Following Fargo S2 E5 The Gift of the Magi


Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan 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:


The Gerhardts follow through with their plan for war, attacking the Kansas City syndicate in a major bloodbath. Dodd and Hanzee are given permission from Floyd to kill the butcher who killed her son (Ed).

Peggy starts to believe what Lou was telling them in the last episode and tries to convince Ed to run away to California.

Lou is temporarily taken away from the Waffle House murders to help escort a man through Minnesota.


For those who did see it:


We finally got Bruce Campbell’s Ronald Reagan! Of all the things going on in the show, by far the thing I was looking forward to the most was this. The sheer thought of Bruce Campbell as Reagan made me giddy. And it was worth it. Even if his performance wasn’t any good, I still would’ve been happy to see him, but it helps the Campbell actually does a pretty good Reagan. Nailing the smooth voice and speech skills, you can see how this man could become president. The setting is also a bit ironic, considering Minnesota didn’t vote for Reagan in both elections (they were the only state not to vote for him in 1988).

Along with Reagan, Nick Offerman also gets some more screen time, and also gets the episode’s biggest laughs when attending Reagan’s speech (“I’m not shaking that man’s hand. He did a movie with a monkey. It would be a disgrace”. Then, of course, he immediately shakes his hand when he walks by.)

I’d even be tempted to say Campbell’s Reagan speech was the best part of the episode, if it wasn’t for the huge massacre of the Kansas City syndicate, smoothly intercut with the Reagan speech.

Dodd and Hanzee really followed up on their threat to wipe out the Kansas City syndicate. While out hunting, the Gerhardt’s attacked and pretty much killed all of them (side note: but why attack them while their hunting ie: when they’re the most armed and prepared? I mean, it worked, but that was incredibly risky). Notably, Joe Bulo and one of the Kitchen brothers are now dead, along with a crapload of secondary characters on both the Gerhardts and Kansas City side.

Very similar to what they did in the 6th episode of the first season, in a single scene they seem to wipe out a huge part of the cast. And in only the 5th episode. We’re only halfway to the end and only Mike Milligan and one Kitchen brother remain on the Kansas City side. But if this season has shown us anything, Milligan is still a huge threat, so the Gerhardts aren’t out of the woods yet.

And neither are Ed and Peggy, who’s situation seems to be getting worse and worse. Peggy seems to be aware that there’s no way out now, so their best chance is to run to California. But Ed wants to stay in the hopes that he still has a chance of buying the butcher shop. This is where the title of the episode ties in.

The Gift of the Magi was a short story by O. Henry about an old couple who are trying to buy a gift for each other for Christmas. The wife cuts her long hair to buy a chain for her husband’s cherished gold watch, and the husband sells his gold watch to buy combs for his wife’s lovely hair. You can see the irony here.

In Fargo, Peggy is about to run away to California (without Ed) in her now fixed car. Yet oddly, in one of the few moments I actually started to like her, she had a change of heart and sells the car so they can stay and buy the butcher shop.

Unfortunately, as she does this, Ed gets attacked at the butcher shop by Virgil (one of Dodd’s henchmen) and Charlie (his nephew). The attack fails, with Charlie getting wounded and Ed killing Virgil. However, in the midsts of the fight, a fire is started and burns down the shop. Poor Ed. His dream now can never be reached.

So he runs home, now deciding Peggy was right and they should go to California. But by now it’s way too late to do that, something that clearly begins to sink into him when he gets home. To make matters worse, police swarm and surround their house, ending the episode. Their luck has finally run out, concluding the best episode of Fargo to date.