(Fair Warning: SPOILERS for any who haven’t seen Fargo Season 2 Ep 8 below)
1. We got all the black humor we could ever want in this episode.
My god, watching Peggy stab Dodd. That was the hardest I’ve laughed in a long time. Dodd begging Ed for help, saying Peggy was crazy? Dear god. Dodd saying “I’m really hurt over here” and Ed yelling “shut up!” Oh god. This is the brilliance of the Coen Brothers and of Noah Hawley. You have the “good” aligned characters like Lou Solverson (and like Molly last season). You have the “evil” aligned characters like Malvo last season and kinda/sorta Hanzee this season. And then you have the folk in between. Hobbits who are just trying to smoke their pipe weed and while the time away but are invariably more insane and/or unprincipled or flat out evil than anyone at the end of the spectrum. Like Lester Nygaard last season or Jerry Lundegaard in the film. Watching how these guys challenge the moral and ethical dilemmas of terrifyingly average middle Americans is like a fine wine.
2. The Cashier at the little country store was a fucking coward.
What a setup on this guy and what a scene. He came off as this paternal sort of doddering local pillar. Maybe a veteran, maybe just a man in a man’s era. Whatever. When he was confronted by Hanzee he stood his ground for about four seconds before Hanzees dead tunnel-rat eyes bore through him. Oh god that was mesmerizing. What a coward! What a yellow bellied coward. And he liked Ed, too. Even gave him the pack of cards and then blurted out about how Ed bought them, like a busted child. Ha ha! What a prick. You know Hanzee absolutely knew that he was lying about the cards. When Hanzee walked out it was like “I’ve already killed this poor sad fuck, there’s nothing left to do.” Reminiscent of the scene in No Country For Old Men with Anton Chigurh in the Texaco station. Albeit faster. Hanzee is sparing with words.
3. Let’s just recap the final, blissful moments of Dodd’s life on Fargo.
— walk menacingly toward a cop waving a stun baton
— have your “indian” henchman clonk said cop with a Fallout 4 crit stealth attack
— shoot and kill your own dude on the stairs
— stalk a beautician and tell her you’re gonna “make her bleed”
— get hoisted by your own petard. (or stunned by your own baton)
— all expenses paid ride in a trunk
— attempt to escape with a Ryu midsection thunder kick
— get stunned again
— bite the front of your own tongue off from all the electrical current
— get tied to a pole
— get a ginzu buried an inch and a half deep into each of your pecs
— get force fed beans
— have your captor dude pull out your dong so you can pee in a sauce pan
— sit in the same place for hours tied with seriously twenty five circles of a marine tugboat rope
— ESCAPE SOMEHOW. (holy shit!)
— choke your female captor into unconsciousness
— Assassin’s Creed stealth your male captor and get a noose around his neck and HANG HIM.
— monologue like a bauce about how weak and shitty women are
— get a Cutco paring knife buried in your foot that nails you to the floor. (see, women! what a pain!)
— slice the everliving shit out of your fingers trying to slide said blade out of the floor/your foot
— get knocked out by a swift blow from an andiron
— get partially hogtied
— lose feeling in your lower extremities
— GET SAVED by your trusted second in command
— refer to him as a mudblood one to many times
— get head blown off.
BONUS ——> a few shots of the Fargo movie homage original scenes
4. “This lady has lost her mind, brother.”
Tough to argue with the Kirsten Dunst performance in this episode. It was pretty great to see her embrace the self-actualizing message through some kind of psychotic break. A college roommate of mine dated a girl who was just kind of a drip until you got some coke in her and then she was Mata Hari. Sometimes, there’s a clarity in losing all the noise and becoming a creature of one intention. Peggy goes from waffling to casually stabbing, and while it’s straight-up crazypants, isn’t there something more focussed and dangerous about it? That’s why the outside of the spectrum in the Coen Brothers’ alignment grid is so effective. You know who you are on the outside. A Paladin isn’t going to murder anyone. It’s the middle where shit gets confusing.
5. Ed in the phone booth
Jesse Plemons, knock it the fuck off. So good. So so so so good. And last week Noah Hawley winked at us by sending Betsy Solverson into her dad’s house and setting it up like she was about to get whacked. This week he puts Ed in a phone booth and crescendos the daunting march of doom music as the phone rings. No one picks up and Ed shrugs and hangs up the phone and the music abruptly stops. I watched it five times. That’s magic. Just pure TV magic. Also, Ed calling politely with his midwestern aw shucks charm and asking if he had reached the “Gerhardt Headquarters” was beautiful. God I can’t wait for someone to mashup all of those calls into a quick youtube video. I’ll watch it on a loop.
6. Perspective perspective perspective.
When we first hear about the shootout at the South Dakota bar it’s whitesplained in Hank Larsson’s folksy town cop way: crazed indian tore up a place. Two cops shot. One dead, one “clingin’ to life.” Ah, we all know that old chestnut. Kind of like when Rubin Carter went nuts and shot up that bar in New Jersey once upon a time. I mean, Hanzee actually did it, but good lord, it’s easy to see why.
7. The last days of Hanzee
There was this moment, at the bar, after Hanzee noticed the spit in his glass, when Zahn McClarnon’s voice sort of broke a little when listing his medals. It was pretty awesome. I’m a Longmire fan and now I’m kind of pissed at that show for not having more meat on the bone for this actor, because he’s quietly killing it this season. Literally. Knee slap. Across the board, the level of acting on this show has been stupendous, but some of the thespians know how to really chew the scenery — which is okay. It works. With McClarnon’s Hanzee Dent, it’s just this silent vigil to protect the only family he’s ever known. Makes you wonder how he got to be Dodd’s man in the first place. Remember the chat Bear tried to have with him?
Hanzee said almost nothing, and didn’t compromise his allegiance to Dodd, but you can’t help but lament what sort of collaboration the Bear/Hanzee team would have looked like. In any case, I wondered what effect the death of the old man Gerhardt, the boss who originally took him in, would have on Hanzee. You have to imagine that the Dodd yoke wasn’t an easy weight to bear over the years, though it did provide him with ample killing opportunities. Finally, after all that racist bullshit at the bar, Hanzee manages to hunt down the Blumquists — literally in the middle of nowhere. Did anyone else notice his reaction when he finally found that blue Lincoln Continental? Was it almost disappointment? Was it like there’s no one I can’t track? When Alexander looked over the breadth of his empire he wept, for there were no more worlds for him to conquer? I don’t know. There was something happening there for sure.
Then he walks in and Dodd calls him a half-breed and that’s it. That’s the final straw. You might argue that by asking Peggy to cut his hair he was allowing himself to be killed. Like fuck this stupid world and all the crazy white people everywhere. Three tours in Vietnam to be called a mongrel. Fuck it all.
Obviously, Lou and Hank show up and muck up the whole thing, and even after Peggy stabs him he doesn’t try to shoot her. But there was a structural change that happened inside Hanzee this episode, and going forward he’s not going to be the same man he was.
8. Winter is coming
The bloodbath of Sioux Falls table is being set. I love thinking about who is going to kill who. Like, is Bear gonna eat it? Will Mike Milligan last the night? What about that magical idiot Ricky G from Buffalo?
Is Ted Danson gonna make it? He feels like a dead man walking to me. And what role will Hanzee play in all this? (I still feel like I have to call bullshit that Hanzee left one Kitchen brother alive…it may ultimately be his undoing).
9. Alienwatch 2015
Not much to say here and no direct references to it, but if you watched carefully you may have seen some alien hieroglyphs in the redneck bar. (Click to enlarge)
10. Even the credits are awesome.
“You might know me from my role in Fargo? I was shitkicker #3”
This wasn’t a perfect episode and it had some filler-type elements to it. Some of the Nazi stuff and the Life Spring stuff ran a bit on the long-ish side, but you won’t hear me complaining about 90 minutes of this show. Each one feels like a film, lovingly put together and masterfully crafted. I basically want to take this show to the prom with me every week.
Can’t wait to see what next week has in store!