Let’s get one thing straight; Fargo’s second season penultimate episode was spectacular. From its familiar narrator to a near full (whoever’s left, anyway) cast reunion, “The Castle” was just a goddamned delight. Among several surprises there was one huge WTF moment that stood out as perhaps a bridge too far, even for the series’ biggest fans. Let’s talk about that a little bit, but first, the requisite ***Spoiler Warning! Ding, ding, ding! If you’re not caught up through last night’s killer episode back on outta this place, okay, then?***
After Hanzee quickly kicks off the so-called “Massacre at Sioux Falls” (as narrated by the glorious Martin Freeman aka Lester Nygaard), our favorite man of few words grabs a few supplies and fixes up his Peggy-inflicted shoulder wound easy as pie. Both my daughter and I have been the beneficiaries of hospital glue fix-ups, so I’m happy to personally confirm the method’s efficacy. Admittedly, I’m less able to stand behind the validity of a certain rescue that occurs later in the hour, but we’ll get back to that in a minute. First, let’s throw out a few cheers for a few other standout moments.
I’m not sure of the exact moment Peggy became the perfectly “realized” person she declares herself (and Ed) to the roomful of cops who’ve come to
take over completely fuck up any chance of handling the Blumquist situation, but Peggy — and Kirsten Dunst — kick ass the entire episode. After the new crew of South Dakota police (and I use that term very loosely) come in with that cockamamie plan and hole up with the Blumquists at a local motel, things have nowhere to go but downhill fast.
“Makes us look like the gang that can’t shoot straight.” (Hank, talking about Peggy) Ayup.
While everyone at the motel settles in, Lou gets run out of town and Milligan never quite makes it in. Floyd decides she’s had enough of sending men on failed missions; after intercepting Hanzee’s false report, she heads out with Bear and the Gerhardt death squad to round up her missing (dead) son. Milligan has his own plan for betrayal or ambush, but doesn’t quite make it to the church on time. Amid all the other madness, little Molly makes a terrible discovery, but we really didn’t have any time to mourn; the pieces are in place for the shootout at Motor Motel.
As directed by Adam Arkin, “The Castle’s” back half plays out beautifully. Lou hears about Constance’s murder and heads back the way he came, the South Dakota cops inexplicably go radio silent, and the Gerhard parade arrives, the men set up and start shooting. An alert Peggy saves herself and Ed, knocking out the detective guarding them so they can make an escape. Hanzee brutally ends Floyd, and just as Bear’s about to go after Dent, Lou shoots him…but as anyone knows, a bullet can’t always stop a charging bear. As the firefight continues, Bear strangles the shit out out Lou, who’s desperately trying to break free or get his gun. But, instead of that lucky grab saving our hero, this happened:
Aliens saved Lou Solverson’s life?
Aliens saved Lou Solverson’s life. And you know what; I think I might (strangely) be okay with that. Sure, Noah Hawley didn’t have to use that plot device, a crazy, make-the-audience-wonder-if-it’s-real kind of moment. It would have been easy to let Lou stretch his arm just a little bit harder, get his gun and whack Bear in the face or shoot him outright (which he eventually did do, anyway). Peggy could have grabbed a gun somewhere and pulled some crazy shot from the hotel balcony, or Hanzee could have inexplicably decided to save him. And, even though Hank was shot, he could have crawled out the door and taken aim. There were a number of ways Lou could have gotten free of Bear’s death grip, so you know what I ended up feeling? WHY NOT? Why not have aliens save Lou Solverson’s life. It’s fucking Fargo, anything can happen. Because we knew Lou lived, and there were ample ways for him to be rescued, we can accept something crazy as the resolution.
Over at EW, Noah Hawley confirmed that the UFO was indeed real, and his reasons for inviting aliens to Season 2.
Finally, though I’m generally cringing even at fictional gun violence lately, I have to say the whole shootout scene was superbly done. The way the flashes were captured made for an incredible finale.