Fargo 2.6: “I’m living in a museum of the past”
Gabriel Olsen /FilmMagic
Fargo Season 2 Episode 6 Recap
Every week I think Fargo can’t get any better, AND THEN IT DOES. I almost love this show as much as I love Justified, and I love Justified more than some members of my family. One thing we haven’t talked about yet are the recurring UFOs this season. Rye Gerhardt saw strange lights in the sky over Luverne—referencing a famous 1979 Minnesota UFO sighting—and in every episode since, there has been a reference to UFOs. Last week it was a drawing by little Molly Solverson, this week it’s blinky lights in the sky at the beginning of the episode. I don’t think Fargo is trying to say that The Truth Is Out There, but more that the UFO sightings feed the general paranoia of the era. The world of Fargo is defined by looming presences, like the nebulous hope of the oncoming Reagan era, the still-fresh horror of the Vietnam War, and the UFOs stand in for a vague and undefined threat that waits just out of sight.
But Lou has more immediate problems. With Ed at the station for questioning with Lou while Hank works on Peggy at home, the Gerhardts are gunning up, intending to kill Ed and spring Charlie from jail. The Gerhardt family dynamic is dangerously retrograde—Dodd is obviously a total nutcase, yet everyone kowtows to him because he’s the oldest living son. Bear recounts a story about their deceased eldest brother, Elrond, who died in the war, leaving Dodd to take over. Dodd’s crazy behavior makes sense when you think of him as a kind of Henry VIII, thrust into the role of leader after being groomed to be a sidekick. But still, he is a lunatic.
So is Peggy Blomquist. It’s hard to tell how much of Peggy’s stubborn refusal to deal in reality is her prevaricating so she doesn’t entrap herself regarding Rye’s death, and how much of it is her clinging to her self-help mumbo jumbo so hard that she’s losing touch with the real world. Hank tries to press upon her the seriousness of the situation—the cops KNOW she and Ed are involved in Rye’s death, and it’s only a matter of time until they prove it. And Hank also knows that the Gerhardts are coming for Ed and won’t have any problem taking out Peggy to get to him. But she just keeps spouting off about California. In some ways, she’s as monstrously selfish as Lester Nygaard ever was, but Peggy is so much more sympathetic because it’s easy to see how trapped she feels by her life.
Indeed, Peggy reveals how suffocating her marriage is, living in Ed’s childhood home and trying to realize Ed’s nuclear family dream, when all she wants to do is be the “best me I can be”. But it’s her knowledge of the Blomquist home that saves her when Dodd and his men come to the house. I totally thought Hank was done for, but really, his fate rests with Mike Milligan, not the Gerhardts, so he lives another day. Dodd’s fate is unknown, though, after Peggy shocks the hell out of him with his own cattle prod.
Dodd looks dead, but it’s left deliberately open, and unlike Glenn surrounded by a horde of zombies on The Walking Dead, there are many simple and immediate ways for Dodd to survive. It won’t stretch the limits of credulity if he’s still alive. Also left fate unknown are Simone and Floyd, back at the Gerhardt homestead. Simone thinks she’s sending Mike Milligan after her father when she tells him her family has gone to Luverne, but Milligan and his men—he seems to have gotten reinforcements—descend on the homestead and shoot up the place. With all the threads left dangling, this episode feels like just the beginning.
But the centerpiece of the episode is the standoff at the sheriff’s station, in which Lou takes control and we see a glimpse of the man he must have been in the war. We also get a lot of Karl Weathers: Libertarian Lawyer, who’s on hand to defend Ed, then Charlie. He’s the only lawyer in town so he’s pulling double-duty. Nick Offerman is a delight as Karl, and only someone with his expansive delivery could grandstand enough to talk Bear Gerhardt out of storming the station. While Karl is entertaining the would-be lynch mob, Lou has to get Ed out of the building.
It speaks to Lou’s competence and cunning that he does so, and manages to avoid Hanzee. But it also says something about Lou’s shortsightedness that he lets Ed go in the end, knowing he’s just running home. Because the last thing we see is Hanzee, gun in hand, walking up the road to the Blomquists’ house. It’s a moment of incredible dread, and Hanzee becomes the unknown threat, hovering over the Blomquists.
Attached: Kristen Dunst at PEN Center USA's 25th Annual Literary Awards Festival at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel yesterday.