This Fargo review contains spoilers.
Fargo Season 2 Episode 4
I may have used the words “table-setting” when describing the last two episodes of Fargo. Sure, it was highly engaging, incredibly clever and distinctively stylized “table-setting,” but the last two episodes felt like primers for the story to come. But tonight, the story walked right into the Blomquists’ home and ruffled through the fireplace, and then it came and sat on their porch and invited itself in.
I have to admit, I didn’t expect both the Gerhardt clan, by way of the keen tracker Hanzee, and Lou to pin Rye Gerhardt’s disappearance on Ed and Peggy so soon, but I’m glad it’s out in the open. Lou’s plea to the Blomquists further endeared the character to me; he continues to be intelligent, blunt, and he plays no games. Now that the Blomquists know that the heat is on, coming from two sides, it will be fun to see them spin out of control more wildly than when their car hit that tree. Ed’s exasperation with his wife will only be intensified, but who knows how Peggy will respond. She’s secretly been acting out in a sign of contempt for the domestic life that her husband keeps pushing on in her, and its possible that new threats and more danger will push her to the “true self” that she’s looking for.
The Kansas City outfit sure showed their true selves tonight. After Floyd makes a counter-offer to Joe Bulo, Bulo and his men not only promptly reject the counter, but they also lower their initial deal and go out of their way to flex their muscle and intimidate Otto, by ambushing his men at a doctor’s appointment and showing just how vulnerable the Gerhardts can be.
The Kansas City crew has another ace up their sleeve too: Simone Gerhardt. Last week, I noted how intrigued I was by her character, and I love that the writers are giving her more to do, by letting her dip her fingers (er, or was it a thumb?) into some good old fashioned back stabbing. I knew that her toxic relationship with Dodd would come back to bite him, but I didn’t expect her to be in bed with Mike Milligan. We know that Simone is sharp and ambitious; maybe she’s planning a triple cross?
Speaking of Dodd, we learn tonight that maybe Dodd’s claim to the throne is greater than just the fact that he’s the oldest son. In the cold open, a flashback to 1950, we see a young Dodd save his father Otto’s life by committing his first hit. We know Dodd’s loyal to his family, just look at the moment he and Floyd share after the unfortunate meeting with Bulo in the car and the attention that he gives to Charlie while his own father pushes him aside, and yet Dodd’s self-destructive, hot-headed tendencies may be the family’s undoing.
The performances continue this season continue to impress. It’s hard to take your eyes off of Jean Smart’s commanding, contemplative Floyd or Bokeem Woodbine’s menacing, soft-spoken but sharp-tongued Mike Milligan. Jesse Plemons is bringing the dedicated, dimwitted Ed some of that understated naturalism that he always delivers to his TV roles, and Kirsten Dunst hasn’t been this funny since Bring It On. But even the background, supporting characters are a delight, like the doctor at Betsy’s appointment, who sells the black comedy so well, brusquely explaining what a placebo is and likening them to Smarties, “you know, like a Smartie.” These scenes, delivered this well, are what set Fargo apart from other shows.
With things ramping up, there are a couple of things to keep your eye on. First, the hints at extraterrestrial involvement refuse to die down, with Hanzee possibly seeing the same thing Rye did when he was struck by the car. Second, we learn that Lifespring, the New Agey self-improvement seminar that Peggy plans on attending will take place in Sioux Falls. Returning fans from season one know that the aged Lou Solverson explicitly references the massacre at Sioux Falls. Will Lifespring be the place where all of this drama comes to a head? It’s sure looking like it.
Fargo season 2 has yet to make a misstep. It’s been so thoroughly enjoyable and impeccably executed. The casting director needs a bonus immediately. Next week will be the halfway point in the season, but I could watch this show for many weeks to come and not grow tired. The table is set, time for dinner!