Television

Published on November 3rd, 2015 | by Michael

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Fargo Season Two Episode Three – The Myth of Sisyphus

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‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ referrers to the unfortunate Greek soul who, after a lifetime of greed and treachery, was condemned to role a boulder up and hill only to watch it fall back down again for all eternity. As is usual on Fargo, Noah Hawley is reticent to draw direct parallels between the episode’s title and its meaning but we can draw our own conclusions. During the course of this episode, at least four factions are on the hunt for Rye Gerhardt – Lou and hank, Mike Milligan, The Gerhardt family and Dodd’s rogue faction.  The viewers all know that Rye isn’t going to be found, and if he is he won’t be identified, so the ongoing search is the very definition of a Sisyphean task.

Poor Rye Gerhardt, he’s only found relevance in death. It is his murders, and the ensuing hunt, that serve to draw the various characters together, from Kansas City, to Law Enforcement and the bumbling Blomquists. Like the first series, the film and indeed a lot of the Coen Brothers’ works, the plot is powered by two things: one or more characters being really, really dumb and most everyone else’s inability to recognise that stupidity. Take Ed Blomquist. I’m sure he’d tell you himself he’s not the sharpest knife in the butcher’s draw but he works to his limitations. The problem is that I suspect that his wife Peggy is not half as smart as she thinks she is, but Ed thinks every idea she has is a winner (this week sees him get the whiplash after staging a car crash). The tragedy of the Blomquists is not that they killed someone (that guy was a prick) but rather that their motivations for covering up the crime are so different. Ed pictures himself as a solid family man – pretty wife, three kids and the proud owner of a butcher’s. He wants to crime to disappear so that he get back to the life plan he has mapped out (note: not the life he has now. He’s no kids and he just works at the butcher’s). Peggy on the other hand dreams of grander things, such as self-actualisation seminars and the sunnier climes of California. Does she secretly hope that everything will blow up in her face so they she has to abscond and start a fresh life somewhere else? Or, as her boss said last week, is she just a bad girl addicted to danger?

Sisyphus Peggy Ed

To be fair to Peggy, while he actions in episode one were on the daft side, she and Ed have done a good job of dealing with the situation thus far, under her guidance. No wrong turn goes unpunished in the Coenverse so they’ll probably slip up eventually but they don’t seem to have made huge missteps so far. She also knows how to pull Ed’s strings, although her choice of language could be better tailored:

‘You been a real paladin’

‘…what’s that?’

‘It’s like a knight. My knight’.

03-Lou-and-Dodd

One couple that have a lot more going on upstairs are the Solversons. Lou is smart, capable and brave. His scene where he stares down almost the entire Gerhardt clan, plus lackies and minus the spineless cop he rode with, made me wish that Patrick Wilson, not Dominic Cooper, was about to star as Jesse Custer in the upcoming Preacher. Yep, I’m sure Lou is a big reason that little Molly would go on to be such a great cop. But it’s Betsy who is the real sleuth in the household. Fresh from finding the murder weapon last week, she expounds a theory to her Dad Hank in the salon that’s nigh exactly what happened outside the Waffle Hot. Peggy though is on hand to pour water over those coals, and Hank bizarrely goes with her judgement over his super bright daughter’s. I notice that Cristin Milloti is only listed as a guest star which perhaps doesn’t bode well for Betsy’s battle with leukaemia. I hope her words of wisdom find a more receptive ear before she shuffles off this mortal coil.

Coen/Hawley criminals are typically dumb but you have to have at least one smart one in order to keep the story flowing. There’s no Malvo this time around, and unstoppable, malevolent terminator of a man, but one senses that Mike Milligan would be a hard man to get the drop on, too. His own search for Rye has taken him to Skip’s electronics shop, where he runs into Lou. He spots that Lou is from Minnesota and is out of his jurisdiction but humours him anyway. He also goes closer to unpicking the enigma that is ‘Minnesota-Nice’ than anyone else with this telling exchange:

Lou – ‘We’re a really friendly people’

Mike – ‘No, that’s not it. Pretty unfriendly actually. But it’s the way you’re unfriendly – how you’re so polite about it, like you’re doing me a favour’.

No one has described the locals quite so accurately as the kid from Kansas City has managed.

Sisyphus Mike

Skip, a man of limited intelligence and means, could only stay safe from everyone chasing him for so long. In the end, his undoing is that he joins the hunt for Rye himself, only to run into Dodd’s daughter Simone and Hanzee, who take him straight to Dodd. After seeing for himself that Dodd knows next to nothing, he has the poor sap buried in gravel, because the episode has to have something to end on. Poor Skip. The links to the crime that set everything in motion are getting more tenuous. Rye (now dead) leaned on a judge (now dead) on behalf of Skip (now dead). The reason behind the crime is now irrelevant, all that matters is the investigation it sparked. Before he went though Skip did at least drop this week’s first UFO reference: when describing his new typewriters, he says ‘they’re spaceships, really’. A more direct mention comes from a strange chap Lou runs into, who talks about visitors from the sky, whom some think want to probe foll but he thinks are benevolent. ‘They come in threes’ apparently. Visitors in threes, who could be benevolent or just violent? Why it could almost be Mike Milligan & The Kitchen Brothers (‘you make us sound like a prog rock band’). And because you’re desperate to know, this episode’s Coen reference of the week was the salon scene, which I’m taking as a tribute to The Man Who Wasn’t There. 

Michael

Michael comes from the middle ground between light and shadow, between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. He will write on comics, TV and film, plus anything else that might occur to him.

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