Fargo, Chapter 2 Episode 4: “Fear and Trembling”

I’ve had a lot of trouble getting into Fargo this year, partly because SBS has chosen to air it at 8:30 on a Wednesday, aka one of the most competitive timeslots in the Australian schedule. So I’m watching it all on their catchup service, which isn’t bad, but it’s a matter of remembering to do so before the episode is pulled. Luckily I got to “Fear and Loathing” before that happened, and it’s the first episode in the second season that’s made me want to watch more. The beauty of Fargo is that it’s a slow burn, and watching it on a week-to-week basis as opposed to the binge watch I did last year when I was house sitting means that I react to it differently. That being said, the second season of Fargo has some really interesting character dynamics that are great to watch. So far the highlight has been Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst as Ed and Peggy Blumquist.

Ed and Peggy’s marriage reminds me a bit of Walt and Skyler’s at the beginning of Breaking Bad: it’s gone stale, but then they work together after an incident. It’s not a perfect analogy, it’s also a bit like Lester’s first marriage in season one of Fargo, and it’s interesting. The attitudes towards family in the midwest in the late 1970s are important, and while Peggy has a job and earns her own money, Ed still expects her to defer to him. Ed is also a Lester type character in that he could be more assertive with people other than his wife. Plemons and Dunst do amazing work, as Ed is like a hybrid of Landry and Todd, and I’ve never seen Kirsten Dunst play a role like this. She’s capable of being more than just the superhero’s love interest, and Peggy is by far the most fascinating character this season. Her boss is a hippy who wants her to go to a self-actualisation course, which probably wouldn’t be a bad thing, because I want her to stand up for herself. Given that this course is in Sioux Falls, which is the incident to which Lou referred in season one, this may be where it all goes down.

Speaking of Lou Solverson, I love that solving crimes appears to be the Solverson family business, which makes sense given that their name is Solverson (I love a good play on words, but this is perhaps a little too on the nose). I’m comparing season two Lou to season one Molly because that’s what we had first, but much like she had figured it out by midway through the first season, Lou has figured out that the Blumquist car ran over Rye Gerhardt (my greatest wish is for all the Gerhardt children to be named after different grains). Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst are great actors, and they perfectly convey people who haven’t realised that they’re already dead, to use Lou’s term. Sadly, the Gerhardts have now also figured it out, as Hanzee goes and threatens the mechanic to find the owner, before finding Rye’s belt buckle in the fireplace. Between the Blumquists and the Kansas City mafia, the Gerhardts have a lot to deal with.

Floyd made a counter-proposal to the Kansas City mafia, but it was rejected because her eldest son is an idiot. I’ve never liked Dodd (as far as you can like mobsters), who just never seemed that smart. You don’t just get to run a crime syndicate, it shouldn’t be run dynastically, which is exactly what Kansas City proved when they said that Floyd is too close to the people who work for her. You have to earn it, it’s just like any other organisation. Floyd pays the price for being too soft on her sons (by mafia standards, at least), and Bulo rejects their counter-offer and gives them 24 hours to agree to his original offer at a reduced price. While all of this is happening, the Kitchens and Mike kill Otto’s protection detail outside the hospital, so it’s a mafia war.

The Solversons aren’t doing too well either, because it seems that the chemotherapy hasn’t had much of an effect on Betsy. She’s been admitted into a new drug trial, but as the Solversons are informed, she may be in the placebo group, which doesn’t seem entirely encouraging, even though I know that’s how drug trials work. We know that Betsy doesn’t make it, which is disappointing, but I’d really like it if she made it to the end of the season. It would be more open-ended, rather than tying everything up in a neat little bow. This is an anthology series, so you can do things like taht. The most poignant image of the night was of Betsy going out and talking to Lou as he sat out the front with his shotgun. It’s something he’s been doing for a while, and will do again when everything between Lester Nygaard and Lorne Malvo heats up.

Other thoughts:

  • I wasn’t planning on writing about this since I’m behind on the show, but it was a really great episode. As such, I’ve closed the rarely used comments section to avoid spoilers.
  • I’m looking forward to meeting the younger version of Gus’ commanding officer, to whom Lou refers as “a bit of a prick”