“Buridan’s Ass,” the title of last night’s devastating episode of Fargo refers to a paradox wherein an ass that is equally hungry and thirsty is placed precisely midway between a stack of hay and a pail of water and, because the ass will always go to whichever is closer, it ends up dying of both hunger and thirst since it cannot make any rational decision to choose one over the other.
If there’s any one character that can be applied to in last night’s Fargo, it’s Colin Hanks’ Gus Grimley, trapped hopelessly between his obligation to his job and to his daughter, to his bravery and his cowardice, to his desire to help Molly and not to get shot. But it wasn’t Gus who fell victim to his own paradox: It was Molly. Poor, stubbornly brave Molly.
I suspect that the thoughts going through everyone’s head during that scene were similar to my own. After Malvo coldly took a blade to Mr. Numbers’ throat and left him to bleed out in the snow, he calmly walked out into the blizzard with Gus and Molly trailing behind.
With no visibility, my heart lurched at the prospect of Gus getting shot and killed, not because I was a huge fan of Gus, but because I hated the thought of his daughter losing her Dad (also, because I clearly have problems separating fiction from reality). But it wasn’t Gus who got shot. It wasn’t even Malvo who pulled the trigger. This was the entire viewing audience at this exact moment: “Don’t shoot Molly. Don’t shoot Molly. God. Fuck. Don’t. He’s going to shoot Molly. He is, isn’t he? He SHOT Molly. GODDAMNIT.”
That’s when I taped a note to my chest for the paramedics saying, “Lost consciousness around 10:51 p.m. Please resuscitate.”
It took me maybe half an hour to come to the realization that maybe Molly is not actually dead, because Molly can’t die, can she? Because I like a good villain (Malvo) and a slimy one (Nygaard) as much as the next guy, but a series can’t survive without some sympathetic character, can it?
At least Mr. Wrench is presumably still alive, so maybe he can get revenge on Malvo?
Meanwhile, Stavros Milos was caught by his own indecision, as well. Should he give into Malvo’s blackmail demands, or should he listen to the voice of God inside of his head and go rebury the suitcase of money from the Fargo movie back into the snow? Stavros chose poorly, and God smote him when the skies rained down fish, which ultimately led to the death of his poor, simple-minded son. (Note: Fish raining from the sky is a real-life documented phenomena, and not just an allusion to Magnolia.)
Jesus? They kill the simple kid, the henchman, potentially the hero, and the wise-ass in one episode? But the best kill scene was one of the smartest, holy fuckiest scenes of television I’ve ever seen. Malvo duct tapes poor Don Chumph to a shotgun, tapes his mouth shut, and sprays the neighborhood with bullets. When the police arrive, Don miraculously survives the shoot-out, but of course when the SWAT team throws open the door and sees a guy in the shadows pointing a gun at them, they unload an arsenal into the poor guy. Accidental suicide by cop?
All the guy wanted was $44,000.
Lester Nygaard shouldn’t be forgotten, either. With some Coen Brothers’ madcappery, Lester managed to sneak out of his hospital bed, go to his house, pull out the murder weapon, take it over to his brother’s house, plant it in the safe, and presumably frame his own brother for the murder of Lester’s wife. That’s colder than the tit of North Dakota witch.
I hope you’re proud of yourself, Lester.
Here’s your Fargo movie reference of the week!
(All GIFs compliments of the illustrious work of Uproxx’s Chet Manley)