Fargo: The Gift of the Magi Review

Fargo brought some bombast in "The Gift of the Magi," but its still in the smaller moments that Fargo really shines.

This Fargo review contains spoilers.

Fargo Season 2 Episode 5

Fargo finally brought the boom tonight, but quickly settled back into its signature, light-footed, yet menacing pace. The body count climbed and things got decidedly more complicated, but it’s still the smaller, more intimate moments of Fargo that leave more of an impression than the big bombastic gun blasts. I think this is what has made season 2 of Fargo far superior; last year, we relished the quiet moments that we spent with Molly and Gus, but they were few and fair between, and a lot of time was also spent on Lester, a supremely unlikable worm of a person. This year, I savor the time spent with all of the characters; I’m always waiting to see what the next person is up to. Few shows can create so many memorable characters and yet give them all compelling plotlines and it’s just another reason why Fargo is one of the best shows on the air.

For instance, Betsy Solverson is pretty far removed from the action regarding the Gerhardt’s war with Kansas City, but her battle with cancer and the brief moment we saw her taking her pills, praying that the medicine would have its desired effect, was just as compelling as watching Hanzee cut down one of the Kitchen brothers. It was human, and sad, well-acted, and cleverly added context to an earlier conversation that Ed had with the young butcher shop girl about mortality (another small, brilliant exchange). Balancing this with Joe Bulo’s head in a box or the climactic fight in the butcher shop is what makes Fargo so unique and worthwhile.

Ronald Reagan pops up tonight to further present the dichotomy between the Americana and “dignity” that’s on Fargo’s surface, and the seedy underbelly that’s burning underneath. Reagan’s words about wholesome, idealistic America play over the first battle in the mob war, a bit of visual irony reminiscent of The Godfather Part II. Bruce Campbell is too funny as Reagan, especially when he and Lou Solverson have a one on one in the bathroom, with Reagan comparing his movie career to Lou’s time in the service in complete sincerity. Reagan, just like the American Dream that Ed is searching for, just like the America that Lou mourns, is all a façade.

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They’re not the only ones clinging to artifice. Peggy Blomquist’s collection, or horde, of magazines, shows just how hard she pines for a superficial happy life. It’s odd then that she doesn’t share Ed’s dream of children and owning a business, and maybe she realizes it too, and that’s why she decides not to run away, but to help make her husband’s dream come true. Of course it’s all too little too late, because the butcher shop burning down is just the type of sick joke that Fargo loves. The Blomquists are our tragic dreamers, and things are about to turn into a nightmare.

Speaking of nightmares, Dodd keeps revealing himself to be quite the monster. First, he lies and manipulates his mother to escalate the war with the folks from Kansas City by saying that Rye was killed by one of their men, called The Butcher. Then, Dodd has unpleasant, antagonistic interactions with both his daughter and brother. I have previously thought I wanted to see the Gerhardt’s prevail against the big business, corporate crime syndicate that they’re up against, but if Dodd is man calling the shots for the Gerhardts, I can’t root for their cause, especially because as Bear says, I think Dodd will get what he deserves.

I’m pretty sure that Simone will be the one to make sure that occurs. After an untimely visit to Mike Milligan, she’s cornered and forced to relay all of the happenings of the Gerhardt family back to Mike. Something tells me her turning on Daddy dearest may be easy. Mike plays this intimidation as he always does, cool and measured, but as it was happening, I couldn’t help but think, if this is how scary Mike can be when he’s calm and collected, what does this guy look when he loses his shit? Something to ponder.

Once again, I don’t know what to say other than Fargo was great, again. The gunfights and showdowns are great, but the human interactions are just as worthwhile. Officially at the half way point, it’s all downhill from here.


4.5 out of 5