Another spool’s worth of yarn gets spun on this episode, which focuses mostly on the Loy’s urgent need to retaliate after Doctor Senator’s death. Josto isn’t the shrewdest capo, but he realizes the significance of the moment. It’s the bell that can’t be un-rung. In the funniest scene of the episode, his consigliere sits down to deliver a two-point message from the bosses in New York: First, he has two weeks to “fix things” with Loy. Second, he has to make things right with his brother. The second point gets delivered immediately after he learns that Gaetano is probably dead. Setup, punchline.
On his end, Loy wants to have his revenge but doesn’t feel he has to sacrifice his own men to do it. He directs Zelmare and Swanee to bring Gaetano to him alive, which they do through a miraculously not-fatal gunshot, and he strong-arms Odis into taking Satchel from the Faddas’ compound. (The latter is such an obviously terrible plan that it’s surprising Loy would dream of it, especially with his son’s life at stake.) As Deafy watches from afar, Odis pin-balls from one side to the other, a hapless tool of two mob outfits that think they have a lawman in their pocket.
Under orders from Josto, who’s ready to dispose of the Cannon syndicate’s collateral, a henchman reluctantly drives Satchel to an abandoned camp, echoing the celebrated sequence in “Miller’s Crossing” in which Tom Reagan (Gabriel Byrne) takes his mistress’s brother, Bernie Bernbaum (John Turturro), into the forest for a hit. Satchel doesn’t beg for his life like Bernie — he doesn’t realize his life is in danger — but there’s evidence that the henchman, like Tom, may not have the will to go through with it. We’ll never know, because Milligan shoots the man first.
It’s here that the episode lands on a grace note, as Milligan defies the Faddas in defense of another son orphaned for the family business.
“I never got to choose,” Milligan tells Satchel. “A child soldier, that’s what they made me.”
So here’s Milligan, the Irishman once lent to an Italian family, coming to the aid of a Black boy lent out to the same clan. Milligan’s use of the word “choose” is telling: Americans are supposed to choose their destinies, and that’s a value that he’s chosen to fight for now on behalf of himself and a boy of a different race and a younger generation. There’s hope in that gesture, and it takes little pontificating to express it.