once he’s no longer a part of the Cannon family, Satchel might take up the name of the person who guided him. He might honor the man who taught him the way the world works, Rabbi Milligan, as he takes his spot in the Italian mafia.
It would be a bleak ending for Loy Cannon. But it’s an ending he’s already worried about.
Loy knows Rabbi Milligan murdered his father when he was in the same situation as Satchel. And Loy also knows both his sons resent him. (He’s trying to stop his oldest from being a musician.) Getting his child home and away from a person who betrayed his family is as much about keeping Loy safe as it is his son. That might sound harsh. But that’s why Loy patted Satchel down when they met outside the funeral home. He didn’t hug his son when he first saw him. He checked to make sure his boy didn’t have a weapon he could use against his own father. But such an ending might be unavoidable for Loy.
The Cannons are fighting a group we know will be in power 29 years later. And losing contenders for Kansas City’s crime throne go away for good. Save for one Irishman who did the seemingly unthinkable to survive. That could be how Satchel survives his own family’s extinction too before he becomes Mike Milligan.
But that doesn’t mean Satchel will have a happy ending either. What did either man get from being members of another team? As Loy told him, Rabbi Milligan is as an outsider in a family that doesn’t respect him. And
Rabbi Milligan is teaching Satchel Cannon it’s a dog-eat-dog world. But just because you run with a different pack doesn’t mean you’re a part of it.