TV

The ‘Fargo’ Frozen Five: There Is Unfathomable Pinheadery Afoot


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. “Unfathomable pinheadery.”

“Unfathomable pinheadery” is both the way Nikki Swango described the botched stamp robbery that resulted in two murders (one of which involved a falling air conditioner) and my new favorite phrase in the whole wide world, but it’s also a fair description of Nikki and Ray’s second plot to steal the stamp, too. It’s not that it was a bad plan from the jump. They were going with the time-tested okie-doke, distracting Emmit with promises of brotherly reconciliation while the attractive parolee sneaks in and makes off with the goods. Were there issues? Sure. I imagine one gets mighty suspicious when one is robbed of a valuable piece of property while meeting with the person who one has been arguing with regarding said property, especially when that person’s fiancée is a recent parolee.

But that’s more of a simple flaw than “unfathomable pinheadery.” What gets it to that point is Nikki — bless her bridge-playing soul — confusing the situation and taking things to, oh, let’s say “a bit of an extreme” by painting a profane message in menstrual blood and leaving the “paintbrush” behind to drive the point home. So there was that.

Oh also, when Ray expressed regret about the air conditioner killing by saying “I never killed nobody before,” Nikki replied “Me neither. Life’s a journey, ya know?”

True, true.

4. “Or, and this is the other way to go, not.”

Shouts go out here to Sy, Emmit’s Hummer-driving mustachioed number two, for this delightful little turn of phrase, and for being my third favorite character on the show right now, just behind Nikki Swango and V.M. Varga. I love the way he dances around his words in the office and tries to be diplomatic all the way up until he gets a teeny tiny bit of authority and then he turns into a bird-flipping demolition derby contestant in a diner parking lot. He is 100 percent getting murdered this season. I don’t know who is pulling the trigger. He’s already managed to cross paths with a mysterious crime boss and a woman who has both smushed a man with an appliance — yes, I will keep bringing this up, possibly all season — and painted his boss’s house with her own blood, so really, this could go a lot of ways. A preemptive R.I.P. feels appropriate here.

3. “Jeez.”


2. “By the time we’re done you’ll be billionaires. On paper, at least.”

V.M. Varga has one heck of a hill to climb. The villains on Fargo have been so great, starting with Lorne Malvo and continuing with Mike Milligan. It’ll be hard to even get into that rarefied air, let alone keep rising past them. Do I think he can do it? Maybe. I don’t know. It’s pretty early. But I will say that taking over a parking garage business in Minnesota as part of a plot to launder billions and apparently hacking Google to dissuade people from researching you is an… interesting start. I’ll need to hear him recite the Jabberwocky poem before I fully make up my mind. Or do finger guns while saying “Aces.” Give me something to work with, guy.

Oh. And did you catch that one of his murderous henchman is named Yuri Gurka, which was also the name at the center of the mistaken identity farce that opened the season. That… feels like a thing. Is that a thing? Let’s go with yes.

1. “You know it’s the future, right?”

This season is set in 2010, which is the closest to the present of any season to date. And so, understandably, technology is an issue. So far the show seems to be portraying it as a troublesome and not-altogether great thing. Examples include:

  • Gloria getting yelled at by her new boss — played by Shea Wigham, in what appears to be a “What if Eli Thompson from Boardwalk Empire lived in Minnesota in 2010?” situation — about her antiquated research techniques
  • Emmit’s lawyer, Irv Blumkin (love you, Fargo) gets thrown off an upper floor of a parking garage after googling V.M. Varga and clicking the link that showed up on his search results
  • Varga openly admitting that he’s infiltrating the parking lot business because it’s low-tech and therefore easy to manipulate
  • Gloria’s continued difficulty getting automatic doors to recognize her

One assumes this is all going somewhere, this distrust and/or wariness of technology. It’s tough to make an educated guess after only two episodes, but gun to my head, I’m going to assume it all ends with an international cyberterrorist hacking all the cars in town and having them drive out of the parking garage onto the street, like the thing Charlize Theron did in Fate of the Furious. Certainly a possibility.

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