Fargo is rarely short on on-screen action, and last week’s episode was no exception. But between all the sleeve guns and niece killings, two things happened off-screen that seemed notable: One, someone called the Gerhardt compound multiple times before finally getting the message through that they had Dodd in their trunk; and two, we heard reports that Hanzee had killed two law-enforcement officials in Sioux Falls. Both of these could have been explained by pressing the plot forward and getting answers retroactively, but really, what’s the fun in that? Instead, this week’s episode took us back in time, ever so slightly, to fill in all the holes in the action as it happened. Welcome to the The Peggy and Hanzee Show.
We’ll start with Hanzee, whose hunt for the Blumquists led him to the gas stations and Chablis-filled hotel suites of the greater Sioux Falls area. It also led him to a local bar, where the bartender spit in his water and a bunch of racist yokels followed him out into the alley. This did not end well for the bartender (shot in the chest) or the yokels (shot in the legs), and all the excitement drew the attention of the cops, which conveniently brings us back to the thing about the two dead law-enforcement officials.
Hanzee’s hunt then brought him to the hotel love nest Peggy’s boss had prepared, and led to a really great scene on the phone, with Peggy absentmindedly giving away half of her secret hideout location while Hanzee listened on with menace in his eyes. Poor Constance. All she wanted to do was woo her TP-stealing employee into a wine-soaked lesbian fling at a self-help conference in South Dakota, and now she’s either terrified or dead, depending how Hanzee chose to handle things after the call. Lady can’t catch a break.
Peggy, on the other hand, is doing great! Or rather, she was doing great before she stabbed Hanzee with scissors during a shootout with Lou and Hank that ended with her and Ed probably very much under arrest. Details. But she is fully actualized now thanks to a hallucination in her magazine dungeon, and all-in on her new Bonnie and Clyde adventure with Ed. The result of all this was her holding Dodd Gerhardt hostage in a lake cabin, occasionally stabbing him (“Oh, I hardly stuck him at all”), force-feeding him beans, and calling him out on his BS. (Dodd: “I got four daughters, I’m not a bad guy.” Peggy: “You called me a whore. I heard.”) Hell, she even cited the Geneva Conventions. The whole thing, as far as hostage situations go, was actually pretty delightful, right down to Peggy letting Dodd escape because she was too wrapped up in a movie. It didn’t end too well for anyone really, especially Dodd (more on that momentarily), what with the aforementioned stabbing and shootout, and the thing where poor Ed got strung up inside the cabin and had just barely recovered from almost dying by the time he got arrested, but hey, what’re you gonna do, right? Had a good run.
So where does this leave us? Well, with two episodes to go, and Peggy and Ed with Lou and Hank in Sioux Falls, and the Gerhardts on their way there after finally getting Ed’s message, and Mike Milligan on his way there after getting Ed’s other message, too. And Sioux Falls, as we all know, is where the “bodies stacked to the second floor” thing Lou described in season one happens.
Yup. Things are shaping up quite nicely.
Dodd Gerhardt was a dead man long before we met him. Brash, loud, disobedient mob members do not have a long shelf life, especially when they are television characters who proudly spout misogyny and abuse their daughters, and especially when they are television characters on Fargo. It’s hard enough for the good guys to make it out of a season of this show alive. So the question here in season two wasn’t so much “Is Dodd going to die?,” but “Who’s going to get to kill him?”
The list of candidates was long and prestigious, too, considering Dodd ran afoul of just about every major character on the show at some point. A quick rundown: He lied to Floyd to drag them further into war, he sent Bear’s son to kill Ed despite Bear expressly forbidding his son get involved in that stuff, he had tense stare downs with both Lou and Hank, he’s been on Mike Milligan’s hit list for weeks, and he led a raid on the Blumquist home that resulted in him getting tasered and stabbed and tied up in a remote cabin near a lake. And that’s before we even get to his own daughter, Simone, who attempted to order his murder along with a final message of “Kiss my grits.” Until Bear gave her the full Silvio-Adriana in the woods last week, she seemed like the most likely candidate, if only to pay off the karmic debt of years of physical and emotional abuse.
But Fargo rarely gives you what you expect, even when it would be cathartic and deserved on a number of levels, so it was Hanzee who put the bullet in Dodd’s brain. It felt surprising when it happened because Hanzee had been his loyal number two all season, but when you track back and realize the way Dodd probably talked to and treated him (coupled with our look this episode at the type of everyday dehumanization he faced from the racist yokels of the world), maybe Hanzee was just fed up with it all. Or maybe he has a plan. Or maybe he just really wanted that haircut. In any event, rest in peace, Dodd, you violent sociopath misogynist creep.
Earlier in the season, back when she was running down Gerhardts and calmly making Hamburger Helper and pushing her husband to dispose of bodies, I said it seemed like Peggy had a little Lester Nygaard in her. That whole pleasant, Midwestern demeanor hiding a dark, dark streak thing that would eventually be her undoing. But now, eight episodes in, I realize that’s wrong. Peggy is a lot more Walter White than Lester Nygaard. Where Walt was dying of cancer, Peggy was dying spiritually, seeing her whole life as a butcher’s wife in Luverne in front of her, and flailing wildly to avoid it. Where Walt turned to cooking meth, Peggy turned to becoming “actualized.” Doing so led both into a life of crime that shook up their boring existences and made them feel alive. And they both, at one point, ended up with a dangerous criminal secured to a pole as their hostage. In this analogy, Ed is kind of a plaid-wearing cross between Jesse and Skylar. And Karl is Flynn, for breakfast-related reasons, mostly. Fingers crossed for this season ending with Peggy mowing down a dozen Nazis.