The Fargo Frozen Five is a weekly countdown of five notable things from FX’s Minnesota murder show, meant to serve as a supplement to our standard recap coverage. It will probably get weird at times. In a way, that’s kind of appropriate.
5. “You’re the cheddar. The cheese.”
This week, Fargo went both to California and back in time to shed some light on this whole “Ennis Stussy was Thaddeus Mobley” business. The strange thing about all of it is that the show doing an episode in the warm sun felt stranger than it hopping around chronologically. Although I guess it makes sense, in a way, because Fargo just did a whole season in the past. Sunshine, however? Not so much.
The other interesting thing is that the episode was kind of nothing. A beautiful, fun, well-acted nothing (Carrie Coon is so great), but from a long-term plotting perspective, yeah, nothing. It was an hour-long red herring, an exercise in dead ends, with Santas and grifters and cocaine and the like. The short version of it all is that Gloria Burgle solved the Thaddeus Mobley mystery (Ennis was a sci-fi writer who got bamboozled for thousands by a fake producer and his beautiful associate, then attacked them once he found out, then fled to the Great White North with a new name he stole from a toilet), but got nowhere on the actual Ennis Stussy murder until she got home.
And it was actually pretty cool. It was a display of confident TV-making, and it was a little hilarious given the “Fargo is in a rut” criticisms that popped up early on this season, as though Noah Hawley read those and was like “A rut? A rut? FINE. I’M SENDING CARRIE COON TO HOLLYWOOD. HOW’S THAT, YOU JERKS?” I know it didn’t play out this way in real life, obviously, because the episode was locked in long before those murmurs started, but it’s fun to imagine.
4. “Disturbing the peace? I got thrown out of a window!”
There were Coen references galore in this episode, especially to Barton Fink, and you can’t do a Christmas murder story set in Los Angeles without tipping your cap to Shane Black, but I’d also like to point out that “cop from a Northern state who heads out West to investigate the death of a loved one without getting permission from the department first” is literally the plot of Beverly Hills Cop. I wish she had stopped at an art gallery and run into Bronson Pinchot. It would have been such a nice bookend to her Leftovers episode with Mark-Linn Baker. The full Perfect Strangers.
Also, I wish she had worn a Detroit Lions jacket the whole time. A real missed opportunity, in my book.