The interesting thing about this week’s episode of Fargo is that it featured three different groups of people searching for a man who no longer exists, quite literally. The cops are looking for Rye to question him about the waffle murders, the Kansas City mob is looking for Rye because they think he’s the weak link in their negotiations with the Gerhardts, and the Gerhardts are, well, just looking for Rye. And the only people who know what happened to him are his murderers, a kindly butcher and his hairdresser wife. The result of all of this was people all over the Midwest having a very, very bad day.
Let’s start by looking at the day Lou Solverson had. After finding out that the prints on the gun from the Waffle Hut massacre belonged to one Rye Gerhardt, Lou zips over to North Dakota to do some poking around. Once there, he meets a local cop who fills him in on the Gerhardt family, explaining that a) Otto Gerhardt taking over for his father way back when was like moving from World War I to the Rise of Hitler, and b) all things considered, it would probably would have been better for Lou if the prints on the gun were his own. This is, shall we say, not the ideal start to his North Dakota adventure
Still, Lou presses on and heads to the Gerhardt compound. It’s here that we learn something important about him. Actually, let’s go with “re-learn,” because we also picked up on it in season one: Lou Solverson is a badass. He also might be a little delusional. Maybe both. It takes some kind of brain chemistry to stand there making threats about pulling out your revolver to shoot people when you’re surrounded by armed thugs who would happily fill you with bullets if they get the order, especially when one of those thugs is Dodd Gerhardt, who we are quickly learning is a complete sociopath. And this was somehow Lou’s second most intense standoff of the day.
I say second because, on the way home, he stops at Squirrelly Skip’s Typewriters and Such to check in on him again and, whoops, there’s one of the Kitchen brothers pulling a gun on him, and double whoops, there’s the other. And there’s Mike Milligan doing that thing where he acts polite despite layers of menace bubbling just under the surface, and calling out Lou for doing the same. Busy afternoon for old Lou.
(I wrote last week about Fargo teaching a master class in the business of dread, and these two standoffs were more of the same. And it might have been even better this week, because we know for certain that Lou — possibly only Lou, but definitely him — makes it out of the season alive. To give the audience that knowledge and still leave them a little terrified takes some kind of skill.)
And then if all that wasn’t enough, on the way home, he gets more or less accosted by a yahoo yammering about UFOs. So, to recap: Two standoffs, two shotguns pulled on him, one showdown with a psychopath, one UFO story. Lou definitely earned a second piece of cake after that day.
Speaking of bad days, ladies and gentleman, the Blomquists! Although I suppose, if we’re being technical here, this day was actually a marked improvement over their last couple days. Say what you will about staging a car accident in a panic after a cancer-ridden cop’s wife basically solves the case from her chair in your beauty shop (and a big shoutout to Betsy Solverson here), it does have to rank slightly above murdering your hit-and-run victim in the garage one day and grinding his body into sausage the next. Still not exactly a trip to the zoo, but it’s all about context, you know?
The gold medal for bad days, however, goes to Skip. Poor, poor Skip. His day started with two cops making fun of him after they caught him having a breakdown in his car, and it ended with him getting buried alive, and in the middle, a pretty lady reneged on a promise to dance for him. That’s just rough all around. And what did he do to deserve all that, really? Dream a little? Try to make a better life for himself? Enlist a low-level thug to apply pressure to a judge so he could free up some money, only to have the whole thing go catawampus and result in dead bodies all over a waffle restaurant? Is that so wrong, really?
Okay, maybe that last one.
Odds and ends:
The Gerhardt-KC situation is heating up. The Gerhardts are enlisting backup should it all come to a head, and Mike Milligan and the Kitchen brothers — or “the Bathroom Brothers,” according to Hank — are running around applying pressure. We can all see just about where this is headed, and that makes it no less exciting.
The dialogue on Fargo remains incredible. You have to love a show that lets two murderers have an extended discussion about shampoo over breakfast.
Dodd’s daughter is, uh, really something. Although from the brief, disturbing glimpses we’ve gotten into their relationship, I suppose that’s not a surprise. I am already looking forward to the big Dodd-Lou showdown that I choose to believe is coming based on the mini-showdown this week. I will be very disappointed if someone else gets to kill him.
Speaking of foreshadowing, the yahoo talking about “visitors” said they come in threes, which means, I believe, that we could be looking at two more UFO sightings this season.
I am very uncomfortable referring to the Gerhardts’ quiet, Native American associate as “red man” as they do on the show, but I am delighted that it makes me picture a world where the family’s muscle is played by Redman, the rapper. Now that would be a television show.