Fargo Season 2 Episode 5 recap
Noreen The Morose Butcher Shop Girl is my new favorite character—her favorite holiday is Halloween and she’s latched onto Camus and his “we all die eventually” philosophy. Previously, Noreen has only been seen at the butcher shop with Ed Blomquist, parroting “okay then” like a simple-minded cockatiel, but this week Noreen steps into the spotlight. So, too, does Ronald Reagan, who has the honor of being this week’s (incredibly useless) storyteller. Played by Bruce Campbell—who does a decent, understated Reagan impression—Fargo’s Reagan is a persuasive speaker and utterly fatuous moron.
The show opens with a massacre—but not The Massacre—as Hanzee and some Gerhardt gun thugs get the drop on Joe Bulo and his Kansas City affiliates. None survive except one of the Kitchen twins and Mike Milligan, who wasn’t there. The violence is prompted by Dodd, who’s a complete fruitcake who uses Rye’s death to wrench control from Floyd. Hanzee reports back that a butcher killed Rye in Luverne, and Dodd plays it off as a Kansas City hitman, there to target Rye even as Floyd attempted to strike a deal.
“It was always going to be war,” Dodd says, except it wasn’t. He made it war, because Dodd is a three-year-old having a tantrum. He’s so desperate to be the shot-caller that he’s just propelled his family into all-out war with Kansas City. So now we have three dead at the Luverne Waffle House and twelve dead in the woods, including Joe Bulo, which Milligan takes hard. He’s temporarily sidelined for lack of manpower, but he still has Simone Gerhardt in his back pocket, and you know her story isn’t going to end well.
Meanwhile, Lou is stuck escorting Reagan’s campaign bus around the area. Though Karl Weathers pops up to be moved by one of Reagan’s stump speeches, Lou doesn’t seem particularly enamored of the candidate. But then, alone in a bathroom with him, Lou turns to Reagan as if to a father, seeking comfort and reassurance that after the nightmare of Vietnam and the “sickness of the world”, which Lou sees as a cancer like his wife’s, that we—he—will be okay again. It’s the most vulnerable we’ve ever seen Lou.
And Reagan, after spouting some American can-do-ism, proceeds to tell Lou, an actual war veteran, about the time he got cornered by some Nazis in World War II. Except he’s talking about making a terrible propaganda film during the war, not actually GOING to war. There’s so much in this exchange to parse. Reagan is Dodd writ large—aware that he’s missed a crucial experience and co-opting a narrative to create a facsimile of that experience for himself.
Of course it’s not the same and Lou goes from sincere to bemused to disappointed five seconds into the story—once again, kudos to Patrick Wilson for the work he is doing here—but it’s illustrative of the impact war has had on two generations of American men. Reagan sees war as a crucial part of the American mythos; Lou thinks maybe his war was a wasted effort. And in the end, Reagan’s story doesn’t even have the triumphant ending Lou is searching for. Not even Reagan’s half-remembered fantasy war amounts to anything.
On the Blomquist side of things, Ed and Peggy are living in the Tarantino version of an O. Henry story. Ed is determined to stay and Peggy is determined to leave, and she does just that, selling her car and getting on a bus out of town. But she has a change of heart and goes back, intent on using the car money to help Ed buy the butcher shop. Except it just burned down. Charlie Gerhardt goes after Ed, because he thinks a Gerhardt should be the one to kill Rye’s killer. But instead of cold-blooded murder, Charlie talks to Noreen about Camus and the two have the most awkward, Midwestern flirt session on record.
But Charlie has to do it, so he lies in wait for Ed. Things go predictably badly—Charlie is not cut out for his family’s hard life, and not even because of his arm but because he is just too sweet for it—and he ends up in a gunfight in the back of the butcher shop, which results in the place burning down. Ed saves Charlie, but he killed the Gerhardt goon accompanying him, and now Ed is ready to flee. But Peggy has changed her mind and wants to stay, and is prepared to give up her California money to make that happen. Except it’s too late, the cops are at the door. These two just can’t get in synch—even in the last shot of the episode, though they stand side-by-side the Blomquists don’t touch, unable to bridge that last little bit of distance between them. They’re trapped.
Attached: Kirsten Dunst at a fashion event in Beverly Hills on November 5th, 2015.