Legion – Chapter 7

FX’s Legion
Chapter 7
Directed by Dennie Gordon
Written by Jennifer Yale

* For a recap & review of Chapter 6, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 8, click here.
Pic 1The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) is stalking, closer and closer, behind Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder). She tires to run and hide, though it isn’t easy to escape him.
And watching as always, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, a.k.a Lenny Busker (Aubrey Plaza). She’s got Amy Haller (Katie Aselton) in her grasp. She asks Amy about when David (Dan Stevens) first came to live with their family. Sly little visual reference to Professor X, as his wheelchair dissolves past in an image while Lenny shouts: “What did he do with it?” Hmm.


In the meantime, Cary (Bill Irwin) has found his way to Oliver Bird (Jemaine Clement) in that astral plane lounge. They drink, chat. Oliver wants to help however he can with the parasite that’s attached itself to David. Apparently the monster is called Amahl Farouk, the Shadow King. He’s sequestered David in the deep recess of his own mind. The longer this goes on, the more chance Farouk takes over the body entirely. This prompts Cary to come up with a plan. A wacky one, though a plan. Starting with the diving suit.
First visit is to Syd (Rachel Keller), removing the headphones keeping her subdued in the dreamy space of David’s childhood room. Cary brings her away to a safer place, so they can talk; she already knows the whole deal. Because she’s smart. Sort of ruins his excitement of explaining in hilarious fashion. Regardless, the plan is underway.
The halls of the hospital are absolute havoc. Good thing Syd’s got special glasses to cut through Farouk’s created imagery. Cary always keeps a few tricks up his sleeve, just like Oliver.
Meanwhile, Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) is drifting through the abstract, too. She comes across the diving suit with Cary inside, as well as Oliver in the room where their gunfight went down. Only the husband can’t remember his wife, his memory’s been affected quite a deal. It’s good to have him there, if only to help think through their next steps. But it’s what Melanie does next that’s interesting. Whispering in a Rudy’s ear, who in the later part of the timeline is stuck in a wall. But for now, Cut to Syd – she slips a pair of those nifty glasses onto Kerry, thwarting The Eye on the way.


Stuck in a “mental coffin” David faces British David (fun with Dan speaking in a native British accent). His rational mind. It’s all “just an idea” and the monster’s implanted in their head. Farouk is manipulating David’s mind, and in turn the wild mutant powers he wields. Very fun seeing the two sides of David, led by the rational mind, work out the problems with logic and reason. We’re watching the visual representation of the mind at work. And eventually, rational David convinces the other part of David the monster’s been around since he was just a child. Beautifully conceived sequence, all around! References to X-Men abound in this episode. Even as David figures it out, he gives his long lost father a British accent, not yet knowing his identity.
So the monster waited, watched after being defeated by David’s father, then found David, possessing him. Torturing him and feeding off his energy. Its parasitic machinations were to regain its own power to take revenge. Usually such exposition would feel lame, overdone, tedious. This doesn’t because of a) the visuals, and b) the storytelling works because of David having this two-way conversation with himself. Glorious fucking writing and directing, all around a fantastic job in this episode particularly.


Syd and Kerry keep moving forward. As does David, breaking through room after room, many of them the same, hearing Syd call for him. Melanie and Oliver and Cary, they work on their side of things in the room of that gunfight; Oliver does some wonderful conducting on the astral plane. This is even wilder and weirder and more fun than the previous sequence. Add in title cards like a silent film as Syd calls to the others, fighting alongside Kerry, and the whole thing’s more interesting than you can handle.
This will blow your mind, honestly.
Then Lenny shows up. She (literally) crushes The Eye, who’s of no use any longer. What a wild effect, such good work! And in that frozen gunfight, The Eye’s head starts running with blood. However, Lenny infiltrates that space, tossing Oliver to the side. Free to do as Farouk pleases.
Simultaneously, Cary puts the device on David’s head, Rudy grabs hold of Lenny, and with the full influence of David’s mind the place is under his control again: he saves Syd. But takes the bullets; catching them in his hand, like a true bad ass. All is well again, at least for now. Everyone returns, and so they can return to reality once more.


And who else came back – Oliver himself. His memory still a bit ransacked like on the astral plane. Then there’s also a divide between Cary and Kerry, the latter feeling abandoned by the former in a deep way. Although things are better, they aren’t all perfect. It’ll do at the moment.
David and Amy get time together, as well. She feels bad for not telling him about the adoption before. But she finds it cool he’s a mutant. He does, too. Sadly Amy has to stay away from her family for a while because of D3, all the madness.
Furthermore, David has flashes of the monster inside. He wants to get Farouk out of him, and fast. Before who knows what happens. Yet they can’t do that because the interrogator David long thought he was rid of at D3 returns, burned up face and all. He’s got men with guns. Threatening to kill everyone else, except David. Oh, shit.
Not to mention deep down inside him still lurks Lenny, Farouk, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes. And that nasty bastard wants out. Strangely enough, it might actually help to let the devil out to play.
Pic 5Pic 5AI keep thinking I’ve seen my favourite episode of Legion yet, then Noah Hawley & Co. come at us hard with another visionary chapter in this impeccable first season. One of the best debut seasons of any series; ever. I’d take that to the bank. So excited for the season finale. NOW GIVE US SEASON 2, QUICK! Mainline it to my veins.

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Legion – Chapter 5

FX’s Legion
Chapter 5
Directed by Tim Mielants
Written by Peter Calloway

* For a recap & review of Chapter 4, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 6, click here.
Pic 1Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) is going through the motions as his spiritual counterpart Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder) is brought back to Summerland, injured and in need to medical attention. In the meantime, David Haller (Dan Stevens) talks to Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) through glass, saying he’s met her husband, which shocks her though in a sense likely calms her knowing Oliver’s still out there, somewhere.
When Kerry’s in stable condition, Syd (Rachel Keller) goes to talk with David about who he is, what they’ve found in his past. He proves to her they can be together, in the physical headspace he creates with his powers. Reality’s just an illusion. He can make places in his mind, transfer them into what others perceive as reality. While it looks and feels like they’re touching one another, Rachel’s only imagining everything as David creates it. On the surface there’s a romance. But underneath is something sinister, or the possibility of something sinister. Great imagery in this scene, as at the end we focus in on a bowl of strawberries crawling with bugs. Where hides the Devil with the Yellow Eyes?
David: “Im the magic man
There’s also the question of whether Oliver can come back from the astral plane, if David can bring him. Of course Melanie hopes so. This also has repercussions in the world of Loudermilk; what happens if this is true? That would fundamentally change the relationship between him and Kerry. So interesting, a lot of things revolving around Oliver and the whole concept of the astral plane.
Pic 2Turns out Oliver essentially experienced a downfall, mentally, in the sense that he wanted to be the “creator” of his own world, entirely, and he’d sometimes just sit there, conjuring up another reality in his mind. Melanie is desperate to see her husband, hoping David can bring him home for her. I feel that sinister quality rearing its head quite a bit in the early parts of this episode, in David. Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) and the Devil with the Yellow Eyes, same person or not, have had a nasty effect on him. He’s also got that yellow triangle shirt on; the logo looks suspiciously like an eye, too. It’s almost eerie how quick and forceful he uses his powers to seduce Syd into their alternate reality bed. Worse, she opens up, both intimately and emotionally/mentally. I worry.
Syd: “Who teaches us to be normal when were one of a kind?”
Oh, and speaking of Lenny, she turns up in David’s head. Speaking like Shakespeare’s Iago into the ear of David’s Othello. Influencing him. As if that weren’t enough, they’re in a neon red lit room. Although when Syd gets up to see who David’s talking to, he and Lenny are gone.
Together, Dr. Bird, Syd, Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), they start figuring out how to tackle this latest problem. Ptonomy feels they’re fighting “a war” and it isn’t all about David, or his sister. Melanie thinks it’s best they track David down because if not, and they turn him, it could mean trouble for them. Big, big trouble. It’s hard not to believe she wants him around most of all to see Oliver again.


When the team arrives at D3, where they assumed David’s heading, they indeed find a trail of carnage: bloody SWAT members, people half stuck between concrete, overturned vehicles, fire. All set to “The Daily Mail” by Radiohead; perfect! Inside the facility, the group splits into two, heading further on. They find Dr. Kissinger, the only one remaining where Amy (Katie Aselton) was kept. They find the security footage of David breaking in, and it’s so clear he isn’t himself. Just in the way he prances around using his powers. That sinister thing inside him rages, showboating and having fun killing people. And when Dr. Bird sees the thermal footage, it’s clear: the Devil with the Yellow Eyes has taken him hostage, from the inside out. Moreover, the nasty thing, an “older mutant” is rewriting David’s memory, as well as those who come in contact with him in those reality-bending landscapes.
It wears a human face
In another one of those places, Syd discovers David, playing banjo and singing, crying. The bathroom’s still lit neon red; in there, the World’s Angriest Boy in the World lurking, David’s imaginary pet dog King. The whole place is creepy. Out in reality, Amy tries to apologise to her brother for not seeing the truth about him before. Yet she doesn’t realise what’s hiding in his skin. Then out comes Lenny to interrogate and taunt. That Devil with the Yellow Eyes has always been there, since he was a boy. He was King, then that Angry Boy, then Benny, or Lenny, and whoever else. Amy finally reveals the truth, that David was adopted. And if you don’t already know, he’s the son of another powerful mutant; not sure if that’ll be revealed in its entirety soon, if at all in the series (I’m sure it will at some point).


The team goes back to David’s childhood home. A place filled to the brim with terrors. Also blanketed in silence, as we watch a heavily stylised, awesome sequence leading up to Kerry taking charge over Cary and leading the way with a spiked baseball bat through the house’s dark corridors. Upstairs is Amy, and Lenny, too. She is a ruthless entity. Devious and horrible. Then, in his disguise, The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) bursts through firing his gun at David. And in the other reality, Syd is confronted by the Devil with the Yellow Eyes in its awful, true form.
Lenny: “This is not the talking place. This is the listening place.”
Suddenly, they’re all sucked into a therapy session, somewhere else. Lenny’s the therapist, and the rest of them are patients. Uh oh. This is getting dangerous.

Pic 15Each episode is better than the last. Challenging us, and the characters, as to what IS reality at any given moment. So clever, great writing. Can’t wait for Chapter 6 next! The back half of this season is going to get even wilder as we near a finish.

Legion – Chapter 4

FX’s Legion
Chapter 4
Directed by Larysa Kondracki
Written by Nathaniel Halpern

* For a recap & review of Chapter 3, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 5, click here.
pic-1We open on Jemaine Clement playing Oliver Bird, husband of Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart). He paraphrases Friedrich Nietzsche’s quote: “Under peaceful conditions, the warlike man attacks himself.” He speaks about the fear of the unknown, and violence as ignorance. Everything around him’s cold. Very, very cold. Then he mentions empathy v. fear in telling stories to children. Ought to remind us of David Haller (Dan Stevens) being told the story of that angry boy.
Back to present events. Syd Barrett (Rachel Keller), Ptonomy Wallace (Jeremie Harris), Dr. Bird, they’ve been sucked into the world of David, the one trapped in his head. There’s no telling if anything is real, at any point in time. At Summerland, Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin) tells them there’s no medical explanation for why David’s in a coma-like state now. Neither he nor Ptonomy can figure it out. He’s stuck between dreams and reality, somewhere. They’ve got to discover what happened to David before he wound up at Clockworks Hospital, what damaged him so bad.
pic-2Off they go, searching for answers. They go to the places where his memories took them. First, the office of Dr. Poole (Scott Lawrence). Ptonomy and Syd discuss what happened in David’s memories, the abnormal “tear” in the physical space where they experienced those moments. They find a recording device from the doctor’s sessions, beaten, bloody hand prints on it – using their powers, it comes back to life and tells them of a possibly brutal, violent crime. Poole was beaten horribly with savage force. But, did David actually do that? Or was it the dark entity, The Devil with the Yellow Eyes? Did he break into Poole’s office originally to steal things for drugs? Was it something else? We’ll see.
What did the stars say?”
Poor Amy Haller (Katie Aselton) is still being held captive, too. She’s not faring well, psychologically. Although she discovers there’s someone else nearby locked in a cell just like her: David’s former doctor at Clockworks. She laments not realising sooner there was something different about her brother, since he was young he moved from “room to room” and even further at times. He talked to people frequently, such as their dog King. Only they never had one.
Everyone around the man’s been affected. Amy is in a cell, alongside the doc. Meanwhile, Syd, Ptonomy, and Kerry Loudermilk (Amber Midthunder) are searching for the clues that will lead them to the answers. We get the story about the Loudermilks, or, well… the one Loudermilk. They share a body, Cary and Kerry. Two people in a single body, though the experience for each of them isn’t entirely identical, Kerry exists in a sort of spirit state while Cary is the more corporeal form on a regular basis; she comes out to play when necessary.
In her office, Dr. Bird has a vision of a person in an old school-type diver’s suit. She tells Cary of the incident, hoping it’s a sign David may be coming back to the land of the living. The guy in the suit is Oliver. His physical body is kept frozen in a chamber downstairs.

pic-7David, in one of his mindfuck landscapes, meets Oliver. Not really, he just gets a wave from the diving suit-clad dead guy. To follow him elsewhere. So, they head into the great unknown together, as David follows him to a ladder. Up, up, up. This leads to that place where first we saw Oliver, talking to us. That freezing place. There, Oliver sits for a drink and a chat with his new friend. “Whats real in this space is whatever you want it to be, so, my feeling is: why not wait in style?” he quips to David.
Bad news – David’s lost. Good news? Oliver has himself a bit of company. And someone to bounce beat poetry off when the mood strikes. They get to talking about David and his powers, the monster waiting for him around every corner. Now he’s intent on getting out of that cold place. He plunges back into the “vast subconscious” in order to make his way back to real life. If possible. Oliver certainly doesn’t assuage any fears, warning him things get tricky out there, outside of that protected place.
Ptonomy and Syd go to visit David’s ex-girlfriend. To scan her memories. They need to find more of his past, from wherever it comes. Back through a few of them, Ptonomy watches a dinner with the formerly happy couple and Dr. Poole. Then he finds traces of another memory within it: they know where Poole lives. Ah, and more comes to light! Lenny (Aubrey Plaza) was actually a drug pusher named Benny. Plus, the ex tells Syd and Ptonomy ominously: “Tell him theyre watching.”
Oh, my. So many questions. Implanted memories, hidden secrets.
What is real?
pic-8They track down Dr. Poole at a lighthouse, who’s reluctant to speak about David. Soon he tells them about the good and bad sides of his former patient. He says he’d actually like to see David again. Because he needs answers, after having his entire life ruined. Afterwards, they find themselves trapped by The Eye (Mackenzie Gray). Nothing is real. Armed men lay siege to the lighthouse. The trio run upstairs, but Kerry’s ready to take the offensive to their attackers. A fight breaks loose, where Kerry fights (and Cary goes through the motions back at Summerland), and we also see The Eye in action for the first time, he has his own powers. Unfortunately, Kerry’s taken down. But Syd, she touches The Eye with her bare hands. You know what THAT means!
Note: This is one of the best sequences of the series so far in these first four episodes. So powerful, exciting. Gives us awesome insight into the Cary-Kerry dynamic, as well.
David’s brought into another headspace with/by Lenny. She has things to talk about with him. She chastises him for going with Dr. Bird, ending up in Coma Land. He only wants the truth, even if she’s intent on her own designs. She riles him up into an angry, terrifying state.
Lenny: “Uncle Fiddly with the glasses and the angry girl inside him, they could be fingering you right now.”
Then suddenly, David is in the woods. He runs a truck off the road containing Syd and the others; he doesn’t realise there’s been a switcheroo. This starts up an awkward chase, as David urges Syd – The Eye – to run. When they switch back, The Eye puts a bullet into Kerry, sending Cary back at Summerland into a bleeding tailspin. Not so sure anymore that Lenny’s there to help David, not at all. Seeing as how she appears on his shoulder, while her hand looks suspiciously like one belonging to the Devil with the Yellow Eyes.


Another fascinating Chapter in Legion! Wow. Every one gets better visually than the last. I don’t doubt we’ll see the momentum charge forward in Chapter 5. Lots of weird and wild action afoot.

Legion – Chapter 3

FX’s Legion
Chapter 3
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Peter Calloway

* For a recap & review of Chapter 2, click here.
* For a recap & review of Chapter 4, click here.
pic-1Dr. Melanie Bird (Jean Smart) and her Summerland facility run on smoothly, as David Haller (Dan Stevens) digs deeper into his mind. Everybody’s doing something constructive, from Syd (Rachel Keller) to Ptonomy (Jeremie Harris), and Cary Loudermilk (Bill Irwin).
Still, The Eye (Mackenzie Gray) holds David’s sister Amy (Katie Aselton) hostage. And how long until something really bad happens?
Now more of therapy, just amped up. They’re digging into the “shit that scares you the most” in terms of the largest events in David’s life where he manifested powers, believing it mental illness. We cycle back through the familiar stuff, the kitchen before everything exploded. When Melanie and Ptonomy witness what happens afterwards they’re both wowed by their new friend’s powerful abilities. Then they’re back to a memory with David and Lenny (Aubrey Plaza), high as fuck, which starts a confrontation after Philly arrives.
And once more the Devil with the Yellow Eyes returns, scaring David. The memory changes, things aren’t the same anymore. When they come out of the memory work they’ve literally transported “600 feet through two solid walls.” Yowzahs.
pic-2The continuing relationship between David and Syd is fun, not a conventional-type relationship we so often see. Of course that’s precipitated by the fact they’re mutants, or whatever you’d like to call them. Either way, she’s awesome, and it’s excellent to see a different female character in these superhero stories. In this episode, David and Syd talk about their past to one another. He also has residual physical manifestations of their switching bodies.
Syd: “Were more than just this
Later, David goes over with Cary for a few tests. A kind of stress test. This takes him back to a memory on Halloween, as he and big sister Amy go trick or treating. When their dog ran off, David ended up seeing The World’s Angriest Boy in The World come to life. Oh, and Lenny shows up, too! We watch now as he speaks to Lenny, hearing her, yet to the outside world he’s not actually talking. His brain’s lighting up as if he’s talking, but he’s not at all. Lenny is one hell of an antagonist, though. As if his mind, in general. It goes into overdrive. David levitates, followed by Syd, as well. They disappear into nothingness.
They’re transported to where Amy sits, interrogated over and over about her brother and his powers, confronted with the fact he doesn’t have schizophrenia. Rather, he’s a powerful “god.” She has no information for them. That’ll be a problem if David and Co can’t get to her in time.


Melanie doesn’t want David doing his transportation act again any time soon. Could put them all in danger. We also get a history of the place, or a short one, anyways. There’s a lot going on for them, between Amy missing, David’s powers, old friends now foes of Melanie. On top of that, Dr. Bird wants to weaponize David, essentially. He won’t let up until his sister is safe. Simultaneous, he won’t stand for putting Syd in danger, even though she kicks ass, has saved him a few times already, et cetera. They deal with it in their own way, talking it through and feeling their connection immensely without any physical contact; one of the interesting, fun things I enjoy about their relationship.
David: “To be a monster, youve first got to do something monstrous.”
More memory work!
This time, Dr. Bird puts David into sedation. They go back to see how he wound up in Clockworks. Intriguing that Syd’s powers don’t work inside the memories, not without her physical body. She actually gets to hug David, but a young, little David. Odd, yet in a way romantic across space and time.
Then strange flashes, banging around the room while they watch David’s memories. Except they’re only images Syd can see. Something tears open a wall behind Melanie and Ptonomy, creeping its hands through the gap. They lose track of one another when Syd stumbles back through various memories of David’s in succession, chasing the child version of David through room after room. She even witnesses David having sex, at one point; very weird, considering she’s unable to have human contact.
Trapped in David’s head, The Angriest Boy in the World stalks the child. And worse still, the Devil with the Yellow Eyes. Syd and Ptonomy manage to make it out of their deep sleep. Although David and Melanie remain under.


Amongst the memories, Dr. Bird still walks, looking for answers. She finds The World’s Angriest Boy in the World tucked away in a closet. She reads through the sinister book. It soon slams shut on her hand, sending her back to the couch with Ptonomy. However, the memories are scaring everybody now, not only David.
He’s got his own demons, too. Terrifying ones that won’t let go.
screen-shot-2017-02-23-at-3-33-09-amscreen-shot-2017-02-23-at-3-34-43-amWhat an episode! This series is just knocking each Chapter out the park. Hawley and the crew doing amazing work, solid directors and writers involved. Great, great stuff. Looking forward to Chapter 4.

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
Picture 1
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.
Picture 12
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.
Picture 23Picture 24
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.
Picture 25Picture 26
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 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!

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 6: “Rhinoceros”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 6: “Rhinoceros”
Directed by Jeffrey Reiner
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Gift of the Magi” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” – click here
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After the last episode, we come right back to Ed and Peggy Blumquist (Jesse Plemons/Kirsten Dunst). In the finale of “The Gift of the Magi”, cop lights and sirens were blaring, swinging around out front of their house. Now we start with Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) taking Ed out to the car in cuffs. Behind him, Sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) tries his best to calm Peggy down. We’re about to see ole Ed, the poor soul, dragged down the rabbit hole. Even the look on Plemons’ face spells it all, as Lou drives him to the station. Very grim, very sombre mood. The tone here starting off the top is solid.
At the station, worry wort Betsy (Cristin Milioti) came to check on her husband, despite her own sickly disposition. Then there’s Charlie Gerhardt (Allan Dobrescu) – he gets his one call from jail.
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But before we get any of that, Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson) sits with his ill father, Otto (Michael Hogan). They have a deep little one-sided chat, about the family. Right before Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) shows up, looking – as always – confrontational.
Simone (Rachel Keller) calls Bear inside to talk to Charlie on the phone. Dodd doesn’t have any respect for his daughter, talking to her like trash. Then out comes Bear – he’s pissed, he finally figured out Charlie was drawn into the family shit by Uncle Dodd. They have a small fight, before Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) cocks the shotgun on Bear. Dodd gives him a choice of punishment: “Strap or the buckle.” Bad ass Bear chooses the buckle, but before that goes down Mama Floyd (Jean Smart) interrupts it all. She wants her grandson back, she doesn’t want any trouble with the brothers. I’m just waiting, though, to see if Floyd will eventually have to put down her son Dodd; it’s as if I can feel the thunder rumbling already, just waiting for the storm to hit.
With Floyd wanting blood from the butcher, as well as Charlie out of lockup, Simone calls Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine). She lets him in on the Gerhardt plan as it stands, telling him they’re on their way to Luverne. Some might think Simone is petty, childish, vindictive. I don’t. I think she’s a person who has had too much abuse pushed in her face, been treated awfully by her family. Now she’s dropping vengeance on them, big time. Will it play out that way?
Milligan sends us intro a strange atmosphere with a partial reading of “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll. Some split-screen action shows us him in the car, last Kitchen Brother (Brad Mann) in tow, juxtaposed with Hanzee, Bear and Dodd on their own respective journey towards Luverne.
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Hank Larsson is trying to keep Peggy on lockdown at home. She clearly does not understand the situation. Either that, or dear Peg is being purposefully oblivious. I think she’s beyond nervous. She rambles and runs on talking to Hank, about the modern woman and dreams and all their plans. But Hank continually tries to get through to her: these people were coming to KILL ED. They want him dead. We know that. Hank and Lou both know that. Hell, I’m sure even Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) up at Fargo P.D. knows what’s going on. Finally, Hank breaks it all down simply – he even knows now she sold the car to the mechanic over at the garage.
We cut from Peggy, on a knife’s edge, to the police station. Ed is sitting across from Lou, they’re getting down to the nitty gritty. Obviously, Ed was planning on taking off. Yet the timing fucked them; hard. Or better yet, Peggy fucked them; real hard. He even talks about Camus and The Myth of Sisyphus; the futility of pushing that damn rock up the fucking hill, every day, one after another. Yet somehow, among the absurdity of Camus’ philosophy, Ed turns it into – “I’ll take care of what’s mine“.
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Peggy: “You say it like these things happen in a vacuum. Like it’s a testcheck A or B. But it’s like, decisions you make in a dream, y’know? I’ll tell ya what, if it was me and we had to run, I wouldn’t look back.”
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Outside the Blumquist house, all of a sudden, Dodd Gerhardt and crew show up. Sheriff Larsson steps outside, telling Peggy to go hide someplace. Hank stands there talking with Dodd, trying to smooth things over. Although, he doesn’t let himself look like a guy who messes around, dropping an insult in with it all. The look in the eyes of Ted Danson are what great characterization is made of, he does such a perfect job showing it all in his face. But then Hanzee knocks him out, letting Dodd inside with the cattle prod. The crew has a look around in the basement, which doesn’t do much except produce a casualty of their own: Dodd kills one of his henchmen after hearing a noise and popping a shot off. Then Dodd makes the dumb mistake of dropping his cattle prod, not bothering to pick up. Peggy grabs hold and nearly prods the life out of Dodd. Dig it!
At the Gerhardt ranch, as Floyd tries to talk with her granddaughter Simone, Milligan and his own gang show up, blowing the windows out and firing until they hear a click. The fan is spinning again and the shit has stained everything. There’s going to be an absolute war now. With only four episode left after this, I can only imagine what is about to happen.
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However, the most insane thing yet begins when lawyer Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman) stumbles in to help his new client, Ed Blumquist. When he makes his way out of the police station, Bear and his crew stand firm with shotguns in hand. Arriving to take back his son Charlie.
The big stand off starts. Lou Solverson comes out to meet the armed hands. Meanwhile, Hanzee is sneaking around the side trying to get a shot at Ed inside the interrogation room. Bear tries to scare Lou down, but as we know: Lou’s kind of a bad motherfucker. He goes back in and gets things real tight – smashed lightbulbs under the windows, barricades around the doors, and so on. Plus, he recruits half-drunk Karl to try and talk sense into Bear/the armed henchmen. The music here is so excellent, the score has a military drum-style sound which goes so well with how things are setting up around this big showdown at the station.
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Larsson finally wakes up on the Blumquist porch and figures out what’s going on. But will he or any reinforcements arrive before things get nasty? Karl slinks back out to talk with Bear, as Lou attempts sneaking Ed out a window in the rear of the building. Such a tense few minutes. Hanzee is still heading around the perimeter, trying to get a shot. Although, Lou manages to get Ed out to the woods, keeping them safe. For the moment.
Continuously, Karl is talking Bear down with legal mumbo jumbo. He actually appeals to the loving father in Bear, the one who never wanted Charlie in the family business, and defuses the ticking Gerhardt time bomb.
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Once Larsson picks Lou up on the side of the road, Ed runs out into the dark horizon. They let him go because they know where he’s headed. Except right behind Lou, out of the forest, comes Hanzee once they’re gone. He then silently walks out towards where Ed was going.
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Nice little cut between the credits of Karl Weathers talking more smack. Can’t wait for the next episode, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!“. Promises to be an incredible episode after what’s gone down in this chapter. Stay tuned for another one!

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 4: “Fear and Trembling”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 4:
“Fear and Trembling”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Steve Blackman

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Myth of Sisyphus” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Gift of the Magi” – click here
Picture 1This episode begins with a flash to 1951 – Moonbase Freedom starring Ronald Reagan (not an actual film) plays in a small movie theatre. On the way there, a boy and his father rattle along in a truck. Over top of the scene Count Basie plays, “Topsy”. A man named Kellerman (Kai Lennox) sits waiting for the father. Ends up with dear ole dad about to be shot in the back of the head, but then the young boy ends up knifing Kellerman in the back of the skull. Turns out, this is little Dodd and papa Otto back in the day.

Otto: “Like the heads of Easter Island
Dodd: “What?
Otto: “Not a sound
Picture 3Back in their current timeline, Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) is teaching his nephew Charlie (Allan Dobrescu) the ways of the Gerhardt clan. They end up at a restaurant where Dodd tasers a man violently, getting Charlie to join in on the action with a few punches. Nice bonding. Surely Bear (Angus Sampson) is going to be REAL happy with his brother showing his son – someone he wanted to be away from the family business – the dirty, gritty ropes. Not just that, we get a bit of Devo’s “Too Much Paranoias” to boot. Jam.
At the same time Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) accompanies his wife Betsy (Cristin Milioti) to the doctor where they have an extremely frustrating conversation. Essentially, she’s asked to be part of a trial for an experimental drug, but naturally there’s no guarantees she’ll get anything real. Possibly just a placebo, like “a Smartie – you know, a Smartie.”
Then there’s Ed and Peggy Blomquist (Jesse Plemons/Kirsten Dunst) who are trying to go about their lives. In fact, among all the madness they’ve become involved with – re: Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin) – they seem to be gunning for a baby. Or at least Ed is, anyways. Their problems are plenty, and it’s not as if they’re going away any time soon.
Picture 4Ed: “Today’s the first day of the rest of our lives
Picture 5Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) is more and more a character I’m interested in. At first, he seems like the typical bad guy, the silent man waiting in the wings to do crazy things. But then we see him at the crime scene, we watch him check out tire tracks and look into the sky like a clairvoyant. Though, he isn’t. Just a smart man who has obviously spent his life around these types of nasty situations. Clearly we’ve seen this already last episode in “The Myth of Sisyphus“. We’re just expanding further. He tracks down the Blomquist car at a garage, where a very Coen-ish type mechanic character gives up a little too much information about Ed.
Then we get a glimpse of Hanzee’s character. Is it true? He talks about being a Tunnel Rat during Vietnam, after the mechanic mentions being in the war himself. Very brief, before Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman) interrupts and shoes Dent off.
Picture 6Mr. Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) has ended up in bed with Simone Gerhardt (Rachel Keller). Shit. That can’t be a good idea, can it? She’s clearly not too worried about her family, especially not daddy Dodd whose fists are a little too liberal around the house. But still, Milligan certainly isn’t making things easy for himself. Then again he doesn’t feel like the type of guy who cares about things being easy; in short, he’s a bad motherfucker. Or, at the very least, one cool cucumber.
Lou heads over to the garage where Sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) is on the scene. They get the scoop on Hanzee, though, you can be sure Lou doesn’t exactly feel right about any of it. He has a brief flash to his run-in with Ed at the shop recently, which will come to bear later on.
Picture 8The Gerhardts, lead by mama Floyd (Jean Smart), head to a big meeting with Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett); Milligan is curiously missing, no doubt held up by Simone. Then Floyd lays it all out on the table – they will not be backing down: “Partnership, not a sale,” she tells Joe. But it’s evident Floyd is one tough lady. She tells Bulo a little bit about her hardships, then makes clear: “We’ll fight to keep what’s ours ’till the last man.”
However, as we could’ve already assumed, Bulo isn’t too keen on taking the offer straight up. He wants assurance the Gerhardt boys will follow mom’s orders. Floyd tries her best to assure Bulo this will be the case, though, Dodd makes a scene. We’ll see how things go from here.
Picture 9 Picture 10As if Otto Gerhardt (Michael Hogan) hadn’t been through enough with his stroke, Milligan had to go and make things worse. He wasn’t still with Simone. While Floyd met with Bulo, Mike and the Kitchen Brothers killed the men transporting Otto around. I thought they were actually going to kill Otto off, but Mike simply gave him a Godfather homage: “Joe Bulo says hello.” Then at the table, word reaches Bulo and the counter offer is rejected. Things are about to get even more dark and violent than ever before.
Picture 11More Blomquist drama. Poor Ed. He wants to buy the shop so bad, the meat shop where he works, but Peggy’s been less than upfront with her unsuspecting husband. He’s trying his best to get things straight with her. Peggy went and dipped in when Ed thought they were clear on the money situation – even worse, Constance (Elizabeth Marvel) pushes her into being an independent woman, which is great, but Ed isn’t even being a bad guy. She’s basically fucked them and Ed only wants to buy the shop so they can be better off – instead, Constance is telling her what to do while trying to make it appear as if Peggy is living free.
Then in the background, Hanzee rolls by giving them the eye; Ed meets his gaze briefly, you can almost see it shake him.
Picture 12A little later Mr. Dent strolls into the Blomquist garage, alone, quiet. He knows the ways of murder. He rubs the floor, smells it, and then looks up to find bleach on  a shelf nearby. There’s an amazing presence Zahn McClarnon displays, as Hanzee walks around the house and examines everything, flicking his Zippo open to have a look here and there, even finding what looks like Rye’s belt buckle in the fireplace among the ashes. Over top of the scene plays “Song of the Earth” played by the Philharmonic Orchestra, a piece by Gustav Mahler.
Picture 13Perhaps the most tense of all comes when State Trooper Solverson goes to see the Blomquists. They feed him a nervous, awkward story about what happened with the car – and Ed happens to spy, out the corner of his eye, the fireplace has been moved around a bit. Uh oh.
Yet Lou seems to want to help. At least in the sense he gives them the benefit of the doubt. He goes into a story about war, the look in a boy’s eyes after he’s been shot – the sort of unaware sense, not realizing yet what has happened. Lou’s identified that look in Ed and Peggy. He straight up knows, even bluntly stating who the man was they hit. All the same, the Blomquists keep up the charade. A very great moment comes when Ed looks up at a painting on the wall – a picturesque landscape of a farm, the ideal, the dream they hope to attain – and you can see he’s just not willing to let go of the hope that they can get out of this without admitting to what they’ve done. But Lou knows, and he tries telling them to be careful anyways.
At Ranch Gerhardt, the boys are wondering what mama Floyd wants to do about Bulo and the coming onslaught. “It’s war,” she tells them defiantly.
But what I love most about this moment is how they cut from one strong woman to another: Betsy. She’s sitting at the kitchen table staring down her experimental drugs, about to go to war herself. Nice little shift. Plus, there’s a good little scene between her and Lou when she goes out to find him on the lawn. He laments about how “we used to know right from wrong” – we, the society. It’s strange because we don’t often get such a strong and righteous type of character like Lou. Yet in the Fargo universe, we do get those characters. They come into such incredible contrast with the darker, more malevolent characters at play. So, to see Lou dealing with his wife fighting cancer, as well as watching the world he knew and loved slipping away bit by bit, now with seemingly normal and moral people like the Blomquists covering up murders, it’s a tragically exciting situation character-wise.
Picture 15Every week I’m left craving more. One of the best shows on television, ever. Next episode is “The Gift of the Magi”, directed by Jeffrey Reiner.
Stay tuned for another one. Looking forward to it!

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 3: “The Myth of Sisyphus”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 3:
 “The Myth of Sisyphus”
Directed by Michael Uppendahl
Written by Bob DeLaurentis

* For a review of the previous episode, “Before the Law” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Fear and Trembling” – click here

Starting with the last episode, “Before the Law“, Noah Hawley & Co. have been instilling this season with a great bit of existentialism. For those who may not know, “Before the Law” is a story told to K in Kafka’s The Trial. So immediately with the name of that episode came other implications. Now, with this 3rd episode, “The Myth of Sisyphus” moves slightly from strictly existentialism to Albert Camus and absurdism; the name of this episode is one of Camus greatest essays.
Keep thinking back to certain moments. Particularly I’m reminded of the previous episode when Sheriff Larsson (Ted Danson) sits talking with Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), how they talk about the war coming home with them, as if searching for meaning, some reason why violence – terrifying violence – is right at their doorstep. And this is where Camus certainly comes in: there’s an absurd aspect to the human want and need to define life’s meaning, to find something they can point to and say “THIS IS IT!”, because life merely unfolds however it wants and there’s nothing else to change or stop it. Life just happens.
Fargo-Season-2-Episode-3-TV-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-1This episode opens with a strange moment. Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) pets a rabbit while remembering seeing a magician as a young boy, pulling one out of a hat. Then he snaps its neck off-screen, walking back towards the Gerhardt house. “Yama Yama” by Yamasuki begins to play, which is pretty great. Another montage to start things.
Then the Gerhardts have some visitors. They’re “talking about the Kansas City Mafia“, Floyd (Jean Smart) tries to lay things out as the matriarch in charge while her husband sits near catatonic after a stroke. Her son Bear (Angus Sampson) continually backs her up, while constantly eating. Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) wants to go warring, but Floyd does not. Their visitors agree if any trouble comes the Gerhardt way, they’ll “cut the god damn nose off their face“.
At a small restaurant of some sort, Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) is late for a meeting with Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett). They have a quirky conversation about hair, soft water, and Agree shampoo. They also talk about whether or not the Gerhardts will be killed, or whether they’ll be offered more money. They’re still looking for Rye (Kieran Culkin). Good luck.

Over in Luverne, Minnesota, trusty Lou Solverson (Wilson) chats over radio with Sheriff Hank Larsson (Danson). Their chemistry is continually awesome. A new dynamic comes into play for Lou in this episode. Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) is working the case on the other end. This fella doesn’t seem quite right. He’s askew in some sort of way. Not sure how yet, but definitely sketchy. Either way, he and Lou end up together for a little while throughout “The Myth of Sisyphus”.

Hank: “Over and out… I guess.”
1200Peggy Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst) finds herself sweating it out at the salon where she works. Constance (Elizabeth Marvel) is coiffing Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti), as father-in-law Hank walks in with a wanted poster for – you betcha – Rye Gerhardt. Then Betsy reminds Hank of the shoe in the tree at the diner, they talk about a hit-and-run situation after the shooting. But slyly, and maybe a bit too ballsy, Peggy jumps in to say “that just don’t make sense“. Somehow, the do-goody Dudley Do-Right in Hank agrees, assuming no good citizen would just run a man down then drive home “with a Gerhardt in the your windshield and cook dinner“. So darkly, hilariously ironic. The absurdity of it all.
Naturally, Peggy rushes to take husband Ed (Jesse Plemons) home from work. It’s almost nerve wracking to watch her stumble around, so close to getting them caught.

Skip Sprang (Mike Bradecich) – former partner on the down-low of Rye – ends up running into Solverson and Schmidt. He’s more than obvious about being nervous; Lou points out he’s a “squirrelly little fella“. In fact, Lou spied him heading over to the office of the judge who Rye killed at the diner. So, this is another man unaccustomed to crime, just as the Blomquists, who will eventually run himself into trouble all because of his own sloppy nature.
Skip runs straight to Rye’s apartment. Instead of Rye – obviously – he finds Simone Gerhardt (Rachel Keller), who is a bit of a problem child for her father Dodd. Hanzee looks after her a little, but Mr. Dent is definitely slightly psychotic. He is way too comfortable with blood all over his hands. I love his presence, though. Hanzee is a mysterious type of character.
But it’s bad news for Skip. He ends up getting taken back to Papa Dodd and the clan.
downloadSimone: “Whaddya say, red man – should we have some fun?
Hanzee: “You betcha

Peggy drags out to the woods with their beat up car. She uses a plan one of her uncles came up with after smashing his car while drunk. After the car is taken care of, Rye is already ground up, Peggy believes they’ll be “free“. Nothing goes as planned, but eventually ole Ed gets it right. I feel so bad for him. He’s been pulled into such a mess by Peggy, who continually leads him down the path she thinks is best. Yet at the same time, Ed simply goes along because he loves her. To death.
Lots of other stuff happening at the Gerhardt house. Young Charlie (Allan Dobrescu) wants to have more of a hand in things, but Bear would rather him go back to school and stay out of what’s about to go down. So it isn’t just Dodd who has trouble with his children.
At the same time, Solverson and Schmidt show up at the Gerhardt ranch. This is an amazing scene. Patrick Wilson brings out the inner badass of Lou – “Am I the only here who’s clear on the concept of law enforcement?” But it becomes clear quickly Ben Schmidt knows the Gerhardts a little too well; Floyd comes out and even asks about his mother. After things start to get slightly tense, Lou has to lay down the law and stand his ground. Dodd shows up to toss more fuel on the fire, but Lou does not back down. Not in the slightest. Great, great tension here. I honestly didn’t know how things would turn out! Clearly we all know Solverson doesn’t die – he was already in the first season as an older man. But still, that’s the master strokes of this show and its power: you can already know something, or think you know, and it will find a way to surprise you.

FARGO -- ÒThe Myth of SisyphusÓ -- Episode 203 (Airs October 26, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r, front-row) Patrick Wilson as Lou Solverson, Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd Gerhardt, Keir O'Donnell as Ben Schmidt. CR: Chris Large/FX

But wait – there’s more Lou Solverson badassery.
He goes to check in on Skip, the squirrelly typewriter salesman. Rather than finding him, he comes across Mike Milligan, accompanied by none other than the Kitchen brothers, Gale and Wayne (Brad & Todd Mann). There’s a bit of a stand-off. Except in the Minnesota plain speak style. Another quality scene, almost better than the previous with the Gerhardts. Won’t spoil too much more here. Though obviously, Lou does make it out. A tense scene with lots of style.

Milligan: “So, where’d you say you saw old Skip?
Lou: “At your mother’s house. I think goin’ in the back door.”
FARGO_203_0628_CL_d_hires2_FULL-1024x663A chilling end to this episode, definitely the most disturbing bit since the opening shooting at the diner. Dodd and Hanzee put Skip in a dug out hole, making him lie down. Then they back up a dump truck full of asphalt with which to bury him alive. Although it seems like Dodd’s about to let him live, once Skip reveals Milligan was looking for Rye, there’s no hope ultimately. The asphalt covers him, he’s dead. Now it’s clear Dodd is taking the reigns, ordering Hanzee to kill anyone who gets in their way.
Very excited for the next episode, “Fear and Trembling” – another philosophy title. This time from Soren Kierkegaard’s text of the same name, a great read for anyone interested in philosophical thought.
Stay tuned, Fargo fiends! We’ll be back for more next week.

Fargo – Season 2, Episode 2: “Before the Law”

FX’s Fargo
Season 2, Episode 2:
 “Before the Law”
Directed by Noah Hawley
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “Waiting for Dutch” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Myth of Sisyphus” – click here
IMG_2157After the incredible opening episode, Fargo moves further into Season 2 with “Before the Law”.
This episode begins with more of the stylistically awesome editing, loving the splits-screen and how they use it at various intervals. Nice montage to start with Bobbie Gentry’s “Reunion” playing over top. We see glimpses of almost all the characters here and I thought it was a good way to start things off.
Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart) is dealing with the aftermath of her husband’s stroke. A Gerhardt nephew, Charlie (Allan Dobrescu) – whose father is Bear (Angus Sampson) – helps his grandma out with “the bank“. Out in the barn, Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) is viciously interrogating some poor guy with his partner in crime Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon). Meanwhile, Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) and Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) have also come in from Kansas City to see the Gerhardt clan.
Plenty of things happening. Seems there are troubles within the family, let alone anything else outside of their ranks. Dodd wants to be the boss of the family now that patriarch Otto (Michael Hogan) is temporarily – and most likely permanently – out of the picture as figurehead. However, even his brother Bear believes their mother is the proper candidate. A tense little scene where we see how there’s not much real love in the Gerhardt family, it’s all about politics and hierarchical structure. Not saying they don’t love one another, but more that their family is built around an empire. It’s more a business than anything.
Dodd Gerhardt – with his right hand man Hanzee – is not letting his mother’s newly found leadership get in the way. They’re plotting something, planning. We’ll see exactly what that is sooner than later.
IMG_2159Floyd: “That’s what an empire is – it’s bigger than any son, or daughter.”

One big pot of jumbo going on here. So many complexities happening. I haven’t even mentioned the fact of Rye (Kieran Culkin) having been killed in the last episode by Ed and Peggy Blomquist (Jesse Plemons/Kirsten Dunst). The rest of Rye’s clan think he’s off either getting laid or doing something else just as trivial, in their eyes. I keep wondering how this is all going to come together, a big SNAFU of epic criminal proportions.
Heading away from the Gerhardt home, Bulo and Milligan have a conversation about their job. Seems they’re going to try divide and conquer among the Gerhardt boys. The first suggestion from Milligan, Rye, is obviously not going to work out.
Usually I find Ted Danson sort of… tedious. I’m already loving him in this season of Fargo. This character has a good deal of depth off the bat. Hank Larsson (Danson) and Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) are very believable together as father-in-law/son-in-law buddy cops. Added into that situation is Lou’s wife, daughter of Hank, Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti). I think the three-way dynamic between these actors and their characters is beginning very strong. Look forward to seeing more of them with each passing episode.
IMG_2161 IMG_2162I feel bad for Ed Blomquist. Peggy really did him dirty with the whole accident and not telling him. What did she think would happen? What was Peggy planning on doing? Very clear Ed loves his wife, if not he wouldn’t stick by her so closely. Her transgression has really put them both in a terrifying place. Not only that, Ed has to deal simply with the fact he took another man’s life. Regardless of how it happened, what went down, he still killed someone. Cannot be easy to live with.
Really, though, I’m sure Peggy will be the downfall of them both. At least in terms of public image. She is so nervous looking and her disposition is totally off when around others, so I can almost see it coming right now. She’s too edgy while Ed appears level headed and focused on making sure they don’t get caught.

Milligan pays a visit to the shop where Rye had previously been conducting his business with Skip Watson (Mike Bradecich). He’s tracking down the youngest Gerhardt. A real great scene here, which shows the solid acting abilities of Bokeem Woodbine; an underrated actor. He pulls Watson’s tie into one of the IBM typewriters, looking for information on the Judge killed over at the diner in “Waiting for Dutch“, then follows up with a little story about writing a letter to General Electric and some questions. It’s such an expertly written scene, something I’m coming to expect from Hawley.
IMG_2163 IMG_2164 Jesse Plemons is someone I think is also underrated. After his turn on Breaking Bad, playing a very unlikeable character (though he played him well), here he gets a bigger role, as well as one with even more under the surface. Watching him clean up the mess his wife made, first the car and bleaching the garage floor then in his underwear burning bloody clothes at the fireplace, you can tell he’s even come a long way just since Breaking Bad. The Blomquists story is a part of this season I’m already super invested in personally and I’m sure there are going to be more little tragedies for them the further we go.
IMG_2165One of my favourite scenes of the season already comes when Lou Solverson goes over to the diner. He heads inside to have a look at the nasty crime scene. Outside, his daughter and wife play in the snow. Then when the little one picks up a deflated balloon, Betsy ends up finding the shiny silver revolver Rye used in the murders. Sort of a bittersweet moment because it’s awesome she found the gun, also sort of darkly funny the way Lou was inside with all the blood and death, as his wife and daughter are just outside, having fun in the angelic white snow. Perfect sort of Fargo moment of juxtaposition.
IMG_2167 Right afterwards there’s an intense scene. Milligan and his henchmen are pulled over by Larsson. There’s a bit of messing about, with Milligan playing games briefly. Honestly, I was completely on edge from the moment Larsson stood in the road and their car showed up. Ted Danson has such an outstanding degree of suspense in his own eyes, such a burning stare throughout the confrontation, you’ll find it very hard not to fall in with how tense things feel. I actually let my breath out slightly once the scene faded into the next. Wow.
IMG_2169Still, I’m most interested in Ed and Peggy. More so Ed, though, as he’s carrying the major brunt of the entire situation on his shoulders. Just watching him smolder alone in his car, at the meat shop, at home, it’s almost unnerving. Because you don’t know how regular, everyday people will be affected by murder. It can lead certain people into a dark descent. Will Ed be one of those? Will he crack under the pressure, or keep it all together in order to protect himself, his wife, his potential family down the road? One thing I know is that it’s totally fun watching the dark drama play out in front of us. The spirit of the Coen Brothers Fargo is continuously alive and well.
Feeling like a broken record, again there is trouble for the Blomquists. Co-worker Constance (Elizabeth Marvel) ends up finding the stolen toilet paper she’d mentioned earlier, to Peggy – in Peggy’s house. The smallest sort of thing, but in these murder cover-up situations, aren’t the smallest details almost most important? Even worse, now more people – Constance – are seeing the car, the damage, so their dirty secrets are starting to filter out. In a small Minnesota town, secrets like theirs, or any secrets for that matter can easily make their rounds through the locals. The more I see Peggy onscreen, the more I feel she’s going to do something even more stupid than she originally did and the secrets will start flowing like waterfalls.
IMG_2170Larsson and Solverson have a nice little conversation nearing the episode’s end. Not only are the idiosyncrasies of these two characters revealed a little more, their talk about “convergence” and “callback” is important. Fargo is a show based around those ideas, that one situation will remind you of another, that things come back to bear on all things relevant; ultimately, the bad keeps repeating, calling back to other bad things, and so on. There’s more to their conversation, mostly concerning the diner crime scene. However, I think a good deal of their dialogue lent itself to the idea of history repeating itself, at least in part.
IMG_2171Larsson: “Sometimes I wonder if you boys didn’t bring that war home with ya.”

Ed Blomquist finally finds himself in a tight situation. About time, really, in terms of this season’s plot; may as well get things going full steam. As Ed chops and grinds the body of Rye Gerhardt at the shop, putting it through the machinery like he might a bunch of sausages, et cetera. Amazing shot where he chops fingers off, they roll to the floor and one slips under the door out into the shop! I couldn’t believe it, such a gnarly moment. Plus, the suspense goes up with Lou Solverson out at the door, knocking away. Extremely tense – Lou wants bacon (get it?) for when Betsy wakes up, so naturally Ed invites him in while he cuts off a few pieces. Two excellent actors here bouncing off one another. Great writing. This is typical – and awesome – Fargo type fare, with the music really riling things up, the acting on point and a hairy situation playing out. Kept me on edge for the entire few minutes of the scene.
“The Eve of the War” by Jeff Wayne begins to play over the final shots. So fitting and beautiful and dark at once.
IMG_2172Cannot WAIT to see and review the next episode, “The Myth of Sisyphus”. Stay tuned, fellow Fargo-ites!