Following Fargo: S2 E3 The Myth of the Sisyphus

Patrick Wilson (center) as he faces of with the Gerhardt family.

Patrick Wilson (center) as he faces of with the Gerhardt family.

James Mason, Movie Critic

Warning: this review contains spoilers from previous episodes, as well as from this one.

 

For those who didn’t see it:

 

The hunt for Rye Gerhardt continues. His fingerprints were found on the gun, prompting a manhunt by the police for him. At the same time, the Gerhardts and Milligan both are conducting their own investigations for him, with the Gerhardts preparing for an all out war. Peggy is becoming paranoid with the manhunt going on, so she and Ed start to devise a plan to cover their tracks (some more).

 

For those who did see it:

 

The tension is quickly building in Fargo, and this week it almost came boiling over. Lou and another officer visit the Gerhardts’ farm, which is easily the tensest scene in the season so far. That is, until they go to Skip’s Typewriter Store, where he runs into Mike Milligan and the Kitchen brothers (“You make us sound like a prog-rock band” was a great way for Mike to put it). While the first standoff is all words, the Typewriter Store scene quickly becomes a standoff with gun. It happens less than 10 minutes after the farm scene, and it already tops it.

Fortunately no blood is drawn, which really helps emphasize how good Fargo is. They don’t need to kill people off in order to keep you on edge. It’s slow-build tension is more than enough. Even though one can argue that Lou has to survive (he was in the first season, which took place 30 years later), it’s still scary to see a gun pointed at him.

Speaking of Lou, Patrick Wilson really killed it in this episode. I’ve liked him before he was on the show (particularly in Little Children), and so far he is doing a pretty good job. There hasn’t been much for him to do up until now, so it would’ve been hard to screw it up. But this is the first time he is really given an opportunity to shine, and he knocks it out of the park. In both standoffs he remains calm and professional, making sure both don’t end in bloodshed. He even manages to slip in a bit of a “your mom” joke to Mike Milligan. It’s no wonder his daughter Molly turns into a great cop.

Ed and Peggy’s situation gets a jolt when Hank comes into her hair dresser to put up Wanted posters for Rye Gerhardt. Betsy, who is at the hair dresser, speculates to Hank about her theory as to what might have happened. “You found broken glass and skid marks at the scene, and he left his own car there,” she points out. “Maybe he was a victim of a hit-and-run?” Her theory is spot on (once again, no wonder Molly’s a great cop), which is why the scene quickly becomes tense.

But Peggy quickly covers it up by asking why anyone would keep driving if they hit him, a question I’ve been asking about Peggy. Hank agrees, and gets the biggest laugh of the episode by responding, “Yeah, it’s not like someone would hit him and just keep going home to make dinner.” Still, Peggy convinces Ed they need to do something about the hole in their car windshield soon before they get caught. So they crash it into a tree, which by the way it takes them two tries to do it, showing off the show’s absurd sense of humor.

The ending is also one of the darkest in the show’s history. The Gerhardts, along with preparing for war with the other crime syndicate, manage to capture Skip (the owner of the Typewriter Store, and the one who sent Rye to the Waffle House). When they find out he doesn’t know where Rye is, they force him into a pit and bury him alive in hot asphalt. Even for a show like this, it is a dark act and really punctuated the end of the episode. The Gerhardts will clearly do anything to find Rye and remain in power, and Lou and Milligan have shown they won’t back down to any threat. So who’s to say who will come out on top when this all inevitably comes to an end?

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