'Fargo,' Season 2, Episode 5: The Butcher of Luverne
After weeks of those fun fake movies, Gov. Ronald Reagan came to town and dazzled the town of Luverne, Minn. Cult actor Bruce Campbell gave a great performance of the 40th U.S. president stumping through the Midwest for his 1980 campaign. Reagan wows the crowd with some generic spiel on family, religion, getting rid of big government and some "rendezvous with destiny." And our boy Lou (Patrick Wilson) seems to be the only one not buying it.
When the two meet later in the episode at the urinals, Lou voices his frustrations. The world doesn't make sense to him and he knows he's going to lose his wife. "I wonder if the sickness of this world is maybe inside my wife somehow, the cancer." The world is broken, and the future president doesn't have an answer for him. Lou is lost, but that's not the calm and collected Lou we met in 2006 in season 1. As this absurd story unfolds this season, Lou somehow comes to terms with the world around him. And it's fascinating to watch.
But the scene we'll all be talking about from "The Gift of the Magi" is the bloody Gerhardt ambush in the snow. Cheers to Hanzee for being such a bad---. We knew going into this season of Fargo that the body count was going to be high. (And that seemed like a lot more than 12 bodies, though.) This gruesome showdown followed Reagan's speech about upholding the institutions that civilization was built on (family). Absolutely brilliant. It's Kansas City (big corporate enemy) vs. the Gerhardts (family business). Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett), before Hanzee mailed his severed head to Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine), was just explaining that the time for mom-and-pop shops is over. Corporations will now make the real money. Not so fast, Joe. The Gerhardts win this round.
Before the shootout, the Gerhardt family briefly shifts their focus to The Butcher of Luverne: Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons). Hanzee hands Floyd (Jean Smart) Rye's belt buckle and explains what happened to her third son. But Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) stirs the pot of revenge and says Ed is a contract man out of Kansas City. Not sure spinning the story was necessary — they were gonna kill Ed regardless — but it added fuel to the fire between the criminals. Dodd relays the happy news to Floyd that the KC gang has been eliminated, and now it's time to deal with Ed.
Charlie, Bear's son with cerebral palsy, convinces Uncle Dodd that a Gerhardt must pull the trigger on Rye's killer. But he meets his match in Noreen Vanderslice, my new favorite character. And in Fargo, when I just begin to like a character, it's time to say goodbye. But NOPE! Noreen survives this episode, even though her nihilistic views separate her from the rest of the characters in Luverne. Charlie re-enters the butcher shop, this time ready to pull the trigger. In another bloody scene, three of the four characters come out alive, while Ed's dreams literally go up in smoke. Ed has now killed twice ... and that's going to take a toll on him. Or is it?
The Blumquists were all over the place this episode, neither of them knowing what to do next. Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) is worried they're found out and that they should move to California. Then just as she's about to run away, she sells her car so Ed can buy the shop, which is now on fire. At first, Ed doesn't want to run, but after the attack at the shop, he's outta here. Not so fast, though. Sirens are blaring in the Blumquist window.
One powerful scene I didn't mention above was Dodd's daughter Simone with Mike Milligan. She failed to warn our favorite prog-rock band about the Gerhardt attack in the woods, and Mike isn't happy. Well, that's putting it lightly. Simone makes it out of that room alive, shockingly, but only to be scared again by her own father. I don't even recognize Jeffrey Donovan anymore. "Being grown's got a price," he says. "A kid gets slapped when he's bad. When you're grown, you get the fist or the knife."
I'd like to know more about Bear. He seems to have his heart in the right place amid his criminal family. But he's a ticking time bomb and when he hears about Dodd sending Charlie to Luverne, I'm sure he'll explode.
Has young Molly also seen the aliens? Watching Betsy contemplate her own fate through her daughter's family picture with aliens was very sad. I'm feeling lots of tears coming in future episodes.
Things I learned on the Internet: Hanzee is the Lakota (a Native American tribe) word for "shade."
Nick Offerman can only play Ron Swanson (Parks and Recreation) and I'm okay with that. He steals scenes with ease, going from teary to giddy with great facial hair. He was on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon Monday night and talks about the meats. He's the comedian who just keeps giving. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for Nick Offerman.