Published on December 1st, 2015 | by Michael0
Fargo Season Two – ‘Did You Do This? No, You Did It!’
Did you do this? No, you did it’ might be the bloodiest episode of Fargo yet. Before the titles have finished rolling, we’ve seen a double funeral (for Rye and Otto Gerhardt, victim of the Mike Milligan attack last week), witnessed a triple murder in an office block perpetrated by ersatz window cleaners and two other men have been suffocated, one by garrotting, one dunked in a toilet. In response to the violence, an older police captain says his father was deputised by Elliot Ness himself at the height of Prohibition but never thought he’d see all this bloodshed himself. Hank gets nostalgic for a time when you could leave your door unlocked. It is all very reminiscent of Bob Odenkirk’s sheriff in the first season which begs the question – did this golden age of no violence every really exist or is it all just wistful nostalgia?
Simone doubles down on her decision to betray her family by storming into Mike’s room demanding answers as to why he went after Otto and Floyd instead of her Pa, Dodd. She really is under the impression that she has some sort of mystical protection, as if Mike won’t kill her because she’s a woman, or he’s in love with her. Mike and the Kitchen brother are about to disabuse her of this notion when Lou and Schmidt bust in to save her. Lou is his usual impressive self but Simone gets the drop on Schmidt, giving him a much deserved kick to the bollocks. Her getaway doesn’t get far though as she’s met in the hotel carpark by bear and the muscle the Gerhardts hired out of Buffalo.
This week’s main Coen reference is a little on the nose and much more central to the plot than usual. Bear, the dark horse of the Gerhardt family (if you excuse me mixing my animals up) has worked out that Simone has betrayed the family and takes her out to the woods ostensibly to kill her. It’s such an obvious nod to Miller’s Crossing that it’s a surprise Simone doesn’t utter the words ‘look into your heart’. Bear tells her ‘it’s already done’ but we don’t see or hear him shoot. Simone is probably dead but the episode plays with the idea that she’s still out there. And while Bear might have been fooled by Simone’s promise to skip town and keep out of trouble, there’s no reason to believe a word she says.
Talking of not believing the word of a Gerhardt, Hank and the Police Captain think the best way to end the Kansas City/Gerhardt war is to declare for one team or the other and get some information from Floyd Gerhardt on how to put a spanner in the Kansas works. ‘Sounds like we just picked a side’ comments Lou. At that point, Hank tells Lou that Hanzee has shot two troopers in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Schmidt thinks it’s South Dakota business and should be left alone. ‘You’re a shit cop’ is Lou’s accurate response to that. ‘We’ll see if we can save the day’ he tells Hank and the two ride off. Now we know from the first season of Fargo that there was an incident known as the ‘Sioux Falls massacre’ and for that matter that Lou will get a bullet in the leg somewhere down the line. However we also know that the Coen brothers are famous for their build-ups that don’t pay off (cf No Country For Old Men) and maybe Noah Hawley is using a similar gambit here.
Lou may be right about Schmidt but perhaps he’s wrong to trust Hank so much. First off, Hank made a serious error in judgement in not checking in on Peggy last week (which he acknowledges here). Or was it something more sinister than that? Then, when Peggy goes to feed his cat, she finds his study covered in scribbles in a foreign alphabet. Perhaps Hank has had direct contact with the aliens that have been teased throughout the series?
There’s another great tease in the Mike Milligan storyline. He has a tense conversation with his boss in Kansas (Adam Arkin, who played practically the same role in the excellent Justified) and is informed that if results don’t improve, the man with the ominous nickname ‘The Undertaker’ will be sent to clean things up. Well The Undertaker is indeed dispatched to Mike, and then immediately dispatched by Mike with a concealed derringer, his two flunkies knifed to death by Mike and the Kitchen brother. After the big build, it’s a bit of a shock to see The Undertaker killed quite so quickly but it shows how desperate Mike has become and how dangerous and competent he is, even if he has lost the trust of the Kansas mob.
He’ll certainly be very dangerous as far as Dodd Gerhardt is concerned. Dodd it turns out is still a prisoner of the Blumquists, with Peggy again having apparently persuaded Ed to go along with her insane plan. This week it involves Ed phoning Mike to tell him he has Dodd. However the Gerhardts had already had a phone call from Hanzee telling them he knew where Dodd was. Pity the Blumquists if Hanzee is on their trail.
In other Coen reference news, Mike begins his parable to Lou ad Schmidt with the phrase ‘sometimes there’s a man’ echoing the opening narration of The Big Lebowski. That film and its soundtrack is referenced pretty heavily in fact, with a disco version of ‘Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In)’ played twice in the episode, once as Simone goes to visit Mike and a second time over the end credits. Or at least I assume it is played over the end credits – it’s hard to tell when Channel 4 make the baffling decision to talk over the credits once again, especially when it is to shill shit like Homeland. Stop butchering out programmes, Channel 4!