'Fargo' Season 4 Episode 4: Who is Jane Toppan? The serial killer fans believe inspired Oraetta Mayflower
'Fargo' Season 4 Episode 4 saw Ethelrida Smutny (E'myri Crutchfield) finally agree to work at Oraetta Mayflower's (Jessie Buckley) residence for spending money. Ethelrida agrees to this mainly because Oraetta has agreed to a price set by the young girl, however, she continues to be extremely disrespectful as she continues to converse with Ethelrida, however, she leaves her to dust the house with just one instruction and that is to leave one of the closets alone. Well, you tell a young, curious woman not to do something and that is exactly what she would do and Ethelrida also ends up investigating this closet. Of course, she came across different items that hint at Oraetta being someone that she must be careful around, even scared of.
She finds drugs, news clippings of deaths that seem completely unrelated at first sight, rows of medals, eyeglasses, and other strange things. Ethelrida puts the pieces of the puzzle together when she realizes that the closet was a serial killer's trophy case. Before she realized this, however, she had taken a news clipping, Donatello Fadda's (Tommaso Ragno) ring, touched one of the vials of poison, and the worst -- left her journal behind too. It is as if Ethelrida is drawing Oraetta a map to find her and gives her a reason to kill her next. It is after seeing this trophy case that the fans began discussing if Oraetta's character could be based on a real-life character and the name that they came up with is that of a notorious American serious killer Jane Toppan also known as Jolly Jane. Born as Honora Kelley, it was in 1901 that she was caught and had confessed to 31 murders. In 'Outlaw Women: The Wild West's Most Notorious Daughters, Wives, and Mothers' authored by RB Smith, she is quoted as saying, "to have killed more people—helpless people—than any other man or woman who ever lived."
It is this line that fits like a glove with what we have seen so far of Oraetta. She had after all killed Donatello by poison after Josto Fadda (Jason Schwartzman) had confided in her about what he felt about his father's health. She had taken it to mean that he wanted his father dead, while in reality, Josto hadn't even remembered her name. It is later that he met her again and the two seem to have gotten along extremely well. Their afternoon tryst in episode 4 might be visually distasteful that definitely needs to come with a warning, however, if Oraetta really is based on Jane Toppan, then we wonder if Oraetta's interest in bed could lead to something more ominous for Josto. You see, Jane Toppan was known to get sexual satisfaction from after-hour autopsies and surgeries that she had done on patients. While Jane Toppon was born almost a century before Oraetta in the show, their characteristics are eerily similar and the fact that Jane is also Irish has only convinced fans that the character might be based on this notorious killer.
'Fargo' Season 4's new episodes air every Sunday at 10 pm ET on FX and can be streamed on Hulu.