In one of his next-day Q&As with Entertainment Weekly this season, Justified executive producer Graham Yost summed up his show’s stance on shootings and miscellaneous violence thusly: “Unless you see them lowering the casket into the ground, [the character is] not dead.” That quote is basically the only thing getting me through this morning, because as great as last night’s episode of Fargo was (and it was really, really great, for the record), it was also devastating. Sheesh. I just … you know what? I’m not even ready to talk about it yet. I’ll be ready soon, I promise, just not yet. Gus, you idiot. You coward. You incompetent coward idiot. You’re killing me, guy.
But let’s start with Lester.
So it appears Lester Nygaard’s evolution from Ned Flanders to Keyser Soze is complete. That’s the main thing I took away from last night’s episode, which started and ended with him resting peacefully in his hospital bed, and featured a diabolical, multi-step, sibling-framing cover-up farce in the middle. How far we’ve come, right? Less than six hours of television ago he was getting bullied on the street by goons and their children, and now he’s sneaking out of hospitals and around town like a homicidal cat burglar, staring down witnesses and tossing around borderline comatose hospital patients. His brother — who is probably about to be arrested and accused of being a murderous, adulterous pervert, which doesn’t sound very fun — put it best: He’s not right in the world. And Lester’s pretty damn pleased with himself about it all, too. It’s always the quiet ones.
Hey, you know what’s fun? Imagine the newsroom at the local Minnesota newspaper as all of the events in this episode went down. We had:
- A police officer getting shot by a second police officer while investigating a shooting the middle of the street involving auotmatic weapons and a half-decapitated hitman from North Dakota, not long after a third police officer — the Chief of Police, even — was gunned down in a mysterious double murder at the home of a man who just got himself locked up after punching a fourth police officer, seemingly for no reason.
- The son of a local grocery magnate dying in a car accident on a road that was littered with live fish that had just fallen from the heavens.
- A bizarre “suicide-by-cop” that, supposedly, featured a personal trainer duct-taping himself to a piece of exercise equipment after filling the cars on his street with bullets, and getting filled with bullets himself inside his home.
Add to that ongoing coverage of the scandalous strip club murder of a prominent local businessman and STORMWATCH 2006, and it must have been absolute madness. People were probably screaming “STOP THE PRESSES” so often that two people ended up saying it at the exact same time, thus jinxing each other and resulting in the purchase of a Coke, as per the rules, dontcha know?
Okay. Let’s do this. The thing.
First of all, let’s get it on the record that the shootout during the blizzard was cool as hell, and a masterful piece of television directing. I can’t remember the last time a scene had me that anxious and filled with terror/suspense/anticipation. Maybe the desert gunfight in Breaking Bad, and maybe that long stash house tracking shot from True Detective, but that’s about it. To quote one award-winning actor doing an impression of another award-winning actor on a long-running weekend comedy show, “That’s high praise.”
That said, hoo boy, was I not ready for this to happen.
Officer Molly Solverson has been one of the best characters of this television season, and one of the lone spots of competence and light on a show filled with evil and/or stupid people doing evil and/or stupid things. Losing her with four episodes to go — or at all, for that matter — would be heartbreaking. (And a big part of that is Allison Tolman’s portrayal of her, which has been kind of amazing seeing as she was pretty much unknown as recently as March.) I was a wreck after I saw it happen, and I’m still half a wreck about it now. But the show has been so good to this point that I have faith it will keep going in the right direction whether the next episode begins with her sitting up in the back of an ambulance with a blanket draped over her as she says “Oooo, gosh. That was a close one, yah?” or with a shot of her tombstone as the comforting tones of Boyz II Men fill the air. Who knows, maybe the whole thing will send Gus on his own Nygaard-esque transition from Barney Fife to Rambo. The show has options. That’s my point.
- More fish. Always fish. Lester’s poster, trunk guy’s screensaver, and now the Fargo mob at the Chinese restaurant the the aforementioned storm of sushi. This is definitely a thing.
- Also, wolves. This marks two straight recaps that I’ve used a wolf-related quote that originated from Lorne Malvo. Fish and wolves. And crickets. But mostly fish and wolves.
- Hot damn, I didn’t even mention Lorne in the discussion proper, and he technically set in motion every single thing I described above. Allow me to remedy that: I want to know where he got that sweet coat. There. That oughta do it.
- I present the most Minnesota weather report in history: “The storm of the century, or what have ya?”
- Lots of shoutouts to the movie last night. Sepinwall picked out most of them. You see any others?
- Quick behind-the-scenes note: Having screeners is very cool, for the most part, but there’s a flipside to that coin. I watched this episode Monday night, and after Molly got shot I was a bundle of frayed emotions, and I couldn’t talk about it with anyone without spoiling everything. I had to live with it in silence for a full 24+ hours, which made it a double whammy. And the worst part is that what I just typed in the single stupidest thing to complain about in all of history, and you’re probably sitting there thinking I’m an asshole for even bringing it up. “Ooo, I get screeners and life is so hard. Wah wah etc.” So it’s a triple whammy, really.
As always, your thoughts below. Thank to Chet for the GIFs.