With whip smart twists and turns, this was the best episode of Fargo yet. I know I said that before, but that was before. How the fuck is this thing gonna wrap up?
With wife dead and bro in jail, Lester gives zero fucks. He’s a new man. He couldn’t care less about his sister-in-law’s legal and emotional woes, for which he is responsible, but when she turns her attention towards him and says he deserves all good things, something clicks. Buoyed by freedom, Lester buys a new washing machine, tosses out everything his dead wife owned, reveling in the satisfaction of seeing her closet bare, the closet where he wept 5 episodes back.
Molly is desperately trying to convince Bill, using a ‘True Detective’ mapping system, that he’s got the case the wrong way around. But stakes are high on both sides. Having celebrated the arrest of “the brother Nygaard”, everyone, including Ida, clings to false closure. Bill shuts Molly down, drives her to tears, and tells her to have a piece of cake. #YesAllWomen
Cut to the Widow Hess torpedoing her way into Lester’s office, flanked by her bullying offspring like a three-headed tornado. It feels cartoonish, but it shows Lester in complete control, knowing just how to respond to her accusations that he lied about the insurance money. He’s the best part of the scene but the widow scorned delivers one of the greatest lines ever: “I was picking your pubes out of my teeth 12 hours ago!”
Casting Key and Peele as Officers Budge and Pepper is a great comedic choice. I labeled them in my last recap as two black cops because, in this true tale, aside from Lester’s cute Asian co-worker (who we are about to see more of), we haven’t seen any minorities in Bemidji or Fargo. A cursory Google search finds African Americans made up 2.7% of Fargo, North Dakota’s population in 2010, 4 years after ‘Fargo’ takes place. Budge and Pepper are demoted to the file room, try as they might to defend themselves for letting Malvo get away with killing 22 people in the syndicate building while they sat in the stakeout car arguing over the health hazards of Taco Bell. But they’ve got a new surveillance photo of Malvo to look at with furrowed brows, so they’re gonna come in handy.
Lorne Malvo descends upon Wrench, who’s handcuffed to his hospital bed. Malvo starts talking about wild animals like he likes to do, and after some verbal abuse, he offers Wrench a job before tossing him the key to the cuffs and walking out.
Meanwhile, Gus Grimly is on patrol, sitting in a cop car, and makes a fateful call to Molly. It’s the awkwardly funny conversation that finally brings them together. Then, an unforeseen flash-forward! It’s one year later and Gus is the mailman he said he always wanted to be. After a long day’s work, he drives home to his daughter Greta and wife, a very pregnant Molly Solverson. Knocked up in a police uniform (like Frances McDormand in the movie) she’s still got the ‘True Detective’-style murder map, which tells us the case hasn’t been solved. She climbs into bed preoccupied. When she says to Gus, “We’re doing good. We’ve got everything we need,” it’s clear she doesn’t actually believe it. Lester’s not the only one who’s been irrevocably changed by this case.
Lester’s in Vegas accepting the 2007 Salesman of The Year award. Naturally. He wears a fine tailored suit and captivates friends and colleagues, holding court at the head of the table. We don’t hear the stories he’s telling, but it’s clear he’s as charming as fuck. He has a new wife. She’s the Asian woman from the office who fell for him when he stood up to the Hess lot the year before. Eager to head to the hotel bar to secretly pick up girls, Lester manipulates his wife into going up to bed without him. He orders a “Blood in the Sand” and while he’s making eyes with a woman across the room, he suddenly does a double take. There’s Malvo. He’s grey-haired, sitting with his back facing the bar, entertaining his table the way Lester entertained his. Lester’s perpetually smug face turns to dread and uncertainty. The camera closes in behind Malvo, laughing with his guests. We don’t hear his stories either. We wait to see if he turns around and locks eyes with his old friend. Is this the beginning of the end of Lester? Or is it Malvo? The mark of a good episode is when the credits roll, you say to the screen, “What the fuck happens next?!”