WELCOME TO THE FUTURE.
Wait, no. Hold on.
WELCOME TO 2007.
That’s obviously the big takeaway from last night’s episode, that Fargo has pulled a Parks & Rec and taken a giant chronological leap toward our present. And while it looked at first like so much has changed over those 12 skipped months, we quickly found out that things are more or less the same. So, yes, Officer Molly Solverson is pregnant and shacked up with Gus Grimley now. That’s happening. And it’s fun and great because (a) it means Lorne hasn’t killed her, and (b) the movie and TV show have been kind of brushing by each other for weeks exchanging glances and knowing nods, but now we’ve got a pregnant cop solving murders in a thing called Fargo, and we are all-in on the crossover, even if we got there through the backdoor. But even with all that change in her life, she’s still right where she was in that hospital room, connecting grainy pictures to mysterious circumstances via squiggly multi-colored lines on a secret conspiracy board like more amiable Rust Cohle, only a year deeper into it, and no closer to a resolution. All fruitless investigations and no progress make Molly something something. “Go crazy?” Don’t mind if she does.
Same with Lester, for the most part. Oh, sure, now he’s a slick, highly-decorated salesman with a pretty young wife who apparently gets quite turned on by confrontations with his former paramours and their awful, staple-filled children. But look at his face the moment he sees Lorne (who has undergone some changes himself, albeit mostly follicle-related) chatting up Stephen Root in the booth at the bar. In an instant, the entire year-plus he spent transforming himself from a spineless pushover into a smooth, confident operator is gone. He’s right back in that hospital waiting room, bleeding from the head and sputtering out pathetic sentences, unsure of his next step, or any step, like the indecisive, weak-willed boob he was in high school. Faking it until you make it is a great strategy until someone comes along and takes it away. I feel like this will become an issue.
Other notes from the time jump: Chief Bill has a shoplifting teenage son from Africa, Key & Peele are still in the file room and are getting existential as all hell about it, and Gus is a mailman now, which is probably for the best. Still no sign of Stavros Milos, Mr. Wrench, or my beloved hobo drug dealer and his one-stop-shop black market supply van. I hope he’s okay. I have this mental image of him cruising around town from shady deal to shady deal blasting “This Is Why I’m Hot.” I bet he likes 2007.
INTERLUDE: FOOD AND DRINK FROM LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE, RANKED
1) Cake with an assault rifle made of frosting. “Far be it from me to question the judgment of anyone in the Bemidji Police Department, but doesn’t it seem a bit odd to present a gun cake to an officer who is just returning from an injury she sustained during a blizzard firefight?” is probably what I would say if I weren’t so overjoyed by the concept of a gun cake. A GUN CAKE. A CAKE with a GUN on it. From now on, this is what you people get me for my birthday.
2) Celebratory Greyhounds and Rob Roys. Look, it’s right there in the police training book: Once the officers get together for celebratory drinks, the case is officially closed, any and all future evidence be damned. Sorry, but rules are rules.
3) “Something dangerous.” It would have been funny if, after Lester told the Vegas bartender he wanted “something dangerous,” she turned around and handed him a bottle of beer with a live, angry scorpion stuffed into the neck tail-first. But I guess scotch and blood orange is dangerous, too.
4) Foil-wrapped omelettes from home. I like to think that Bill carried his wife’s mushroom and cheese omelette to work in the pocket of his parka.
5) A dinner of tacos and milk. MILK. WITH TACOS. Jesus. Minnesotans’ digestive systems must be more durable than Tupperware.
But let’s zip back to 2006 for a second, because if the show can play fast and loose with the chronology, then dammit, so can we. We all thought Gus was a goner, right? That Lorne Malvo was going to slowly creep into the frame behind the car, walk up, and put a bullet in Gus’s poor, sweet, naive little head? Oh God, I was filled with dread watching it. Between the glacial pacing of a scene depicting a mundane everyday event, the phone call with Molly where they finally decided to give it a go, and the total isolation of an empty road near the woods (nothing good ever happens in the woods), it had all the trope-filled makings of curtains for one Gus Grimley. (And, as an aside, the promo email from FX that accompanied last night’s screener specifically asked critics to keep “a major event” at “the 30:30 mark” under wraps before the episode aired, so I was double on-edge as the clock ticked toward that moment.)
But no. Gus lived, and continues to live, and he’s still a big ol’ goof who can’t even remember to grab the red taco sauce for his pregnant wife. I bet no one in Bemidji gets the right mail.
– Favorite scene from last night that was barely related to anything: Lester talking to his sister-in-law at the dinner table, and her continuing to turn herself into the real victim in Lester’s wife’s murder. (Which, I mean, she is definitely more of a victim than Lester when you factor in what really happened, but she doesn’t know that.) “I was Miss Hubbard County, for Pete’s sake. You don’t cheat on Miss Hubbard County.” Sound logic if I’ve ever heard it.
– Oh, and shoutout to Kate Walsh. I don’t know if we’ll see the Widow Hess anymore now that we scooted forward quite a bit, but what a fun experience her whole boozy deal was.
– Lorne Malvo and Mr. Wrench. #TrueDetectiveSeason2. Are we even still doing that anymore? I don’t know. Probably not. They should be friends. That’s my point.
– I believe we may be moving toward a situation where a frustrated Molly Solverson teams up with frustrated FBI agents Key & Peele to investigate Lorne Malvo. Order up some drinks and settle in. This is about to get good.
As always, your thoughts below.