The Gerhardt family has troubles, man. That was the main takeaway from this week’s episode of Fargo, titled, delightfully, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” None of which is to say the Gerhardt family didn’t already have troubles. Their youngest son was killed and turned into sausage inside a butcher shop that one of their grandchildren later burned down during a botched murder attempt that ended with him in jail and another henchman dead via meat cleaver to the forehead. That’s bad. And that’s before you get to their ongoing mob war with Kansas City and Lou Solverson showing up every few days to stare icy daggers into everyone’s souls. And Dodd is apparently in the Blumquists’ trunk in Sioux Falls. I repeat: troubles.
But those are all issues with outside forces, one of which — the police — was largely handled by Floyd making a deal to sell out Kansas City in exchange for certain crimes being forgiven. (“What’s the point of the damn deal if it doesn’t cover murder?!”) The family’s bigger issue right now is that it has started tearing itself apart from the inside, too. I think we all knew this was coming to some degree as soon as the seeds of the power struggle were planted following Otto’s stroke. What I did not see was Bear Gerhardt going full Silvio-Adriana on Dodd’s daughter, Simone.
There were a few moving parts in Bear’s unilateral decision to kill Simone, I think. The first, the one on the surface, was Simone sleeping with Mike Milligan and feeding him information about the family business. Her intention there was to hurt her father, but the result was last week’s siege on the Gerhardt compound that left Otto dead. (Between Dodd and Mike, Simone had a heartbreaking history with men.) Her fate was sealed as soon as someone figured that out, really.
But the other thing I couldn’t shake while Bear was standing over her was that, maybe, possibly, it wasn’t just about Bear trying to clean house and take control. Maybe a teeny tiny part of it — and the reason he didn’t run it through Floyd — was because of Dodd’s unilateral decision to send Charlie to do the hit in the butcher shop. Maybe it was a little bit of retribution, even if Bear would never admit it. So anyway, please add “uncles murdering their nieces in the frozen woods” to the list of the Gerhardts’ troubles.
Hey, speaking of people who have some less-than-ideal things on their plate right now, let’s check in with Mike!
Oh… oh. That would be Mike Milligan and the surviving Kitchen brother killing a Kansas City enforcer named the Undertaker and his two associates, all of whom had been sent by the higher-ups to take over the Gerhardt situation. A bold strategy! And also a bad one! Probably! All of this means two things: One, Kansas City also has their own problematic interfamilial dynamics, which means our once straightforward mob war has now been thrown into something like double chaos. And two, everyone is headed to Sioux Falls, where Hanzee is killing law-enforcement officers and Ed Blumquist is claiming to have Dodd Gerhardt in his trunk. Okay!
Moments From This Episode Ranked By How Much I Choose to Believe They Were References to Other Things
1) Simone listens to “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In).” If this song sounds familiar at all to you, there’s a good chance you’re thinking of the trippy drug-induced montage from The Big Lebowski, directed by the Coen Brothers, directors of the original Fargo. The inclusion of this disco-ized cover version is definitely a wink and a nod to that scene, because there’s too much history there for it not to be. (NOTE: It was far from the only Coen Brothers reference in this episode.)
2) Karl declares himself King of Breakfast. Karl Weathers is played by Nick Offerman. Nick Offerman played Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation. Ron Swanson once said, and I quote, “Give me all of the bacon and eggs you have.” This one is a little bit more of a stretch, admittedly. But even if it wasn’t on their mind in the writers’ room while they were tapping it out, I refuse to believe no one on set heard Nick Offerman call himself “The King of Breakfast” and said “Heeeey. Like the thing. From the other show!” Had to happen.
3) Mike Milligan uses a hidden sleeve gun on a track to kill the Undertaker. Quarles! From Justified! He did the Quarles thing! Now, I’m not saying Fargo dove into the FX vaults to borrow a classic moment from another show on the network, because hidden-sleeve guns are cool and more shows should use them a lot, but here’s what I will say: If Mike Milligan ends up going into a pill-induced tailspin that culminates in him getting his arm chopped off inside a Kentucky smokehouse, then we’ll know for sure.
Odds and Ends
– Since I’ve already opened the Fargo/Justified door, lemme go ahead and storm right through it by noting that there was something very Boyd Crowder-ish about Mike in this episode. Well-dressed, top button buttoned, quoting famous thinkers from history, devising crazy plans that involve multiple homicides in a hotel suite, all of it. A big part of me hopes this season ends with that spaceship picking up Mike and dropping him off in the future, at which point he can break Boyd out of prison and bingo bango, there’s your third season of Fargo. Mike and Boyd, in Vegas or something. It’s almost too easy.
– Did… did Simone think the title of Jaws was We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Boat? I mean, it’s accurate, I guess. But it lacks a little pizzazz.
– My favorite part of the entire episode — which was great from its blood-soaked beginning to its blood-soaked end — was the revelation that the Kansas City mob smuggles drugs using a trucking company called “Legit Trucking.” Legit Trucking! Dammit, Fargo, I love you.
– I also love Betsy Solverson, whose dying wish is that the town drunk sober up to look after her family when she’s gone and prevent her husband from marrying that tiny-eyed freak, Ronda. If something had happened to her in that ominous scene that ended with her finding a living room filled with crazy drawings and symbols, I would have been inconsolable today.
– Jean Smart = Good at acting.
– The conversation about shoes and the future that Lou and Mike had was a conversation about a mob war, but it was also a conversation about capitalism, which is really the theme of the whole season. There’s a local small business that a larger corporation is trying to acquire or bury in the hopes of expanding, even though there’s enough there for both of them. Hell, Reagan showed up at one point, as if the point wasn’t obvious enough. But rather than enter into a stimulating debate about trickle-down economics and what is or is not socialism, let me make a different point. You remember the famous “Greed is good” speech Michael Douglas’ character delivered in Wall Street? Picture that, and then picture Lou Solverson standing up when he finishes, calmly looking him in the eye, and then saying “I have two pairs of shoes…”