[For Fargo “Palindrome” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
PalindromePeggy and Ed make a run for it.

The finale of Fargo, entitled “Palindrome,” refers to a word or phrase that reads the same way backward as forward, suggesting perhaps that the season could be viewed as such. We open on the still living Betsy, home in her own bed now as Noreen, the girl from the the butcher shop who reads Camus, watches over her. Noreen tells Betsy how Camus says knowing we’re going to die makes life absurd. But Betsy quickly dismisses this whole notion of life’s absurdity. She says that each of us are in this life with a job to do and life is simply about doing that job within the time frame we’re given. There’s a parallel here to the first episode because Betsy also notes that Camus likely didn’t have a six year old to consider. Whereas when we’re introduced to her character she dismisses that same responsibility saying her six year old “isn’t Pol Pot” when Lou asks if she’ll be OK putting Molly to bed by herself. Of course, both things are true. A child is the ultimate responsibility and, at the same time, when we take childcare one event at a time (putting Molly to bed) it is rather simple in itself. This is truly the lesson we’re granted through Betsy’s character. A mother on her deathbed learns to treasure each moment with her child as it could be the last one they share.

Then we see Peggy and Ed as they flee the Motor Motel while Hanzee shoots at them and Lou follows right behind all three. Hanzee shoots Ed. An event directly parallel to when Rye attacks Ed in Fargo: Episode One. Just like when Rye lunges at him and he’s forced to kill a Gerhardt to protect himself, this attack changes everything for Ed. His whole life turns on it. Because Ed was shot, he’s hobbled and leans on Peggy as they flee. So, when they soon find a gas station grocer, they lock themselves inside its meat locker to rest a bit, not realizing they can’t get out. Once inside and sitting down Ed tells Peggy he doesn’t think they would’ve lasted as a couple even if they escaped this mess. All he ever wanted was get back to their simple life with the butcher shop and make a family but Peggy always wanted another life. He tells her this and then dies before they’re rescued. This parallels the beginning of the season when Ed and Peggy face off over the money he wants to invest in the butcher shop while she wants to “actualize” herself and expand her horizons. They begin and end with the same opposite goals. Not exactly a match made in heaven, though it does seem that Ed is headed there now. While Peggy’s on her way to prison, certainly an adequate Fargo placeholder for hell.

Next Lou saves Peggy from the meat locker and puts her in the back of his squad car headed back to Minnesota. As he’s leaving the lame Fargo detective confesses to him that he doesn’t even know how to write this thing up for his police report and Lou tells him to just, “Start at the start and work your way to the end,” solid storytelling advice from a solid man of the law. This parallels Lou’s encounter in the first episode with the trucker who discovered the Waffle Hut crime scene. That guy didn’t know what to do either. But in the end it didn’t really matter because Lou’s on the case.

Next Mike and his Kitchen Brother bro drive up to the Gerhardt estate where they find it unlocked, empty, and feeling like home. They encounter the Gerhardt housekeeper, Wilma, preparing dinner in the kitchen, unaware, it seems, that all the Gerhardts are dead. Mike tells her no more schnitzel or strudel. It’s all American food on the menu now. Then the Gerhardts out-of-town friend drives up and starts helping himself to their good silver, muttering, “Everyone’s dead,” until Mike enters. He tells the thief about sovereignty and declares himself king, as of today. Mike says a new sovereign performs one act of kindness and one cruelty. Unfortunately for him, Mike already gave Wilma a new car and a pile of money. Thus, all he has left for today is cruelty. This reference to royalty parallels the first scene of Fargo: Episode One when Dodd talks to Rye about the Gerhardts as the royal family and how he needs to do his duty to the family. But Rye considers this an insult. Why can’t he be more that the role his Gerhardt family has given him? Meanwhile in this scene Hanzee looks on, a much more dutiful and capable family minion – but treated with disdain simply because he’s not family. Hanzee ends up feeling the same way about the Gerhardt family in the end as Rye did in the first episode. Even a life of crime can illustrate the circle of life.

Mike then goes to the home center to meet with head boss of the Kansas City organization, Saul. This is a perfect parallel to the beginning of the season when he gets the position as enforcer for the Gerhardt project. It was Saul who handed that job to him then. Turns out Mike’s moving into an office job now, though. “Buy a nice suit,” Saul tells him. Cut your hair and let the 70s go. Your work’s no longer about busting heads, it’s all about the mighty dollar now, Mike. You’re a bean counter accountant, Milligan – tiny office, blue typewriter, and all. This same blue typewriter appears in the first episode as well, when Rye gets the job of “talking to the judge” he stands right over it. If we draw direct conclusions from these parallels it appears that Mike may not long for this world, seeing as how Rye ended up dead soon after his blue typewriter encounter and given what we know about Hanzee’s vengeance capabilities.

Speaking of Hanzee, the next time we see him he’s on the road to a new identity – the proud owner of a freshly printed social security card. Thanks to his new name Hanzee’s now Lebanese and about to get plastic surgery for a new face as well. Hanzee says he’ll get revenge on Kansas City and kill them all “head-in-a-bag” dead. One thing’s for certain, he got away with all of his Hanzee crimes unscathed by law enforcement. Mike Milligan may not be prepared for what’s coming next down his bean-counter-office-job pipeline.

Lastly we see Lou and Hank home safe at last with Betsy looking lots better beside Lou on the couch. Hank asks if Lou’s going to put the UFO in his police report and they agree it’s probably best to leave it out. The UFO made parallel appearances at the beginning and end of Fargo: Season Two, the first time its mesmerizing light helped take out Rye Gerhardt and the second time that same light aided in the death of Bear Gerhardt. So, one could conclude that perhaps aliens aren’t big Gerhardt fans. Speaking of aliens, Betsy tells Hank how she saw his office (filled with alien-seeming symbols) when she fed his cats. Hank explains. He tells her how his war and work experiences with senseless violence taught him that conflict is really about miscommunication. What we need to fix all this horrible fighting among people is a common language, Hank says. So, all those etchings were his attempt to create a universal language of simple symbols – like we can all agree that a heart means love, for example. This brings to mind our introduction to Hank in Fargo: Episode One when he knows the intimate details of all the Waffle Hut local victims. This is a man who cares about people.

Then Betsy and Lou go to bed and wish each other good night, their love for each other illuminated by the moon shining through their bedroom window. This scene is perfectly parallel to their last scene in the first episode. Lou adds at the end of their good night tidings, “and all the ships at sea,” because the other characters on the show seem afloat on the wild waters of the unknown while Lou and Betsy are tucked in safe at port – home sweet home. But Lou wishes those others well in their sea adventures. He certainly fights to try and get them justice in every move he makes.

Thus we conclude the finale of season two with the same feeling we had at the end of the first season, longing. So, we must forge ahead and keep trucking along with our lives until graced with Fargo: Season Three. Greenlit last month, it’s certain to grip us wholly for yet another glorious trek into the extraordinary world of Fargo thanks to the vision and mastery of its creator Noah Hawley. Thank you for an exciting ride this season, Mr. Hawley and for the tidbit of info you dropped in a recent interview saying that season three will take place in the present day or more specifically, “It’s more contemporary … set a couple years after Season 1.” We’ll take any information we can get and chew on it until there’s nothing left, especially now that we all know Jon Snow’s alive. What else is there to think about?

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “The Castle” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
The Castle Peggy and Ed agree to follow through with their plan at the Motor Motel.

Fargo’s episode nine title “The Castle” likely refers to the Kafka novel of the same name. Not only is the novel a story about frustrations with bureaucracy but also futile efforts to reach an impossible goal. Both of these themes resonate in “The Castle” episode and who better to symbolize the dark surreal storytelling in Fargo than Franz Kafka? The writers show us that this episode refers to a novel by telling the story of the episode with a literal book, pages turning and all.

Episode nine opens on a bookcase. Our narrator selects and reads to us from the book

    The History of True Crime in the Midwest

. The story begins as Hanzee shoots the gas station clerk who ratted him out before he dresses his wound in the gas station bathroom then takes the cashier’s car in pursuit of Peggy and Ed. Next we see a cadre of cops standing over the tied-to-chairs Blumquists in the cabin. Hank takes note that Peggy did a pretty great job compared to law enforcement thus far dealing with the Gerhardts. Then Ed tells them about his meeting with Mike Milligan at the Motor Motel set for the next morning at eight. The cops pow wow outside on the porch and the South Dakota troopers don’t want to get involved because they’re terrified of the Gerhardts and admit there’s bureaucratic corruption at hand as well. They don’t want to piss off their big house bosses. Why not let the Blumquists do their dirty work? Lou says this is BS and they call him “Gary Cooper,” an apt description for his particular brand of hot hero action. They tell Lou to vamoose and on his way out he advises Peggy and Ed not to take the deal and when they ignore him, leaves in a huff. He’ll see if his boss can handle it “on a bureaucratic level,” Lou says then drives off, leaving Hank to represent the sane side of law enforcement.

Meanwhile back inside the cabin the troopers tell Peggy and Ed if they wear a wire and get Milligan to admit culpability they’ll get a deal with the DA. Then, at the mention of his name, we see Mike talk to his boss on and share a plan to pick up Dodd Gerhardt the next morning in Sioux Falls at the Motor Motel. He pretends the killers his boss sent after his ass never came and offers to bring him Dodd in a sly counter move that’s bold but typical Milligan.

We revisit

    The History of True Crime in the Midwest

before the next scene and then see Betsy fall to her kitchen linoleum just as Lou enters the gas station phone booth to call her. But the Solverson family phone echoes through an empty house because she’s on her way to the hospital now thanks to Molly’s babysitter. Lou then enters the gas station store to find the dead cashier and Hanzee’s wound care supplies in the bathroom. Lou calls the state troopers but the one who comes isn’t there to help. Instead he escorts Lou out of South Dakota where he won’t be able to meddle anymore with his damn doing-the-right-thing nonsense. Lou can’t catch a break among his own because he’s actually a thinking person and they’re cogs in a corrupt bureaucratic machine – the system of law enforcement. His desire for justice conflicts directly with their desire to go with the bureaucratic flow.

Freshly escorted out of South Dakota, Lou calls Hank with Hanzee’s status and current car (the cashier’s) only to once again be ignored by the troopers. They appreciate Lou’s giddyup and all on this thing but they know what they’re doing. Thank you very much. Then the troopers chide Hank for Lou’s talking out of turn in the Motor Motel parking lot while Hanzee watches from a nearby rooftop, shotgun ready. As usual, he’s way ahead of them.

Hanzee calls Floyd to lie and say Dodd’s still alive. He tells her Milligan has Dodd at the Motor Motel in Sioux Falls and that she should send twelve men to get Dodd out safely. Floyd says she’s done sending men on their own just to witness their failure at the job she needs done. This one Floyd’s going to handle as well. “Yes, ma’am,” says Hanzee. Meanwhile the troopers set the stage at the Motor Motel to prep for Mike Milligan’s arrival. Benjamin, the pathetic Fargo detective, stays in Peggy and Ed’s room while the rest of the cops drink and play cards in two nearby motel rooms. Hank, who has his own room, knocks on the Blumquist’s door a bit later and the Fargo detective keeps him out. The troopers, meanwhile, drink Miller Lite and play poker in their undercover outfits of wranglers and white tees. They turn off the police radio because the chief declares that, “from this point on we’re radio silent,” not the wisest move when awaiting a mafia and Gerhardt ambush. But common practice for these officers.

Just escorted out of South Dakota, Lou parks by the border as he gets a police radio call about Constance Heck, Peggy’s boss. They just found her strangled body in a Sioux Falls motel room. This gives Lou a wild hair that sends him right back into South Dakota. He drives much faster on his way back into the land where he’s most unwelcome. He goes to Constance’s motel room and imagines what might have transpired, all detective-like. Then back outside, Lou sees Lloyd and her caravan drive toward the Motor Motel and once again calls the South Dakota troopers’ radio to warn them… the very same radio they’ve just silenced.

Bear tells Floyd to stay in the car at the motel so she’ll be safe during the battle. When they arrive Hanzee gives the Gerhardt clan a strategic status update then stays behind with Floyd, who’s never looked better in a white turtleneck and bright red jacket against the night sky. The gun at her waist gives Floyd a physical stance of authority that’s only come through up to this point in the tenor of her voice. She’s a beautiful and powerful leader; yet poised for death.

The Gerhardt clan blasts through the Motor Motel and takes out the troopers with ease in a matter of minutes. But Peggy and Hank are prepared simply by virtue of their respective neuroses keeping them on guard. After the forewarned Fargo detective shoots the oncoming Gerhardts Peggy takes him down with a Gerhardt shotgun smacked upside his dumb head. Meanwhile out in the parking lot, Hanzee stabs the unsuspecting Floyd in the gut as Lou joins the fray and entangles with Bear one-on-one. Just as Lou’s about to lose to Bear’s stranglefest, a UFO floats down to the parking lot where they’re tangled on the cement. The bright alien light distracts Bear long enough for Lou to shoot and kill him. It renders the same trance effect on Hanzee who was just about to nail Peggy and Ed, thus freeing them for escape. Having provided this service to Peggy and Lou, the UFO lifts off and leaves.

Then the final Motor Motel showdown it’s just Hanzee and Lou left shooting each other when Lou hears Hank cry out, “Officer down!” and leaves the standoff to help him. Just then Mike drives up to the Motor Motel with the remaining Kitchen Brother and they see the bloodbath battle remains – Floyd flat out and bleeding on the parking lot pavement, etc. Mike says, “OK then,” and they drive away. Through his pained expression, the wounded Hank asks Lou about Peggy and Ed. He answers that they’re on the run now with Hanzee in hot pursuit. At this news Hank says Lou should go after them and that he’ll be OK. So, Lou leaves to join the hunt – once again on his own and fighting the uphill battle for justice.

Another theme throughout Kafka’s,

    The Castle

is the notion of standing at the law’s door unable to enter – a perfect description of Lou’s position in this episode and really the whole of Fargo’s season two. He’s doing everything right as a police officer but it doesn’t matter. The law won’t let Lou inside. One of the controversies in translating

    The Castle

is that the German title works as a homonym meaning both “castle” and “lock.” So, Kafka likely meant both words when he wrote the story. Certainly, Lou needs a key to free him from this fortress of ineptitude and ignorance in South Dakota. The UFO helped him at the critical moment when Lou faced death in the throttling hands of Bear Gerhardt. But what key will come along to finally unlock the justice system and let Lou actually do his job? Hopefully we find out in the upcoming finale. Our one consolation in the meantime – at least we know Lou Solverson survives the Milligan-Blumquist-Hanzee brand tempest that lies ahead. So stay tuned, it’s finally time for the final Solverson showdown.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “Loplop!” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Loplop Hanzee searches for Peggy and Ed; Dodd ends up in unfamiliar territory.

This episode’s title refers to the artist Max Ernst’s alter ego – a bird character named Loplop. What Ernst called a superior of birds. Ernst had been a gunner in the first World War and as an artist in peacetime, he struggled between his wartime destroyer identity and the creator he was becoming. Thus, Loplop can be seen a manifestation of Ernst’s confusion – two sides of himself in conflict. In this episode Hanzee and Peggy play out this same parallel as the Loplop of Fargo. Peggy is suddenly free as a bird and finally “actualizing herself” while Hanzee struggles with the spoils of war and his Native American identity. He’s a decorated Vietnam vet just trying to get a job done but daily life meets him with brutality and racism from all sides. A concord develops between Peggy and Hanzee in “Loplop” where, though they are nowhere near each other for most of it, she begins to fill his silences with her words while Hanzee’s actions becomes Peggy’s way of being. They are like a yin and yang, circling itself. In the beginning of the episode Peggy is the stalked one and at the end Hanzee has switched from hunter to hunted.

The episode begins with a slow pan through Peggy and Ed’s basement, a crime scene crossed with an outtake from Hoarders. Peggy sits on the stairs with Dodd tied to a chair nearby. Peggy imagines she’s talking to a man (Max Ernst probably) who asks her questions about whether she’s actualized. Does she know the difference between thinking and being? She needs to just sit and be because looking for meaning will only frustrate her. From this Peggy takes away Don’t think about the person I want to be, just be that person. Which satisfies her and for the first time in Fargo, we see a truly happy Peggy and not just the “positive thinker.” From that moment forth Peggy is freed from the trappings of her mind. Ed comes to get her and they take Dodd, tied up in the trunk, on a road trip to Ed’s cabin in the woods. Once there Peggy shocks trying-to-escape Dodd with his electric cattle prod and then they tie him to a cabin chair. Ed finds a payphone at the gas station to call the Gerhardts about Dodd.

On the phone with a Gerhardt lackey, Ed explains he’s the Butcher from Luverne and that he has Dodd but nobody of value comes to the phone. Dumbstruck Ed says he’ll call back later. Back at the cabin Dodd whines and wiggles while Peggy stirs beans on the stove. She tells him to be civil and he says go to hell so she stabs him until he can be polite. Then Peggy feeds him beans like a baby in a highchair. Ed comes home and sees the stab stains bleeding on Dodd’s chest so he chides Peggy to stab him less. If anybody else was in that chair we’d probably agree. But it’s Dodd. So, go ahead and stay stabby, Peggy.

Hanzee goes to a bar on the Blumquist’s trail and gets a glass of water with spit clearly floating on top. So, he asks for tequila – poured right in front of him. The bartender serves up some more racism but Hanzee remains stoic, even telling him about how he served in Vietnam, earning a Purple Heart and Bronze Star. Once outside three douchebag locals approach spewing more racist crap so Hanzee shoots them. Then he goes back in the bar and shoots the barkeep too. When the cops show up right away outside the bar, Hanzee pulls out a shotgun and blasts them too. Looks like he’s done with stoicism for the day.

Ed keeps calling the Gerhardts with no luck. Meanwhile Peggy watches a Ronald Reagan movie on TV, so enraptured that she fails to notice Dodd wiggling out of his ropes. Meanwhile Ed’s calls aren’t going well with the Gerhardt clan. He sees an article in the paper about the Gerhardt war with the Kansas City mob and gets an idea. Ed calls Mike Milligan to offer Dodd in exchange for getting the Gerhardts off his back. This thrills Mike and they set up a meeting for the next day. On the front page of Ed’s paper Ed we also see a picture of Hanzee and a headline about his shootout at the bar earlier and the manhunt for him. Right on cue, Hanzee drives up to the gas station and asks the cashier about Ed. The guy tells him Ed is down by the lake but then immediately regrets it when he sees the front page of the paper and Hanzee’s manhunt mug shot. The cashier then calls the police. So, now we know Hanzee heads toward an ambush.

Back at the cabin the now-free Dodd has set up a booby trap for Ed that catches him as he enters and leaves him hung from a ceiling beam by the neck. Dodd then lectures the struggling, dying Butcher of Luverne about his Peggy problems while Ed writhes – hands grasping at the rope around his neck trying to stay alive in a hangman’s noose. His face turns scarlet. Then Peggy crawls out from under the bed and stabs Dodd through the foot. She follows through with a fireplace poker to the back of the head. Peggy is a warrior. She frees the now unconscious Ed by chopping the rope. Ed’s “Peggy problem” saved his ass today. Together they hogtie Dodd and then Hanzee arrives. Loplop is face to face, creator and destroyer in one room.

Dodd tells Hanzee to shoot the Blumquists but Hanzee doesn’t listen. Instead Hanzee propositions Peggy for a haircut. Dodd calls Hanzee a half-breed. Hanzee ignore him and tells Pegy he wants a professional looking haircut, short and clean. Then Dodd says Hanzee needs to shut up and shoot them, calling him a mongrel. Hanzee reacts with a shot straight through Dodd’s temple. Then he sits down for Peggy to cut his hair. She gets him set and stands behind him ready to start cutting as Hanzee says he wants it professional because he’s “tired of this life.” But then suddenly Hanzee spies Hank and Lou stalking them outside and stands to shoot them through the window. Peggy drives the scissors into Hanzee’s back as he shoots. Then his gun runs out of bullets so Hanzee flees out the front door as Hank and Lou enter the back. Inside they find just Peggy and Ed, hands raised in defeat.

With “Lolop” the antagonism of the creator/destroyer dynamic plays out fully. At episode end, the hair stylist/artist/creator stabs the war torn destroyer in the back. The two can’t co-exist peacefully for long, especially not in a world like Fargo. It took a standoff with this much gusto to take out a larger-than-life character like Dodd. Peggy’s journey is the coolest things about this episode. All she ever wanted was a personal evolution, what she called “actualizing,” and in “Loplop” Peggy makes it happen. She saves Ed. She stabs dangerous men. Yes, the cops do end up catching the Blumquists in the end but the most important thing for Peggy is that she found herself before they found her. Peggy found out she’s a warrior. Hanzee, meanwhile went from a badass to a man at rock bottom who thinks a haircut could change the direction of his life.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “Did You Do This? No, You did it!” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Did You Do This? No, You did it! Lou and Hank investigate in Fargo; The King of Breakfast visits Betsy and Molly; Floyd is summoned away; and Bear questions a family member’s loyalty.

Episode seven, “Did You Do This? No, You did it!” forges forth with the war’s battles, repercussions, power shifts and blunt conversations. It feels like a brilliant chess match in which every player underestimates their opponent. Everyone except the lone wolves, Lou Solverson and Mike Milligan. They’re far too smart for that classic mistake.

We open on Kansas City Mob and Gerhardt family members battling in a creative montage of war scenes: window washers with machine guns, a strangler skulks at a bar, and someone drowns via toilet swirly. These murderous portraits intercut with scenes where pine-boxed Rye and Otto are buried in their backyard. Bear didn’t attend this bare-bones-brand Gerhardt funeral but shows up at the end with news of the war for Floyd. It’s about even, he tells her, but Kansas City got South Carolina from them… big time bummer. Simone then mouths off to Floyd and gets slapped when she claims Dodd shits and sleeps like any other man. Floyd doesn’t abide that kinda talk. Then the cops come and take Floyd to the station for questioning. They waited for the funeral to end – all polite like. Lou asks Bear Dodd’s whereabouts and he replies that Dodd found Jesus and joined a monastery. Lou laughs Bear’s answer off… without laughing, of course.

At the police station cops chat behind the double sided mirror while Floyd awaits them in the interrogation room. They say they’ve got APBs out on Ed and Peggy. It’s all a muddle to them. Then they’re questioning her and Hank asks Floyd, “How far does it go?” referring to the tennis match of murder between the KC mob and the Gerhardts – lobbing back and forth, one dead right after the other. She tells him the Gerhardt’s backs are to the wall. Hank asks if there’s anything she can tell him to help him get the Kansas City Crew, weaknesses and such.

Simone does coke and drives to Mike’s hotel. He’s currently on the phone with his boss, Hamish, who’s pissed about the window washers killing three of his people. “Two days and he’s sending The Undertaker,” Hamish threatens. Then Simone enters the room pissed that Mike killed her grandfather rather than her Dad. What’s the diff? Mike replies, but in a much more articulate way – referencing Shakespeare and such. Simone remains unimpressed, “Are we gonna talk or are you gonna keep quoting a thesaurus at me?” Then the real shit hits the fan when Lou comes in with the wimpy Fargo detective just in time to stop the Kitchen Brother from compromising Simone. Lame detective takes Simone out so that it’s just Lou and Mike Milligan alone in the hotel room. Standoff time. Lou and Mike are equally matched in a war of words, fully understanding each other which results in no movement forward or back between them – a draw. Lou leaves after telling Mike he’ll likely shoot first and ask questions later next time they meet.

In the elevator with Lame Detective Simone knees him in the nuts, says she’s done lying down for men and goes out to the parking lot just as Bear drives up. He tells her he’ll give her a ride and the guy in his passenger seat will drive her car back home. So, Simone’s got no choice but to join Bear in his truck. During the drive she’s nervous, then righteous then nervous again – like she’s anticipating, experiencing, and then grieving her own death ahead of time. Bear parks in the middle of nowhere; a field of nothingness, snow, and the cawing of a crow. He walks her far far out between skinny naked trees while Simone pleads her case. He says the only reason the Gerhardt’s are losing the war is because of her – the deaths of her uncle and grandpa are on her. Simone retorts that it’s all Dodd’s fault because he wouldn’t let Floyd negotiate. On her knees she begs him to banish her rather than shoot but Bear says there is no family anymore and to hush now, it’s already done. He points the gun at her and then the camera pans away so we don’t see if he shoots. We hear the song “Oh Danny Boy” rather than any hint to what happened. After Bear returns to his truck he smashes his cast off his arm on the hood and then drives home – stoic. Did she escape? Did he shoot her? Was she banished? We don’t know.

Back at the police station Floyd decides to flip and tell all about the Kansas City mob. She says they gotta promise no repercussions for her kids or grandkids… then tells them all about the Kansas City operation weak spots, where they stash weapons and so on. When she comes out of the station Floyd orders Bear to find Dodd and Hanzee. Watching her leave, Lou tells the wimpy Fargo detective it seems like they just chose a side. Then Hank comes up to them and says he just got word Hanzee shot two cops up in South Dakota while trailing Ed and Peggy. Lame Detective says they’ll likely just have to let those police officer deaths slide since they just struck that Gerhardt deal with Floyd. So, Lou points out to him that he’s a shit cop. Wimpy detective mumbles about how he’s about to get promoted but it’s evident that Lou’s accurate yet again. Bear then drives Floyd home and as they arrive at the Gerhardt estate she says she wants to apologize to Simone – awkward. Then Hanzee’s on the phone saying he found Dodd. So, Bear’s saved by the bell for the moment.

Betsy comes home to find some strange boots at the front door and loads a shotgun before lurking around holding it ready until she eventually finds Karl Weathers making eggs and pancakes with his friend Sonny in her kitchen. Turns out he’s the Breakfast King of Loyola. Lou calls and Betsy reminds him she really doesn’t need looking after. He knows he knows… but he worries is all. Later on Betsy asks Karl to look after Lou and Molly when she’s gone and implies that it’s likely she’ll be gone soon. She insists that Karl tell Lou that if he needs to get married again it’s OK, just not to Rhonda because her eyes are too close together. Make sure Lou feeds Molly more than jerky and also, Karl Weathers, stop drinking, at least not during breakfast anymore. He says Ok and they hug. Then Betsy goes by Hank’s house to feed his cats. She finds a secret room full of mysterious symbols drawn on paper posted everywhere. Some of the symbols have definitions underneath and some are just plain – there are hundreds, so they cover nearly every inch of the room. Betsy just opened a door to Hank’s secret obsession and it appears to be UFO-related because many of the symbols have UFO connotations. What must Betsy be thinking? But more importantly, what the heck’s up with Hank?

Right after Floyd spills the Kansas City beans at the station Mike Milligan gets a phone call that, “The Undertaker’s coming. You’re done.” So then The Undertaker shows up, a fossil of a man in an 1800s style suit with two flunkies at his side. It’s a slow and ominous ride up the elevator for them but what they don’t know is their target’s perfectly prepped for their arrival. Mike’s ready and waiting like a human booby trap in his deep purple blazer and bolero tie. When they enter the suite he blasts them without warning. All three go down in unison, their blood staining the wall in three red splatter balls where each stood for only a millisecond. Mike’s hotel room phone rings then and he answers with a blood-covered hand. It’s Ed Blomquist telling Mike he’s, “Got Todd Gerhardt in the trunk of my car. You want him?”

Episode seven is packed with unexpected wonder, especially the kind that resonates when humans are faced with their own inevitable death. Betsy and Simone are particularly sublime examples of this. Both live on for us at this particular moment in the story of Fargo but we expect to find out they’re dead any minute… just as they do within the narrative. But the most glorious aspect of this episode is how satisfying the ending feels even with all the unanswered questions. That’s likely because of our resolute relief that Mike Milligan remains alive – we would miss him most of all! And then there’s the divine, palm rubbing relish of imagining the macho douchebag, Dodd sweating it out in Ed Blomquist’s trunk. That image has got us whistling all the way to the water cooler.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “Rhinocerous” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Rhinocerous Lou and Hank try to prevent an altercation and the Gerhardt clan attempts to get back one of their own.

The episode’s title likely refers to the absurdist play “Rhinocerous” by Eugène Ionesco, from 1959. It’s the story of small town where every inhabitant turns into a rhino except the man they all consider a drunken, paranoid fool. This directly parallels the events of this episode as usually capable characters get thrown out of whack while the drunken, paranoid fool (perfectly portrayed by Nick Offerman) saves the day. In fact, the whole episode revolves around the theme of underestimating the apparent fool.

The curtain opens as Ed finally faces the music, a single silent tear sliding down his cheek in the back of the squad car on the way to the station. Meanwhile Charlie sits, head bandaged in a cell until it’s time for his one phone call. Bear and Dodd battle it out on the Gerhardt front lawn as usual until Floyd intervenes and sends them to Minnesota – Bear to pick up his son from jail and Dodd to “take care of this butcher fella.”

Meanwhile Mike Milligan and Simone have a split screen convo and she tells him where they went with instructions to kill her dad, Dodd. After this Mike whimsically recites the famous nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll as he collects guns and men to hit the road. But he’s not headed where Simone said, so Mike either doesn’t believe her or he doesn’t care about killing Dodd and Bear but would rather take out whomever was left behind at home base. Either scenario could be true. Then just as Floyd begins an inspiring lecture to Simone on feminine leadership, they’re rudely interrupted as Mike and his Kansas City crew bros attack the house with a torrent of gunfire through the Gerhardt kitchen window. War has hit the homestead. The theme of underestimating fits here because no matter the reason Milligan chose to hit the homestead rather then do as Simone said, he underestimated her. Clearly that was a mistake because this move has little impact on the war. If he’d gone to Minnesota as she’d suggested though, Mike would have caught the crucial Gerhardt family members in a vulnerable state and potentially won the war in one Milligan swoop.

Back at the Blomquists Peggy avoids answering Hank’s questions until he says, “You’re a little touched aren’t ya?” but she can’t really see what he means even after Hank reminds her they tried to kill her husband and torched his shop. “Life’s a journey, ya know…” she responds. Peggy’s so wrapped up in new age sillyspeak, she’s as nonsensical as Lewis Carroll’s blathering Jabberwocky. Right when Hank’s given up on Peggy, Dodd drives up to the house and Hank tells her to hide inside. Dodd asks for Ed and Hank says he’s at the police station. The Gerhardt gang approach the porch where Hank stands alone. Then Hanzee knocks Hank out with a whack and leaves to look for Ed at the police station while Dodd searches the house with two minions. Dodd’s so tense he shoots one of his own men in a panicked reflex all the while threatening Peggy as he searches, “When I find you, darling, I’m gonna make you bleed,“ but Peggy’s an unexpectedly formidable opponent in her own basement. She bashes the other minion with a sink basin and shocks Dodd silly with his own favorite weapon, the electric zapping stick. He’d foolishly set it aside while taunting her. Never underestimate your enemy in battle, Mr Gerhardt, even if it happens to be seemingly silly, nonsensical Peggy Blomquist.

Lou interrogates Ed at the station, bringing up the cleaver in Virgil’s head at his butcher shop and the fake car accident. But Ed isn’t listening and says he just keeps thinking of Sisyphus and his boulder, a reminder that it doesn’t matter what happens because he’s just going to “take care of what’s mine.” Ed’s right about the “it doesn’t matter” part but he’s not just misinterpreting the significance and lesson of Sisyphus. He’s also missing the crucial element in his own situation, which Lou keeps trying to remind him. The Gerhardts are coming to kill him. Having seen detective and courtroom shows on TV, Ed then asks for a lawyer, like ya do.

Turns out the only lawyer in Luverne, Minnesota is Karl Weathers, played by Nick Offerman. So, though he may be three sheets to the wind intoxicated at amy point, Karl’s also always ready to do some serious lawyering. Once at the station, Karl’s not just drunk but ranting paranoid declarations with unparalleled passion. He can’t be silenced or even hushed until Karl faces a gang of Gerhardt guns cocked and pointed at him in the parking lot. Then he goes back inside and reports that, “The jackboots are upon us,” so Lou calls for reinforcements. Unfortunately, it’ll be an hour before they show up. Lou faces Bear and the others out front, seemingly unafraid. He says they’ve got his son Charlie in a jail cell on attempted murder. Bear asks about the butcher and Lou says he’s under armed protection and they can’t get to him either because they’ve “got enough men and guns to hold them off until morning,” but even Bear knows he’s bluffing. Bear says Lou’s gotta send his Charlie out. Lou goes inside and enlists the quickly sobering up Karl to help “talk some sense” into Bear then heads back to the interrogation room where he left Ed and says there’s a lynch mob outside. “So am I released?” Ed asks and Lou says for simplicity’s sake let’s say so. But really, Lou stays tightly beside Ed as they slip out the back of the station and into the woods. Hanzee’s already on their tails from the moment they exit.

Meanwhile Hank awakens on the Blomquist porch and goes out to his car where he gets a call with an update from the station on the CB radio. He says, “Tell Lou to sit tight. Can’t have him getting killed without me. I’ll never hear the end of it at dinner.” But Lou’s not sitting tight. He’s roaming the woods behind the station with Ed. Even so, a bit later Hank drives up and finds him so they commiserate a bit about their evening. While they chat Ed makes a run for it even though they’re standing beside a squad car that can easily catch him. So, Hank and Lou get in the car to collect silly, nonsensical Ed while behind them in the shadows Hanzee lurks, the expert tracker and always right on the tail of his man. But, just like Ed, Hanzee walks on foot as he follows the squad car. As usual Lou finds himself surrounded by those who underestimate him, one runs ahead of him while the other walks behind.

Back at the station Karl goes outside and introduces himself to Bear as Charlie’s lawyer. He says the police will meet his demands and send the boy out but as his lawyer he’d recommend a different course of action. It would be better for Charlie to face the charges, which will be minimal as things stand. If the police have to send the kid out under duress, though, much harsher consequences will fall upon Charlie. Bear responds that they’ll just take the butcher then. Karl says again this will come down on Charlie with more serious charges. If they don’t beat it and retreat the kid will have to face the music for their deeds as well as his own. Then, luckily for all involved, the Gerhardts take Karl’s advice and drive away to leave Charlie in jail.

Thus “Rhinocerous” concludes with yet another underestimated character overcoming adversity. This episode’s an underdog story in triplicate, which in true Fargo style points to the absurdity of blind confidence. Dodd literally put his weapon down while searching for Peggy, thus availing to her the very cudgel of his undoing. Similarly, if Mike had just listened to Simone he could have taken out the Gerhardt’s primary heads of state, Dodd and Bear, but of course Mike didn’t listen to her. In fact, by attacking the very spot where she stands, he could be destroying his one insider into the Gerhardt clan. Simone, it seems, may be Mike’s achilles heel without him even realizing it. And then there’s Karl Weathers, the most parallel character to the episode’s namesake theatrical production, Rhinocerous. He appears a mere drunk and disorderly fool yet Karl’s the only one who can reason with the Gerhardts. A smooth talker in a Jabberwocky disguise, he’s the hero of this one.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “The Gift of the Magi” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
The Gift of the Magi Floyd takes action and Charlie tries to prove himself; Peggy and Ed disagree about what to do next.

Fargo goes hardcore mainstream with this episode’s title, referencing one of the most well-known short stories ever told. We’ve all read or at least heard about The Gift of the Magi, the story of a poor couple who each sell their most treasured possession to buy a Christmas gift for the other. Then there’s the fun part, the wicked twist at the end – she got a watch chain for the watch he just sold and he bought a fancy clip/comb for the long hair she sold. In the poignant and oft misappropriated words of Alanis Morrisette, “Isn’t it Ironic?” As far as this episode, the answer is an indubitable yes, every storyline thick with this particular twist.

The story starts with the deeply resonant voice of the American Dream – Ronald Reagan gives a speech in Minnesota while on his presidential campaign trail. It’s a message thick with hope for a better tomorrow. Throughout the Reagan pep talk voiceover we see fourteen men on the Kansas City crew out for a hunt. Just as they’re about to shoot their first animal the unsuspecting crew take on sudden gunfire from behind and end up losing a a dozen men, everyone but Joe and one of the Kitchen Brothers. Reagan finishes his speech to a crowd with tears streaming down their inspired all american cheeks as they rise to their feet with applause.

Next we see Hanzee bring Rye’s belt buckle to Floyd and say it was a butcher that did it. Dodd misinterprets this to mean it was a contract killer posing as a butcher and thus that’s why they call him the “Butcher of Luverne.” Dodd is pulling this out of his butthole, of course, simply because it fits his vision for escalating the war.

In the next scene Dodd comes home from the hunting shootout to tell Floyd they took out all of the Kansas City crew except Milligan – who wasn’t there. Floyd says she wants the butcher dead and to show him no mercy. This mention of Ed shifts the scene to him waking from a guilt-laden dream about the bloody Rye. He gets up and goes down into the basement where Peggy awaits. She’s surrounded by her Hoarders level collection of magazines and books piled to the ceiling. Peggy finally tells Ed how her boss, Constance, saw the car and knew about the accident before they hit the tree to establish their fake alibi. She knows something! Panicked Peggy says they have to leave town. Those Gephardt ghouls are coming for us. We can’t stay here. Ed adamantly insists they dig in their heels, have kids, buy the butcher shop, stay together, make it work, figure it out. That’s what people do. He reminds her that she said all they had to do was clean up the mess and then could go back to normal. The visual representation of Peggy’s inability to let go of reading material coupled with her yearning to leave it all behind sets an ironic stage here.

In the next scene, Dodd allows Bear’s eager kid, Charlie to go along for the Butcher of Luverne murder with his minion, Virgil. Meanwhile Simone drives off to a hotel rendezvous with Mike and we see that one of the Kitchen Brothers also survived and stands by Milligan in his hotel room. So, the Kansas City crew is down to two. Simone tells Mike she didn’t know Hanzee was going to attack them. You believe me don’t you? She drops to her knees before him. Then he says, What are we Romeo and Juliet? and shows her Joe Bulo’s head in a hat box. Mike tells her he wants to know what her family’s going to do before they do it every time… otherwise she can die with the rest of them. So, Simone hits the bricks and it’s unclear if she’ll be back in Romeo’s arms anytime soon. One thing’s for certain, she’s stuck in an ironic situation. If Simone wants to be with Mike she’s gotta cozy up with her despicable father, the very person who’s driven her into Mike’s arms. Simone goes home to a threatening Dodd who offers her a “fist or a knife” ya know, like Dads do. It’s only because Floyd steps in to stop Dodd from messing with his daughter and tells Simone to go upstairs that he doesn’t start beating her right then and there.

At the butcher shop Ed’s making family calls trying to get a loan and failing. It’s a recession – remember? The cashier, Noreen asks him why he bothers. He’s just gonna die anyway. What’s the point? She’s resolute in her pig-tailed, absurdist philosophy. Bear’s son, Charlie shows up at the butcher shop then, gun in hand and hesitant about proving himself a real Gerhardt. Before he goes in the family minion reminds him not to leave any witnesses. Charlie enters the shop and Noreen asks him what meat he wants. He says he just wants to see Blumquist so she tells Charlie Ed’s the back. They flirt a little and talk Camus until Ed comes out with a plate of fresh cuts. Charlie chickens out. He buys meat and leaves.

Lou gets a call from the Fargo PD that there are twelve dead bodies in the woods and it’s obviously a Gerhardt job. Can Lou come and be a tough guy at the Gerhardt’s like last time? Lou says he’ll come first thing tomorrow after he’s done escorting Reagan’s bus to the next town. Then, in the best scene of the episode, Lou and Reagan are side by side chatting at a roadside urinal. Reagan thanks Lou for his service and tells his own war story. The irony lies in Reagan’s story because it’s about one of his war movies and he can’t even remember the ending. Reagan talks too long after Lou’s already zipped up and then Lou says he wonders if The United States can really get out of the mess we’re in. The sickness of the world seems to have gotten inside everyone, even his wife – killing her with cancer. How are we going to et out of this mess we’re in? Reagan responds, “Son, there’s not a challenge on God’s earth that can’t be overcome by an American,” Lou says, “But how?” and Reagan leaves the bathroom without answering.

In the next scene Betsy takes her trial drug and looks at her daughter’s drawing. At first it looks like a typical child’s doodle of a family with a house and sun above. But then we see it’s not the a sun at all, but a UFO. Hank comes in and Betsy tells him she’s nauseated but that’s good because it means she’s probably on a real drug and not just a sugar pill. The irony – reading a symptom of sickness as the best possible outcome.

Meanwhile back at the butcher shop Charlie’s in the phone booth calling home and says he’s ready to go back to school. It’s Bear’s dream come true for his son, if he makes it out of this debacle alive. Virgil then pressures Charlie back into the butcher shop. Once inside he flips the door sign to “Closed,” pulls out his gun and sneaks into the back room where Ed’s cutting a pig into pieces. Noreen comes out of the bathroom and alerts Ed with a shriek as Charlie takes a shot, so he ducks out of the way of the bullet, which misses Ed but starts a massive fire. Virgil then storms in from the back and the real fight ensues, a blazing fire spreading throughout the ruckus. It’s a close one with Virgil nearly strangling Ed before he frees himself and machetes Virgil. He and Noreen save Charlie, knocked out on the floor, and drag him out of the fire. The three of them are out of the street when the fire completely overtakes the butcher shop. The place is toast. Ed watches his American Dream go up in flames and advises Noreen to tell the cops those perpetrators shot first and it was self defense and he saved the kid. Then Ed, still in his bloody butcher apron, runs away as Noreen calls after him – confused why he couldn’t just tell the cops himself. Lou shows up at the shell of the now burnt up butcher shop and sees Charlie Gephardt sliding into the ambulance on a stretcher.

At the Blumquist’s Peggy packs a bright orange and a blue suitcase then picks up her freshly fixed car at the shop and pays with a bad check. She starts to drive away but then comes back and asks the dufus mechanic, Sonny if he wants to buy her car. He gives her seven hundred for it, about half what it’s worth… but she was eager to strike a deal today. She even says, “Better 700 today than 1400 tomorrow,” as if this is a well-known tome for ages. In her next scene it’s classic Gift of the Magi time on Fargo. Ed gets home and says they need to pack and it’s time to go. Time to run like Peggy said. Then she says no he was right. She sold the car and now they can buy the shop. Ed tells her the shop burned down and he killed another fella – maybe two. She’s gotta pack and they gotta go. Then police sirens are blazing outside their door and there’s no time to even consider packing. Irony prevails. They were both wrong and Lou was right.

But the biggest irony of this episode is the whole “American Dream” concept as best exemplified by Reagan’s presidential campaign. Have hope for the future! Believe in yourself! This coupled with the comedic insight of Noreen, the butcher shop cashier who quotes Camus and responds to every silver lining with, ‘You’re going to die anyway,” provides us with the most resonant ironic twist of the time. They’re both right. We are all going to die anyway and sure, why not go down in a blaze of apple pie and baseball glory – confident, happy, and armed to the gills with pride in the American Way. It’s at least as good a condition as any other for dying. Of course, to Lou’s point, these points of view and ways of life are hardly answers to the real challenges we faced as a country in 1979. The recession had exhausted our options until all americans felt we had left to hope for was a sunny outlook and the glorious, moving speeches of a movie star. Lou’s resonating question to Reagan remains, like an echo in the chambers of our country’s heart. How are all these pep talks really an answer to our problems? Lou remains the voice of reason for Fargo and he illuminates us as an audience with his insight. Meanwhile every character on the show ignores Lou’s reasonable conjecture and instead listens to the guy who sounds better and says precisely what they want to hear – Ronald Reagan.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “Fear and Trembling” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
Fear and Trembling Floyd responds to Kansas City’s proposal; Hanzee takes a road trip; Lou has a realization.

Yet another Fargo episode title makes an intellectual reference. But you don’t have to understand or even have read Kierkegaard to feel the impact of the “Fear and Trembling” theme. Kierkegaard’s work of the same title speaks about two kinds of people, one who hopes for happiness from something “out there” while the other finds happiness from something inside. Specifically Kierkegaard refers to those who focus on hope for the future and those who revel in memory of things past. This episode literally teams with examples of these very people working in opposition – even if one may be trying to help the other. These characters can’t work in concert because such binary perspectives are a recipe for conflict.

The beginning brings us back to Fargo 1951 when Otto Gerhardt takes his son, Dodd to the movies and tells him not to make a sound. Otto’s there for a business meeting with a guy who says it’s “all about being king” but Otto says he just wants “a place at the table.” Nobody speaks the truth in this scene, it seems. Just as the king-focused guy’s about to take Otto out with a bullet to the head, little boy Dodd stabs him in the back of the neck in a sly move from behind and frees up his father to shoot all the guy’s minions. Dodd was a good boy. He didn’t make a sound.

Then we’re back to Fargo 1979 and Dodd takes Bear’s son out for some shooting practice then brings him along for an attack on some Kansas City thugs at a local bakery. Dodd tazes a guy to the ground while Bear’s son punches the other guy out. Next Floyd meets with Kansas City’s Joe Bulo, the fantastically repugnant Brad Garret. She puts forth a counter offer – partnership between them with the Gerhardt’s paying a million and splitting territory with KC. She tells him not to underestimate her just because she’s a woman. But Joe does anyway and he’s got a point, not because she’s a woman but because Floyd is mother to her minions. He confronts her on Dodd’s assault of his men that very morning at the bakery. Can she really control her family? Joe says if one of his men defies him he can take their arm off but she’s dealing with her kids and won’t do that. This is the crucial difference between them. So, it’s not an equal partnership – see? Floyd says Dodd will fall in line and Joe says no. We’re officially in deadlock city. She’s locked in a memory of a “peaceful” Gerhardt family business and Joe’s got his hopeful eyes on the prize of owning them.

Next we’re in a hotel room where men in turtleneck sweaters and white suits play cards. They’re guarding the suite where Mike Milligan sleeps with Dodd’s daughter, Simone and she snorts coke off his shoulder. Free of blue eyeshadow now, Simone is gorgeous with luxurious Farrah Fawcett hair and a calculated ease in discussing her family’s business matters with Mike. She tells him where he can find the (barely alive) Otto and advises Mike that he’ll have to kill her father, Dodd.

Because Otto’s not actually dead but just in a post-stroke, non-verbal and paralyzed state, the family takes him to the doctor and when he’s in the parking lot Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers kill his bodyguards and minions then greet him, vulnerable and alone in his wheelchair, saying, “Joe Bulo says ‘hi’.” Joe gets news of this while still at the sitdown with Floyd. He then rejects Floyd’s counter offer and says anything but unconditional surrender from her and Kansas City will wipe the earth of Gerhardts. So, it’s war.

Meanwhile Hanzee’s out on the road looking for Rye and goes to the Waffle Hut. He surveys the scene and checks the tire tracks outside, picking up a piece of broken glass there that seems to spur on a vision of something in the sky. It’s as if he remembers when Rye saw the UFOs. Next Hanzee goes to an auto repair shop and finds Peggy’s car, noting that the piece of glass from the Waffle Hut tire tracks fits perfectly into a space on her headlight. Ignoring the warning of dufus mechanic, Sonny, Hanzee checks the inside of the car and finds a bloodstain on the seat. Then Sonny the dufus breaks his own rule about customer privacy and tells Hanzee the owner of the car is a butcher. Hanzee’s about to show his gratitude for the info by knifing the dufus when Karl, played by Nick Offerman, comes out of the bathroom and averts the crisis with strong words and showing his gun. So, Hanzee turns to leave on his calm and measured heels then drives away. Next he’s at Ed and Peggy’s house where he finds Rye’s ashy belt buckle in the fireplace and takes it for safekeeping. He then sees Lou drive up and exits from the back of the house while Lou takes a seat on the front porch to wait for Peggy and Ed to get home.

Betsy and Lou go to the oncologist where they get the news that her cancer is spreading but they can put her on a clinical trial drug called Xanadu… or a placebo. That’s the most hope the doc can offer. Should he sign her up? In the parking lot later Lou asks if he should treat Betsy any different and she says “Please don’t.” She’s on the trial now. After that conversation Lou heads over to meet Hank at the body shop where Hanzee had just left after encountering Peggy’s car and the dufus Sonny. Hank tells Lou the alleged report of how the car got damaged – the story Ed and Peggy told. But it’s not particularly believable to Lou who also has a flashback to his visit with Ed on the night when he nearly saw Rye’s chopped fingers on the floor of the butcher shop. Lou’s getting warmer and it’s clear in this scene that his intuition is similar to the visions Hanzee has. They’re playing the yin and yang of this investigation – powerful insight swells in their opposition.

Meanwhile Peggy’s secretly on the pill while Ed dreams aloud about all the babies they’re making together. Ed’s caught up in his delusions about babies and owning the butcher shop, neither of which Peggy cares about. In the next scene Ed’s boss at the butcher shop says his check for the down payment on the shop bounced and there’s another interested buyer. If Ed doesn’t pay he loses the shop for certain. It turns out the check bounced because Peggy paid for that seminar even though Ed told her not to. He confronts her and Peggy apologizes but also says her seminar for self-actualization matters more to her than owning the butcher shop. Ed tells her she’s gotta get the money back. Peggy goes back in the salon and tells her boss but just gets a self help lecture series and it’s clear she won’t get that money back.

Peggy and Ed see Lou waiting on their porch as they pull into their driveway that evening. At Lou’s suggestion they invite him inside then reiterate to him the made up story about hitting a tree. Lou makes it clear he knows they’re lying and tells them to be straight with him so he can help them. He tells them a war story, how when it’s obvious a buddy who’s just been shot is going to die everybody tells him he’s going to be OK. It’s what you do, you give the dying man hope so he can bear those last few minutes of life with dignity. He tells them they’re like those dying soldiers right now. They don’t even know it but they have no chance to redeem themselves if they continue to lie. But Lou can help them if they tell him the truth now. Peggy and Ed dig in their heels and ask him to leave, fools that they are…

On the ride back from the Kansas City sitdown Dodd has his head on Floyd’s shoulder and it’s a sad, operatic scene. Then Floyd’s curled up with comatose Otto on their marital bed before she has to give the news to the family of their next move. “It’s war,” is all she says. Next we see Betsy staring at her trial drug pill bottle before joining Lou in the backyard. He says he thinks she got the real pill and not just the placebo. But the world’s out of balance now, Lou ponders and trails off. People used to know right from wrong but now it’s all off center. Betsy goes in to bed and Lou continues to practice tying knots in the dark cold night of their yard. He’d hoped to inspire her much the same way he’d hoped to with Peggy and Ed but it’s clear he’s failed both times. Neither Peggy and Ed nor Betsy have any hope because they’re so caught up in their interior worlds that they remain locked in a lonely void. Who could possibly understand them? So, the one man who really could understand them, beautiful-patient-insightful Lou, sits, quiet and alone, to tie his knots, a symbol of Lou himself… on the inside.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “The Myth of Sisyphus” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

FX Summary:
The Myth of Sisyphus The search for Rye intensifies; Peggy overhears a new theory about the Waffle Hut shooter.

Episode two, ‘Before the Law” concluded with the words of H.G. Wells and so it comes as no surprise that episode three’s title, “The Myth of Sisyphus” recalls that absurdist story of the man Sisyphus. This is a show with references up the whazoo. From the Sisyphus myth we know one man pushes a boulder up the hill in an interminable cycle. Because the boulder drops when he reaches the top he always has to start over again, like a hamster on a wheel. Fargo, is, after all, known for its delight in absurdity. This show knows how to stay on theme even as it tells a remarkable story with steamroller momentum.

The Sisyphus episode opens as Ohanzee, the Native American searcher crouches in a blanketed white forest petting a snow bunny and waxing nostalgic for his one room schoolhouse childhood. A magician pulled a white rabbit out of a hat back in Ohanzee’s days of yore. After this memory he walks out of the woods to the Gerhardt house – the dead bunny body hanging from his hand. Then we’re inside the house for a Gerhardt meeting among leaders as they discuss their state of siege. Should they sell, hold out for more, or go to war? Floyd leads the meeting and says the Kansas City mafia are sharks in the sea while the Gerhardt’s are small time in comparison. They’re a peacetime family. Dodd, always ready for battle, disagrees. He wants to pull out guns and start blazing. Floyd takes charge and says she’s not afraid of a war but only as a last resort and on her terms. The suits in the meeting say they’re on the Gerhardt’s side and though they won’t shoot first, they’ll defend the family if that’s what goes down. So, now the Gerhardts know they’ve got some backup from their family business leaders if it does indeed “go down” with Kansas City.

Meanwhile at a smoky hotel restaurant breakfast Joe and Mike of the Kansas City mafia discuss the Gerhardts. There’s no word on Frau Floyd’s answer so far, Joe says. Mike replies, “So we kill ‘em?” and Joe says we listen to the market and let it tell us what we do next. Mike says they still haven’t found Rye, must be on the run. Joe says they gotta find him for extra leverage against The Frau. So, right away we see how Sisyphus is relevant. Following market indicators – especially in the late 1970s – can be just like pushing a rock up a steep slope. People waited in line all day for gas in those days, missing their workday entirely at times. Going nowhere fast.

Lou’s in his cop car on the way to Fargo when Hank calls him on the police wireless to say they identified the prints on the Waffle Hut weapon as Rye’s. Then Lou enters the courthouse offices where the Judge worked and talks with Fargo police detective, Ben Schmidt in the waiting area. Schmidt tells him all about the Gerhardts, the main gist being that Lou’s better off with his own prints on the gun. Ben says he’s never heard of Mike Milligan or the Kitchen Brothers but he’s certainly intimidated by their mere mention. Schmidt repeats his recommendation to take the fall rather than get involved with the Gerhardt clan just for good measure.

Then Ohanzee guts his bunny in the Gerhardt kitchen while talking to Simone, Dodd’s daughter who wears the bluest blue eye shadow a girl’s ever worn in the world. She says they should check out Rye’s apartment and he says, “Show me.” Meanwhile Betsy gets her hair done at the salon where Peggy works when Hank comes in to put up a WANTED FOR MURDER sign in her front window. He’s wasting no time posting Rye’s picture all over town now that they found his prints on the gun. Then right on front of freaking-out-Peggy Betsy shares her theory about the shoe they saw in a tree at the Waffle Hut. She guesses the exact scenario that happened with Peggy hitting Rye. Peggy immediately chips in how that’s such an unlikely possibility. Who would just drive off with a body on the hood of their car? Hank says he’s inclined to agree with Peggy but Betsy ends the convo when she says maybe they should look for a car rather than a person. This sends Peggy pronto off the the butcher shop to enlist Ed on a mission to deal with their car. Peggy pulls him away claiming “family crisis” and then on their way home they see the WANTED poster of Rye and it stops them in their guilt-ridden tracks. Sisyphus indeed.

Back in Fargo, Lou continues to hang out in the courthouse waiting area when he sees nervous typewriter salesman, Skip pacing and fearful right by the dead Judge’s office. Lou and the detective follow anxious Skip out to his car and check his ID. Turns out he’s there for the hearing Rye was supposed to handle but (given the death of Judge Mundt) it got postponed. Lou aptly says to Schmidt, “He’s a squirrelly fella. You oughta take him down to the station.” But Ben-the-dismissive-detective quickly brushes off the idea with you can’t take every guy that had a case with the judge downtown, can ya? Clutching his get-out-of-jail-free-card tightly, Skip drives straight to Rye’s apartment from there but finds Simone, the Gerhardt daughter with blue eyeshadow magic inside rather than Rye. He enters, hesitant and then it turns out Ohanzee is there too, hiding behind the door. Simone figures out who Skip is right away and notes that he came there to “not pay her uncle” so she seductively pulls him by his patriotic tie right out the door to take him for a ride with the Ohanzee, who she calls “Red Man,” all sensitive like.

Ed drives Peggy out to a tree he had in mind for a fake accident. She got the idea for this plan from her drunk uncle who used the method for all his accidents over the years. First he’s crash the car boozed up on Old Milwaukee, then he’d sober up and have the fake accident for insurance purposes. It’s inspiring stuff. Right before Ed drives the car into the tree she tells him he’s her knight. Well, her knight gets whiplash in the process but still manages to hit the tree the right way… the second time. Much like Sisyphus, Ed keeps covering up Peggy’s mistakes and following her advice only to find more awaits on the other side of each wretched little cleanup nightmare.

Back in the Gerhardt kitchen Bear tells his enthusiastic son not to get involved in Gerhardt family business, even if Dodd’s daughter is deep in the mess. Bear and Floyd want him to go to school and become something else – something other than just another shady as F*** Gerhardt, presumably. Bear makes his declarations extra clear by pointing an enormous turkey leg around to give weight to his words – like a 1970s Henry VIII.

The next scene brings us to the Gerhardt front porch where Floyd recognizes Ben Schmidt right away. She asks Schmidt about Lou but Solverson introduces himself, straight backed and eye contact in place. He’s solid. Bear comes out on the porch then and the cops ask both Gerhardts what they know about the dead Judge Mundt. Lou says they need to talk to Rye. Floyd says that’s not gonna happen. Lou stands strong and explains that Rye’s wanted in connection with three murders. He doesn’t want to be forced to shoot some people. Then Dodd shows up, macho man extraordinaire in a leather newsboy cap. We own all the judges – what would be the point in killing one? Lou stands strong and lets Dodd know that he’s the one who found the gun, not Schmidt. Dodd gets right up in Lou’s beautiful face and says, “Let’s dance.” Then Lou asks them about Mike Milligan and Kansas City. Nobody says a word on that topic. Right then Dodd gets called away by Bear’s son on other business, “Ohanzee called and wants you to meet him at the dig.” Floyd and Bear back away going into the house. “Give him his gun back now that he’s on his way,” she says to her muscle men about Schmidt.

On the drive away from the Gerhardt house Schmidt appears to think that the whole confrontation went well, presumably because they’re still alive. Lou, instead, remains disgruntled. Lou then suggests they get a warrant. Schmidt says, “From what judge? You heard Dodd they own most of the town.” This is the signal that it’s time for Lou to give up on Schmidt. He’s rolled the boulder up that hill for the last time. Getting out of Schmidt’s car with a polite, “Thank you.” Lou then investigates the typewriter shop only to find the calm and impenetrable Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers waiting inside. He’s got a gun on them but then they have a gun on him too – it’s the High Noon standoff everybody’s been talking about throughout the episode. Lou stays solid and even makes a buttsex joke at Mike’s mother’s expense. Mike likes the way Lou’s unfriendly, so polite about it. As Lou starts to back out of the shop, gun still raised and pointed, Mike quotes Nixon, “Peace with honor,” and says Lou doesn’t have to go. They’ve already seen everything there is to see at the typewriter shop. So, Mike has the Kitchen Brothers keep their guns raised and pointed at Lou and they’re the ones to leave the typewriter shop.

Lou stops next at a gas station where the attendant tells him about UFOs visiting from above and says that he doesn’t believe aliens visit to probe people. He thinks the aliens are more benevolent than that. Lou brushes it off as a fool talking into the wind. He’s got crucial stuff on his mind like murder, the mafia, and Mike Milligan. Then we see a city bus lit up and crossing town like a glowworm in the dark night. Ed, his neck ina brace, and Peggy sit together on the bus. She comforts him that their plan worked and, though they seem to have the whole conversation telepathically, it rings true of a duo forever bound by a terrible secret and the infinite quicksand they have to shovel to dig their way out of trouble.

Lou comes home to find Hank on his couch and says he had a real “High Noon” kinda day; first with his visit to the Gerhardts and especially later when he ran into Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers at the typewriter shop. “Maybe two pieces of cake then,” Hank promptly concludes. Meanwhile Dodd and Ohanzee put Skip in a deep grave-like hole dug in a snowy field. They tell him to lie down in the hole and begin to dump a literal truckload of tar on him until he caves and tells them Mike Milligan is who they want. He’d come by the day before looking for Rye and has “probably found him by now.” The truck stops mid-dump just for that info, then goes ahead and buries Skip dead. Dodd then tells Ohanzee he’s gotta drive to that Minnesota town and find Rye. Anybody who gets in his way, just kill ’em.

In the last shot of the episode something sticks out of the tar and the camera focuses on it pretty hard but what is it? Maybe an alien communicator of some sort or perhaps some evidence of Skip underneath. It’s unclear what it is and just enhances the mystery of what could possibly happen next. This episode brilliantly delivers a story that makes little progress by focusing on the frustration inherent to spinning one’s wheels. The theme rings true of most investigations, high noon standoffs, covering up lies, searching for what can’t be found, and waiting for answers that may never come. It’s a sign of exceptional storytelling that the narrative flies forward even as the characters get nowhere. Even those of us who watch remain a Sisyphus of sorts because even as the story whirls ahead – we remain relatively clueless. The audience experiences that palpable frustration and dread right along with the characters yet the story keeps us wanting more Fargo anyway.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “Before the Law” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Before the Law The Gerhardts get a surprising offer; two unlikely murderers do their best to clean up their mess.

Dodd Gephardt asks a guy strapped to a chair if he’s listening – seeming to forget that he just cut the guy’s ears off. It’s symbolic, really, of how Dodd’s machismo gets in the way of his ability to see what’s right in front of him. Another good example of what Dodd can’t see is his own mother, Floyd, who tells Dodd what he missed while out in the barn carving body parts. It seems Kansas City just offered to buy the Gephardt organization meaning the family would report to Kansas City but earn about the same or more than ever. Dodd doesn’t like the idea of Floyd being boss, making decisions, etc. and takes a seat at the head of the table where his father, Otto, usually sat. But the unaffected Floyd just lectures in front of shelves stocked with a variety of bread loaves and forces Dodd to eat Challah. Dodd nibbles baby bites in rebellion as she explains that he has to stand by her now and then once this crisis is over she’ll hand him his legacy. His time will come. Then Floyd sends him off to bring Rye back home. Dodd enlists the family’s muscle onto his side, noting that his brother, Bear already has sided with Floyd. They gotta get Rye on their side. But first they have to find him.

Back at the Blomquist’s Ed ponders Rye’s wallet and his daunting cleanup job, dread dripping from every facial movement he makes. Peggy trots off to work, though and covers for him at the butcher shop with a story about bad clams from a can before heading to her job at the hair salon. Then Ed turns on the radio. He scrubs and wipes out the garage before burning Rye’s and his own clothes in the fireplace. Ed stands before the blaze in a dreamy state – his Winnie the Pooh naked belly glows in firelight because he wears just tube socks and tighty whiteys. The camera closes in on the fire to show Rye’s badass metal belt buckle among the logs and flames. Ed gazes into the blaze but remains unaware of this evidence.

Then we’re introduced to Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine), the profound and fearless voice of Kansas City. He shows up with the Kitchen Brothers at the electric typewriter guy’s place looking for Rye Gerhardt. Mike asks him pointed questions before creatively choking him with one of the typewriters. Typewriter guy tells Mike about setting Rye off to meet the judge. So, Milligan leaves him tied into the typewriter ribbon, appearing to know more about what happened between Rye and that judge then his informant does.

Lou’s wife, Betsy and daughter Molly ride along with him in the police car as he stops at the Waffle Hut with a “wild hair.” Betsy and Molly build a snowman outside while Lou investigates the evidence in the diner. He spots the roach killer can the judge sprayed in Rye’s face and picks it up. Meanwhile outside, Betsy finds a gun in the bushes and calls to Lou. Grateful to her for locating the murder weapon, Lou stands next to Betsy clutching the gun as the Kansas City crew drive by in slo mo. Hence that old familiar feeling of Fargo dread arises again. Offscreen Lou calls Hank and tells him to check that ominous car, so Sheriff Hank blocks the street in front of the crew. You shall not pass! But Hank’s authority soon falters, shunted by Mike Milligan’s seemingly fearless nonchalance in the face of law enforcement. He gets a peek at their IDs, shoes sizes, and plate numbers but little else. Since the Sheriff has nothing on them but a hefty handful of suspicion, they drive away unscathed. If anybody is flustered by the interaction, it’s Hank.

That night Ed watches from his truck as Peggy gets a ride home from her boss, the salon owner and conveyer of late 70s personal-achievement-seminar wisdom. Don’t be a prisoner of “We”, she advises. At the drop off Peggy’s infinitely all-knowing boss drops in to the Blomquist’s to use Peggy’s bathroom where she snoops and finds stolen toilet paper that’s been missing from the salon. She’s flirtatiously suspicious of Peggy right to her face then, saying she’s not mad about the TP “Just ask next time,” and calls Peggy a bad girl before catching her in a lie about the cut on her forehead. Who knows what her boss suspects but either way, Peggy is at great disadvantage trying to hide anything from her.

At the butcher shop, Ed eviscerates Rye’s body through the meat grinder in a wretched spectacle of churning red and grey. He then returns to the steel table to chop the fingers from one of Rye’s hands and they scatter across the floor like mice. Before he can retrieve them Lou, who’s apparently got another “wild hair” – for bacon this time – taps on the butcher shop front door. Unbearable tension escalates in the following scene as Ed spies a finger on the floor. Lou drops some change paying for the bacon and then they both scrounge around the nearby finger to pick it up. Luckily the phone rings to save the day and Lou takes his bacon while Ed takes a call from Peggy on the butcher shop phone. She wants him to come home. She misses him. She’ll make oatmeal. She loves him and he loves her too.

This phenomenal episode then concludes with a voiceover and view from above. A sonorous narrator tells us that nobody could have imagined back then that far superior creatures were scrutinizing every human action on Earth while plotting envious plans against us. Thus we find out that Rye wasn’t a dope but rather was a prophet of sorts – seeing the UFO as real before we did. The true prophesy lies, though, in what we already know as we watch this period piece about our human way of life thirty five years ago. The aliens needn’t bother to measure our limits or plot our demise. They aren’t even obliged to think very much about our destruction. We humans will take care of all that. The aliens can just sit back with their version of popcorn and watch as we burn our planet down all on our own, Fargo-style.

–Katherine Recap

[For Fargo “Waiting For Dutch” or any other recaps on Fetchland, assume the presence of possible spoilers.]

HBO Summary:
Waiting For Dutch an unexpected turn of events at a diner disrupts lives of the citizens in a small town.

For those of you who watched Fargo season one, you know the character of Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) from when he was played by Keith Carradine as the knowing owner of the local diner and father of Deputy Molly. In this 1979 prequel story he’s a Minnesota State Trooper, Vietnam Vet, and hottie McHotterson. If you aren’t familiar with season one you can still watch season two as it makes sense and stands strong on its own as exceptional television. But get on Netflix and watch season one already. Seriously, what are you waiting for? It’s amazing.

But back to business with season two. It’s 1979 in Minnesota. Jimmy Carter talks thoughtfully on TV and clothes are radder than hell. After a brief stint on the movie set of a Ronald Reagan flick where we find out he’s the “Dutch” in the episode title, we’re introduced to the frustrations of the Gerhardt crime family. Rye (Kieran Kulkin) embodies the lowest tier in the Gerhardts while Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) holds the position of oldest son but is quite a crank about it, responsibilities and all. Soon we see that Floyd (Jean Smart) runs the family as the all-knowing head bitch from their kitchen. We find the Gerhardt family flummoxed about slim takings. They suspect there’s another outfit affecting their numbers “some pissant crew from south of no place.” Their big daddy, Otto gets so upset at this prospect he has a stroke and dies at the mere mention.

Meanwhile Rye has an opportunity to get in on the wave of the future, by one of the gamblers that owes his family money. All he has to do is get a lady judge to unfreeze some company funds on a legal case so that Rye will be privy to big money. Rye’s on a mission. He tails the lady judge driving a deserted snowy road behind her all the way to a Waffle Hut diner. In the parking lot Rye does some coke in the car for courage before going in to sit at the counter, jumpy as fuck. The music in the diner is the same song that played in his car. Remember when radio reminded us it was a small world? Well, this is the smallest world ever. The waitress literally offers him humbleberry pie. Once the place clears out a bit, Rye slips into the booth with the judge but she’s in no mood for his small time shenanigans and sprays roach killer in his eyes. Then Rye shoots her. The cook comes out of the kitchen brandishing a cast iron frying pan. So, Rye shoots him too. Then the judge, who’s still kicking, knifes him in the back. So, Rye shoots her a few more times – her blood pools and blends with the spilled milk on the table. Rye takes the money out of the register before chasing down the lone waitress to shoot her in the snow outside. Looking off into the distant trees he sees pale blue lights circle and lift into the night sky, a UFO, Rye probably thinks. Mesmerized by his idiotic conclusions, Rye doesn’t see the car coming right at him so it hits him dead on and then drives away with Rye’s body laid flat out on the windshield.

Next we’re in Lou Solverson’s (Patrick Wilson) home where Handsomepants McGee reads a bedtime story to his daughter and gets the phone call about the Waffle Hut killings. His sarcastic wife, Betsy (Cristin Milioti), seems jaded past the purview of a typical Minnesotan though we only encounter her briefly. Later we find out Betsy’s doing chemo and that’s why she’s got the haunted eyes and wry remarks. Once at the Waffle Hut, Lou’s taking notes when Sheriff Hank (Ted Danson) enters and recognizes the cook right down to his high school touchdown record. Hank doesn’t know the judge, though. She’s got North Dakota plates, Lou explains. The Sheriff clearly knows Lou’s wife, whom they both agree is a terrible cook, but it’s not clear until later that Hank is Lou’s father-in-law. Lou takes Hank through his crime scene deductions including a robbery and getaway driver theory. Then he reminds the sheriff to come over for dinner the next night.

In the following scene Ed (Jesse Plemons) leaves his job at the butcher shop after a long day’s work and goes home to his cheerful wife, Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) for Hamburger Helper and tater tots. Turns out it was she who hit Rye outside the Waffle Hut but Peggy makes no mention of it. They’re chatting at the dinner table when a ruckus emanates from their garage. Peggy then admits to Ed that she “hit a deer on the way home.” But we know it wasn’t a deer. It was Rye and the sense of dread that shrouds Fargo like a black cloud starts to form in our collective audience consciousness as Ed enters the garage expecting to see maybe a broken headlight, at worst. Instead he encounters a bloody, desperate, and cornered cokehead. So, wishing to continue his life on Earth, Ed does what he has to and kills Rye with a gardening tool. Peggy explains that she initially thought Rye was dead. Ed’s like, OK but that’s not a fucking deer, dude. Peggy claims she panicked to explain her lie about the deer but the scenes of her during that “allegedly panicked” time show a calm Peggy, eerily ensconced in her dinner prep habits. It’s hard to believe she’d felt much at all beyond numbness and shock. Peggy then convinces her terrified Ed to “clean it up and pretend it didn’t happen.” He nods in a daze and agrees.

In the final scene of this wondrous introduction to season two, we’re listening to a concise business discussion of the Gerhardt crime family as part of an overhead projector slideshow presentation for the Kansas City Northern Expansion Strategy. This is serious business, folks. Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) explains that “They” need to absorb the Gerhardt family syndicate because the Gerhardt’s control all the trucking business across the midwest. Somehow “They” already know about Otto’s demise, and are unafraid of Floyd “because she’s, ya know, a girl.” This is their opportunity to acquire or absorb the entire Gerhardt operation. Out of the smoky conference room haze a question comes up, “What do we do if they won’t fall in line?” a co-conspirator inquires. “We liquidate,” Joe replies. Approval for the whole operation is then granted.

All the glorious detail and charming absurdity from season one shine through with the beginning of Fargo season two. We’re home again. But even better is how the story sweeps us away with invigorating new trajectories even if it is the same world in many ways. The characters are cooler than ever and somehow setting it in 1979 makes it feel more modern than season one. A refreshing phenomena that could only happen in an incongruous place like Fargo.

–Katherine Recap