This Fargo review contains spoilers.
Fargo Season 2 Episode 3
Fargo, the film and the first season of the television show, has always been at its core a story about how easily the platitudes and niceties of monotonous American life can be tossed aside to show the bizarre, seedy underbelly that’s hiding underneath the surface of not just society, but all of us. Last year, that underbelly materialized due to the work of Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo, an agent of chaos that inspired and wreaked havoc, but on this season of Fargo, the disrupting factor is something much larger.
Though Rye Gerhardt acted alone committing the murders that set of the chain of events this season, that’s only the story on the surface. The larger narrative being told is a struggle between a small time crime family and corporatized mafiosos. Strip away the crime element and the tale shares many themes of post-modern cinema.
These are stories that are controlled by the influence of capitalism, where protagonists struggle to create an identity or exist within the confines of a society that no longer owns the means of production, where people no longer make things with their hands, where humans have been forced to become consumers stripped of their agency. The Gerhardts represent the old guard, where men had agency over their own destiny by developing and honing skills, whether legal or not, and Mike Milligan and the men he works for are forcing them out with bureaucratic, capitalist crime. Notice how Brad Garrett’s character speaks in economic terms like research and markets, pluses and minuses.
The Gerhardt family unit and way of life is in threat of becoming obsolete, in a similar way as the family units in the post-modern films of Paul Thomas Anderson, like Boogie Nights and There Will Be Blood, are threatened. Add in some Tarantino-esque dialogue and filter it through the world that the Coen Brothers created and you have Fargo Season 2.
In “The Myth of Sisyphus” all of our central players are on the hunt for Rye Gerhardt, the missing piece to everyone’s perspective puzzle. The hunt has many of our characters crossing paths in memorable fashion, whether it be in funny scenes like Skip acting squirrely when questioned by Lou, or Lou getting tough and quippy while going toe to toe with both the Gerhardts and Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers (yep, that sounds like a prog rock band). Milligan says “I like you,” to Lou when he stands his ground, and now that I’m seeing this side of the character, I’m liking him a lot more too.
I also really like the formal introduction that we’re given to Simone Gerhardt. Using good old fashion seduction, Simone gets closer to finding her brother than anyone, proving that she might not be as “square” as the rest of the family. Her father Dodd has shown ambition, trying to take over the family business, and Simone seems to have similar ambition, but Dodd tries stifling it quite abusively. Perhaps his mistreatment of his daughter will come back to bite him.
Elsewhere, Peggy springs into action once Betsy Solverson shares her theory about what happened to Rye, correctly guessing that a car hit him. Seeing Peggy instantly, and quite deceptively, try to cover her tracks further reminds me of last season’s Lester. It’ll be interesting to see how morally bankrupt Peggy really is. Also, there are more rumblings of aliens in this episode, a storyline that I hope doesn’t become any more literal than what we saw in the premiere.
Other than that, this episode is pretty light on plot, but its dripping with characters so entertaining and well-acted and shot with such style that you don’t really seem to mind. Fargo is possibly the best drama on television currently and if this was a slow episode, how awesome will an explosive episode be?