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‘Fargo’ May Have Just Confirmed That Mike Milligan Fan Theory

This season Fargo is diving into origin stories, and it’s doing them right. “Camp Elegance” all but confirmed what fans have suspected since Episode 1. And if those wild guesses are correct, Mike Milligan’s beginnings were just as unsettling and confusing as the man himself. Spoilers ahead.

It all started with a name. Fargo Season 4’s first episode introduced an Irish gang known as the Milligan Concern. Immediately, that last name set astute fans on edge. Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) was the name of Season 2’s most dynamic villain and one of the most memorable characters in all of Fargo history. Since Fargo loves throwbacks and confusing timelines more than the MCU, that Milligan connection instantly left fans wondering: did Loy Cannon’s son Satchel (Rodney L. Jones III) grow up to become Mike Milligan?

Season 4 has yet to confirm whether or not Satchel is really Mike Milligan, but the evidence is pretty overpowering. Satchel was traded by his father Loy Cannon (Chris Rock) as part of a Kansas City tradition between rival gangs. That would mean he was a kid who has grown up in not just one but two crime families. Then there’s Rabbi Milligan (Ben Whishaw). Throughout this season Rabbi has been Satchel’s only friend. If things were to go south it would make sense that Satchel would align himself with the man who’s always by his side looking out for him rather than the father who traded him. But the biggest clue about this sure-to-be-true fan theory happens in Episode 6.

Bokeem Woodbine in Fargo
Photo: FX

After the Cannon Limited kidnapped Gaetano Fadda (Salvatore Esposito), Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman) gave the order that would change this war forever. He ordered one of his men to kill Satchel, knowing that this murder would result in his brother’s death and the escalation of the Fadda family’s war with the Cannons. But before Satchel could be murdered, Rabbi stepped in and shot his possible killer. He then pulled Satchel aside and gave him a choice. He could align himself with the Fadda family, his own family, or he could run.

“I never got to choose. A child soldier, that’s what they made me,” Rabbi tells Satchel. “But that’s not going to happen to you. Understand?”

At this point all we know is that Satchel is on the run with Rabbi Milligan. But take a step back and reflect on Satchel’s story so far. Here’s a kid who was traded by his own father as part of a business deal and forced to live with his family’s enemies. In this horrible world he only has one ally, a near-silent and grumpy Irish man trapped to live among an Italian mob.

In many ways Rabbi is a version of Satchel’s possible futures. As a child Rabbi was traded twice, once to a Jewish gang and once to an Italian one. If Satchel chooses to follow in Rabbi’s footsteps the first time the older man was traded, he’s destined to betray the Faddas and return to his family. Once that’s happened he’ll be home but the illusion of home will forever be broken, shattered by the knowledge his own parents treated him as a gambling chip. If he follows Rabbi’s second trade, he’ll murder his own family in cold blood. Satchel may feel vindicated for a short while, but that “victory” will always feel hollow. On this path he will always be a lonely outsider in a gang already on the fringes of society.

Yet instead of sealing his fate, Rabbi gave Satchel a third option. Though it meant risking his own life he gave this child the option to run and carve his own destiny. That more than any last name or knowledgable look screams Mike Milligan.

This episode also gives a nod to one of the most important figures in Mike Milligan’s life. While Josto was meeting with the representative from New York, one of the men was introduced as Joe Bulo. In Season 2 Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) was the front man for the northern expansion of the Kansas City crime syndicate. He was all about turning crime into a more capitalistic affair, like a Walmart. But he was also Mike Milligan’s longtime mentor and friend, the person who convinced the hitman that playing by the rules and rising to the top were worth the effort.

These chance meetings and heartbreaking moments perfectly fit into who Mike Milligan becomes. They position him as a growing crime kingpin while referencing the high-brow literature Milligan is shown loving, like Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle. But more importantly Satchel’s time with Rabbi never over-explains this probable future fan favorite. Their scenes together are characterized by heavy looks and knowing, quick nods that get the point across yet still hide secrets. At least that’s the case up until the one moment it mattered most, the sacrifice that will certainly endanger Rabbi Milligan’s life and change Satchel Cannon forever. We still have no idea how this season is going to end. But for all of this pain and sacrifice Satchel taking on the last name of his one friend seems like a pretty fair trade.

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