Review: Fargo (S2 E6/10), Monday 23rd November, Channel 4

bal-fargo-season-2-episode-6-photos-rhinoceros-20151117Last week’s half-way stage of Fargo felt like an escalation. The Gerhardts, after declaring war on the Kansas City mob and taking out Joe Bulo, went after Ed Blumquist. The butcher shop scene was thrilling, but it was also quite possible only the start of things. The Gerhardts were angry, the Kansas City mob was angry… the only thing standing between them was the Solverson family and the hapless Ed and Peggy Blumquist.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought –
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

Those are the first four verses of Lewis Carroll’s fantastical poem, Jabberwocky. It was recited by the Kansas City mob hitman, Mike Milligan, as he strode down the corridors of his hotel grabbing guns and men on his way as he purposefully strode forth to meet with the Gerhardt’s and put them away for good.

It was a suitably literary moment for a momentous episode, where every last piece of tension was wrung out. We had Milligan, the remaining Kitchen brother and their KC crew heading for the Gerhardt’s – thanks to a tip-off from Simone (who had answered Milligan’s question of what he should say to her bastard of a father on her behalf when he killed him: “Kiss my grits” – and we had the Gerhardts make haste for the Blumquist’s to take out Ed.

In the middle of this potentially almighty powwow, there were complications and hurdles. Hank (who we haven’t seen too much of during the past few episodes) was over at Peggy’s, trying to understand what all her Lifespring stuff was about (“You’re a little tapped,” he told her, after she seemed to worry more about her self-improvement than her husband, who was sitting in Luverne’s jailhouse) and trying to extract the full story of what happened to Rye Gerhardt. He succeeded and asked the question we’ve all been wanting an answer to ever since she accidentally ran down the young man: why didn’t you just go to the police? This is what the whole story hinged upon. If Peggy Blumquist had gone to the cops and told them exactly what had happened – an accident, pure and simple – she would not have plunged her and her husband into the quagmire of shit they currently reside in, the cops would have made and arrested Rye Gerhardt for the Waffle House murders and it would have been an open-and-shut case. No gang war, no carnage, no nothing.

She replied that it had been like making decisions in a dream. She also said that this was the house that Ed grew up in and she felt as though she was living with ghosts and needed to escape.

I get it Peggy. When you knocked down Rye Gerhardt there was a chink light at the end of the tunnel for you. A spark of excitement that could mean you could escape the humdrum existence you never wanted, if only you took this event as a sign. All the magazines you collect on beauty and fashion make you jealous of a life you never had. Now, if you manipulated the situation in the right way there was an escape route. Except it didn’t turn out like that. Well, so far anyway.

That’s why it’s hard to love Peggy. I’m all for self-improvement and the concept that a women’s life extends much farther than cooking on a stove at home, but her natural ambition has morphed into an acute, narcissistic selfishness.

Peggy and Hank’s conversation was cut short by the Gerhardts, who had come calling. Hank, once again, was plunged into a potentially fatal confrontation – the aging gunslinger against a gang of outlaws on the porch. Once again he survived, thanks to Hanzee knocking him unconscious from behind instead of being killed by a barrage of Gerhardt bullets. Another tense situation ensued, when Dodd and his men searched the basement, where Peggy was hiding. Incredibly, Peggy took out one of the men and then Dodd, poking him with his trademark tasery type thing until he was unconscious.

There was drama at the jailhouse, too, where Lou was trying to extract the whole sorry story from Ed Blumquist, who had been brought in after the incident at the butcher shop. He was refusing to talk, but the place was soon in lockdown when Bear and the rest of Gerhardts turned up mob-handed. It was another thrilling scene, threatening to escalate. But a hero was on-hand to save the day – town drunk and lawyer Karl Weathers who, up until that point, had been nothing more than a comic character. His verbosity in the local bar, always eager to assert his conspiracy theories and cod intellectualising, marked him out as a shallow, cowardly type. But here, after soiling himself, he confronted Bear outside the police station, convincing him through pure argument and reasoning to turn around and go home.

Out the back window and trudging through the woods were Lou and Ed. They were picked up by Hank who had returned from the Blumquist residence (without checking on Peggy and Dodd?). Ed saw this as an opportunity to run (more of a stagger) down the moonlit road. With bigger fish to fry Lou and a concussed Hank made their way back to the station and left Ed to it. He wouldn’t be going anywhere further than home.

Hanzee, who had tracked them through the woods, followed Ed.

With Mike Milligan and his crew’s bullets raining down on the Gerhardt residence (Floyd and Simone ducking for cover), Dodd over at Peggy’s and Hanzee after Ed, the characters have been scattered after this initial skirmish. Lord only knows what’s going to happen next week.

Paul Hirons

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