Review: Fargo (S2 E3/10), Monday 2nd November, Channel 4



The second episode of Fargo settled down considerably last week and I felt we really got a handle on the new characters as well as being thrust back into Fargo’s finely balanced milieu with some delicious, trademark moments – farce, the macabre… it was all there. Let’s see how episode three panned out.

Everybody’s searching for Rye Gerhardt, the little weasel who perpetrated the Waffle House murders. His older brother, psychopath Dodd, wants to find him because he believes he can gain the support from his brother that would tip the balance in an attempted coup de tat against his mother; the Kansas City mob want to find him because they want to use him as a bargaining tool in their attempt to subsume the Gerhardt family’s business; and now Hank Larsson and Lou Solversen are on his tail because the murder weapon they found (or at least Betsy found) was registered to Rye Gerhardt.

Make no mistake, this was Lou Solversen’s episode. He travelled to Fargo, the home of the murdered judge, to see what he could find. There he met a timid local cop who told him that it was not a good idea to mess with the Gerhardts. So Solversen went right out to their farm and confronted pretty much the whole family – Floyd was stern, Bear was eating (as per usual), and Dodd was his usual belligerent self. It was a stand-off, with Lou fearless in way that this family had not seen before.

His second moment was when he snooped around Fargo on his own. Outside the courtroom he came across the feckless Skip Spring, the typewriter salesman who Rye Gerhardt was in cahoots with. As usual he exhibited strange behaviour, which made Lou suspicious, so much so that when he spied Skip’s shop on a drive around town he decided to look around. There he found the Kansas City mob inside, also snooping around. You must be Mike Milligan and the Kitchen brothers, Lou asked. You make us sound like a prog rock band, retorted Milligan. Once again there was a stand-off, Milligan telling Lou that he had come across another Minnesota police officer a few days ago. He liked him, too, he said. He told Lou that he liked the way the pair were so politely unfriendly. There tension was in the air again, but again the scenes petered out into non-violence.

There was a real sense that Solversen was engaging in a deadly dance with both the Kansas City mob and the Gerhardts as these two evil entities moved into position to do battle, which felt like a similar scene set-up to the first series, where Molly was on one side, Malvo and the henchmen on the other and Nygaard somewhere caught in the middle.

But this second series – so far – feels less like a morality tale and more like a more conventional thriller, even though there are otherworldly flashes and sub-narratives (like the UFOs). In series one Lester Nygaard’s tale took more of a centre stage, while Molly Solversen’s investigation of the case was almost a secondary strand. This time around it feels like it’s the other way around, with the Blomquists and their digestion of what they’ve done to Rye Gerhardt taking a backseat to Lou Solversen and his dealings with the Gerhardts and the Kansas City mob. This isn’t a criticism because once again I really enjoyed this episode.

Just a side note. This episode is called The Myth Of Sisyphus, which in Greek mythology tells the tale of a king punished for his “self-aggrandising craftiness and deceitfulness by being compelled to roll an immense boulder up a hill, only to watch it roll back down; repeating this action for eternity.”

The boulder part surely refers to Lou Solverson – with a sick wife and a murder case to solve it must seem to him like the whole world is against him. But the ‘self-aggrandising craftiness’? That can only mean Skip, who continually tried to talk his way out of sticky situations he found himself in.

He certainly won’t be pushing up anymore boulders – he was buried alive by Dodd Gerhardt at the end of the episode, his crafty ways catching up with him once and for all.

Paul Hirons

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