Fargo: Who Shaves The Barber? review

Fargo cools off a bit with this quieter episode. Here's Nick's review of "Who Shaves the Barber."

This Fargo review contains spoilers.

After last week’s explosive episode, Fargo allowed the dust to settle tonight and let the viewers take a breath. After all the bullets and bodies, we needed a checking-in episode to see just what the fallout of “Burdian’s Ass” would look like. We saw Dmitri, Stavros’ bodyguard, Don, and Mr. Numbers all offed last week, with Molly’s fate left uncertain. We also witnessed Lester hatch a diabolical plan that had him looking less meek and more like Malvo. Survival of the fittest, predators against prey, has been what this show is all about, and throughout we’ve watched predators like Malvo triumph while prey have either been left for buzzards or been forced to transform into something more carnal and vicious.

Fargo, being yet another example of television’s obsession with anti-heroes, has resembled on several occasions the similarly charged Breaking Bad. That show pitched itself as being the story about one man’s transformation from Mr. Chips into Scarface, and that metamorphosis took place over five fiery seasons. In just seven episodes, Fargo’s Lester Nygaard has taken on a similar transformation. Bumbling, bullied, and beaten down, Lester began as a sad-sack simpleton with whom the audience could sympathize, but now, he’s a ruthless, evidence-planting, smooth criminal with the balls and courage to even seduce Sam Hess’ widow.

Not only does Lester get a little action, but in the show’s cold open, we seem him absolutely sell Sheriff Bill on the story of Chas killing Pearl. Once the gun Lester planted in Gordo’s book bag is discovered, the police search Chas’ home, and sure enough, they find the hammer and damning photos and panties that suggest Chas’ involvement with the murder. Once Lester pins his evil doings on his brother, he grins from ear to ear. The conquering of the third of three people that bullied Lester finally has him acting less like Mr. Chips and more like Scarface.

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Or should we say Malvo? Malvo spends this episode, after nearly escaping an attack last week, trying to track down the people that ordered his death. After a little intimidation in Reno, Malvo locates the men that hired Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench in Fargo, and in a creative sequence that tracks Malvo throughout a building but only showing the outside of the building, he shoots and blows away everyone that occupies the Fargo headquarters, right under the eyes of FBI agents Webb Pepper and Bill Budge (Jordan Peele and Keegan Michael Key, respectively). The comedy duo doesn’t get a lot of screen time this week, but their inclusion in the show is welcome, with the two’s familiar banter being a perfect fit for Fargo’s quirky sense of comedy.

Thankfully, Molly also appears in this episode, having survived being accidentally shot last week by Gus. She instantly forgives Gus and, despite still recovering, dives back into her work, using her intuition to tell her that the men from Fargo must be connected to Sam Hess, and if they were after Malvo, Malvo must have had a hand in the Hess murder. She then factors in Lester, pretty much uncovering how the whole sequence of events is connected, before she returns to Bemidji to find Chas in custody. Bill believing Chas to be guilty is another kink in Molly’s plan, and a good way to keep the story going without feeling like it is stretching for time.

For now, Malvo and Lester seem to be in the clear, or at least for the moment, while Molly should have more heavy police work to do next week. Maybe even she and FBI agents Pepper and Budge will come into contact. Wouldn’t that be fun? This episode was mostly quiet, but still engaging, showing just how alarming Lester is becoming. How long before he cuts his hair just like Malvo?

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4 out of 5