Fargo: Loplop

Posted on December 01, 2015

Fargo-Season-2-Episode-8-TV-Review-Tom-Lorenzo-Site

Can we just take a moment here and once again say “EMMYS FOR EVERYBODY!” Because we have to be true to what we’re feeling after the insane adrenaline rush of this episode. It’s impossible to sit passively through an episode like this one. Or at least, it was impossible for us. We clapped and bounced in our seats, laughed and edged closer to the edge of the couch, peered through our fingers, shouted “NO!” in horror, and even felt faint (the knife the shoe omigod tell me when I can watch again) – all in the space of 90 minutes. It was as good as any television-viewing experience could possibly get.

Alas, there will be no costume-based recapping this week. Because this episode took a step backwards in time to show us what was going on with the Blumquists after they skipped out of town, there aren’t any new costumes to discuss. This seems fitting somehow because with this episode, the show took a much lighter approach with the multi-layered aspects of the series; the themes and motifs and asides that are there for the geeks like us to obsess over and to enrich the overall storytelling. In fact, much of this episode – and we’d argue the more entertaining parts – was as deep as a puddle and almost naively simple in its approach. How else could we have laughed our way through such scenes as Peggy self-actualizing right there on her basement steps, in the middle of a total psychotic break? Or Peggy stabbing Dodd in a fit of pique? Not once, but twice? Or Peggy doing anything, really. If Kirsten Dunst doesn’t walk away from this role with an armful of awards, justice has died.

Sure, it makes no real sense for either of the Blumquists to still be alive considering how many dangerous psychopaths want them dead, and maybe we should take a more critical approach to the show’s flights of fancy as pertaining to the Butcher (and Hairdresser) of Luverne, but watching mega-misogynist racist Dodd Gerhardt get humiliated, emasculated and tortured by a woman and then shot through the head by a Native-American man felt way too much like Christmas morning for us to think about it too much. And we also have to give major kudos to Jeffrey Donovan, who managed to hit that sweet spot right between menace and high comedy, making him the perfect foil for Dunst’s “Positive Peggy” break from reality. We almost hate to say this because we feel like we’re jinxing them somehow, but this episode marked the first time in the story we fervently hoped both of the Blumquists would get out of this mess alive. Up till now (and to be honest, once the high from this episode fades, we’ll probably go back to thinking this way) we’ve assumed that one or both of them was going to wind up dead before this is over. Now it’s looking more and more like they’re just going to keep leaving a trail of bodies behind them until everyone who wants to do them harm is in the ground. As we said, we’d like to think so, anyway. For a little while longer.

But if this episode was just a Coen-Bros.-esque crime farce, we might not be as high on it as we are. It’s what they did with the flip side of the story that made this such a well-rounded bit of entertainment. Hanzee went from silent stalker to righteously angry but still somewhat horrifying spree killer to savior of the Blumquists to exhausted pawn who just wants out of this life of endless violence and racism. As he relentlessly progressed toward the Butcher and his wife, leaving a trail of dead racists and cops in his wake, he was Death personified and everything pointed to a bloody and violent end for Dodd’s kidnappers. And yet, as he encountered cultural humiliations and casual racism on his trek, something clearly snapped in him; something happened inside him that gave him permission to stop caring what the outcome was going to be. That sounds liberating from the outside, but Hanzee is a man whose whole life has been stocked to the rafters with violence, racism, and retribution. His moment of freedom may have been a net good for the Blumquists, but there’s no denying the horror of watching him coldly gun people down just for picking the wrong moment to fuck with him.

But this episode is nothing if not perfectly, exquisitely balanced, so the scenes of high comedy and the scenes of horror and violence all intersect in one sublime moment when Hanzee, seemingly on a whim, asks Peggy to cut his hair for him. Yes, he may have been thinking of the fact that there was a manhunt after him, but the way he muttered that he was “tired of this life” with such weariness spoke of a man who wanted to believe, at least for that moment, that a haircut from a nice lady hairstylist (of whose entire life he is intimately aware, like a close friend might be) could erase everything about his life he no longer wanted. As if a haircut could make him into a different man entirely. In all the frantic action of this episode, it was a much needed reminder that everyone in this story is paying all sorts of unseen prices for their involvement in it. And it somehow brought us as the audience directly into the story. Like Hanzee and Peggy, we want to just stay in this moment where we can believe that things will work out.

 

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