Published on November 24th, 2015 | by Michael


Fargo Season Two – Rhinoceros

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Building on last week’s efforts, ‘Rhinoceros’ once again adds some superb action set pieces into the crime/family drama mix, with the standout being at the Police Station. It all begins when Lou drags in Ed Blumquist for the shoot-out cum fire at the butchers last week, which sets off a whole chain of events, each culminating in a showdown of some type.

Firstly, the Gerhardt men all set off into town, leaving just Floyd, Otto, Simone and one or two others back at the ranch. Treacherous Simone, probably the weakest character thus far, puts a call into Mike to tell him that Dodd, Bear, Hanzee and the others are off into Luverne if he fancies going after them. Poor, stupid Simone. It doesn’t occur to her that with the Gerhardt homestead unprotected, that is where Mike will concentrate his efforts rather than going after the heavily armed, younger Gerhardts out in Luverne. There’s a lovely scene in which Mike, preparing for war, recites The Jabberwocky while toting an automatic rifle. He and his men shoot up the Gerhardt home but unfortunately we’ll have to wait until next week to see if Floyd, Simone and Otto survived the assault.

A word on Hanzee. As big an asset as he obviously is, why do the other Gerhardts tolerate him when he is so clearly Dodd’s man to the detriment of the rest of the clan? At the beginning of this episode, Bear beats Dodd for sending his son to kill the butcher, but Hanzee pulls a shotgun on Bear, forcing him to take a defenceless beating at Dodd’s hands, at least until Floyd shows up and ends this nonsense. Furthermore, why is Hanzee Dodd’s man? From what we’ve heard he was taken in by Otto a la Tom Hagen in The Godfather so his particular loyalty to Dodd is as yet unexplained. Hopefully we’ll learn the reason at some point.

Hanzee Rhinoceros

Anyway, Hanzee shows off his particular set of skills again in ‘Rhinoceros’, when Dodd and his men show up at the Blumquist residence. Hank has to hold them off by himself, telling a disbelieving Dodd that Ed has been taken down to the police station, but gets coldcocked by his trouble after Hanzee makes his way through the back of the house. Dodd then sends most of his men to the police station, staying himself to ‘tidy up here’. He hasn’t counted on Peggy, and his own incompetence, as Peggy takes out one goon, Dodd shoots another by mistake and them is hoisted on his own cattle prod when Peggy takes him down. What stretches credulity in this scene is that when he regains consciousness, Hank apparently tears right back to the Police Station rather than checking on the woman he knew was inside the house.

This gap in logic is more than made up for by the terrific scenes at the station. First of all, a confused Ed tells Lou he’ll tell him what he needs to know if his lawyer advises him to. Wouldn’t you know, the only lawyer in town is Nick Offerman’s Karl Weathers (is that name a deliberate homage? It seems out of place if it is so perhaps it is a coincidence), already inebriated after a night’s drinking down at the VFW with Sonny the mechanic. Karl is in his best loquacious form as he monologues his way into the station, calling his old friend Lou ‘tool of the state’ and laying out some very confusing instructions for Ed to follow, lest the police be listening to their conversation.

Fargo Rhinoceros

Then, the Gerhardts role up in force, demanding that Charlie be released and Ed be turned over to them. ‘This doesn’t work to well in westerns’ Lou advises the mob, lampshading the obvious references to Rio Bravo and Assault on Precinct 13. It an bit of quick thinking, though in an obvious conflict of interest, Lou appoints Karl as Charlie’s lawyer, believing his friend can sell a deal the Bear in which no-one gets hurt. There’s a superb scene between a drunk, terrified but clearly smart Karl and Bear, a man fired up but willing to listen to reason. Karl argues that Charlie killed no-one and is a minor and will probably spend no more than 5 years in jail. If he’s broken out now, he’ll be on the run for the rest of his life. Meanwhile, as he’s no fool himself, Lou sneaks Ed out the back, though that preternaturally gifted tracker Hanzee has sniffed this ploy out. While Bear stands his men down, Hanzee tracks Ed and Lou through the woods, but is unable to catch up with them before Hank arrives on the scene. As the two lawmen jaw, Ed takes off on foot, presumably back to his wife. ‘We know where he’s going’ say Lou, instead of chasing him down. But as he and Hank leave the scene, we see Hanzee ominously appearing through the trees.

No UFO Easter eggs that I spotted this week, but the Coen reference in ‘Rhinoceros’ was once again a song over the end credits borrowed from O Brother Where Art Thou, this time a reworking of ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’. On the technical side, ‘Rhinoceros’ was a real showcase for all the split screen work that has been a hallmark of season two, particularly in the stand-off at the station. One notable example is Karl and Lou sitting on a bench, when another shot from outside bisects the pair, making a sort of triptych affect. It’s all very clever and serves to make the season visually distinct from the first.

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