‘Fargo,' Season 2, Episode 4: We got a war
We start this episode of Fargo with another flashback, this time following a young Dodd and his father Otto on business. The business of murder that is. Just as his father is about to be shot, Dodd stabs the guy in the back. It's a critical moment in Dodd's past, and makes total sense that he's always wanting to start a war, and then eat a doughnut.
Lou Solverson and his wife Betsy are fighting their own war. "It's not a war on you, it's a war on your body," says Betsy's doctor, with the worst bedside manner. Betsy's cancer is spreading, but the doc lets them know about a clinical trial. We know Betsy doesn't live much longer, so in typical Fargo fashion, it's expected that she gets "the smartie" — I mean the placebo. Betsy also seems to know this, and as she and Lou walk up the driveway, Lou asks "So, should I be treating you any different?" "Oh, please don't." Because we should all live like the worst will never happen, even in Fargo-land.
And for a moment, the Blumquists are happy. Or at least one of them is. Ed wants "three pigs in a blanket" and Peggy continues to lie and keep up appearances even with her own husband. She wants to better herself by going to a seminar in Sioux Falls, S.D., but we all know she just wants an excuse to get away, and maybe find the courage to start a new life. Her manipulation runs deep, and it's unclear if she knows the gravity of her situation. Later in the episode when Lou pays a visit to the Blumquist house, she plays with her hair, shakes her arms, her body language shows her guilt. But she's gotten Ed to do everything for her. He killed Rye. He cleaned up the mess. He ground up the body. He burned the evidence. He crashed the car to cover it up. It's all on him. Is she worried they'll be found out? Or worried her way out is slowly disappearing? With how little she cares about anyone else, she's probably going to rat Ed out later in the season to save her own skin.
Speaking of the evidence, Dodd's henchman Hanzee is the most capable detective on the show. Over the course of a day, he's solved the crime, only by taking a closer look at the car and asking a few questions. But he reminds us how freaking scary he is. He's Anton Chigurh from No Country For Old Men. He will kill you. I'm looking at you, Ed.
But Lou saves the Blumquists from Hanzee's taste for blood when the state trooper comes around asking questions about the car accident. After paying a visit to the mechanic, it seems Lou also has it figured out and gives the couple a chance to fess up. But Peggy ain't going down that easy and quickly asks Lou to leave when Ed just might spill the beans. "There's a look a boy gets when he's been shot," says Lou, waiting for Ed's explanation. Lou sighs heavily, knowing he can't save these two from what's coming.
What Fargo has done so well this season, even better than last, is weaving the characters both narratively and thematically. It's a slow build to a dramatic collision that we all see coming, but don't want it to stop. Just as we get attached to each character, we know there's going to be lots of casualties.
I'm rooting for mama Floyd here, for obvious reasons. While negotiating terms with Joe Bulo and the Kansas City clan, she says "the point is don't assume just because I'm an old woman that my back is weak and my stomach is not strong." Well, I'm going to assume she's been running the show alongside Otto for years. And Dodd better watch his back. Joe has a point about family businesses. At the end of the day, family is family and only the nastiest human beings kill their own blood. Floyd has declared war, and I don't think it just means on Kansas City.
- Mike Milligan is sleeping with Dodd's daughter! And she's full of surprises. *wink wink nudge nudge* It's fun to watch those two use each other. Simone wants her father's respect, even if it means selling him out, and Mike wants information on the Gerhardts whereabouts.
- As tough and violent as most of these characters are, it's the tender moments that resonate with me the most. When Dodd rests his head on Floyd's shoulder, the weight of his wrongdoings washes over his face and just wants mommy's approval. She pats his little head, but looking like she's not even close to forgiveness. Cut to Floyd cradling her husband, soaking in his strength to declare war.
- This episode had lots of butts! Ed, Simone and Otto all showed their posteriors. Does this link these three characters somehow? They're probably all gonna die, but that's expected. It's Fargo.
- Nick Offerman! It's nice to see the same Ron Swanson humor in this character. There is a Parks and Recreation-size hole in my heart.