As Fargo’s body count piles up (we hardly knew ye, hospital watchman), so do its parallels to the Coen brothers’ film (or, in the case of Stavros’s backstory, a shared chronology). Yes, there are those opening title disclaimers and assorted character doppelgangers. But that’s in addition to déjà vu bits of dialogue such as Molly’s chitchat with Mr. Wrench about the pointlessness of selfish deeds, which neatly (if less persuasively) echoed cinematic Fargo heroine Marge’s motherly pleadings with psychopath Gaear. And as “The Heap” leaps forward one year from Vern’s shooting (that on-screen transition played a bit fast and loose with the scripted timeline), Molly, much like Marge, is now with child. And while she may not have made Mr. Wrench see the error of his ways, or even kept him successfully behind bars, Deputy Solverson — several months expecting be damned — seems poised to get her man.
Or is it men? “The Heap” wrapped up, tantalizingly, with an eminent reunion between Lorne and Lester, potentially setting up a coup for Bemidji’s most relentless cop — that is, if she can find the time to skirt around Chief Bill and track down Lester, who’s living high on the hog since being absolved of any official guilt re: the deaths of Pearl and Vern. His sister-in-law, Kitty, incredulous that anyone would “cheat on Ms. Hubbard County,” offers up Chazz’s hunting equipment and, nearly, herself. Gina Hess, who’s onto her deceased husband’s flaccid life-insurance policy, storms into the agency, furious about having allowed Sam’s former punching bag to “come inside of me.” But her feminine wiles wilt just as fast when Lester takes a staple to Mickey’s and Moe’s faces and tells her what’s what. Foxy co-worker Linda likes what she sees, and their hooking up is fait accompli.
Fast-forward to 2007, where Lester is being feted for winning Salesman of the Year, sporting a slick new do, and sending Linda off to bed in order to pursue an attractive woman who catches his eye (and who, befitting his fantastic new life, instantly returns and amplifies his ogling). Lester is the king of the jungle, and has located and is determined to devour his prey. Only there’s Mr. Malvo, a powdery toupee atop his head, unmistakable for his toothy smile. He’s got a table of nitwits in stitches, no different than how Lester kept his colleagues rapt in two previous scenes. Lester, a walking erection for the better part of a year, goes instantly soft; his appetite’s gotten wanton and large in Lorne’s absence, and the glimpse of Malvo appears to have reminded him who eats first. If Molly doesn’t get to Lester (which may, at this point, be his rosiest outcome), he may — a la that pathetic bear Lorne recalled in his bedside debrief with Mr. Wrench — wind up chewing his own bones to survive.
Gus, meanwhile, has moved in with and impregnated Molly (go, Gus!) and given up highway patrol in lieu of relatively harmless government work: delivering mail. His daugher Greta’s on board, even calling Molly “mom.” The bad news in all this? Molly’s on her own in her continued interest in bringing Lester to justice and Lorne to his knees. Wrench is out, having already been recruited, presumably, by Malvo; Chief Bill’s preoccupied — albeit sweetly — with his wayward Sudanese foster something-or-other Tahir (Barkhad Abdirahman, whose oration was so much more compelling than Lorne’s Old Testament sermons); and Molly’s friends, like Ida, are hardly worth confiding in. As the scene of the Grimly family around the dinner table makes clear, these are folks who prefer to leave the past in its place, particularly when looking back is so painful.
The answer seems to be Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele’s Agents Pepper and Budge, whose names, thus far, are more memorable than their investigative work or quirky banter. The pair never really explains how it’s possible they sat obliviously by while Lorne blasted up 22 members of Fargo’s crime syndicate. They don’t even seem to understand it and their boss most definitely doesn’t care. He’s reassigned them to the file room indefinitely, where there’s little to keep them busy aside from a tennis ball some kindly predecessor left for the next inhabitants. But Pepper’s fuzzy, felt orb fortuitously knocks off a bulletin board, exposing Budge’s long-forgotten, blurry security-camera shot of Lorne. At virtually the same moment, Molly — who is being stonewalled by PD and FBI red tape (or, in the latter’s alleged case, the Patriot Act), albeit for her persistence, not incompetence — is getting her Carrie Mathison on with that poster board of suspects.
To paraphrase Molly’s pop, Lou, whose only function thus far has been lurking protectively around his daughter like some folksy ghost of serial-killings past, a smarter person would think she and her Fargo-based counterparts will each narrow in on Lester and Lorne. Of course, there’s also a mighty good chance that either Pepper or Budge, or both, will be killed or wounded in some eye-popping fashion; though the characters may be on hand primarily to provide comedic relief, we all saw what happened to Don, the series’ front-end cut-up.
Semantics about semantics notwithstanding, there’s reasons to anticipate the final pair of installments. Lester deserves what’s coming, Lorne will either escape with breathtaking style or go down in befitting infamy, Molly has at last emerged as a breakout protagonist (imagine if they’d killer her off?), and Fargo may even end on a high note with the arrival of baby Grimly. As for those who’ve lost their lives, at least it wasn’t in vain: That T-160 really was a lemon.
Apart from all that:
I love that Deputy Knudsen drinks Rob Roys.
So many shows get sized up against Twin Peaks, but there have been so many moments on Fargo where I’ve thought, Man, did Twin Peaks do that better.
Loved Kate Walsh’s scene. All the returning regulars made the most of their screen time tonight.
Molly is, in the fact, the funniest person on this show (although we have yet to meet Gus’s alter ego, Sergio).
I couldn’t comprehend that people used to think Seinfeld’s New York was more novel than actual. Now, via Fargo and Bemidji, I understand.
And indeed, Gus was watching a film whose plot had striking similarities to Molly’s predicament.
Lester’s greatest line of the series: “The worst does happen, and you need to be insured.”
And, of course, your music notes: Lester and the other Vegas loungers swigged cocktails to the sounds of Swedish electro-loungers Tennishero; former Supertramp and current Crowded House touring musician Mark G. Hart and his songwriting partner Stephen Emil Dudas, who contributed to the Blue Is the Warmest Color soundtrack, lent their swinging “A New York Love” to that Vegas magic-show scene; and the Grimly dinner was soundtracked by Flatlanders country nugget “Dallas.”