Fargo 2.8: “The difference between thinking and being”
Fargo Season 2, Episode 8 recap
After the hilariously garbage editing on The Walking Dead’s mid-season finale, it’s a relief to watch Fargo with its beautiful, meaningful editing that looks like it was cut by a grown-ass professional and not a preschooler with safety scissors. This episode uses the show’s split-screen format especially well, and in particularly funny ways. This whole episode has a darkly comic vibe that is straight Coen Brothers, and yet still the show continues to stand on its own. We’re inching closer to the Sioux Falls Massacre, with Peggy and Ed pulling us in that direction.
We pick up with Peggy holding Dodd hostage in her basement. Peggy is losing touch, imagining she’s having life-affirming self-help sessions with a man who isn’t there, and stabbing Dodd in a way that suggests she’s not really connecting her actions to their inevitable consequences. (Ed saying, “Honey, you gotta stop stabbing him,” is priceless.) Even though she’s missing the LifeSpring seminar, she still has a breakthrough and comes to understand that she simply needs to start being the person she wants to be, instead of talking about it.
So we have a fully actualized and borderline batsh*t Peggy talking about her total self even as Ed tries to plan their next move, so that they can go back to their lives and their status quo. This is a rare example of the split-screening falling flat—the divide between these two is so starkly illuminated by this point that we don’t need literal lines on the screen to further drive them apart. It’s enough to have Peggy talking about escaping and Ed replying, hurt, “But that’s our home.”
But with Dodd in their trunk, they have more immediate problems. They hole up in a lakeside cabin—shout-out to movie Fargo—to try and ransom Dodd back to the Gerhardts, to no avail. In one of the best bits in the series so far, Ed is unable to convince the Gerhardts to pay for their wayward son. He keeps having to leave messages for Floyd that he has Dodd, and the split-screen kicks in to show us the various empty chairs at the Gerhardt homestead, which begs the question—where did all the Gerhardts go? In the end, Ed makes a deal with Mike Milligan, since the Gerhardts refuse to pay for Dodd’s safety. Obviously something is up with Gerhardts; presumably we’ll find out next episode.
We also pick back up with Hanzee this week. Watching the American Indian actor play the magical tracker ought to be annoying, but Hanzee is shown to be just a good investigator. He knows how to get information from people, usually by force and/or intimidation, and then he can piece that information together. In a different timeline, he’d be a great cop. He’s also f*cking terrifying. Hanzee showing up at Constance’s motel room is as tense and dramatic as Picker planting a bomb under Winona Hawkins’ rocking chair. We don’t know Constance’s fate, but I’m petrified for her.
Peggy may think she’s actualized, but in this episode it’s really Hanzee who comes into his own. Many of us have wondered about his continued loyalty to the Gerhardts, particularly Dodd, and this week he’s finally had enough. Throughout the episode we see Hanzee dealing with racism and degradation, and how isolated he is from his identity as an American/Indian. He’s not welcome in white America, but neither was he part of the movement in the 1970s to reclaim Indian sovereignty—the show references the 1973 incident at Wounded Knee and the American Indian Movement. Hanzee is a man alone, and he severs his last societal tie when he kills Dodd.
The conversation Hanzee has with Peggy about cutting his hair into something “more professional” is borderline funny—“You have the bone structure,” Peggy says, totally serious, while Dodd writhes in agony behind her—but it’s also terribly sad. Hanzee is clearly very capable and smart, but he never had a chance to be more than a grunt. We’ve already heard what a crap, nerve-shattering job he had in Vietnam, and because he’s Indian the Gerhardts relegated him to the ranks of the help. And Dodd, who relies on Hanzee as his right-hand man, treats him abominably, calling him the same kinds of names as the racist yokels he shoots earlier in the episode. Hanzee’s rampage in this episode is less a statement and more a surrender. He’s done, and with only two episodes left to go, the only question is who else he takes down with him.