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The Significance of 'The Heap,' the Title of Last Night's Episode of 'Fargo'

By Dustin Rowles | TV Reviews | June 4, 2014 | Comments ()


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“The Heap” refers to a line of thought that wonders, “How much dirt can you remove from a heap before it’s no longer considered a heap?” That’s what FBI agents Key and Peele were referring to in the file room in last night’s episode of Fargo: How many files can you remove before the room is no longer considered a “file room,” or will it always be considered a file room by virtue of its identity?

That’s also the question surrounding the characters in Fargo, which had a surprising leap ahead in the episode. It’s a year later, and lots has changed for the central cast, but how much has really changed? Some of the dirt has been removed, but the three central characters in Fargo — Malvo, Lester, and Molly — are still the same heaps underneath.

Molly is pregnant now (echoing Marge Gunderson in the original Fargo), and she and Gus are happily married. Gus is a postman, and Gus’ daughter treats Molly as her own mother. On the surface, she seems happier, almost content with her life. But she’s still a heap: A year later, she’s still obsessed with Lorne Malvo, still convinced that Lester Nygaard killed his own wife, still staring up at the white board, and still making calls to the FBI in the hopes that they will solve the case. She’s a mother now, and a wife, but she’s also still the same dogged and determined police officer obsessing over a case she is convinced remains unsolved.

A year later, and Lester meanwhile is married again (to Linda Litzke, a reference to Frances McDormand’s character in Burn After Reading). Lester is the salesman of the year. He has a better haircut. He’s more confident, and he’s considerably more douchey. But as he sat at the bar drinking his “dangerous” drink and leering at the young woman across the way, he spotted Lorne Malvo and the blood drained out of him. In that single instant, the old Lester reappeared: The bullied, picked-upon, and cowardly man who used to allow Sam Hess to beat the shit of out him leapt back into his skin.

Malvo has changed, too, though we don’t know yet if he’s changed superficially beyond a new hair color, the loss of his overcoat, and the addition of a friendship with a character played by Stephen Root. But you can bet that the stone-cold ruthless killer who calmly murdered a security guard at the beginning of the episode is still lurking beneath Malvo’s new duds.

A lot changed in between 2006 and 2007, and the framework of the television show now fits more easily into the framework of the Coen Brothers film, but in the hearts of the three main characters, nothing has changed much at all. They’re still heaps, no matter how much dirt is removed, just as a file room will always remain a file room no matter how few files it contains.




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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not


  • logan

    Fun show. Love Martin's performance think he's killing it. Tolman is quite good as well seems like she can be funny or serious.
    My only problem is that by portraying the cops/FBI as such fools it makes a little too much of a farce for me.
    Still watch it regularly.

  • TheAggroCraig

    Nothing killed me like the lip quiver. You know the one I'm talking about.

  • BettyNugs

    Keegan-Michael Key has officially moved to the top of my Pajiba 10. It's serious.

  • mzbitca

    The facial hair is on point

  • lowercase_ryan

    what was the line?

    "I mean yes, we were outside when 22 people were killed..."

  • BettyNugs

    He's also super cute on Playing House, just a heads up.

  • lowercase_ryan

    This show...man this show is going to leave a huge hole in my heart when it's done. Allison Tolman's Molly has been a revelation. Just a wonderful performance, I've come to love Solverson so damn much. Actually I can't think of a single part of this show that I've been less than pleased with. It hasn't let me down once and that's pretty damn amazing in it's own right.

    Even Key and Peele killed it last night.

  • BWeaves

    I kept thinking something was funny about the FBI agents, and then when the credits rolled, I squealed, "Key and Peele!" Now, I get it.

    I love Molly. I love that she's cute but not the normal Botoxed model type you normally see. I really hope she gets more work after this, because she's fantastic.

    If Lester was smart, he'd slink out of the bar and pretend he never saw Malvo. It's funny, but I thought when the color drained out of Lester's face, he was afraid that Malvo would come after him and torment him or threaten him. It's almost the opposite in the previews. Lester is poking a hornets nest and saying, "Remember me? Can you come out to play?"

    And what about Deaf Hit Man Guy getting set loose by Malvo?

    And what was up with the exchange student? How's he going to work into the plot? Or is he just there so the chief can say, "Everything happens for a reason?"

  • Salieri2

    The slow, steady growth of evil in Lester Nygaard has been fantastic to watch: Martin Freeman is really killing it. That nasty smirk he gave Molly through the store window made me want to push him off a cliff. What a great piece of work.

    I know it's Fargo, but I really want a happy ending here. For Molly. Her "and for what?" made me squeal like a 6-year-old.

  • James Moccia

    I figured the significance of the exchange student was thematically related to Lester running into Malvo in the bar. Both characters were out of their element, yet each ran into someone that heavily weighed on their minds.

  • BWeaves

    I'd like to believe that, but there's this nagging feeling in me that the chief always jumps to the wrong conclusions. He saw a black guy with an accent and immediately cried and hugged him. The black guy was shoplifting and thought he was about to be arrested. In his position, I'd pretend to be the long lost student, too. He has no papers to prove who he is or is not. A cop is willing to take him in and house him and feed him. I just feel this is going to end badly, too. The black guy just seems too old to be an exchange student.

  • lowercase_ryan

    The exchange student was such a weird twist. I'll be honest, I'm not convinced it's not a scam. I mean hell, the chief essentially saw a black kid in a supermarket and said "YOU MUST BE MY LOST AFRICAN EXCHANGE STUDENT!!" how insanely racist is that?

    I'm rooting for the deaf hit man. I realized last night I always have been.

  • F'mal DeHyde

    He looked rather old to be an exchange student unless he's post grad.

  • BWeaves

    Yes, I thought that exact same thing about the black exchange student.

    And I'm also rooting for the deaf hit man. I predict he eventually kills Malvo. I hope.

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