Fargo – Season 3, Episode 5: “The House of Special Purpose”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 5: “The House of Special Purpose”
Directed by Dearbhla Walsh
Written by Bob DeLaurentis

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Narrow Escape Problem” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Lord of No Mercy” – click here
Pic 1Mac Davis’ “It’s Hard to Be Humble” plays as we see Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) driving, and at home a package arrives marked FOR YOUR EYES ONLY. She gets a bit curious, eventually opening it to find a DVD intended on going to her. You betcha – a sex tape, and it’s Ray (McGregor) dressed as his brother having sex with Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead).
Cut to the pair themselves getting ready to record their video. Blackmail, baby. It’s getting slippery. And I can’t help but wonder that once the going gets especially tough, is Nikki in it all the way with her man? I’m not so sure, to be honest. Then Ray busts out a ring, down on one knee. She says yes, too. So I guess I’m wrong. For now my thoughts about Ms. Swango – the soon to be Mrs. Nikki Stussy – are assuaged.
Pic 1AEmmit’s wife has packed up and left. This is it. He is pissed, seeing the video and the damage its causing so quickly. Wonder what he and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) are gonna get up to, how they’ll try and fight back.
They’ve got other issues, though. Such as the big, bad wolf V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) and his odd techniques. He pops his dick and balls into Sy’s WORLD’S BEST DAD mug while asserting his power over a chick v. egg quip. A dash of antisemitism. Then his thugs make Sy drink from the mug. Blech. A nasty, hostile takeover, essentially.
Out at a swanky restaurant Sy meets with Ruby Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell). They chat about life. Then they discuss business matters. She’d like to acquire Stussy Lots Ltd. rather than have a partner. Or else become the competition. But the meeting is cut short when Emmit texts with an emergency. And of course you know the sly wolf’s boys are keeping tabs on where he goes.
Sy: “Yever have that feelinlike you stepped off the map into the, well, unknown, I guess?”
When Sy gets to Emmit’s place he finds his buddy sobbing in a corner over his wife leaving. They’ve got problems on top of problems on top of other problems. Now, the friends are turning on each other a little. Sy wants to be let loose, to solve their problems with Ray once and for all. Emmit agrees: “Shackles are off
Pic 2Back to Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) and Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval), they’re getting closer to where they need to be, all the Stussy connections, Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy). Only a few more dots together before they’re right on top of Ray and Nikki. Yoowzah.
On the phone, Sy talks with Nikki. He wants to meet now that things are already fucked up. Then she piles on saying they’ve got video proof of Emmit banging his secretary. Oh, man. A meeting’s set for one hour.
What sort of bad shit’s about to go down? Note: there are possible trails of evidence for everyone here – first, Sy leaves a voicemail for Emmit at his house with possible incriminating evidence; second, Ray freaks out on a bus in public, looks like a guy behind him is taking video of his very personal fight with Emmit re: blackmail. Whoopsy!
And wouldn’t ya know it, Officers Burgle and Lopez get talking to the balder Stussy. They want to know all about the brothers’ relationship, Maurice, the car accident courtesy of Mr. Feltz, so on. Only problem is Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham), he’s the new boss and he’s trying to shut Gloria down constantly. He says it’s “random life” and there’s no Stussy connection.
Emmit runs into Varga, the ever mysterious, creepy bastard. The guy is so sleazy, particularly his Jew fixation. He’s sowing the seeds of discontent, saying that Sy might’ve been in cahoots with Ray all along. Oh, the chaos is brewing. He explains his entire plan as a souffle. Fitting, for a guy who binges then purges when eating.
Pic 4No sooner do they finish their conversation does a man from the IRS (Hamish Linklater) turn up to see Emmit. Christ, what timing. He’s there about the $10K withdrawal from his account recently, the one made by his brother in disguise. The IRS may need to see his books. Hmm, that’s no good with the wolf prowling around as of late. Nothing good’s going to come of this, nothing at all. In fact, the poor tax man may be in trouble himself with Varga keeping an eye on things. Moreover, ole V.M. is pretty much pulling the strings at this point, so much so he’s already got fake books cooked for the company.
Emmit: “The jig is up
Finally, Sy meets with Nikki. They’re quite a ways out from the main road, at one of the Stussy lots. Great tune called “Track Suit” by Minor Mishap Marching Band plays during this scene, too. Nikki requests $200K and the contested stamp. However, Yuri and Meemo are there to interrupt. The Russian has lots to say about America v. Siberia before they beat Nikki brutally. The random chaos of Fargo reigns, once again. Instead of doing anything sensible, Sy rushes off. The tough girl ain’t dead, though. She manages to get to her vehicle and get home. Ray finds her in the bathtub with internal injuries, definitely not doing well.
Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 2.36.10 AMThe wild world of this series gets wilder. I can’t wait for “The Lord of No Mercy” next because I feel like something bad and big is coming. Maybe Ray and the wolf Varga will come face to face soon enough.

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Fargo – Season 3, Episode 4: “The Narrow Escape Problem”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 4: “The Narrow Escape Problem”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Monica Beletsky

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Law of Non-Contradiction” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The House of Special Purpose” – click here
Pic 1Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and his brother Ray (McGregor) are portrayed in a juxtaposed couple shots showing how different they are truly, at the same time the latter’s trying to impersonate his brother. Also, the instruments of the score play us through, every character – named by animal – has a sound.
Great opening sequence, from the Stussy brothers to Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) helping her man prepare for their latest con, to Sy Feltz (Michael Stulhbarg) keeping an eye on the situation at the office, and V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) who likes to binge eat and throw up apparently. Can’t forget Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), either; fresh off her trip to LA in search of clues about Ennis Stussy a.k.a Thaddeus Mobley.
Loving this season. The characters are incredibly interesting, almost more than ever because there’s a true air of mystery, particularly with Varga.
Pic 1ASo Ray’s pretending to be his brother, looking for the safety deposit box. Nikki does her best to pump him up for the work at hand. She definitely believes in him, which I wasn’t so sure of at the start. Inside he goes for the box, briefly meeting a woman from Bemidji, Minnesota which of course was the setting of Season 1. Ray ends up in the office of Buck Olander (Dan Wilmott), he knows Emmit well. Most interesting is how we, and Ray alike, see the difference between the brothers. At first he finds it uncomfortable. Then uses it to his advantage to get the box opened.
When he gets inside there’s a small bag filled with dog ashes. At least he gets out with $10,000. After Emmit finds out he and Sy aren’t happy, but they have bigger fish to fry with Varga. Their money worries are quite real, and they’d rather not find out what worse a wolf like V.M. might do if triggered.
Plus, there’s Meemo (Andy Yu) and Yuri Gurka (Goran Bogdan) up to no good for their eerie, mysterious boss.
Ray: “Buck, if I wanted an opinion from an asshole Id ask my own.”
Meanwhile, Gloria investigates the death of Maurice LeFay, going through his belongings at the morgue. Where she soon comes to find a Parole Board business card amongst them. Only a few steps to Ray Stussy, then a few more to connect him, his problems with his brother and the death of ole Ennis. Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham) thinks she’s digging too deep into something that requires no digging.
Pic 2One thing prevalent in this series is the chaotic randomness inherent in our world.
First, Gloria passes Nikki on the way into the Parole Board offices. Then, as it happened to her previously at another building, Gloria’s ignored by the automatic doors. Will this little nugget come to play a bigger part? It’s the same thing in the washroom when she tries getting soap, water, the sink and dispenser refuse to acknowledge her. There’s got to be more to this, I know it. Random events often come to mean bigger things in the Fargo universe.
So now Ray meets Gloria. She discovers his last name’s Stussy. No relation, of course. But curious to note for our woman of the law. They get talking about Maurice and his death, his involvement in the death of Ennis, that he may have been looking for something at the old guy’s house. When she leaves the balder of the Stussy brothers he’s visibly shook. No wonder.
He has worse problems. Pictures of him and Nikki turn up from their night out gambling. The higher-ups aren’t happy with him. They offer to sweep it under the rug, if it’s just a “one time thing.” So, he has to choose love or his job. They also threaten to revoke her parole if he chooses the former. Eventually he talks them down and leaves his job behind. But if he officially gets closer to Nikki, then it’s increasingly likely that Gloria will be more suspicious about what happened to Maurice, at Nikki’s apartment building, et cetera. Yikes, what a mess. A beautiful mess.
Ray: “They always find a way to screw ya, dont they?”
Gloria: “They try
Officer Lopez, who ran into Gloria while in the Parole Board office bathroom, is over chatting with Sy about the car accident reported. He’s real cagey, too. Not a good poker face. With the big Russian and Meemo lurking around the office it’s never good having a cop around.
Pic 3At Emmit’s door arrives Varga, sniffing out pork chops. He sits with the family and eats. A very nervous dinner, indeed. The sly Brit intimidates while being sweet as a slice of apple pie. And when he’s finished his meal, he goes to the bathroom to keep himself thin with a vomit. Later, the two men talk business, though Emmit does so reluctantly. “Youre living in the age of the refugee, my friend,” Varga tells him cryptically, as he speaks of class war, capitalism, and how when things go to shit nobody will differentiate between a guy who pumps oil or a guy who makes tons of cash leasing parking lots.
Interesting how much Varga knows, of the Brothers Stussy, their struggle. Also note that V.M. has a picture of Stalin on his wall near the computer. What a creep. I doubt he idolises the man. More so he’s the type who thrives under a dictator, one who reaps the spoils of such a situation. A dirty opportunist of the lowest, darkest sort. And Emmit’s right in his cross-hairs.
Note: I suspect Varga’s bulimic tendencies are symbolism, of how the upper class gorge themselves, purging, then gorging; all for the sake of it rather than out of need.
At home Gloria contemplates the case of Ennis’ death. She gets a late visit from Officer Lopez about her visit to the Stussy office. Bringing about the conversation about Ennis, two brothers with the same last name and one living in Eden Prairie. Ahh, the pieces are really falling together now.
Pic 4Love the twisting and turning plot of this season. This episode deepened that to further lengths. Great, labyrinthine writing!
Next episode is “The House of Special Purpose” and I’m never sure what’ll happen in any episode, so I look forward to a new surprise.

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 3: “The Law of Non-Contradiction”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 3: “The Law of Non-Contradiction”
Directed by John Cameron
Written by Ben Nedivi & Matt Wolpert

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Principle of Restricted Choice” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Narrow Escape Problem” – click here
Pic 1Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) is at an awards ceremony, the Singularity Awards. He’s won Best Sci-Fi Novel for The Planet Wyh. Could his stories of aliens somehow connect with the interests in aliens from Ted Danson’s character in Season 2? Hmm. Either way, Mobley winds up at the bar with a man named Howard Zimmerman (Fred Melamed), a film producer. Might be the big time for young Thad. He’s whisked off to make his novel into a “major motion picture” with a studio. Although things aren’t exactly as they seem.
Howard leads him on with starry promises. “Tit for tat” is how things get done, so he tells the young gentleman. Prying money from him, as he snorts at least some of it up his nose. Isn’t hard to see where this is headed. Poor, innocent Thad is getting grifted. Hard. One thing leads to another and he’s also into the drugs, as well. He keeps on writing, but those are the least of his worries now.
Pic 1AA beautifully animated bit brings us to Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) on a plane, reading The Planet Wyh. A man next to her (Ray Wise) asks about it and they have chat. Everyone around them stares at their phones, and he laments the change in times. Me too, Mr. Wise. Me, too.
Gloria’s on a trip to California hoping she’ll find out more about the elusive Mr. Mobley – a.k.a Ennis Stussy – going off a few books, newspaper clippings. What’ll she discover? I’ve pondered it ever since we saw the first glimpse of his books.
At the motel checking in she chases down a thief, or tries to, anyway. She winds up talking to a cop named Officer Hunt (Rob McElhenney) and asks if he could run information for her, re: the case. A possibility. In her room Gloria finds a box, in the closet. A strange box with a switch that opens then closes itself. I actually laughed out loud a bit. Not the weirdest thing about most motel rooms.
We see the difference between ‘small town folk’ and the ‘bigger city crowd’ as Gloria’s one of the only people at a diner, again, not using a cellphone constantly. She asks around about Mobley, tracking down a waitress; the one who helped seduce Mobley into the dark side now near 30 years sober. “Its basically nothing but a dream,” she tells Gloria rather than dredge up those haunting memories.


At a bar Gloria meets Officer Hunt. The difference between city v. small town is so painfully awkward. A funny and brutal scene, sort of sad the way she’s treated. Meta moment for Fargo, as many viewers get a chuckle out of the Minnesota accent. But then Paul (Wise) shows up again. He makes her feel more comfortable the way he acts, they can actually talk like human beings.
More of the Android Minsky and The Planet Wyh. Great animation that I’m glad was included. Sort of helps with the at times surreal feel of the series. In this moment it’s like a dream in Gloria’s mind as she falls asleep.
The next day she’s up again searching for clues about Ennis’ previous life as Thaddeus. She goes to the Writers Guild of America and finds a script for the novel’s adaptation; curiously misspelled as Planet Why. The producer’s credit leads her to Zimmerman, living in a long term care facility. He’s in terrible shape. She asks her questions about Mobley, and old Howard goes on about “quantum something” – physics, I’d imagine. Nothing much concrete, though.
At night a note is slipped under Gloria’s door. Then we’re whisked back to Thaddeus discovering his girl used him, he and Howard. The young man’s crushed, particularly when she lays into him with vicious words. Howard chokes him then gets whacked in the brain with a cane over and over. Thad nearly kills them both before running out. But as Gloria sees it in present day, it’s only “a story.” Or is there more to the Mobley connection? Yes, you know damn well there’ll be more down the line.


We see the aftermath of that bad night years ago. Thad packing his suitcase frantically. A picture perfect dual image: the award he won and the blood on his hands. Sort of nastily poignant. At the same time, a parallel shows us Thad puking in the toilet at the thought of his deeds versus Gloria noticing a stamp for DENNIS STUSSY & SONS company on the rim of the toilet in her room; only the D is worn off. It meant a new life, new beginning for Thad.
More of the Android Minsky and his adventures, the wild animations. One of the most unique episodes of the whole series, honestly. Dig it or not, you’ve got to give Hawley & Co. their due.
Gloria and her son Nathan (Graham Verchere) say goodbye to Ennis at the funeral home, a weary life behind the old man. She gets information about fingerprints from the murder scene. Maurice LeFay, of course. How long until Ms. Burgle gets herself closer to Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)? Not too long, I’d bet. It’s gonna get real complicated real quick, and I, for one, cannot fucking wait. Such an interesting setup already. Also, what’s Gloria doing with that weird box from the motel? Keep your eye on that.


Loved the episode, it was so unique. Amazingly written, as well as flawlessly directed by John Cameron, also a producer on the series. Next episode is “The Narrow Escape Problem” – with a title like that, you can be sure there’ll be excitement, a few thrills in the darkly comic world that is Fargo on FX.

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 2: “The Principle of Restricted Choice”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 2: “The Principle of Restricted Choice”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “The Law of Vacant Places” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Law of Non-Contradiction” – click here
Pic 1Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) goes over the crime in her head. She digs into the box she found at the Ennis’ place in the floorboards. Inside are several Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) novels, she flips through them to see if there are any little notes or anything significant stuck between the pages. Nothing. There’s a newspaper clipping of Mobley winning a Golden Planet award. A photo of a woman, signed. She says Ennis Stussy and Mobley are “one in the same.” Hmm.
Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregory) and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) go see Irv Blumkin (Hardee T. Lineham) about their problem with Mr. V. M. Varga (David Thewlis) and their stupid, illicit deal. The two men are clueless, it’s almost amazing how they got as far as they have at this point in life. A curt commentary on many ‘successful’ businessmen, to my mind. Either way, Emmit still has problems with Ray (McGregor), the stamp. Although Sy says he doesn’t want the stamp, he wants his brother’s life; the “green monster.”
Watching Irv operate a computer, let alone Google, is absurdly hilarious. When he manages to search Varga, a webcam turns on and takes a picture of them. Then everything shuts down. Now that can’t be a coincidence, can it? That Varga is sketchy. His teeth alone are the stuff of nightmares. Even with that grill of rotten chompers he’s somehow charming, in the way he speaks to others like some villain from a fairy tale whispering in the ear of others along the peripheries.
At a lot Sy and Emmit control, Varga’s parked a big rig truck. What could be inside? Something sinister? “Slave girls,” Sy wonders? Who the hell knows. They’re trying to cover their asses while bigger things are happening, and have been a long while, without their knowing.
Pic 1AGloria meets with Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham). He’s a bit more of a rough character than some of the cops we’ve seen on Fargo, which is a welcomed touch. There’s already a tension between the two characters, as well. He’s her new boss, and wants to lay down the law at the office. He also wants her to take time off, after the death of her stepfather Ennis.
She goes out and starts investigating. A store owner says a Russian man came in – though, he doesn’t remember it was only a shirt with Russia on it (that’ll cause something to fuck up at some point) – and tore a page from his phone book; we know that man was Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy), but the information’s been mangled by this bumbling man.
Ray is checking on the death of Maurice, at the very same time. It’s been logged as ACCIDENTAL. Making him a very happy man, putting more pieces of the puzzle together for him. All the while the guy’s brains are being scrubbed off the sidewalk over in front of the apartment where Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) lives. Things look as if they’re going well. She’s busy trying to put together a new job, to make more money. Ray would rather get “out of the woods” before anything else. She says there’s something wrong with his “chi.” Blocked up. Not good. Sometimes it’s like she strings him along, though it also looks at times like she loves him. She is damn dedicated, that’s for sure.
Ray: “I never killed anybody before
Nikki: “Well me either. Lifes a journey, yknow.”


Ray goes to Emmit’s place. At 10:30 in the night, imagine that? Goes to show the disconnected brothers, one a buttoned down family man and the other a semi-regular guy. It’s fun to watch McGregor play off himself, a hard thing to do. Yet each of the Stussy brothers is different. Their mannerisms, how they talk even under those Minnesota accents. While Ray apologises to his brother, inside the house Nikki tracks down the stamp’s location. It was moved. In its place is the picture of a donkey; an ass. She discovers the receipt for a safety deposit box in the office desk. Then leaves her bloody tampon in the drawer. What she doesn’t know is that the stamp wasn’t moved, the frame’s only being fixed.
Ah, the ole Fargo comitragedy of errors!
Moreover, we get a look at Meemo (Andy Yu) and his friend Yuri from the Old Country. They toss an old man over the side of a parking garage, then walk away like they just finished playing a game of basketball. Dark and hilarious. Now there’s more of a Russian-ish connection coming into play, I’m very interested to see that unfold.
Later, Emmit gets a call saying Irv jumped off his garage.


Gloria’s making arrangements to have Ennis buried, she and her boy Nathan (Graham Verchere). They can’t track him back past 1980, before he married her mother. He’s a bit of a mystery, especially considering her mom passed already. He didn’t really have friends. Gloria is stuck on the Mobley theory, which ought to prove for more interesting story in upcoming episodes.
In a diner Sy visits Ray, unhappy about the break-in. They certainly don’t have any kind of good relationship, not even a working one. Sy says Ray won’t ever speak to his brother again; “nonnegotiable,” he claims. Appears the guy’s got a temper, which Ray doesn’t take to nicely.
At the office Emmit finds Varga kicking around suddenly, like a wisp of fog out of thin air. He’s got Yuri and Meemo with him, too. They’re taking up some office space. They’ve got plenty of boxes of… files? Already being wheeled into an empty wing. We’re coming to see V.M’s shadiness. In a way, he represents others outside America today while Sy and Emmit are the stupid men at the helm of the nation currently in 2017; as he says, they think the deal “can be changed” but once you’ve started down certain roads there’s no stopping. “Youre trapped,” Varga explains. He further assures the audience of what happened with Irv. Nasty dude.
Pic 4Loved this second episode! Hawley did a great job writing, and the characters have started opening up. I particularly have interest in Varga, whose purpose becomes clearer with this episode and specifically the final few minutes. Awesome stuff.
“The Law of Non-Contradiction” is next week.

Fargo – Season 3, Episode 1: “The Law of Vacant Places”

FX’s Fargo
Season 3, Episode 1: “The Law of Vacant Places”
Directed by Noah Hawley
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the Season 2 finale, “Palindrome” – click here
* For a recap & review of the next episode, “The Principle of Restricted Choice” – click here
Pic 1Year 3.
1988 in East Berlin. A man is interviewed by an officer, though claims he’s not who officer believes he is, a man named Yuri Gurka. Seems they’ve got a problem. “That state would have to be wrong” for all this to be an issue. Surely, that can’t be correct, can it? I see where this is headed. There’s a murder, which puts this poor man, not Yuri, at a disadvantage when up against the crumbling Soviet.
Now, we head into Minnesota during 2010 for our current timeline story.
Pic 1AEmmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) are conducting a bit of business, as a 25th anniversary party for Emmit and his wife Stella. Afterwards the celebration goes on happily. In attendance is their daughter Grace (Caitlynne Medrek), as well as brother Ray (also Ewan McGregor). And the much more greasy-looking brother is there to get a meeting with Sy and Emmit. It’s been some time, evidently.
They do a little catching up, awkward as that goes. The tension is clear. Ray obviously feels lower class compared to his brother; Sy’s like the best friend who’s more like a brother than the brother himself. We’re also introduced to Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and the fact Ray wants to get her an engagement ring. This brings up issues of money, plus some betrayal over a stamp collection, “vintage” stuff worth tons of cash.
The relationship between Nikki and Ray is a weird one. Likely she’s using him, but too early to judge. He’s a cagey one, too. So, I wouldn’t count anything out. Nikki says they’re “simpatico to the point of spooky” and he’s inclined to agree. Be interesting to watch more of them together, love McGregor and Winstead’s odd chemistry.


Ray is a parole officer – where he met his latest girlfriend – spending his days drowning in paperwork and piss. No short of characters he encounters. And no doubt we’ll see some kind of ethical murkiness rear its head; well, more than already with Nikki. You can’t help imagine what kind of plans Noah Hawley has for a main character with that profession in his quirky, twisted little world of Fargo.
At a bar Ray meets with Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy) who’s recently failed a piss test. This P.O is a little more lenient on those under his care. He wants Maurice to help him out with a robbery; quid pro quo, poof, vamoose, and the problems go away. If he can get his hands on the stamp in Emmit’s office.
Sy and Emmit have business to take care of late in the evening. Simultaneously, Maurice lurks around waiting for the right time to strike on his mission; he’s a little busy smoking a joint and talking to his shrink via speaker phone in the car. Then he loses the paper on which Ray wrote the address; it flies out the window, into the snowy roadside. Does he remember? Or will this cause unintended consequences? I’d vote on the latter.
When Emmit gets to the office he finds V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) waiting for him. He’s from their lender, Narwahl. Says they don’t need to pay back the money, apparently. It’s an “investment” he tells them. Followed by cryptic talk of “singularity” and “continuity.” Hmm, a few strings attached. Seems the boys got in over their head and didn’t ask questions before jumping in deep.


Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) is at home celebrating her son Nathan’s (Graham Verchere) birthday. They’ve got a bit of a fractured family; modern by most standards. Another interesting family for the series.
A great tune, as always, plays (Adriano Celetano – “Prisencolinensinainciusol“) us through while cards are being dealt in a regional tournament. Dream team Swango and Stussy hit the tables together to make themselves a big a payday.
Poor, stoned Maurice, searching out the address he lost, remembering it incorrectly and headed in the wrong direction. Headed right for Eden Valley, where Gloria’s the law. Then the guy winds up going to Ennis Stussy’s – no relation to the twins, far as we know – place, where Gloria just left. She turns back to get the model he made for her boy, then finds the place in shambles, door open. The old man taped to a chair, dead. After looking around awhile she locates a hidden compartment in the floor with a box in it; inside, old books, a figure, and more.
When Maurice goes to see Ray, things are messy. The misunderstandings are only just beginning to pile up. It’s about to get wild, and nasty. Particularly when the parolee goes crazy on him, pulling a gun. However, Nikki’s always thinking. As Maurice leaves the apartment, they drop an air conditioner on his head obliterating him. They’ve got a plan and everything. A convenient way out.


This is the beginning of what’s sure to be an interesting Season 3. Such a great premiere, and I know there’s even greater things to come.
Not sure how the East Berlin moment earlier plays into the whole thing, though there’s a Russian connection: Maurice is wearing a shirt in the bar with RUSSIA written on it; maybe nothing, or maybe something. Who knows.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 10: “Morton’s Fork”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 10: “Morton’s Fork”
Directed by Matt Shakman
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage” – click here
* For reviews of Fargo Season 2 starting with “Waiting for Dutch” – click here
Picture 1
The finale of Fargo‘s amazing first season has come. Aw, geez.
“Morton’s Fork” commences where we last left Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), whose wide eyes and open mouth gape at Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) having just killed his new wife Linda (Susan Park) at the insurance office.
Now, we start to glimpse into the newly criminal mind of Lester. He’s become a ruthless, terrible man. Especially when compared to the meek and mild person he was at the beginning in “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”. Beginning to piece together an alibi in his head, Lester crafts things out of nothing. First, he places the car keys in Linda’s dead hand. Secondly, he goes over to the diner where Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine) receives him with a warm smile. He orders, for both himself and Linda, then rushes out to the bathroom, supposedly, making a call from a phone booth to report the shots fired. Slick? We’ll see.
Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is relaxing at home with her stepdaughter Greta (Joey King) and husband Gus (Colin Hanks). Then she gets a call about the murder: “The other one now?” asks Molly.
Meeting Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) at the crime scene, Molly goes over things as he keeps back, for fear of vomiting at the sight of more blood. Then Lester shows up, his grief coming through in “aw geez” over and over. Putting on a show for the officers, he pretends to start crying, wobbling and almost falling over. But sneaking one last moment with his wife’s body, Lester attempts to grab the airline tickets in her pocket. No such luck, buddy boy.


Gus: “Whats that now?”
Molly: “Someone killed the second Mrs. Nygaard.”


At a cabin in the woods, listening to his police scanner, Malvo cooks up a little food on the stove, as well as grabs hold of a few key materials: gun, jimmy stick to steal cars.
Meanwhile, FBI Agents Pepper and Budge (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele) are waiting at the Bemidji Police Department. They’re getting ready to question Lester. However, Lou appears so he can tell Molly about the strange man he’d met at the diner – though he can’t be sure, the security footage picture she shows him looks like it could be Lorne. When Molly asks her father to check up on the family at home, he replies: “Screw that. Goinhome and gettinmy gun is what Im doing. Sit on the front porch. Make sure my granddaughters safe.” Love, love, love Keith Carradine as Lou Solverson. Amazing.
Outside the P.D., Malvo shows up and takes a little black notebook from the car which Pepper and Budge drive. Off he goes, as Lester is being questioned by Molly, Bill, and the two agents. Budge and Pepper want to know more about the wandering evil that is Lorne Malvo. Trying to gain more favour from Bill, Lester gets shut down; no more help from the bumbling chief. Once Nygaard lawyers up things shut down, but Molly warns him: “Hes not gonna stop. Yknow that right? A man like thatmaybe not even a man.”


Bill (to Molly): “I used to have positive opinions about the world, you know, about people. Used to think the best. Now Im looking over my shoulder. An unquiet mind, thats what the wife calls it. The job has got me staring into the fireplace, drinking. I never wanted to be the type to think big thoughts about the nature of things andall I ever wanted was a stack of pancakes and a V8.”
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Out on his own, Gus is determined to try and do right. Or at least prevent Molly from having to wade into the river of blood which Malvo always brings with him. Gus heads over to the cabin in the woods where he’d seen the red car parked – the one in which he was sure he’d seen Malvo. Then, from out the door comes the man himself. Lorne drives away with Gus sneaking around quietly.
Malvo is starting to put another plan into motion. He’s calling into the Bemidji P.D. to get the names of the FBI Agents Budge and Pepper. Then to the FBI Operations, cancelling any back-up and claiming things there are a “dead end“. What’s about to happen next? Well, Lorne goes to a car dealership and finds the exact same Ford model as the undercover FBI vehicles. He asks to test drive it, taking the owner with him.
When Agents Pepper and Budge pull out of the station, Lester in tow (being released though still watched), Malvo isn’t far behind in his identical car. Back at his place, Lester is sweating it out in nervousness, awaiting his own next move.


Lou: “What are you planninon doinwith that?”
Greta: “If he comes, Ill put his eye out. You can finish him off.”
Lou: “Thats my girl


At the Nygaard place, Agents Pepper and Budge sit waiting, watching. Out of nowhere, up pulls another car just like the one in which they’re sat. They’re not sure whether it’s backup or not. Guns drawn, they ask the driver to exit their vehicle. To no response. Coming up next to the window, realizing the man inside – the car dealer – is duct taped to the wheel, Budge and Pepper are both shot to death by Malvo, emerging from the snowy forest behind them.
Rifling through his suitcase and tossing things everywhere, Lester is trying to determine the next step. Just out the front door he spies trails of blood, an open empty FBI car. Panic sets in.
Malvo pushes his way into the house. In the bathroom upstairs he can hear a frantic Lester calling for help on the phone. A few more steps and – BAM – Lorne steps right into the bear trap Lester set on the floor, covered with all those clothes he tossed out of his luggage. What I love most? Lorne throws the Salesman of the Year award and breaks Lester’s nose; giving him an injury to match the one he had in the first episode, bringing things full circle. Except when the dust settles, Lorne is gone, having escaped from the trap in a bloody mess. The car outside is nowhere to be found. As Lester closes his front door, a look crosses his face, an almost grin, as if believing he’s finally run the wolf off his trail.


The episode’s final 15 minutes see Lorne heading back to the cabin in the woods. His leg is brutal, bleeding everywhere. He manages to pop some drugs via needle into his system, then sets the bone very craftily with a small length of rope. But when he begins to start tending to his wound, Lorne finds himself surprised by none other than Gus Grimly pointing a gun his way. Gus says he’s figured out the “shades of green” riddle. Then, when an angry Malvo insists on hearing what the answer is, Gus only fires on him, blowing a few holes through his chest. A couple more shots and then the wandering evil of Malvo has come to an end. A fitting finish for Lorne, but even more so Gus, whose earlier mistakes are finally cauterized by the shooting. He’s proved himself and made right what once went wrong. You betcha.
A great finish to the season includes Lester being finally caught, chased out onto the ice where he falls through into the dead cold waters, as well as the Solverson-Grimly family sitting together, watching television and letting their lives go back to normal.


This, along with Season 2, is some of the best television ever made. Some of my favourite, up there with The ShieldThe Knick, and a handful of others.
Please, if you haven’t, check out my reviews for Season 2 and let me know your thoughts on all the episodes. And until 2017 brings us Season 3 of Noah Hawley’s intense, funny, and consistently fascinating series – enjoy.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 9: “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 9: “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”
Directed by Matt Shakman
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Heap” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Morton’s Fork” – click here
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After jumping a year down the line, Noah Hawley brings us into the penultimate Season 1 episode “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”.
We begin on the new identity of Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) as a dentist. He talks a patient through things while checking his teeth and finishing off a procedure. This new blonde-haired Malvo, obviously under a new pseudonym, is a slick one. Did he really go to dental school? Or what’s going on here? Either way, I love it. He and Burt Canton (Stephen Root) are friendly, so no matter what’s going on Lorne has carved out a nice little niche for himself in which to lounge.
For now.
Lorne still has his recordings, listening to them over and over. The evil in Malvo sits right below the surface. He relives his past transgressions, as if basking in them.
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Lorne: “Aces!”


Now, we end up back where we last saw Lorne, a woman next to him and across the table are Burt and his lady. Across the room sits Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) in the blurry periphery of the frame, as Lorne jokes and makes things light. While Burt talks about their upcoming excitement, Lester shows up to talk with Lorne who pretends they’ve never met before. An awkward moment ensues, but before Lorne leaves he tells Lester in a serious tone: “Walk away.”
Not satisfied with this slight, Lester heads into the elevator to confront Malvo. “The old Lester woulda let that slidenot this guy,” he tells Lorne and the others. But then an old Western style situation emerges: “Lester, is this what you want?” asks Lorne. Everyone seems confused. Once Lester replies yes, things change. Drastically. Out comes a silenced, silver pistol, and Lorne kills everyone in the elevator; except for Lester. “Thats on you,” says Lorne.
Turns out Malvo was looking for $100,000 bounty, working for a whole six months on Burt. Lorne tries to get Lester in on helping to hide the bodies, but Nygaard cracks him one in the back of the head with his Salesman of the Year award, running off into the dark basement of the hotel. Upstairs, he starts to pack things. Time to head back home, you betcha.


FBI Agents Pepper and Budge (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele) are still wasting away in the file room. All of a sudden, someone comes looking for the Syndicate file regarding the Fargo mob. Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) in Bemidji says, naturally, she knows who did the deed.
In Bemidji, Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine) has his daughter, husband Gus (Colin Hanks) and new granddaughter Greta (Joey King) at the diner for a hearty breakfast. Nice to see this big family together: “Youre the granddaughter I always wanted but was afraid to buy online,” Lou tells Greta after she kisses him on the forehead.
Finishing her meal, Molly gets a call about the elevator murders, and then she asks what the witness’ name is – I’m sure the name must be Mr. Lester Nygaard.
Meanwhile, Lester’s rushing to get home, head on a swivel looking behind him for a car or any vehicle following him. The new Lester doesn’t seem present anymore. We’re back to the jittery, nervous Lester Nygaard, not the Insurance Salesman of the Year. He wants to go on a big vacation to make it up to Linda (Susan Park): immediately. Yet he can’t seem to move a step without looking every which way first. At home getting ready, Lester looks through some of his brother’s things, hunting gear and the like. The box also contains a gun. He picks up his old orange-red winter jacket from off a nearby rack. Molly shows up at the door to throw him off even further.


While out on his mail route, Gus sees a car drive by and the driver inside looks terribly familiar. Though, he shakes it off. In the car was, in fact, Lorne Malvo. He arrives at Lester’s old place where someone new is now living. Getting the new information on his old buddy Nygaard, the evil Lorne drops the history of the house on the new owners, his children. What a rough dude. At the same time, darkly hilarious.
There’s no rest for the wicked, and this certainly applies to Malvo. He is always doing something. Even if it’s making little kids scared, or killing people, there is constantly, consistently a malicious presence in him.
Deputy Molly talks over the night in question with Lester, about his supposed witnessing the elevator murders. Without being prompted, Linda helps Lester out with part of his alibi and their sudden switched flight.


A scene at the diner sees Lorne sit down across from Lou for coffee and a bit of pie. Although, Malvo tells him: “No good ever came from a piece of cherry pie.” They get into a talk about Lou’s history as a State Trooper for a couple decades. Malvo also asks about Lester, but Lou isn’t exactly keen on giving out another man’s home address and so on. The ever vigilant Lorne spies the Gus-Molly wedding picture, asking about them, making more observations as he so often does. There’s a bit of an ominous feel to the scene as it goes on, cutting occasionally to Molly, then back to Lorne across from Lou in a very stand-off-type way. Lou talks about a case “back in ’79” most likely the infamous Sioux Falls Massacre: “Id call it animal except animals only kill for food. This wasSioux Fallsever been?” Right as Deputy Molly comes into the diner, Lorne is leaving after making a wonderfully snaky comment. Perfect scene.
Molly meets Agents Pepper and Budge, who are more than excited to see her and hear about what she’s got to say re: the Syndicate shooting. She shows them the big whiteboard full of connections, faces, events and so on. Late to the meeting, Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) arrives and tries to apologize for Molly, as if there’s something for which to be sorry. Clearly there’s no sense in Bill, whose intelligence doesn’t exactly rival that of her own deputy. Nevertheless, Pepper and Budge want to stay in town, they’re impressed with Molly’s “tremendous work” and plan on moving ahead with questioning Lester some more.
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Lorne: “I havent had pie like that since the Garden of Eden
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At their home, Gus stares into the board of connections Molly made concerning the Nygaard case. We cut to the red car coming down the road, the BMW driven by Lorne, as Gus sees him from the mail truck. Poor Grimly is just constantly driven nuts by the entire situation, starting from his first mistake right to the present.
In other news, Lester is getting things ready to fly off and leave his problems behind. The tickets are ready, Acapulco apparently, and Lester is rushing Linda off into the car, whisking her towards the airport. Only there’s more trouble ahead.
Stopping in at Nygaard Insurance, inside the office Lester looks long and hard, wondering if Malvo might be lurking. He further gives Linda his distinctive winter jacket to put on. Is Lester sending her in there to die, possibly? Seems so, don’t ya think? He even asks her to put the hood up.
And when Linda goes inside, after a moment appears Lorne to make the kill with one silenced shot to her head. Lester watches on in semi-horror, semi-relief. Obviously, Lorne checks to see who it is and looks out the window, almost as if right at Lester.


Has everything come to bear finally on Lester Nygaard? The murder coming full circle? You can be sure.
Excited to review the final episode of Season 1, “Morton’s Fork”. Stay tuned and I’ll have another review/recap finished soon enough. Cheers.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 8: “The Heap”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 8: “The Heap”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “Who Shaves the Barber?” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage” – click here
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This episode starts with Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) receiving a new improved washing machine. Might as well get rid of that old reminder, yah? The look on Lester’s face begins to make me wonder what sort of person he is truly. While he watches the machine wash away, the look just lingers.
Then he goes to see his sister-in-law Kitty (Rachel Blanchard). She’s ready to leave Chaz (Joshua Close) behind now, believing him to be a horrible man, an adulterer and a murderer. Poor little Gordo is having night terrors. Even some information that normally wouldn’t be suspicious about Chaz starts to slip out, such as his purchase of a timeshare and a boat – likely things his family would’ve used – and it makes the entire situation look all the worse for it.
At home, Lester begins to take down all his wife’s nonsense motivational posters, her commemorative spoon collection, her sewing station and clothes and everything possible. All the while, a steel drum version of “Ode to Joy” plays. Sort of oddly fitting.
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Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) heads to see her father Lou (Keith Carradine) at the diner. She gets a coffee fill-up, as well as flowers sent from Duluth; obviously care of Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). “A smarter man would say youre beinwooed,” Lou says on the sly.
Meanwhile, Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) just ate an omelette and doesn’t want to be disturbed before it digests. Only Deputy Knudsen (Gary Valentine) calls on him, saying Molly requests his presence in the boardroom. There, she has a whiteboard littered with different connections in the Nygaard case. Still, rightfully so, she’s convinced Bill and everyone else is wrong on pinning the thing on Chaz. But Oswalt is only concerned with cluing things up, moving on.


Bill: “Thats just how it is sometimes. LifeYa go to bed unsatisfied.”


At work, Lester is having troubles with Gina Hess (Kate Walsh). Finally, she’s discovered her insurance claim is denied; there will be no money. “Ill make some calls,” says Lester. Except she suspects he knew the entire time, which of course… he did. She says at the end of the day he’s got to have $2-million. Or else. Then in a confrontation, he staples the two young Hess boys in their foreheads, telling Gina how things are going to go.
In Fargo, FBI Agents Pepper and Budge (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele) are awaiting what will no doubt be a serious talking to, after the debacle which happened right under their noses. They don’t get yelled at. They’re escorted down floors and floors into a room full of files, as their boss closes the door on them explaining: “This is where you work now.” A punishment. Dull, but a punishment nonetheless. On the wall, though, Budge tapes a picture off the security camera of Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) from side-on.
When a police officer takes his break for a leak at the hospital, Malvo shows up and strangles the man over his back. Cut to Lorne sitting next to Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) who wakes up soon enough. They have a casual, no nonsense sort of chat. The type Lorne traffics in regularly. Part of why I love Lorne as a character is because of his non-chalant nature, he talks to everyone in the same way. He isn’t indestructible, either. Just lucky. And regardless of how you feel about him, Billy Bob Thornton plays Malvo wonderfully, with an understated, subtle performance. Even better – Lorne leaves Wrench with a key to his handcuffs before walking out.


Lorne (to Mr. Wrench): “I watched a bear once. His leg was in a steel trap. It chewed through bloody bone to get free. It was in Alaska. Died about an hour later facedown in a stream. But it was on his own terms, you know? You got close. Closer than anybody else. I dont know if it was you or your partner, but look – if you still feel raw about things when you heal up, come see me.”


Molly won’t ever be able to let the Nygaard case and everything wrapped up in it go. Never. Not until things are settled and the whole case is laid to rest. If not, she’ll only circle around it until something breaks; either her job, her mind, or who knows. On the way home from their office party, Molly stops and sees Lester with his co-workers at Munk Insurance. The look on her face, watching him act normal as if nothing had ever happened – she knows something wrong went on, she just can’t connect all the dots quite yet. Soon.
Back to Gus Grimly, who can never seem to keep a drink from spilling. In his squad car having a cup of coffee, he checks the speeds of cars coming down the road; few and far between. So, he calls Deputy Molly for a chat. They both really like each other, it’s easy to tell. Even her eyes perk up a little when he talks, and Gus often rambles or stumbles over words worse than usual when they’re talking together. Furthermore, a date is setup, again awkwardly. But it’s cute, the two of them.
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A time jump: one year later.
Gus has obviously given up his job as a cop. Now doing what he always wanted to do – deliver mail. An interesting change of pace, but I dig it. With his new job it’s clearly better for him and daughter Greta (Joey King), so he can walkie talkie with her whenever and not worry about missing criminals, or anything similar. More than just that. At home, a new place, Gus and Molly have a beautiful place, and a beautiful family with a bun in the oven. How things have progressed! I love to see this, though, as it also shows how Molly has slowed down and fell off the Nygaard incident. If only for the fact she hasn’t slowed down one bit. She keeps a room full of clippings, pictures, red string connecting points of interest and so on. There is never any giving up; not when you’re a Solverson.
So, let’s see where everyone else has ended up in 12 months. The time jump is also fun because it’s a year, and with that comes emotions/situations pertaining to the anniversary of all the big incidents in Bemidji, Duluth, and even Fargo.
Agents Budge and Pepper are now long broken down by the file room. Their relentlessly nonsensical banter is actually a great crack-up. I love Key and Peele anyways. Here with Noah Hawley’s writing, they’re so perfect for their parts. As Pepper tosses a ball over and over at the wall, eventually a bulletin board falls revealing the picture of Malvo, which Budge had taped there a long year before. Will this re-whet their appetite?
Then there’s Bill Oswalt. He’s taken in a young African refugee, bless his heart. Just such a strange place to find him. Yet shows that he’s a good man. A stupid, figuratively blind man, but good in his soul. The whole scene with Bill, Molly and the young man is a whole lot of fun, as well as a little intriguing, sussing out the message of why this has been included; the right under your nose aspect of everything comes forward quickly.


Best of all is Lester Nygaard. He’s living it up in new found freedom. He and Linda Park (Susan Park) are together now. No longer does Lester have a terrible wife, but a woman who actually respects him. Moreover, he’s won a big award as Insurance Salesman of the Year. As Lester and Linda party it up in a hotel for the evening, a familiar face pushes out of the crowd. While Lester heads to the bar, and Linda goes upstairs, there comes the old memory of a man. And though he doesn’t look the same, use the same name, and he’s sporting a different style of dress entirely, different hair colour and all that, you can tell: it’s Lorne Malvo.
From out of his new attitude and new life Lester is rattled. Just seeing Malvo there across the room, it shakes him to his core. Perhaps Lester imagined never seeing him again. Though, that’d be too perfect. No, a story like that of Season 1 on Fargo wouldn’t be enough without old wounds coming to bear on the present.


Excited to get into the last two episodes of the first season. Amazing show and I could watch every episode once a week, honestly. Next up is the penultimate finisher, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”. Stay tuned for more, my fellow fans and friends.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 7: “Who Shaves the Barber?”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 7: “Who Shaves the Barber?”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “Buridan’s Ass” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Heap” – click here
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As the plot thickens around Bemidji and Duluth, poor Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) is sitting in the hospital, where Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is being treated after he accidentally shot her.
At the same time we hear Chaz Nygaard (Joshua Close) talk with his family in the morning, breakfast all done and the kitchen cleaned. On the news, the story of fish falling out of the sky fascinating everyone in Minnesota. “The darndest thing,” says Kitty (Rachel Blanchard). Then off goes little Gordo with his backpack, unknowingly toting a gun to school. “No funny stuff today,” the bus driver tells him on the way in; if only he knew. Love how the shot lingers on his bookbag constantly right to the school. Eventually, as everything does, the truth comes out – the gun slides out across the floor for everyone to see.
At home, Kitty finds Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) and others at her door. They have a warrant. Things are about to get pretty turbulent for Chaz, who’s got no idea of what is about to come down on him. He gets a call at work from Kitty, and then it all ramps up. When he gets home, Chaz finds the police searching through the gun locker, and not only do they find an illegal automatic weapon, they further discover the evidence: ball peen hammer, underwear, cheesecake photographs of Pearl Nygaard his now dead sister-in-law. All the while, the look on Chaz’s face spells absolute fear, uncertainty, and incredible awe. To anyone else it would appear he was in love with Pearl and couldn’t have her, so whack, whack, whack, and the rest is history.


Over at the station, Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) sits nervously in the interrogation room waiting for information. Oswalt is hilarious, played to perfection by Bob Odenkirk; the way he starts going over things with Lester is absolutely god damn riotous. He goes through the entire situation with Lester, explaining about Gordo and so on. The idea is, in the police mind, Pearl was having an affair with Chaz, as was the intention by Lester surely. For once, his pathetic nature is coming in handy here with Bill, and everyone else, essentially pitying him. The new story comes out of Lester, telling Bill what supposedly happened involving Chaz and such. For an awkward man, he does a good job coming up with lies. Yer darn tootin’. But the real joy of this scene is watching Odenkirk react as Bill Oswalt. I mean, christ on a whole wheat cracker, I couldn’t stop grinning even with the macabre lie Lester spins during the whole thing. They couldn’t have cast the part of Oswalt better, not in my mind.
With all these new developments, Lester walks out the door of the interrogation room, smiling, and then out of the police station, past Chaz in his cell.
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We rewind to the finale of last episode. Molly is in the blizzard alone, tracking down Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton). Turning for a moment she sees another person, firing. Turning back, Malvo has disappeared. Then she gets shot by the unknowing Grimly from a distance.
Cut to Molly waking up to Greta (Joey King) above her, Gus at the bedside, too. He has to sadly admit to being the one who shot her, though, she says “that dont make sense“. An inquiry into the shooting is coming, and Gus is upset at himself. He’s continually making mistakes, but at the same time he is a good man. Maybe not the most perfect cop. A good man, though. He pushes off for a while when Molly’s father Lou (Keith Carradine) arrives to keep her company.
In Bemidji, at home, Lester starts to get on the task of cleaning his house. Like any of us would at this point he calls a cleaning service. The conversation on the phone he has is hilarious, with that outright Minnesotan charm leading to Lester’s final line before a hangup on the other end: “Lets just say theres alotta blood.”
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Briefly, we go to Rundle Realty in Reno, Nevada. In his office, the boss finds Lorne Malvo with his feet up on the desk like he owns the place. “Can I sit? Or did you wanna kill me standing?” he asks Lorne. They sit and talk a little of things about the Fargo mob and the like. Such as the onslaught which came his way via Numbers/Wrench in the previous episode. Lorne gives two choices: ambulance or hearse. By the sound of the screams once he leaves, it’s possible the latter might be needed. As is the case when Lorne comes around.
Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) is still alive. He’s cuffed to a bed and has trouble doing sign language when Deputy Molly comes asking questions. Wrench is able to write on a whiteboard for her, asking about Numbers; she confirms he’s dead. Molly sits with him and asks about the insurance office, where they last ran into one another. Then about Malvo. But most of all, you see the humanity in her as a person. She levels with Mr. Wrench about the lives they live, on opposite sides of the law, and questions why he lives the life he does on that other side. She leaves him with a bit of a teary eye, turned away and lost in his own head.


Chaz is having a tough time down at the lockup, being transferred to county jail until the trial and everything begins. But Lester is back to work and looking chipper, or acting chipper. His boss tells him Gina Hess (Kate Walsh) has her claim denied. With a look in his eye, Lester agrees to go over and talk to her about it. Does he have something in mind?
Over at the hospital, Gus brings Molly some flowers. She’s busy drawing on the window, mapping out thoughts on the Nygaard-Malvo case. Molly has things pretty well figured out in terms of the connections to everything happened now between Bemidji and Duluth, how the Fargo mob probably sent Numbers and Wrench down to see what happened with Hess. Then everything wrapping Lester and Malvo into it, clearly.
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Molly: “You keep your chin up, Gus Grimly. Were winninthis thing.”
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Now we get two great additions to the cast – FBI Agents Budge and Pepper (Jordan Peele/Keegan Michael Key). Their relentless banter keeps attention away from Lorne Malvo, who walks into a building where Moses Tripoli and other members of the Fargo mob just went inside, wielding an assault rifle. Shots are fired, people die. Floor to floor. Malvo asks where the “top dog” is, trying to find Tripoli. Up he goes until Lorne finds what he wants. This sequence is so well done because they could’ve gone full-on action, yet instead it’s an understated continuous shot up the building ending with a guy tossed from a window, bleeding out on the pavement. And somehow, once again, the snaky Malvo slips out between the cracks into the unknown while Agents Budge and Pepper are left with their dicks in their hands.
Back in Bemidji, we find Lester over at the Hess house. He and Gina have a little drink. He makes himself pretty comfortable. Instead of telling Gina there’ll be no money coming, he plays a game with her. Trying to get a little action out of it Lester succeeds, banging the widow Hess while angrily staring at the family picture on her wall.


Gina: “I know a little something about greasy palms


Molly finds out about the supposed catch of the killer, Chaz Nygaard. Of course, she doesn’t see it that way at all. Everyone’s off celebrating. But Molly will not stop until Lester is brought to justice for his part in all the madness. It almost eats her up right there on the spot. She can see Lester getting away with it, right there in front of her eyes.
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More excitement on the way after another excellent episode. Tune in again here and I’ll have a review for the next episode, “The Heap”, as soon as I get around to watching it through another time. Keep checkin’ back now, okay? And I’ll have it soon enough, you betcha.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 6: “Buridan’s Ass”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 6: “Buridan’s Ass”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Six Ungraspables” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Who Shaves the Barber?” – click here
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More of the strangeness in Minnesota, between the problems of Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and the wandering evil that is Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton), things have gotten pretty darn interesting around Bemidji and Duluth. You betcha.
A nice Japanese music opening, as we peer into the kitchen of a Japanese restaurant. A beautiful meal of fish and other assorted items is prepared, then brought out to a waiting table. At that table sits Moses Tripoli and other members of the Fargo mob. Love to watch this around again, now knowing what we know from the Season 2 finale this year. Moses asks what’s going on with the Sam hess situation. He’s told about Mrs. Wrench and Numbers (Russell Harvard/Adam Goldberg) in terms of their mileage, et cetera, on the little roadtrip they’ve taken. “Kill and be killed,” says Moses – a line again familiar to anyone who’s seen the second season.


Back at at the home of Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton), Lorne lets him out of the pantry where he’d been placed. Time for another phone call to Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt). Instead, Don chooses to rattle off a Star Wars quote and fuck with Malvo. Dummy. He also wonders why there’s “newspaper on the windows“, not paying enough attention to anything the evil in front of him is doing.
Probably still sweating out the amphetamines Lorne slipped into his regular pill bottle, Stavros is flashing back to the late ’80s when he found the roadside money. Then the call comes through, with Don reading a cryptic parable to Stavros in the disguised voice. A meeting is set. Clueless Don is then knocked out by Lorne wielding a pot off the stove.
In Duluth, Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is meeting with Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). Though they’re both focused on the case, it’s obvious a romance is brewing, which is fun because they each are awesome people yet slightly awkward at times. Gus heard from his neighbour about the confrontation with Malvo, though obviously he didn’t know it was him. He’s afraid if he called it all in himself, the others wouldn’t believe him.


Sitting up in bed looking perky, Lester is feeling better apparently. They’ve got his hand all fixed up. But he’s more concerned with why Deputy Knudsen (Gary Valentine) is posted outside the door. Clearly, he knows the gig is almost up. Or least the figurative noose around his guilt-ridden neck has started to tighten up real nice. Then Chaz (Joshua Close) shows up asking: “What did you do?” Of course, Lester dances his way lazily around the conversation trying to say he’s “the victim“. Yet Chaz is sceptical, as one might be in that situation. Especially after Lester’s so-called prank, calling from the trunk of the car in which Numbers/Wrench had him kidnapped. His younger brother insists something needs to be done, calling him a burden: “Theres something wrong with you, Lester. Theres something missing. Youre not right in the world.” Left alone again, the crafty Lester starts trying to figure out a way to make an escape for himself, starting with the heavily bandaged man in the bed next to him. Then with some bandages of his own, the slippery older Nygaard brother enacts his plan.
A nurse soon comes to take Lester, assuming him to be the other patient. Slipping free, he takes the bandages off, throws on a bit of his clothes, and runs out into the lightly falling snow.


Gus and Molly chat about Lester driving in Grimly’s car. Molly knows, obviously, Lester wasn’t in the basement when Chief Thurman was shot. Lie number one right there. The two cops make their way over to the grocery store run by Milos. Love the hilariously uncomfortable wait while Gus and Molly stand next to the cashier; the Minnesota accents with the incredibly politeness and pleasantries, it’s all so funny and excellent. Part of the charm of the series overall.
In other news, Milos is off to the parking garage for the meet. Alone. More and more he flashes back to finding the money in the snow, as if it’s all he can think of anymore. All of a sudden, Stavros has an epiphany about what to do while on the phone with Wally (Barry Flatman).
Back to Don – he’s duct taped and setup in a terrible situation. Lorne has him positioned near the door. An assault rifle is taped and aimed out the window. Things are looking pretty darn awful for ole Don Chumph. In Don’s hands, he places a twice-cocked shotgun, again aimed at the front door. Lorne wants the police real busy if Stavros does actually call them – “Part one,” he tells Don. He fires a couple shots out the window, checks on the scanner to make sure police are responding, then off goes Lorne to leave Don all alone.


Lorne: “Part twohave you ever had Turkish Delight? Its disgusting.”
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On the lam and back at his house, Lester notices the washer pulled out from the wall. Then, he looks behind the bloody poster on the wall; inside the hole, there rests the evidence. Lester pulls out a box from under the stairs with a few cheesecake Polaroids of his deceased wife Pearl, as well as fishes out a pair of her underwear from the laundry. Where’s he taking it all? I have a hunch. Meanwhile, at the hospital it’s discovered Mr. Nygaard is no longer in his bed.
At the home of his brother, Lester plants the evidenced needed to frame Chaz for the murder of Pearl. Looking at the picture of his brother’s apparently perfect family, another idea strikes. Taking a handgun from the cabinet of death Chaz has in the garage, Lester stashes it in his nephew Gordo’s bookbag. Wow! Rough stuff, mister. No bullets it seems, but still. Vindictive, hateful things coming out of the older Nygaard brother. Perhaps Chaz should’ve curbed his attitude at the hospital for fear of what might have come. Then, Gordo and his mom come home. Lester sneaks down the stairs, spied by the boy who doesn’t seem to care much – luckily, he’s on the spectrum and has no time for uncle Lester.


Gus and Molly are having a bite to eat. She’s still pressing on finding out more information, even with the roads soon closing from the snowfall. Gus tells her about how he “never wanted to be a cop“, and that his true aspiration was to be a mailman; the familiarity, bringing people their cheques, their presents, “being a part of their community“. We learn about Greta’s mother, his wife, passing, and how he needed the money – therefore, a policeman he is and will be.
Afterwards, a ton of police sirens fly by the window, as Gus and Molly watch on. They’re all headed over to Chumph’s place, where Don sits taped to his chair, trying his best to scream. The police move in on the door. Lorne has the lawn booby trapped to fire more bullets, which prompts the cops and the SWAT members to pump the house full of ammunition. With Malvo driving far away, mayhem breaks out. The house shines through with bullet holes. Don gets blown away by the police, unable to see anything except his gun. A vicious death – the duct tape keeping him steady upright while bullets rock his body back and forth.
On his police scanner, Lorne hears the news and moves on into the snowy horizon. Only all of a sudden, Numbers and Wrench show up with fire power. They begin to blast away. But the slippery eel Malvo sneaks off into the blizzard. AMAZING SEQUENCE shot in the blowing snow. It’s a really incredible bit, one of my favourites out of Season 1. Especially because we see now exactly how much of a hunter Lorne is. He’s both hunter and survivor. Here, he leads his prey to where he wants. The prey, naturally, fall into his trap. Using a trail of his own blood, Malvo lures Mr. Numbers in and stabs him between the ribs, twisting, turning the blade. Before slitting his throat. Assault rifle in tow, Lorne heads back into the blizzard leaving Gus and Molly to find the dead Mr. Numbers bled out in the snow.
Only this puts everyone in the way of more harm. In the distance gunshots go off. Grimly fires into the snow, but comes to find it was Molly he shot. This whole sequence is perfect. It also reminds me of the original and remake Insomnia, but not in a ripped off sense. In a great way.


Out in the snow, Stavros is trying to appease God. He buries the case again, now filled with money. On top of the snowy mound he places the red windshield scraper. Everything is right once more. Or, probably not. Wouldn’t that be peachy?
When the blizzard starts clearing a little, out on the road where Wally drives Stavros’ sun back home, fish start raining out of the sky. Likewise, Stavros finds them all over the road. Everywhere. Stopping at the side of the road, he’s amazed. And then discovers Wally, his son, both crashed, each dead. As if more Plagues of Egypt have come down on his head. Part of why I love Fargo so much over the course of Season 1 and Season 2 now is because Noah Hawley throws in wonderfully weird pieces like this, which somehow work and fit into the universe he’s created.
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But the finale is the real kicker. At the hospital, Lester has sneaked in again. The bandaged man is back in his bed. A place for everything and every thing in its place. Sitting quietly, a strange smile pulls across Lester’s face, as if he is finally finding some happiness.
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Great episode. Look forward to reviewing the next, “Who Shaves the Barber?”, so stay tuned for more here, fellow fans!

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 5: “The Six Ungraspables”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 5: “The Six Ungraspables”
Directed by Colin Bucksey
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “Eating the Blame” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Buridan’s Ass” – click here
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With the story chugging along in between Bemidji and Duluth, our Minnesota stories of mischief and mayhem continue.
We cue up on Lester Nygaard (Martin Freem) looking for new socks, buying a bag of “irregular socks“. We get a funny yet revealing moment about Lester, who asks “Whats fair?” when a clerk at the store explains the stock is for best offer. We watch Lester struggle to haggle. Then, the clerk offers him the socks and a long gun for $55. Cut to Pearl berating Lester for his purchase, imaging he’ll “blow his face off“. So now, we have a wonderful little explanation for how the gun ended up at Lester’s home. We revisit the night Pearl died, Lester practicing to set Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) up as the culprit. I like how Noah Hawley cuts us back to these moments, giving us different views of how things happened and what went on. Now, we see Lorne slip in as Lester is confronted by Chief Thurman (Shawn Doyle), we watch the death again.
Only now it ends with the buckshot in Lester, sinking into his hand. A great edit takes us to the current moment in that jail cell, the festering wound in his hand. Lester sits wedged between Mrs. Wrench and Numbers (Russell Harvard & Adam Goldberg). He’s sweating it out, literally. The two men are heavily intimidating as a pair. While they both give him a silent treatment, Lester attempts to talk his way out of things. They’ve got an inkling that someone else is involved in the murder of Hess, though, Nygaard won’t give anything up. Pressing into his wound, Numbers puts Lester in a world of hurt, as Wrench stuffs his dirty sock in the poor guy’s mouth. Eventually, out slips one word: “Malvo“.


Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is troubled. The entire situation is spiraling quickly out of control. “No way around it,” Molly tells herself before heading in to see Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk). He still has no time for it all, rather he’s more concerned with a snowfall warning coming up. Still, Molly gives Bill the name Lorne Malvo and other information she discovered about his stay at the motel. After a bit of chat, it almost looks as if Bill is ready to give in and hear Molly out completely. Molly believes it was “murder for hire” that later went sour. How close she is, truly.
The easily lovable Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) is technologically inept, and so he enlists his daughter Greta (Joey King) to help delve into the life of Frank Robertson, a.k.a Lorne. Up on a website pops a picture of Pastor Robertson standing in a church and everything, but only one single website. Then, they search Lorne Malvo, which brings up absolutely nothing. I love how Gus and his daughter are sort of sleuthing together, always find those unorthodox police relationships in film/television intriguing. Here it’s even better because they’re father and daughter.
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Lorne goes to the same guy from whom he procured the amphetamines, tracking down a police scanner. “Do I look like I want a pink police scanner?” Malvo asks the man with a stone face. Moreover, he also gets himself some walkie talkies.
At the home of Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton), up shows Lorne, as always like the wandering evil in the night, or middle of the day. The master criminal rigs up the phone, then makes a call to Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) who is still strung out hard on the amphetamine. Worse than that, the semi-Biblical plagues are coming down on his head hard. Stavros thinks he didn’t repay his promise to God, and that’s why all these things are happening. Now he’s terrified of the “death of the firstborn son“. With a big payday headed their way, Don wants to happily celebrate with his new buddy Lorne; who for his part is only concerned whether Don has a pantry. Then he requests a drill. Slowly, we can imagine where this is headed. “I need screws,” Lorne says and checks the pantry doorway. Eagerly, Don helps, not wondering at all what Lorne is up to. Yet. Once Chumph goes into the closet upon being asked, Lorne screws the door closed: “I dont want you gettincold feet, he tells Don, “-see ya in the morning.”


Flashes of the murderous night at the Nygaard residence. Lester wakes up in the jail eventually, as Chefi Oswalt and Deputy Solverson stand over him. It seems that puncture in his hand is giving him troubles, so he’s in the back of an ambulance. His words are jumbled, he rambles on about a shotgun and such. “I didnt pay him,” Lester says over and over.
From a man with a badge, Mrs. Numbers and Wrench receive a file with the picture of Malvo dragging a man from an elevator, in a dark and snowy alley.
Cutting back to Gus, he sits with a glass of milk and spies the man living across from him in the next building, also sitting at his table with a glass of milk. The man goes to his window, prompting Gus to do the same. Their talk is about “the time I get” and then they end up at the same table for a further conversation. Each man has their own weighty burden. Gus asks the man about his situation with Malvo, knowing a man is guilty but not having proof; the man soon enough says “only a fool thinks he can solve the worlds problems“. Through a parable, the man relays a story about the man “who gave everything” in order to try just that, unable in the end to actually fix everything. “But you gotta try, dont ya?” Gus asks.


Out in the night, Gus drives aimlessly. Passing him unknowingly on the road are Stavros and Lorne, headed down to the grocery store. Milos fills up the old briefcase with a ton of cash inside.
Back at the hospital, Molly talks with the doctor who fixed Lester up. His hand was bad, full of necrotic flesh and nasty fluids. Almost lost the darned thing. Champing at the bit, she wants to question Nygaard and get to the bottom of things. Meanwhile on another floor, Ida Thurman (Julie Ann Emery) has finally had her baby: a drop of good news in an ocean of chaos.
Sneaky sneaky – Deputy Molly goes to the Nygaard house. Underneath the doormat, like so many small towns, a key lies waiting. She heads in, politely wiping her boots before doing so. There she retraces the steps of that fateful night. Coming to the washing machine and noticing it out from the wall a tad, Molly has a look at the back after unscrewing the paneling. Inside, she doesn’t find the ball peen hammer Lester used to kill Pearl. Where has he hidden the thing?
More of Stavros, as Lorne drives him quietly. They come to have a conversation about saints and the Romans. Very intriguing point of dialogue between these two. And once Stavros is home, they part ways. For the time being.
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Lorne: “Well Im saying that the Romans raised by wolves, they see a guy turning water into wine, what do they do. They eat him. Cause there are no saints in the animal kingdom. Only breakfast and dinner.”
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With Grimly heading home and talking on his cell with Molly, lurking not far behind is Malvo. He stays out in his vehicle, monitoring things with his new walkie talkie and setting up his scanner. Except the plan is slightly foiled when Gus’ friendly neighbour from the earlier chat knocks at Malvo’s window saying: “Youre not supposed to be here.” It’s almost as if the man can sense an evil in Malvo, as if it seeps from his pores and into the world. Maybe it does. Ominous conversation on Lorne’s part prompts the Jewish man to call him a demon, in what I presume is Yiddish.
At the hospital, Molly is in the midst of the old boys club until Chief Oswalt and the others clear out. She heads in to be with Ida and the fresh new baby: “Thats what a new one smells like,” says Molly with glee. Ida doesn’t want details about the case, only to know Molly is taking care of things.
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The episode finishes with Molly spying in on Lester, who looks asleep. Only we see he isn’t, just pretending for the moment. His eyes and entire face speak of a deep worry.
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Can’t wait to review the next episode, titled “Buridan’s Ass”. Lots more Minnesota mayhem to come, my fellow Fargo-ites.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 4: “Eating the Blame”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 4: “Eating the Blame”
Directed by Randall Einhorn
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “A Muddy Road” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Six Ungraspables” – click here
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After Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) stepped up the mischief, bringing it bloody and tough to Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt), and Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) has begun leaning even further towards something fishy surrounding Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), we’re back in Minnesota, between Duluth and Bemidji. Let’s see what “Eating the Blame” and Noah Hawley have in store for us, shall we? Well all righty.
This episode opens with more beautifully captured Minnesotan landscapes, snow lining the roads. We watch a station wagon hauling a small trailer. Eventually, we discover it’s 1987. Inside the car, a young Stavros (Carlos Diaz) drives his wife and child in the desperate cold. Things are rough for them, it seems. But what’s at work here isn’t merely flashback. Once Stavros and his little family break down at the roadside, Hawley takes us into crossover territory with the Coen Brothers and their original film Fargo. Desperate and at his wits’ end, Milos prays to God, hoping for “gas, a warm bed” and that if things change he’ll but his “humble servant” forever. Then, out in the snow he spies the windshield scraper. Yes, that one. Same one that’s now, in the 2006 timeline, hanging in a frame on the wall in Stavros’ office. In ’87, he dug up the infamous bag of money left out in the snow buried at the finish of the Coen Brothers film. The lucky Stavros got his fortune out of pure lucky, then misguidedly tried to lightly keep in touch with God due to this afterwards; and I use the word lightly very lightly. But I love how this connects things without having to use the same characters as the movie, Hawley creates his own Minnesotan plots and webs them into that of the Coens original work.
Cut back to Stavros, who has Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton) checking out his house after the bloody shower incident. They want to know about tampering, though, naturally Don plays the fool. Not that it’s hard. A little talk of the Bible, Moses and the Plagues comes out, which spurs Stavros into an amphetamine-fueled rage. He is in one bad state. When Don leaves, he spots Malvo off against the treeline, standing ominously like the wandering evil that he is.


Back with Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). He’s out looking after Animal Control business. Gus makes a terribly timed joke about an Animal Control worker who’s always sick, which I laughed aloud at. Too funny, especially his reaction. Then, he finds himself headed out to look after the claim of a dead dog, obviously at the Milos residence. Perfect timing, right? He finds Malvo standing silently on the side of the road. Slicking back his hair, Lorne gets ready to make up some stories and, maybe, likely, talk himself out of whatever’s coming. But Officer Grimly definitely wants to make good on his big blunder, not picking Malvo up the first time. Will the greasy criminal slip his way out of this one?
At the police station, Lorne falls into his latest identity: Father Frank Peterson. He even slips on a pair of glasses quickly to convince everyone, plus beefs up a Midwestern accent.
At Deputy Solverson’s office, she receives a call from Grimly. He advises about Malvo being in custody and then she’s headed out his way to see what’s happening. Meanwhile, Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) isn’t interested as much as he ought to be, only because he didn’t get the call and Molly did. “Well thats irregular,” Bill complains. Taking things over Oswalt heads up to Duluth himself leaving Molly behind to fume rightfully.


Lester is headed over to his house with brother Chaz (Joshua Close), the latter of which finds himself disgusted and creeped out after discovering a big stain of blood still all over the floor. Upstairs, Lester gets some of his things but has a bit of a problem with his hand. Ah, the buckshot wound – always there, like the guilt behind Lester’s shiny facade. It’s the physical symbol of his guilty conscience, as if he can’t seem to ever manage to fully put it behind him, in the back of his mind. It’s always at the fore, continually and consistently dragging him back to that dangerous night.
Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) makes a call to Lester. He’s surprised to hear from Numbers.


Mr. Numbers: “But I think you need to ask yourselfwas it worth it?”
Lester: “Worth what?”
Mr. Numbers: “Your life
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At a diner, Mr. Numbers sits down after his call with Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard). I love their conversation, as it comes with subtitles for the sign language while they chat. Great, quirky dialogue, but not for the sake of it. These two characters are inherently idiosyncratic, right from the name on down, and here with a slight interaction involving Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine), we get lots of their attitudes, their style, all in one fun scene. Better yet, if you’re caught up to current day like I am you may have noticed we’re introduced to Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers as kids right at the end of Season 2.
More of Lorne Malvo a.k.a Frank Robertson. He’s dealing with the idiotic Don Chumph, and not too worried about being in jail, saying he’ll be out in “two hours” to be exact. Pretty confident. At the same time, Chief Oswalt shows up in Duluth. Gus again has to endure more bathroom time while Oswalt and Schmidt (Peter Breitmayer) take a leak as he runs down everything for Bill. Basically here we’re seeing a good man trying to do right while other officers of the law around him are clearly and brutally incompetent. Particularly Oswalt, played to perfection by Bob Odenkirk of whom I’ve been a longtime fan since his days as mostly a writer.
Lorne goes head-to-head with Oswalt and Schmidt in an interrogation room, playing up his meek and mild demeanour along with that stressed Minnesota accent. He claims to not have been in Bemidji and jokes around trying to make light of the situation. And tragically, or tragicomically, he manages to sly talk his way out of things. The story gets thicker once Oswalt and Schmidt check on Frank’s background… and it all checks out. All the while, Lorne behind the facade of Frank smiles through the two-way glass at Gus standing right outside.


Deputy Molly is hard at work. She tracked down the motel owner and the young man with whom Malvo earlier had an encounter. Just so happens, he even signed his name in the book as Lorne Malvo. He memorably asked about a pet fish and such, which obviously wasn’t hard to forget for the clerk. Yet all the while, Frank Robertson is being let go to walk free. “Youre making a mistake,” shouts Grimly – the very same thing Malvo earlier told him he’d be saying later. The tragedy continues, as Gus is being held accountable for pointing his gun at a supposed minister, a civilian, and nobody can see what’s going on. Even Oswalt shakes Lorne’s hand before the man leaves.
A brief confrontation between Grimly and Malvo sees the latter break out some criminal wisdom, after the former asks how he can just lie then walk away so casually: “Did you know the human eye can see more shades of green than any other colour? My question is why?… when you figure out the answer to my question, then youll have the answer to yours.” It’s a question of predators. And the many, many shades of villainy.


Just as Lester begins to worry about a forensic team searching through his vehicle at the impound, Mrs. Numbers and Wrench toss him into a trunk then speed off, possibly towards a frozen lake. Lester manages to call his brother from inside the trunk, though Chaz is in the midst of watching porno in his garage. “I think I may have been kidnapped is the thing,” Lester tells him politely and strangely calm. After finding a taser, he claims the whole thing was a joke: “Youre an asshole,” his brother replies, hanging up then going back to the porn. When the car stops he prepares his weapon. But a punch to the gut and the strength of Mr. Wrench overpowers him. Out onto the ice, auger once more in tow, the two partners take Nygaard to his probable doom. They’re still convinced it was Lester killed Sam Hess. Then out of nowhere, Lester tasers Numbers before taking off and leaving the unsuspecting Wrench still drilling a hole in the ice.
Through the forest and the trees, Lester makes it out onto a road where a police car is stopped nearby. He runs down trying to find help. The officer (Gary Valentine) won’t give Lester a ride, so he punches the cop in the face with a light tap prompting an arrest. All to get away from the two henchmen nipping at his heels.


The amphetamines are working overtime on Stavros, whose teeth are grinding, whose pores are all but pouring. He works away at his desk trying not to lift off like a rocket. He and his son Dmitri (Gordon S. Miller) have a fight, or more so Stavros yells at his son.
And following this very brief moment, more Plagues of Egypt befall Milos. Well, at least close enough. Crickets begin to literally seep from the walls, flying and perching over everything in the grocery store sending customers wailing through the doors. Things are getting Biblically fucked up: “RememberGod is watching,” a disguised voice tells Milos over the phone. Stavros is worried a reckoning has come round, full-circle, after he took that money from the snowy side of the road.
In a smoky bar, Mrs. Numbers and Wrench aren’t getting along too well. Specifically, Wrench doesn’t look pleased with his good buddy. A fight breaks out and they kick the shit out of each other for a while.
At her father’s diner, Molly meets Gus. He gives the sad report about what happened with Malvo. And they think about where to move next on the grand chessboard of their horrible situation.


And the bar fight has led Mrs. Numbers and Wrench into a jail cell. Right next to their old pal Lester Nygaard. Confronted with them, the finale of the episode sees the men now smiling, happy to be right back with him again.
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Excited, as usual, for the next episode – titled “The Six Ungraspables”. Stay tuned, my fellow Fargo addicts!

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 3: “A Muddy Road”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 3: “A Muddy Road”
Directed by Randall Einhorn
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Rooster Prince” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Eating the Blame” – click here


Back to Minnesota. You betcha!
“A Muddy Road” begins in an office building, cubicles on every which side. People work quietly, like any other day. One man looks troubled. Then suddenly, he spies Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) down at the end of the hall. The worried man obviously owes money. So Lorne drags him by the tie down through the hall while others watch. A security camera records all of this, right through the building, down into the parking garage.
Malvo strips the man down with a knife, then throws him in the trunk. Ah, so this is where the beginning comes from. From inside the trunk we watch the man get thrown around, Malvo flying out off the road and into the snow. Out in those woods, the man dies, as we already saw. But I dig how Noah Hawley takes us back through that beginning moment, to show us a little behind those opening moments of the series premiere and gives us a bit of context, instead of it being a one-off moment.


Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is out at the office building where the frozen man was dragged from by Malvo. The employees are hilarious, each giving their opinion on the guy. Mostly, Molly is looking for connections to what happened in Bemidji with Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and his wife, the Chief, all that.
At the same time, Lorne is over sweating Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton): “You got bronzer on your blackmail note.” Poor Don has got himself into a rough situation. Howerton is an awesome addiction to the cast, he is a funny guy and able to be subtle, unlike his excellent portrayal of Dennis Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But more than that, I love the entire scene between Don and Lorne. Eventually Lorne discovers Don knows nothing, only that Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) supposedly “lies about where he got his money“. Now there’s more of the wandering evil in Lorne coming out, making people do as he bids. He’s getting Don to make a new blackmail letter.


Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) is still haunted by letting Malvo go. He looks up the plate number of the car; it was Lester’s car. Heading into the bathroom to talk with his lieutenant, Ben Schmidt (Peter Breitmayer) hilariously as the man is trying to take a shit, Gus tells him about the car belonging to one of the – supposed – victims. “Its god damn Sioux Falls all over again,” Lt. Schmidt says to himself. He is not impressed with Gus, but how could he have done anything? Lorne basically threatened his life. Was it worth pushing? At the same time, the lieutenant has every right to be pissed.
Lester is also haunted. He can’t stop thinking, obviously, about what happened at his house; his wife, Chief Thurman, everything. Weighing heavy on him. And why wouldn’t it? Well, now Lester is trying to get back to work at the insurance office for his foolish boss Bo Munk (Tom Musgrace). He actually ends up bringing documents over to Sam Hess’ widow, Gina (Kate Walsh). Interesting.
The Hess boys are still as dumb and dickish as ever, taunting Lester as a “loser” and wondering if he wants to “do” their mom. All the insurance mess starts to get worked out eventually once Gina invites Lester inside. “When do I get my money?” she asks quickly. He tries being a bit graceful, but she’s really only concerned with cold hard cash; not her cold dead husband. Then they start bonding a little over their dead spouses, as Gina sips what is most likely wine from a water bottle. Slowly, Gina starts trying to seduce Lester, whose awkwardness as usual knows no bounds.
And out in the trees, Lester eventually eyes Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) and Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) watching on.


Lester: “Youve got your kids
Gina: “Ive taken shits I wanna live with more than them


A perfect scene between Molly and an old friend having dinner is highly reminiscent, without copying, of the original Fargo film where Marge Gunderson meets her friend from school Mike Yanagita. Of course, this scene with Molly and her friend is not at all the same situation. But the whole thing is very good homage. One of those awkward encounters we have with people after years of not seeing them. I thought it was a great inclusion. Plus, it just shows how sensible and intelligent minded Molly is compared to so many other clueless people around her.
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Lorne: “Its already dogeatdog, friend. Not sure what worse a bunch of zombies could do.”
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At the Milos residence, Lorne shows up with his nasty knife. He meets a big burly dog eye to eye, and you get the sense the dog recognizes Malvo as another animal. Inside, Malvo switches Stavros’ medication out with amphetamines. Well, that’s going to be quite the shock, isn’t it? Just as Stavros almost catches the culprit at work, out slips Lorne from the front door. Then, through the window, Stavros sees what the animal did to his dog, who lies dead with a cut neck and a new blackmail note to his corpse. Tragic to see an animal die, but did we expect anything better from a guy like Lorne? Not I. Milos is clearly intimidated, and also pretty angry.
Something I love about this series is there are little easily read bits of symbolism throughout the episodes. Such as the buckshot left in Lester’s hand: it stays around, it won’t leave, he can’t get it out and the wound just won’t heal, similar to how his guilt and those other feelings remain right below the surface threatening to expose him. Coming out of the bathroom in his office, Lester finds Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers waiting silently at his desk. The phone rings and he sits down to answer it as usual; it’s actually the impound in Duluth letting him know they have his vehicle. From there, a tense conversation between Mrs. Wrench and Numbers and Lester begins. First with a little sign language, until Numbers tells him exactly what they’re here about: “Sam Hess“.
Then, inconveniently, Molly appears to talk insurance with Lester. She wants to start thinking about life insurance, possibly. On account of her father Lou (Keith Carradine), worrying what might happen to him if she were to die in the line of duty. When some files fall on the floor from Molly’s folder, a security camera picture comes out: Lorne. This rattles Mr. Nygaard pretty bad, fast, and Molly can see how much it does. Little by little, the facade slips. Lester can only try his hardest not to be swept away in the tide of guilty lies.


At the home of Milos, a windshield scraper, a small one, is framed on the wall. Everything there is very grand, except the scraper. Strange, no? We’ll find out its significance soon enough. Milos wants to get things handled now, after the death of his dog; he and Wally (Barry Flatman) berate Lorne a little for him not knowing who exactly did the deed. Then we get into a little mention of Milos and his fortune, only Milos won’t budge on giving up any further information. Then he chews up one of the amphetamine tablets Lorne slipped into the bottle earlier that day. Lift off.
Gus Grimly and his daughter Greta (Joey King) sit at his desk. He’s looking through mugshot book after mugshot book, to try and find the man he pulled over that night. You can see how it all chews him up inside, the poor fella. But I suppose living on the thin blue line is never easy, no matter how much we wish it would be; it just is not.
Continually, Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) does not appreciate Molly’s theories about what happened in their town. She realizes Lester knows more than he lets on, yet Bill is so blind to the people in his quaint little town he is just completely unable to see what’s really going on. Molly isn’t giving up, though. Onward and upward.
Finally a break – Molly meets Gus, who came to tell her about his mistake. He talks about what happened, letting Lorne go and so on, the car he was in belonging to Lester Nygaard. Now, things are starting to come together, and an interesting relationship between Gus/Molly begins as she now has someone on her side.
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But the best of all comes in the finale of “A Muddy Road”.
Lester goes to see his brother Chaz (Joshua Close) looking for the gun that “makes the biggest hole“. They have a brother-brother bonding session. And we can see, Lester is getting more bold. Slowly, but it is happening.
Then, the finale concludes with Lorne reading from the Bible – the part about the plagues in Egypt – which also sees Stavros still sweating it out, hopped up unknowingly on amphetamines, then hopping in a shower. Except the shower starts to pour red, much like the red water in Egypt during the plagues, and when Milos notices he goes berserk. As one would. A smile on his face, and a couple buckets of pig’s blood in the back, Lorne gets in his vehicle to drive off.


Loved this episode. Can’t wait to review the next episode, “Eating the Blame”. More Minnesota chaos and mayhem coming again. Stay tuned for another review.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Rooster Prince”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Rooster Prince”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the Season 1 premiere, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Muddy Road” – click here
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After the raucous events of the premiere, “The Rooster Prince” takes us into the aftermath of a lethal, albeit unintended, union between Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and the wandering evil that is Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton).
An original piece from Jeff Russo introduces us to Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) and Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg). At a garage, they meet with a man about “what happened to Hess“. Numbers and Wrench speak together through sign language, as Mr. Wrench is obviously deaf. But don’t let that fool you, he is a pretty big man, physically intimidating. Mr. Numbers isn’t so much intimidating as he is ominous. Either way, they’re in town on word from the Fargo mob. The guy Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers talk with gives them a description of none other than Malvo.
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Meanwhile, Lester is recovering from the incident that took his wife Pearl. Or well, the supposed incident. His brother Chaz (Joshua Close) says Lester should move in with them, until the house is cleaned and maybe even ready to be sold. You can see the heaviness of what’s happened in Lester, right in his eyes. Though, nobody else would ever suspect a guy like him to have done what he did to his wife. Perhaps it’d be the setup for a perfect crime. If only Lester weren’t so nebbish and unwilling to take life by the horns. You just know because of his attitude already, who he is, Lester won’t be able to take this to the best conclusion for himself.
Over at the grave of Chief Thurman, killed by Malvo in the same incident, Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is also heavy with thought. Cut to Thurman’s place, where his pregnant wife Ida (Julie Ann Emery) is entertaining all the guests. The two of them each cared for Vern, although clearly in different ways. But there is a bond, for sure. Molly talks about when her father Lou (Keith Carradine) was shot years ago, and then Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) strolls in to break the mood. Molly wants to talk with Lester, obviously. Oswalt sees him as we all do, nebbish, even bringing up a couple times where Lester fainted in high school: from a frog dissection to a girl’s “monthlies“. The blindness of Oswalt is clear, as he passes everything off as coincidence, whereas Molly can so easily see there’s something more there other than just time and place.


At home, Lester weeps into the closet, crying on his wife’s clothes. Then Chief Bill Oswalt and Deputy Solverson show up at his place. To anyone outside of the small town in Minnesota, Lester is guilty. Of something. He’s such a jittery, skittish man. But then again, Bill is more interested in figuring out the name of some grape gum from when they were kids. Such darkly hilarious conversation at points. Then awkwardness on Lester’s part trying to describe the events of his wife’s death. Molly keeps on pushing about the guy he talked to in the hospital, clearly making Lester more and more nervous. Bill brings up Sam picking on Lester in high school, making Molly suspicious. Yet she keeps getting squashed, by both Bill and Lester respectively.


Finally, though… more Malvo. We find him at a mail pick-up. He and the attendant have an awkward Coen-esque conversation about receiving mail. Lorne won’t give his name, saying the package is addressed to Duluth. The attendant, of course, is troubled because they’re in Duluth, so naturally we understand his confusion. After awhile, the darkness in Malvo – including a quip about finding a “foot in a toaster oven” – soon gets him the package, without any further fuss. Inside is a book called American Phoenix by Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt), as well as a new I.D. making him “a minister apparently“. Great little odd scene, adding intrigue and suspense in equal measures.
At a supermarket, up in an office, Stavros is telling Lorne all about his incredible grocery stores; “Ive got mangoes in god damn January,” he says. The head of security for Stavros, Wally Semenchko (Barry Flatman), is a former Oilers farm league goon. But to the point: Stavros is being blackmailed via letter for a bunch of money. Again there’s more excellent dialogue from Noah Hawley, who does draw off the Coens, yet creates his own quirky brand of Minnesota life for the series. The quirk isn’t there for quirk’s sake. Simply put, the characters are all interesting in their very own way.
On top of that, Jeff Russo’s score is consistently perfect. I can’t say any more, and certainly couldn’t say any less.


Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) discovers there’s more to the man he pulled over at the end of the first episode. He looks at the ticket he’d begun writing up, listening to the Captain give out orders, and remembering Malvo’s face, the license plate. I can already see how his guilty conscience will somehow or another come into play later on down the road. For now, he and his daughter Greta (Joey King) have nuggets and get along together by themselves as best they can. Gus is a bit of an awkward man himself, spying a neighbour in her window taking her clothes off, then heading back out to have dinner with his daughter. While the woman across the way does the same. Gus has a talk with Greta about how sometimes “theres more than one right thing“, trying to impart the grey line between right and wrong. Now his guilt is clear, though, it isn’t eating him up. Yet.
Along the dark highway, Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers are still out looking for answers on Hess. They meet with the stripper who was having sex with Sam at the time of his murder, as well as the club manager. Only they end up giving Wrench and Numbers the wrong guy. Funny enough, he looks slightly like Lorne, even with a bandage on his forehead. They talk a little with the man before he brandishes a knife in his jacket, a big one.
Cut to the highway out around Bemidji. The wrong man’s brought back to the Hess truck garage in the trunk of a car by Numbers and Wrench. But the Hess associate confirms it’s not the right man. And so the hunt is still on.
Lorne is in another part of town, calling himself Frank Robertson. He claims to be looking through Stavros’ assets, to get his now ex-wife the best divorce settlement possible. Or more likely, Malvo is playing both sides. He finds out more on Stavros and the source of his fortune.
In other news, Lorne tapes everything, his phone calls specifically. At a motel he continually listens to the tape of Lester calling for help. Simultaneously, he discovers the source of the Stavros blackmail note: the ex-wife’s new fling, Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton). From nowhere, Wally shows up to threaten Lorne, saying he ought to leave because of his “big city connections“. Instead of saying anything or fighting, Malvo goes into the bathroom, drops his pants, then starts taking a shit. Right in front of Wally, as he reads Stavros’ book. Amazing.
Chief Oswalt keeps trying to pound away at his own theories on the Nygaard murder, and the Thurman’s death. He wants Molly to keep digging on the angle of a robbery, possibly drug related. She finds it hard watching Vern’s name being erased off the door, Oswalt moving in. Especially seeing as how Bill isn’t half the cop Vern was, for all Vern’s dope-ish nature he was perceptive.


Back at his place, Lester finds the hammer he killed Pearl with right where he stashed it: in back of the washing machine. Then we cut to him moving in temporarily at brother Chaz’s place. If he weren’t already infantilized by his younger brother, now he’s even staying in Gordo’s room, equipped with Mason jars full of pee in the closet. The Nygaard brothers, along with son Gordo, sit in front of the television and eat like normal folk. Lester even admits he may sell his house, “get a fresh start“.
Things get tense for Lester while he’s at the pharmacist. He runs into Deputy Molly Solverson, she has more questions. Instead of waiting to get his medication Lester leaves the store, telling Molly he feels “harassed“. She knows there’s something more behind what went on, all the victims piling up so fast in a tiny town that never sees much excitement. The nervousness of Lester is evident, but Molly can’t stop pushing; she is a good soul.
More of Lou and Molly here, which I love. Keith Carradine is a classic; plus, it’s fun to watch him again after seeing Season 2 and Patrick Wilson as the younger version. They connect well. Here, Allison Tolman and Carradine work great as father and daughter, two police, one active and the other retired. It’s an excellent pairing for the cast. Lou tells his daughter about “savagery” and all the awfulness of police work, which he has seen clearly but manages to stave off in his mind.


The finale sees Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers drag their wrong man out to a frozen lake, auger in tow. They drill a nice hole in the ice, tying the man’s hands and feet, before dropping him head first into the icy waters. Brutal, yet effective, I suppose.
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Love this season so much. Stay tuned soon for another review of the next episode, “A Muddy Road”.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 1: “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 1: “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the next episode, “The Rooster Prince” – click here
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Riffing wonderfully off the Coen Brothers classic Fargo, Noah Hawley and his team of directors have given us a worthy tribute, and sort of follow-up, to the movie. Blending homage to the Coens with new situations of mayhem in Minnesota, Hawley has impressed me through two full seasons of this show. Starting now, I’m reviewing the first season.
“The Crocodile’s Dilemma” starts off with Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) driving in the dark on a snowy highway near Bemidji, Minnesota, mostly only his eyes are visible in the night. He swerves when a deer runs across the road and flies into the snow. From his trunk escapes a man in his underwear. He runs into the wilderness, as Malvo walks over and watches the deer die instead of run after him.
Fade in on Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and his wife Pearl (Kelly Holden Bashar) are eating together. He is an emasculated man. Pearl even says she “married the wrong Nygaard“, as his brother is a much more successful man it seems. Immediately we get the sense their marriage is rocky, but under the covers sort of rocky. The kind nobody talks about in the open, especially not the couple in question.
Above all else, Lester has a very dull life. Or rather it’s quaint. But already there’s a sense Lester finds things dull. Maybe he prefers them that way, or perhaps it’s just what he’s used to, not sure. We’ll see, though. At work nothing is much different from home. He deals in insurance of various kinds. He isn’t particularly a great salesman, but he is an honest one. Too honest, at times. Hawley writes Nygaard as an almost hopeless man. On the street he runs into Sam Hess (Kevin O’Grady) and his two sons, Mickey and Moe. Sam is a bully from a high school who picked on Lester for years, and not much has changed; he even told his sons about stories of bullying Lester back then. Now he corners Lester, who doesn’t like confrontation obviously.
Becomes pretty clear when Hess pretends to throw a punch and Lester ducks it, right into a pane of glass behind him.
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Cut to the hospital.
Lester is sitting with a broken nose waiting to be seen. Lorne Malvo watches on as Lester painfully tries to drink a can of soda. He ends up handing the whole thing over to Lorne, in fact. They talk a little. Lester tells him about the “misunderstanding” which lead to the nose, but Lorne wonders: “Who misunderstood whom?” Though we already know Lorne is less than an upstanding citizen, he makes a few good points. Then Lester tells him all about what happened. Even telling Lorne about Sam Hess: “He was a bully in high school and hes a bully now.” Eventually, Malvo says he would’ve killed Hess. If it were him. This makes Lester pretty uncomfortable, yet still he continues talking with Lorne.
But then Lester makes a joke, saying Lorne ought to just “kill him for me“. Nygaard gets called in to be looked after while his new friend takes the request as real, repeating Hess’ name. Should Lester be worried?
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Out on the side of the highway, where Lorne’s car is sitting, Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) meets her Chief, Vern Thurman (Shawn Doyle). They start having a look at the car and what may be going on. Molly has a few ideas, though, her superior seems a little dopey. Even if he is fairly perceptive. They head into the woods, chatting about their daily lives and having a look for more evidence, clues to what could’ve happened. Then, the man with the underwear is found: frozen to death behind a tree stump.
At home, Vern’s wife Ida (Julia Ann Emery) is cooking, and eating. And she appears happily pregnant. Their new baby’s room is ready, almost. They’ve got themselves a nice, happy little Mid-Western life. Side note: Shawn Doyle is awesome, he’s from Newfoundland and Labrador, Wabush specifically with is in Labrador; he has been in lots of stuff, notably this and NBC’s Hannibal which I love. Nice to see him on this series.
Meanwhile, Lorne Malvo shows up to Mickey and Moe Hess wrestling. He gives them fighting tips. He’s looking for Sam Hess, giving lip already. He says the younger son is a bit “dim“. They have a funny confrontation, which is great because of Lorne’s dry demeanour. He walks out leaving the Hess gang and their friends confused.

Lester and Pearl go over to his brother Chazz’ (Joshua Close) place with his wife Kitty (Rachel Blanchard) and their family. Their son, Gordo (Spencer Drever), is a bit of a loner. His father thinks he may have “the autism“. The two brothers Chazz and Lester head into the garage, where the obviously more outgoing brother shows off some big assault rifle he bought, along with a ton of other guns in a huge rack. Completely unnecessary amount of firepower. Chazz hands the big rifle over to Lester, who drops it and the thing smashes on the floor. Afterwards, it comes out Pearl has “had it“. She says Lester has been strange lately, and so on. Clearly, though, Lester is just sick of his wife and their unhappy marriage. Sadly, Chazz says: “Sometimes I tell people youre dead.” He doesn’t respect his older brother, nor does he look up to him.
Things in the world of Lester become more complicated, after Lorne goes to a strip club where Sam Hess is having sex with a woman out back. Malvo puts a knife in his head. Let’s hope for Lester’s sake nobody remembers him talking with Malvo at the hospital. Yeah, like that’ll happen, eh?
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Chief Thurman, Molly and Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) are at the scene of Sam’s death. Poor Bill is having a tough time, wanting not to puke up his wife’s nice dinner. For all the small town-ness of Fargo and its atmosphere, the police aren’t dummies; not all of them. Thurman is dopey yet smart. Molly is on the nose, almost always, or at least ready to learn and to go from there.
Under the radar, Malvo is getting a room in a motel. He makes the mistake of being memorable, asking strange questions of the lady at the front desk. However, I’m not so sure Lorne cares about anything, let alone people remembering him enough to talk to anyone about it later. He’s like the wandering demon, infecting everyone around him to do their worst instead of standing idly by to be abused. While some of his advice is less of an evil nature than other bits, he’s still always causing mischief. At the motel he pits the owner versus a young man working their against one another, just for the hell of it.

Molly is over at the diner, owned by her father Lou (Keith Carradine; played as a younger version in Season 2 by Patrick Wilson). Chief Thurman meets Molly and they have a little talk over the evidence so far in the murder of Hess. He claims she’ll “make a good Chief one day“, which of course makes her happy.
Later, the police talk with Gina (Kate Walsh), Sam’s wife. She is not at all happy about the situation in which her husband was found. Obviously. Even better is the fact Mickey gets a call, from Lorne claiming to be an attorney, also claiming the other brother received everything in the inheritance; this prompts Mickey to nearly beat his brother Moe to death with a hockey stick. Already, Malvo is proving to be such an instigator and an outright antagonist off the bat in this first episode.
Lester, fixed up nose and all, is back at work and being asked to pull information on Sam Hess. He receives the news of Sam’s death, and the wheels in his brain begin to turn. He ends up at a diner where Lorne is eating quietly by himself. Darkly comedic, Malvo is smart about what he chooses to say in conversation, out in the open. At the same time, he makes clear Lester did say the words; even if it was a joke.

And it finally comes out – Molly tracks down info that “the fella with the head injury“, Lorne, was talking to “another fella“: Lester Nygaard, apparently. I knew it, even the first time I watched the series on its premiere. Lester’s world is about to drastically change. Chief Thurman says he knows Nygaard and will go to see him about the possible conversation with Malvo at the hospital.
Back at his place, he tries to fix the washing machine in a desperate attempt to make his wife Pearl happy, to impress her with his manliness or anything. When the machine all but explodes, she insists on abusing him further and further with more psychological torture within the shackles of their rough marriage. Fed up to the point of no return, Lester grabs the ball-peen hammer and cracks Pearl over the head quickly. A thick trickle of blood runs down her face, then he gives her another whack, then another, and another, and more. Until there’s not much left to her face. What has he done? I mean, yeah, she treated him poorly. But I suppose everyone has their breaking point. Lester, unfortunately, chose murder. He immediately begins to take his clothes off, bag them up, to try and start hiding the evidence. Where will he go from here?
Call Lorne.
In a frantic fit of panic, Lester asks him for help in order to clean things up. “Lester, have you been a bad boy?” he asks in that dry tone Billy Bob Thornton affects so well in the character. Only problem with Lorne wanting to help: Thurman is on the way to see Lester, in regards to Lorne. Uh oh. At the same time, it appears Lester wants to frame Lorne for the death of his wife, practicing “You killed her” and drawing a gun at the door while waiting for him to show. Then, at the door is Thurman. An awkward, tense conversation begins, with Pearl’s blood still drying on the wall downstairs. After a bit of talk, Thurman sees blood on the floor as Lester spies it, disappointed in himself; he starts rambling while Thurman finds Pearl dead down the stairs. Behind the poor Chief appears Malvo, blasting him away to his death. Things have changed even more now, for the worse. And sadly, Thurman bleeds out on the floor quickly right there and then.
With Molly showing up, lights flashing, Lorne vanishes into thin air. Downstairs, Lester continues to panic but makes it look as if he and his wife were both attacked after running himself head first into the wall. Molly finds them on the floor next to one another, Bob Oswalt arrives as back-up with a much needed “Ah geez“. Nobody is the wiser. Not yet, anyways. On top of it all, Lester ends up with a piece of buckshot embedded in his hand. As if things weren’t stacked against him high enough in a pile of shit as it is.
Sad scene when Molly brings home paint for the baby’s room at Thurman’s place, the wife immediately knowing why Molly is there. Tragically emotional moment.
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In Duluth, Minnesota, Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) talks over the radio to his daughter Greta (Joey King). They have a pretty sweet relationship, as he works and takes care of his daughter as much as possible at the same time. When a car speeds by, Grimly takes a sip of his coffee then reluctantly takes off after the culprit. Pulling him over, the man turns out to be Lorne Malvo. The criminal offers Gus an ultimatum: drive away, or face bitter consequences. Whatever insidious darkness Malvo has in him comes out here, threatening Grimly: walk or die, even plainer this time. Leaving in the night, Gus is left with barely any breath in his chest. But what are the consequences of Malvo leaving? What further destruction will he cause?

Stay tuned with me for another review of the next episode, “The Rooster Prince”. I love this show and going back over it a second time is lots of fun, picking up on things I missed and generally enjoying all the wonderful bits over again.

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 10: “Palindrome”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 10: “Palindrome”
Directed by Adam Arkin
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a recap & review of the previous episode, “The Castle” – click here
* For a recap & review of the Season 3 premiere, “The Law of Vacant Places” – click here


Here we are, the finale of Fargo‘s Season 2. You betcha.
So, ramblers – let’s get rambling!
“Palindrome” begins with a view of Rye’s body back in the Blumquist freezer, another look at a dead Otto Gerhardt shot at his kitchen table, Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) dead on the floor in that little cabin, as well as Simone out in the woods, Floyd where Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) left her, and even in Bear (Angus Sampson) in the parking lot where Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) blew his brains out.
Then, the shot fades into Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) lying in bed with daughter Molly at her side. Apparently she had a bad reaction to the pills she was given, they were no good. Noreen Vanderslice (Emily Haine) is by the bed looking after Betsy, trying best to get her to follow doctor’s orders. We watch Betsy dream, seeing Molly grow up in the modern world – the world of Costco, one where Lou gets older by his daughter’s side, one without Betsy anymore. She sees into the future where we see the grown Molly (Allison Tolman), Lou (Keith Carradine) and the happy gang from Season 1. Quickly we cut back to Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) shot in the motel, Lou wrestling Bear, the face of “chaos” a.k.a Hanzee. All to “War Pigs” by Black Sabbath – so god damn fitting.


This whole intro starts with a split-screen, right at the beginning of last episode. It gave me chills with Sabbath playing over top. Ed and Peggy Blumquist (Jesse Plemons/Kirsten Dunst) run off, as Hanzee follows, shooting anyone in his path. Lou boldly goes off after the renegade Native, while Ozzy, Iommi and the gang keep rocking. One of my favourite openings of the season, such a perfectly executed start to the episode. Especially once we find “War Pigs” playing in the vehicle with Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) and Gale Kitchen (Brad Mann), as they pull up at the Gerhardt ranch: “People of EarthIm home,” says Milligan while walking in through the front door. The two settle in and hear nothing but silence in the big house. Of course, they saw some of the massacre at the motel, so I’m sure they didn’t expect much of a greeting.


Meanwhile, Ed and Peggy stumble into a grocery store, shooing off an employee as Peggy tells him there’s “a bad man coming here“.
On the street, Hanzee is still lurking closer towards the Blumquists. Yet trusty Lou Solverson hasn’t given up on Dent, either. A few shots get popped off here and there. Out of nowhere, Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) shows up, almost getting a bullet from Lou out of surprise.
Ed and Peg end up hiding in a meat locker. Either way they’re out of the way of Hanzee and his warpath for the time being; only problem is Ed took a bullet on the way, and tells her “PegI dont think were gonna make it.” She wants to fix everything, as Ed says, but some times things aren’t broken. They have a bit of down to earth conversation, even at such a rough and tumble time. But I can see why, Ed only wants to “get back” to what they had after being hauled into all this through the unstable actions of his wife. Will Hanzee find them, as they try and wait things out in the cooler?
At the Gerhardt ranch, Milligan and Kitchen find an old native woman cooking, obviously a housemaid for the Gerhardts. Then some lights pull up to the house, a car arrives. It’s Bear’s right-hand man Ricky G (Ryan O’Nan). He heads inside, ready to fleece the Gerhardts of anything he can take in a bag. But Milligan is still kicking around, and no one close to the Gerhardts is getting away too easy. A shotgun blast takes Ricky to meet his maker, staining the Gerhardt flag – suspiciously Nazi-esque – with a good deal of blood and gore. Nasty stuff.


Hanzee has found his way into the grocery store, the lights flickering and shadows everywhere. Ed and Peggy are still trying to survive. Then the door to the meat locker starts shaking. After the door won’t open, smoke starts seeping in through the fan near the ceiling. Hanzee sure knows how to track and hunt, that’s for sure. But Peggy starts remembering the movie she was watching, before Dodd untied himself, claiming it’s exactly like their own situation. Is she working towards something? Or is she wasting time? Ed’s gone unconscious in the meantime and Peggy can’t wake him up. With Hanzee right outside the door, buck knife in hand, how is Peggy going to escape? Knife sharpener against buck knife?
She pushes out the door and there is Lou Solverson, along with Ben Schmidt, guns drawn. Peggy is gone crazy. There’s no smoke or anything. Inside the cooler, Ed is seemingly dead. Yes, I think Peggy has finally lost it for good. Her husband is gone now, too. Even worse. For all her faults, I feel really bad for Peggy right now. I also feel bad for Lou, even Schmidt; Hank is in critical condition at the ICU, Schmidt’s boss is dead and gone, as well are a bunch more police officers due to the Sioux Falls Massacre.
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Again, Noreen is reading Camus and The Myth of Sisyphus. Love all the philosophy worked into this season by Noah Hawley and the writers. Betsy is still in bed with Molly, Noreen watching over her. They have a bit of a morbid conversation on cancer and Betsy’s pain, though, she says there’s nothing bad yet. Best of all is how Betsy balks at the Camus philosophy, she has her own view on life. Excellent use of split-screen again, now with Betsy talking and her husband Lou riding along in his squad car, each in their own half of the screen. Nice, brief little bit.
Then we’re back to Peggy, in back of Lou’s car, musing on where she might like to serve her sentence. It’s amazing, though, how Peggy is fairly loopy, yet she can snap into being so sensible, practical, even if it’s still a bit crazy of her. I love her character and I think Kirsten Dunst has done such a wonderful job in the role, she was a great addition to this season. We get a nice conversation between Lou and Peggy, mostly as Lou tells her about being at war near the end; a sad story involving a helicopter pilot, and also a baby being dropped by his mother, but caught by a fellow soldier.
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Peggy: “And when you cant they say its youyoure faulty, like youre inferior somehow.”
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Part of Lou plays into the Camus reference, and Sisyphus. Lou says protecting one’s family is like a a rock all men have to push. Lou, as it appears, is happy with pushing that rock. Part of the philosophy of Camus in regards to his reference of Sisyphus is that, instead of viewing Sisyphus as unhappy and tortured by pushing the rock constantly back up the hill each day, we must see him as happy, content with his lot in life, and as having embraced the absurdity of life. Therefore, Lou is like the ideal view of Sisyphus here.
In other news, Hanzee receives a new identity in the form of a Social Security Number and such. He also tells the man who brought it for him he needs a “face man“, in order to fix the damage, and possibly transform him into someone entirely new. Dent sees life as “kill and be killed“. He is still very ominous and very scary, I expected him to die but he did not at all. He becomes Moses Tripoli, leader of the Fargo mob in Season 1. Hanzee suggests facial reconstruction, and so now we know the past of Moses. Some say a bit of a stretch. Really? In the Fargo universe it’s perfect. Hanzee goes from an active, merciless killer, to a slovenly older man who dies like a punk later in life. Fitting end for a villain. Even further, the kids Hanzee heads to help out in the ball field last we see him are indeed the young Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench, as evidenced by the use of sign language. Amazing, amazing. I can’t say it enough.
Then, director Adam Arkin shows up as a head of the Kansas City racket, slick and bald-headed. Milligan is being congratulated slightly, and the new “oversight” is being explained. Now, the gangster Mike Milligan is being given his own office, a 9 to 5 job, and so on. He goes from street level thug, in the blood and guts, to a guy who has to start wearing pinstripes, cut his hear, and get right of the whole “cowboy thing“. He doesn’t seem happy about it all. But the boss explains it’s all about money, “ones and zeroes“. There is nothing else anymore. Officially, Milligan is out of his element and in an entirely new world: the future, apparently.


Hank Larsson, thankfully, is okay. He’s back welcomed at the Solverson home where Betsy and little Molly are happy to have him back. They get a congratulatory beer each and some nice family time happens, after all that mayhem. Then we finally have a brief mention of the spacecraft at the motel; very brief, but still there. Lou mentions he’ll obviously leave it out of the report, “in subtext” says Hank. Finally some smiles are infecting them all, and Hank gives a beautiful quote quickly, trying not to heavy things up too much. A great scene with three excellent actors, all of whom seem to have good chemistry together.
Moreover, Betsy brings up the room she found at Hank’s place – the one with all the alien related stuff. Hank fesses up after his wife died, depression set in. When he took time off, the senseless and violence of life started to get to him, which Hank describes as due to “miscommunication“. He became interested in the “universal language of symbols” because “pictures are clearer to my mind than words“. Hank says he was sort of making up his own language, in a way. It started from there then grew into an obsession. But his daughter loves him, his son-in-law obviously cares a good deal, and it doesn’t matter. He isn’t crazy, just a man with “good intentions“, how he puts it himself.
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Fittingly, the season ends on Betsy and Lou in bed, coming to rest. A great and spectacular end after all the wild madness which preceded it. Loved this finale. I’m very excited that Fargo will, of course, be coming back next year for an additional season. Apparently it’ll be modern day, too. So a change of pace is always fun, as it was for this season going back into a kind of prequel. Noah Hawley and the entire team are amazing, this is one of the best shows on television as of late. Season 2, for me, is even better than the first, but that is NOT knocking the first season at all. They’re both incredible.
Stay tuned with me for other reviews, and I’ll see you back around Minnesota somewhere next year, don’t ya know!

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 9: “The Castle”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 9: “The Castle”
Directed by Adam Arkin
Written by Steve Blackman & Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode,”Loplop”- click here
* For a review of the finale, “Palindrome” – click here
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With only this episode and the finale “Palindrome” left, Fargo‘s amazing second season is almost ready to clue up. Is war coming? You betcha.
We start closing in on a book and read about more Minnesota tales, specifically the Massacre at Sioux Falls in 1979. Great little narration at the start here – do you recognize the voice? – with illustrated pictures of everyone from Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) to Ed and Peggy Blumquist (Jesse Plemons/Kirsten Dunst).


Then we switch to real life, back at the gas station where Ed was awhile back. Out of the woods the station attendant sees Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon). Before the poor fella can dial the police, Hanzee snipes him with an assault rifle. Dent picks up a bit of hydrogen peroxide and a tiny tube of what looks like model glue, or something similar. In the bathroom he uses these items to close up the wound where Peggy stabbed him at the end of last episode. The narrator proceeds to tell us about the enigma that is Hanzee; no birth record, no link to any tribe, et cetera. He’s a lone wolf, that Hanzee.
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Ed and Peggy are cuffed. Most of the cops in town are there, too. Lou (Patrick Wilson) and Ben Schmidt look pretty baffled, as do Chief Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) and Chief Gibson (Terry Kinney). It’s a typically hilarious chat between the officers and the Blumquists. Eventually Ed lets slip the information concerning Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) and the meeting up at Sioux Falls. Can we feel what’s coming? Yer darn tootin’. The worst part is there happens to be corruption inside the police ranks, as noted by one of them officers present. Lou is an army man, plus he knows Milligan and what could happen. But no one else seems onboard with him, he sees the tragedy coming; only Lou seems to understand it’s “dumb luck” that brought Ed and Peggy this far. Hank stays to keep an eye on things, but Lou makes it clear: “This things officially outta control.”
So Captain Jeb Cheney (Wayne Duvall) offers Ed the chance to go meet Milligan. Wearing a wire, too.
I’m loving this episode’s narration, recapping things in a way that doesn’t feel overly expository (even though it is). Just the charm of the British narrator – Mr. Martin Freeman who starred in the first season – it makes things so fun as we get recaps, yet not full, long ones. It’s fresh, and I dig that. As well, there’s that great split-screen technique happening, of which I’m always a fan. They use it a lot in certain scenes. To great effect, though. Mostly, I find it’s a great transitional tool and the filmmakers/writers together use it very well overall on Fargo.


While Lou is off doing his thing, there’s his faithful wife Betsy (Cristian Milioti) at home. And she is not well, having taken a hard fall downstairs where her daughter Molly finds her laying on the floor next to a bunch of shattered glass. Right at the same moment when Lou is calling on the same pay phone where Ed called Milligan, outside the gas station where Hanzee murdered the cashier. Naturally, the ever vigilant Lou spies the broken glass from Hanzee’s bullet. Inside he finds blood on the wall, a dead cashier. What makes things so great is the fact Patrick Wilson does a fantastic job with his performance, right from the first episode. Just the way his breath gets heavier once he sees the brains on the wall, his silent, physical acting speaks wonders.
I have to note this: on the wall when Lou looks around behind the register, there’s a WE ARE NOT ALONE poster, a small thin one. Will we see more to connect with Hank’s seeming alien obsession?


Speaking of Sheriff Larsson, Lou calls over to Hank, along with Schmidt and Chief Gibson, telling them about Hanzee and the red car he’s driving. But they’re on the way to do their nonsense, even if Hank isn’t totally into all that. Lou’s got a bad feeling, rightfully so. Nobody listens, at least Chief Gibson doesn’t. They’re determined to go in there and take the whole operation down, it seems. Pretty foolish.
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Soon as they pull into the motel, escorting the Blumquists inside handcuffed, a scoped sight is visible watching them, unknowing in the parking lot. Captain Cheney and Chief Larsson have a misunderstanding, a little conversation over Lou and his supposed insubordination. Hank is a more sensible man. Then, up across the road perched on a building hidden, Hanzee watches on.
On the Gerhardt ranch, Mama Floyd (Jean Smart) and Bear (Angus Sampson) arrive home. To news from Mr. Dent. He claims Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) is still alive. He’s about to betray the Gerhardt clan, in a huge way. Is he part of the Sioux Falls Massacre becoming what it is? He tells Floyd it was all Kansas City – “that Milligan fella.” He starts setting up a confrontation at the motel, which Floyd is silly enough to walk right into herself. She won’t just send men in, she wants to do it her way.
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And at the motel, everyone is lounging, semi-aware; some of them, anyways. Ben Schmidt is kicked back watching movies on television, stuffing his face. The Blumquists are lounging, sort of. Ed is worried. Peggy, for her part, is a little too chipper, and still trying her best to scheme. And at this point, can we really keep saying oh she’s just crazy? I mean, she’s ended up doing some good. Perhaps Ed, at this point (especially with the idiot police around them), might do better listening to her, or following along with whatever she wings at any given time. Who knows. Because I was sure they were done for a couple times already, and still: here they stand.
One of my favourite shots of this ENTIRE SERIES from either Season 1 or Season 2 happens when we’re back with Milligan. Through a little montage of memories, as Mike is driven to his next destination, we see him remember touching Joe Bulo’s (Brad Garrett) hair way back when they met at a hotel restaurant, then later when he touched the hair after he received Joe’s head in a box. Great, great juxtaposition of scenes in this montage. Another excellent show of film making by the crew on this series, as a whole. The music, the editing, the writing, it’s all so damn tight.


Lou is not going to stand by and let things go bad at Sioux Falls. He heads back over the state line, which earlier he’d been escorted across, in order to try preventing more bloodshed. More amazing score here, as Lou goes back through the hotel room where Constance met Hanzee unexpectedly. There are some incredible pieces of music throughout this season, it is another aspect of the aesthetic I’m in love with.
Do you think it’s any coincidence the gung ho Captain Jeb Cheney is named as such? Perhaps a little on the nose, not exactly subtle. Or maybe it is coincidence. I doubt it.
A foreboding sequence sees Lou watching a Gerhardt motorcade drive by. He knows where they’re headed. We’re cut back to scenes of the unsuspecting officers at the motel; Lou calls out over the radio, but the one in the room where Cheney and the others are now sleeping is off, silent. The only one awake and alert is Peggy, who sits on the bed next to her sleeping husband watching a black-and-white movie with the sound turned off.
Chief Gibson and a couple of the officers play cards. He tells them about the best place he ever took a piss; the kitchen sink. Outside, Hanzee, Bear and the Gerhardt henchmen show up, armed to the teeth. Dent sends the troops in as “Sorcerer” by Junction plays, Bear along with about ten men head into the motel. One man outside is stabbed to death. Upstairs, Hank is getting his uniform on, right when the doors are about to be kicked in. As Bear gives the signal, most of the officers are blown clear away; Cheney in particular takes a shotgun blast which knocks him into the wall behind his bed. No sign of Dodd, though; obviously. Hank manages to gun down a couple men, and likewise so does Detective Schmidt: only the latter gets knocked out by Peggy, still trying to save her and Ed’s own skin. The entire motel is lit up with gunfire.
And down in the parking lot, Hanzee looks Floyd right in the eye as she figures out the men inside are all cops, that he did them dirty. Then, he stabs her right in the gut. He and Bear meet eyes across the parking lot right at that very moment, as he screams “Mom!“. But Lou Solverson popsa shot into Bear’s neck – then the beast of a man goes for Lou, they fight barehanded against the pavement. An AMAZINGLY STYLIZED SEQUENCE here with several of Hanzee’s shots being freeze-framed, each of his shots caught in a glare of light. Sadly there’s a gut shot for Hank, too.


Out of the sky then comes what appears to be an extraterrestrial spacecraft. It hovers over the motel, spotlights on the ground. Hanzee, Bear and Lou all freeze and look into it a few moments. This gives enough time to Lou who blows Bear’s head off. And the Blumquists who toss hot coffee, or something, into Hanzee’s eyes, slipping out of the room and out of sight. One last gun duel goes down between Lou and Hanzee, from parking lot to balcony, before the latter takes off into the night.
After the smoke clears, Lou goes to the room where Hank is wounded. Milligan appears when things are all said and done: “Okay then,” he quips then gets into his car again driving off with Gale Kitchen (Brad Mann).


Lou: “Dinner Sunday?
Hank: “Ill be there. In a suit of armour.”


With Hanzee still on the run, Lou still on his toes, what will the Season 2 finale “Palindrome” have in store for us?
Stay tuned and we’ll find out together. See ya then, folks.

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 8: “Loplop”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 8: “Loplop”
Directed by Keith Gordon
Written by Bob DeLaurentis

* For a review of the previous episode, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Castle” – click here
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This episode begins with some nice tribal sounds with “Bashi Mwana” by Musi-O-Tunya playing. More split-screen montaging here, as we go back to the Blumquist house. Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) sits, head in her hands on the stairs. In the basement is a tied up Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan). Only Peggy seems to be hallucinating, seeing a man – who I’m assuming, because of his slight likeness, is meant to be Albert Camus; he’s listed in the credits as Albert – asking questions like “Do you understand the difference between thinking and being?“. Very strange yet sort of fitting. I mean, Peg is fairly nutty. First of all, look at the basement! She is a hoarder by the state of the place. Not to mention, she’s the one who snowballed all this into the mess it’s slowly, bloodily become. A real philosophical chat between the two. Until Ed (Jesse Plemons) shows up and shakes her out of it. Dodd is freaked out, I can’t blame him even if I don’t like him or care if he dies. I’m worried most of all for Ed, because having his wife go truly off the deep end is only more to add to the pile of shit that is his life.
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Albert Camus

French writer Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) on a visit to London. Original Publication: Picture Post 6297 – Camus The Post Existentialist – unpub. Original Publication: People Disc – HC0237 (Photo by Kurt Hutton/Getty Images)

Chief Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) along with Officer Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) find their way back to the Blumquist home discovering the dead man at the foot of the stairs. As well as another corpse further in. Poor Hank’s head injury from his previous run-in with the Gerhardt clan has him wheeled into an ambulance, after he valiantly tries to push on with his son-in-law: “This is just embarrassing,” he says being brought out on a stretcher. Hilarious moment they threw in.
Meanwhile, Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) is snooping around still. He finds a note from Constance, as well as her location at the Southnik Hotel. I’m waiting for something big to happen with Hanzee. Either he’s going to do some more crazy stuff, or else some sort of craziness is going to come for him.
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The Blumquists are out on the road. Peggy seems happy, smile on her face and shouting stuff like: “See it then be it!“, and things like “We’re actualized” riffing off her little daydream with the armchair philosopher in her basement. Crazy lady. What I love about their situation is that I consistently find myself surprised by what they do. Even further, Dodd gives Ed a kick on the way out of the trunk, but Peg quickly jumps in with the cattle prod for him again prompting Dodd to almost bite his tongue in half. When they get him inside a little cabin in the woods, he talks pretty tough for a man tied to a post.
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Now we’ve almost made it to the end of the previous episode, where Ed is at a payphone. There’s a cop snooping around outside at the gas station. Great score with a nice thumping brass sound to it, which comes out here and in other solid moments throughout many episodes. Jeff Russo does really interesting work on Fargo overall.
But the most interesting, and nasty, thing happening right now is Peggy stabbing Dodd a few times. She snaps him out of his rudeness, at least temporarily. All he needed was a couple stabs. Just goes to show how on the edge of craziness Peggy is. Dodd is certainly no one to care for, as I mentioned already. But how easily she sinks the knife into Dodd’s chest is kind of scary, an unsettling addition to her already twisted personality. And right afterwards, she serves him up a bit of food, feeding him like an infant. Having some herself, too. Such a weird scene, but a great one. Typical of what I’ve come to expect in this season. Some seem to think it’s quirky for the sake of being quirky. I disagree. To me it fits very well.
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Hanzee ends up at a bar, outside of which is a plaque commemorating the slaughter of 22 Sioux Indians; underneath is a pile of shit, or possibly vomit, and piss. Inside he asks for a glass of water, and it comes back with spit in it, so he requests a tequila poured in front of him with the bartender quipping “Here you go chief“. Bad, bad attitudes. After some more idiocy from the guy, Hanzee shoots back referencing his service in Vietnam and says: “You’re welcome.” A confrontation outside with three other racists ends excellently with Hanzee immediately firing on two of them, the other running of, and then back he goes in to shoot the bartender in the heart. When the cops show up? He pulls an assault rifle out of his truck’s front seat and pops two of them off with single shots to the head. Is this the beginning of the end? Seems like Hanzee is either going to war for the Gerhardts, or going a little crazy.


In a romantic hotel room, Constance (Elizabeth Marvel) awaits someone else than who actually shows up. When she answers the door it’s Hanzee, and he does not look friendly. Eventually, we get a split-screen scene where Hanzee has Constance hostage calling Peggy – turns out the whole seminar thing was going to be some sort of lesbian love affair instead of much concentration on anything else, at least that’s what Constance had planned. Peg is obviously not leaving to head out there. But Hanzee just needs some information, he only wants to find out where they are. Constance tries so hard to get an address, however, it doesn’t work too well for the most part.
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Peggy wastes away some time watching a WWII-themed film on television. She pays too much attention, though. After a few minutes she looks over and – surprise, surprise – Dodd is gone.
Cut to Ed in the payphone booth. He spies the name Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) in a newspaper sporting a headline about the big war going down between the Kansas City guys and the Gerhardts. Now, we’re finally at the previous episode’s close. Ed calls Milligan, alerting him to the situation. Only now we know more; that maybe he doesn’t exactly have Dodd anymore, or perhaps it’s not as cut and dry as it was earlier when Dodd was still tied up tight.
As Ed leaves the phone booth, we also catch glimpse of another newspaper piece: MANHUNT UNDERWAY FOR NATIVE, alongside a picture of Hanzee’s mean mug. And immediately after Ed ships off, Hanzee pulls into the gas station. He’s hunting Ed down right to the last, asking questions of the kindly cashier at the station with whom Ed had a pleasant little chat earlier. Luckily, this guy gets to live unlike a lot of the people who cross Hanzee’s path of destruction – he notices the paper too, then calls the cops. Is this going to result in a MASSIVE shitstorm? You betcha.
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Milligan: “Sirif I were to kiss you when we meet, would that be inappropriate?
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When Ed gets to the cabin, discovering Dodd gone, Peggy nowhere to be found, he walks in a little then immediately gets strung up by Dodd. Ed’s literally hung by the neck from a beam. Then Dodd goes on to talk about Ed and his “woman problem“. He’s a super chauvinistic sort who believes “Satan is a woman“. But once more Peggy proves to be a resourceful type of woman. Not only does she stab Dodd in the foot and break the knife’s handle off, she manages to cut down her purple husband and save his life. One of the more tense scenes yet this season, as I actually wondered if Ed was going to die or not. So, as much as I constantly say Peg is the cause of all their problems, she ends up doing a ton to help. Even if they ended up where they are mostly on account of her foolishness.
Then, out of nowhere, Hanzee breaks in. INSANITY!!!!!!! Instead of saving Dodd, Hanzee puts a bullet right in his forehead. All he wants is a haircut from Peggy, possibly to change his look and make the heat on him cool off. Real strange (and awesome) scene between the Blumquists and Hanzee, after Dodd is left dead on the floor. Such an interesting progression in the plot. How much worse will things get? Milligan isn’t going to get what was promised to him, so is that about to make more problems for Ed and Peggy?


And in the woods just outside the cabin, before Peggy can cut a single hair, Ed sees Hank and Lou. And Hanzee quickly pops a shot at them. Peggy stabs him in the shoulder, he dry clicks the gun in Ed’s face, and then the renegade Native is out the door. In burst Hank and Lou to find the Blumquists, arms raised.


WOW! I mean, how good can it get? The next episode “The Castle”, no doubt named for Kafka, is no doubt going to be something intense and wild. Only two more left now. Stay tuned with me, fellow fans!

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 7: “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 7: “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!”
Directed by Keith Gordon (Mother NightWaking the Dead)
Written by Noah Hawley/Ben Nedivi/Matt Wolpert

* For a review of the previous episode, “Rhinoceros” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Loplop” – click here
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Well, shit is really goin’ down in Minnesota, no?
After the exciting “Rhinoceros”, this episode begins with some people being gunned down in an office building from a window cleaner’s basket. We quickly cut to Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) looking especially grim. Jethro Tull plays “Locomotive Breath” over a montage including the remaining Kitchen Brother garroting a man, as well as (some of) the Gerhardts laying Otto’s body to rest. Floyd (Jean Smart) has people in from Buffalo helping with all the chaos. Bear (Angus Sampson) gives her a little bad news, and young Simone (Rachel Keller) nudges her way into family business a little. More than anything, Floyd backhands her granddaughter and, I’m sure, this will drive her even further into the arms of Milligan.
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Simone: “This family deserves the ground
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Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) and his new sort-of-partner Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) show up to take Mama Floyd in for some questions. Before they leave, though, there’s a brief back and forth between Lou and Bear. Just enough to show Bear/the Gerhardts have no time for the law, as well as the fact Lou has balls of steel and won’t back down from their force either. Love the dynamic between the big mafia-style Minnesota family and Solverson’s relentless will to serve the law.
Fucking Terry Kinney! He shows up as Chief Gibson, not impressed with having Floyd Gerhardt in his interrogation room. At the same time, he is not a bad guy, nor does he seem like a dummy. So Gibson and Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) hop in for a chat with ole Floyd, while the other two do their duties. There’s good conversation between Floyd and Hank specifically. Again, I’m not huge on Danson other than Cheers – here, he absolutely holds his own and does fine stuff with the character of Hank; he’s a great addition to the second season cast.
More great music with The First Edition’s “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” playing with Simone heading into a seedy hotel. Upstairs, Milligan is being talked to rather disrespectfully; due to the opening shooting we witnessed. Turns out Mike has an ultimatum – either take care of things, or the man on the phone says: “I’m sending the Undertaker“. Simone’s pissed her father Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) wasn’ killed, and rather grandpa got shot up. Milligan doesn’t care; he’d rather quote historical figures from Martin Luther King back to one of the King Louis. Then into the room bursts Lou Solverson alongside Ben Schmidt, guns drawn, knocking Gale Kitchen (Brad Mann) to the floor. Looks like trouble for Mike and his plans, right? Well, on the elevator down Schmidt has a bit of a… close encounter, with Simone. So trouble for Ben right away.
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Simone: “I mean, sometimes a girl just wants to bust a nut, y’know.”
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Downstairs, Bear picks up his niece in an intense scene. Upstairs, Lou reiterates to Milligan: “We’re not meant to need more than we can handle.” They talk about greed, “all or nothin’“. Very interesting little moment, especially with the abilities of Patrick Wilson as an actor versus Bokeem Woodbine who is equally amazing in this season. There’s something fun about the typical cop versus criminal turned into a more interesting, elegant, and at times comical situation. Instead of chase chase, bang bang, et cetera. For all Solverson’s efforts, Milligan believes the Gerhardts are the past, and “we are the future“.
Snap from the hotel to Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) who arrives home to suspicious boots in her porch. Immediately, and very smart, she goes for a shotgun in the closet and goes up to the kitchen. There stand Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman) and Sonny Greer (Dan Beirne) cooking breakfast. Apparently her “lesser half” asked them to make sure she was doing all right and to look after her and Molly. Awesome little scene I thought fit in well among everything else happening during this episode.
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Bear takes Simone on a ride in the truck. It’s tense, as Bear talks in a low, grumbling voice and appearing cold to his niece. She is rightfully nervous, having just before walked out of the hotel where Milligan was staying. Then Bear pulls over out in the woods, asking Simone to come – “You’re scaring me,” she tells him. He’s scaring me, too. Slowly he walks his niece out further into the trees, accusing her of “sleeping with the enemy” and talks about how women had their heads shaved for “bedding Germans“. The cinematography here is equally as eerie, it unsettled me to watch overhead as Bear basically – I assume – takes Simone on a death march. Plus, a few creepy handheld-like shots quivering together in a big, beautiful edited jumble. I really loved this whole bit, no matter how brutal it was beneath it all. Just an incredibly great sequence from visuals to performances. Added to all that, a serene and gorgeous rendition of “Danny Boy” is sung over top of a montage including Bear smashing the cast off his arm after leaving the woods alone, quick cuts of still alive Rye and Simone, and a shot of Dodd. An entirely unexpected 5 minutes, which work so perfectly. Another example of the quality work being put into this series, from the camerawork to the writing to all the choice music being used for such memorable scenes.
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Simone: “We’re family
Bear: “None of us are family anymore
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Back at the station, Floyd is trying to take everything on herself. Gibson and Larsson just want information from her, so they try and make a deal to not see any further bodies pile up. She gives them the low down on the Kansas City drug operation, the drugs hidden in tires, and so on. Is this going to come back and bite Floyd? Should she, in her ‘line of work’, be making deals with police? Of course, morality says yes. Although the criminal code doesn’t smile favourably on such nastiness. Excellent editing once more in this scene, as Floyd in the interrogation room is cut in split-screen shots with Milligan at his hotel.
And then Mike receives a phone call: “The Undertaker’s coming. You’re done.”
Betsy and Karl have a good, morbid talk together. She wants him to look out for Lou after she’s gone, already anticipating her own death; like any of us would, I’m sure. Then she goes over to feed her father’s cat, which leads to her finding a room full of all sorts of drawings, markings, strange things that LOOK like Hank is interested in aliens. Am I right? I saw something “…Of the Gods” on his desk, maybe – could be any number of texts. Either way, it appears he might be a little out there?!
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Throughout an interesting and low-key, though briefly vicious episode, the best comes when The Undertaker arrives at the hotel. He comes to see Milligan in his room accompanied by two Asian men, who look bad ass, as well. Then Mike comes charging out to say hello, popping a tiny gun from his sleeve and shooting The Undertaker right in his face. The two Asians are done in fairly quick afterwards.
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On the phone then calls Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons). He says “this is your lucky day: I’ve got Dodd Gerhardt in the trunk of my car, you want him?” WHOA! I anticipated something along these lines, yet not at all ni this way. So now we know where Dodd is. As does Hanzee apparently.
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Very excited for the next episode, “Loplop”. I’m anticipating a wild one, but we may get another calm before the storm like this one. Who knows. Stay tuned, fellow fans!