Following Fargo: S2 E4 Fear and Trembling

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Nick Offerman (right) makes a welcome return in Fargo.

James Mason, Staff writer/editor/critic

Warning: this review contains spoilers from this episode, as well as from previous ones.

 

For those who didn’t see it:

 

For the most part, the Gerhardts start to negotiate a compromise with the Kansas City syndicate.

Lou and Betsy are told that her cancer isn’t getting better, and she’ll either get an experimental new drug or a placebo (why a doctor would tell his patient they might get a placebo is beyond me, but that was kind of the joke).

Ed and Peggy’s situation is starting to get unraveled by Ohanzee and Lou, both still trying to figure out what happened to Rye.

 

For those who did see it:

 

Each episode in Fargo has been doing two incredible things. The first is expected of a TV show: keep the pace going and have the tension build. “Fear and Trembling” did that marvelously. But amidst all the plots going on, it does another amazing thing. It still takes time to step away from the plot to humanize and flesh out all of their characters — which is why this week was easily my favorite episode of the second season so far. Not only do we get our first action sequence with the opening shootout in a 1950’s movie theater, but the scene also helps humanize Dodd for the first time.

Freaking Dodd. For the first time I actually started to feel bad for him, along with the rest of the Gerhardts. With the negotiation scene between the Gerhardts and the Kansas City syndicate, we can see Dodd in a different light. His dad had a stroke and is incapacitated, his brother is missing, his family business is about to be taken over by another gang, which means a war is about to go down. No wonder he seems so whiney. He’s not power hungry. He just wants things to go back to normal. Two or three episodes ago, seeing him rest his head on his mother’s shoulder and start to cry would’ve felt satisfying because of how much of a jerk her was. Now it just felt sad.

Elsewhere in Fargo isn’t going well either. Betsy is getting worse and is taking a new medication, which may or may not be a placebo. Lou tries to remain optimistic (“I’m sure you got the real pill”), but you can see the sadness starting to build up behind his eyes.

His personal life aside, he’s also starting to get a grasp as to what went down.  He gets called down to the auto repair shop with Peggy and Ed’s car, where Ohanzee was caught going through it. And since I’m a sucker for Nick Offerman, I couldn’t tell you how overjoyed I was to see him come back to the show and scar off Ohanzee.

Now that Lou is starting to get the big picture, he visits Peggy and Ed to try to warn them about what they’ve gotten into. His monologue about his friend in Vietnam and how they may already be dead was absolutely chilling. It didn’t help that no one realized that Ohanzee was just in their house, and if Lou didn’t show up they probably would’ve been killed.

The body count has started to rise, and by the end of the episode, there is no question that there is a lot more to come. Lou also seems aware of this, ending the episode sitting on a bench outside his house with a gun and rope (a brilliant callback to the finale of the first season where he did the same thing). It was a quiet note to end on, like the calm before the storm. A storm we can expect to come soon.

 

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