Fargo Season 4 Episode 1 Fart Explained

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Fargo Season 4 Episode 1 Fart Explained

Beef. A butt squeak, if you will. Baking brownies. A heine hiccup. Booty belch. Poof! The Great Brown Cloud, Charlie Brown. Free speech, for god’s sake. If you’re French? Pet.

In layman’s terms: a fart. A natural occurence in the bodies of healthy adults. Five to 15 times a day, really, so nothing to be ashamed of! But you wouldn’t know it. Once a fixture of the blockbuster gross-out comedy, life’s beautiful, serendipitpous burst, loud and silent, fragrant and flavorless—an act referred to as flatulence by most practicing physicians and medical journals—has been erased from the bowels of popular culture. Until Sunday night. The linchpin of Fargo’s Season Four premiere is a sort of fakeout fart; an operatic roar that takes your eye off the ball just long enough to deliver a genuine shock. And it might just be the bravest moment—and the most fitting twist—of this dumb, stupid, no-good year.

First, if you must know, the act in question. Donatello Fadda (Tommaso Ragano) is bickering with his son, Josto Fadda (Jason Scwartzman), in the backseat of a ’50s-era, rolldown-window-only ride. Things go the way of the heart attack in the Godfather garden. The patriarch of the Fadda crime family suddenly wretches in pain, reddening and swelling like a tomatoed Violet Beauregarde. It leads you to think that we’re getting the old mob-movie cliche: the boss dies in the first act, so that the hothead son can take over.

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But no. Papa Fadda lets one rip. And it isn’t a mere toot. It’s long. (If someone ran a 40-yard dash against this fart, the fart would lose.) It’s loud. (If you sat in a leather seat, wearing the wrong pants that day, and this noise came out? Done for.) It’s implied that this one is a true stinker; enough to hotbox the cramped ride, and make poor Josto gasp for air. While you’re thinking to yourself, Did I just witness the first fart of the prestige TV era? A little kid with a BB gun lets a plastic bullet fly into Donatello’s exposed neck. Blood gushes like a palm-sized Trevi Fountain, delivering a double fakeout that would make the Coen Brothers proud. Heart attack, fart, potentially mortal BB gun wound. It works. But not in the monkey scene in Bruce Almighty kind of way. Stick with me here.

One of the casualties of the 21st century’s much-needed cultural upheaval? Toilet humor. It’s been nearly 30 years since Lloyd held a lighter to his ass in Dumb and Dumber, even longer since Leslie Nielsen’s squelches and moans echoed across a courtroom in The Naked Gun. (Caddyshack’s dip-and-rip dinner table burner might be one of the oldest in this select canon, if not the GOAT.) The bit is easy, funny, relatable—so much that it overstayed its welcome. After I can taste it interview-gone-wrong in Step Brothers, Hollywood buried the fart joke in a casket alongside slapstick, the spit take, and a few other gags under the toilet umbrella. (See: laxatives, bedwetting, “Jinx cannot flush the toilet, he’s a cat for Christ’s sakes!”)

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Then, suddenly, Hollywood grew up. For the better, yes, but windbreakers don’t really have a place in Game of Thrones. Drogon lets out a big ol’ fiery dragon fart? You’re just ripping off Shrek, man. No one wants to be associated with Shrek, unless you’re an anti-masking one-hit wonder. About a decade went by. During that time, we only saw one lone, brave stroke of bathroom-related genius: Breaking Bad’s Hector Salamanca intentionally sharting himself while under DEA questioning. It’s a shart, not a fart, but still—it’s a balloon-pop of a moment entirely in the voice of a gazillion-time Emmy-winning series. It showed the potential of the fart as a storytelling device. It’s a mortal curse, known to all but spoken of by few, its dramatization on a television screen cause for instant reaction, be it a grimace or a giggle.

On Sunday night, Fargo showed that the pendulum has swung back around. In 2020, pumping gas into a scene is just about one of the least expected things you could do. You’d expect Donatello to die of a heart attack. Hell, in the CoenVerse, you’d wouldn’t be surprised if major character died via BB gun. But I’m sure, when series creator Noah Hawley and co. were in Fargo’s writer’s room, racking their brains for something that would make the BB gun bit come as a genuine surprise, the fart was, somehow, the best bet on their list. You’re not prepared for the fart—a plot device so taboo that its deployment is now the stuff of galaxy brain orbit. Not to mention, in this hell year, couldn’t we all stand to have a laugh over something as apolitical as the fart?

So, go ahead. Let it rip. I understand if you don’t want to talk about it. But the world would be better if you did.

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