Well, holy crap that was a bonkers episode of “Fargo.”
Let’s get into this beast of an episode. “The Castle” used a unique style of narrative, which actually had a narrator discuss what had happened in Luverne, Fargo and Sioux Falls from a book called “True Crime of the Mid West” (and was voiced by none other than Martin Freeman, who played Lester Nygaard in season one). This was a nice way of pushing the story along, and also seemed to add more mystery to the characters. This is because the narrator is presumably reading from a more modern day than 1979, and alludes to things that we probably will never know more of (most notable here being who the hell is Ohanzee Dent).
We have Ohanzee (and yes, the narrator pronounced the “O” in his name) setting up a massacre in Sioux Falls by leading the surviving Gerhardt family members to South Dakota, claiming Dodd is alive. As the narrator states, it remains a mystery as to why Ohanzee decided to turn his back on the family that has raised him since he was 8 years old. But through flashbacks, we see many factors that could have lead him to that decision. All we know is Ohanzee is at war with pretty much everyone at this point.
Lou is facing his own problems when he and Hank run into issues with the Sioux Falls and South Dakota police, who want to use Ed and Peggy as bait to catch not only the Fargo crime family, but also Kansas City (Ed has told them he had arranged for a meeting with Mike Milligan). Lou is exasperated as he is trying to talk some sense to these guys; Lou is in full military mode and knows the danger everyone is in. He doesn’t want to bait Fargo or Kansas City with Ed and Peggy; he has seen the damage both have done and knows it is a fool’s errand — a very deadly one at that.
The hubris shown by the South Dakota police is jaw dropping for both Lou and us the viewers. And Ben Schmidt keeps proving how much of “a real shit cop” he is throughout this episode. It’s no wonder Lou doesn’t have a kind word about Ben in season one.
Lou takes a look at the gas station as he is using its payphone, trying to call home (I’ll get to that in a second) and notices something is off. As he enters, he sees the store owner is dead, and the bathroom is covered with items that Ohanzee used to clean his wound (that scissors attack from Peggy during last week’s episode). As he tries to tell the next officer at the scene what has happened, the cop informs Lou that he is there to escort him back to the state line, as per request by his superiors. The frustration was so intense here, I found myself yelling at the TV.
Now the scene with Betsey. As soon as they did the split screen of her downstairs while Molly is upstairs, I knew what was happening. She fainted, but we know how this ends. Sometimes the problem with prequels is that we know a lot of the things that have happened. From season one, we knew Betsey was no longer alive at that time. That didn’t make it any less painful hearing the glass break as Molly heads downstairs to find her mother. That was a real punch to the gut of my emotions right there.
At the state line, Lou gets a message that Constance Heck was found murdered in her Sioux Falls hotel room (strangled). He decides to head back to Sioux Falls, as things are completely out of control at this point, and real danger is looming for everyone involved. It is when he is leaving that hotel that Lou sees the caravan of vehicles from Fargo heading toward the motel where the South Dakota police are preparing a sting.
And that sting just keeps sounding more and more like a horrible idea as it goes along. We have Captain Jeb Cheney (the reference to Dick Cheney and Jeb Bush was not lost on me) telling his crew about all the commendations they will get for taking down these two crime syndicates. Not only is he painfully unaware of the real danger both present, he is so pigheaded that he refuses to acknowledge that his plan is very, very bad. He has everyone dress undercover, and puts them all on “radio silent.” As soon as I saw that, I knew he had set up himself and everyone under him to be slaughtered. Hank, meanwhile, senses the danger everyone is in, and even tries to talk Ed and Peggy out of it (another gem of a scene from Ben, who keeps proving just how bad at his job he really is).
And we see the Fargo crime family (what’s left of it) at the motel, with Ohanzee telling Bear and the rest who is in each room (Dodd, Ed and Peggy and Kansas City). He had it scoped out earlier when the police arrived there. Bear wants to kill Dodd, and this is his opportunity to do so (in his mind, he doesn’t know Dodd is already dead). Bear makes sure Floyd stays back from the imminent violence with Ohanzee.
Then the massacre. Cops — in their underwear playing poker and discussing weird places they have urinated — are taken out. Cheney is shot by Bear. Bear calls for Dodd, but then realizes what has happened and shouts “They’re cops!” When Floyd sees what is going down, Ohanzee stabs her to death (which sucked because I really liked her character). It was an elaborate setup from the start.
Lou arrives and actually shoots Bear, grazing his head. Bear charges toward Lou, getting clipped again, but his anger and his adrenaline is keeping him alive as he attacks Lou, damn near strangling him to death. And then things get weird.
As Bear and Lou are grappling, a UFO descends and hovers above them. This is no hallucination, Lou sees it, Bear sees it, Ohanzee sees it, and Ed and Peggy see it as they are fleeing for their lives (again, nice police work there Ben). And strangely, this did not take me out of my belief in the story, to which I credit the amazing writers for.
It seems right, somehow, that the UFO the show had been alluding to since the first episode arrives at just this moment, and adds more gravity to what Lou said in season one: “Had a case once, back in ’79. I’d tell you the details but it’d sound like I made them up … I saw something that year I ain’t ever seen.”
Well, Lou gets a hold of his gun, and shoots Bear in the head, killing him. Right after that, the UFO disappears. And he hears Hank (who was shot in the gut) asking for help. Ohanzee is now hunting down Ed and Peggy (the narrator gives us no reason why Ohanzee is now obsessed with those two, other than perhaps they saw him at a vulnerable moment), who escaped this madness yet again.
Milligan and the surviving Kitchen brother arrive at the motel at the end, and see the carnage. Talk about good timing for those two.
With one more episode to go, I wonder how this will ultimately end. Ohanzee hunting down Ed and Peggy, Lou on the trail (and finding out about Betsey) and Mike Milligan with no bargaining chip for Kansas City, it will be interesting.
- Ben Schmidt yelling “It’s Rapid City all over again!” was a nice callback to season one when Gus tells him he let the Bemidji murder suspect go. “It’s Sioux Falls all over again!” he yelled at Gus. But season three will take place in a more modern time, so this was probably a nice little joke.
- “It’s a flying saucer Ed, we got to go,” Peggy says, not at all surprised to see a UFO floating above her.
- “When is this madness going to end?” Dispatch asks Lou. “I surely don’t know.”
- The bumper sticker at the gas station says “We are not alone.” A UFO was used in the Coen Brothers’ film, “The Man Who Wasn’t There” that starred Billy Bob Thornton, who was in season one of “Fargo.”
- I like the mystery of Ohanzee. No one knows who he really is, where he came from or what tribe he belongs to. All we find out about him was that Otto Gerhardt took him in off the streets when he was 8.
- Peggy keeps spouting her weird, new age gibberish. She is “actualized,” “realized” and she and Ed are on a “journey.” But I think she knows more than she is letting on.
- “She makes us look like the ‘Gang That Can’t Shoot Straight,'” Hank tells the South Dakota cops about Peggy stabbing Ohanzee.
- Man, those South Dakota cops were painfully obnoxious in this episode. When Hank talks to Cheney about the war, Cheney shuts him down with a comment about the generals lead the war. Hank’s response was a story of how someone he knew once told Eisenhower to go to hell for his plans of sending troops into slaughter. “I send that man a card every Christmas because I can,” Hank says.
- I got to say, I love how they have been using music this season. Really throws the viewer back to that time.