And now we have reached the end of season two of “Fargo.” It was full of gut punches to the emotions, raised more questions about links between season one and two, and we see that this time around the ending was not nearly as clean cut as last season. In fact, with the exception the Solversons and Hank, each story ends on a sour note (and knowing about Betsey, this moment of relief will not last forever). Even when the bad guy wins this season, he really loses. And there remains a lot of unanswered questions.
Last week’s episode was a popcorn episode — the one with all the action. This week was about the emotional roller coaster that was the fallout of the massacre in Sioux Falls. I think “Fargo” really shines with these personal interactions among the characters.
The episode starts with a montage of all the dead Gerhardts — the crime family has fallen. Not that they didn’t deserve it — they were a murderous crime syndicate after all — but it is shocking that through hubris, greed and betrayal that this once unified family fell apart at the seams so quickly. This scene leads into Molly and Betsey in bed (I’m so glad we didn’t have to see Betsey die this season). It turns out she wasn’t on the placebo, but the miracle drug (Xanadu) she is on is killing her faster than the disease is. Which was a punch to the feels right here because that shot at hope for Betsey is a lost cause now.
But Betsey had a dream (vision) of the future. She saw what was going to happen. She saw an older Lou and Molly (nice to see Keith Carradine, Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks return for this) as a happy family entity. But she also sees a darkness that looms over Lou and the family, which is that of Ohanzee (which was creepily a lot like Bob from “Twin Peaks”). This raised some speculation to me that an older Ohanzee might reappear in season three, but I’ll get to that below in a special subhead.
Ohanzee chases Ed and Peggy through the streets of Sioux Falls after the massacre at the motel, firing at anyone that gets in his way. He manages to hit Ed, though I didn’t know how much damage was caused until I saw the blood seeping through his jacket at the supermarket. Ed and Peggy rush to hide in a meat locker (fitting for Ed), lock it from within to hide from Ohanzee. Lou is chasing all of them down, and is able to hit Ohanzee in the face, but he still gets away (Lou must not be the greatest at head shots, both Bear and Ohanzee survived them).
It is in the meat locker that the story hit me in the feelings once again. Ed and Peggy this whole season have been on different pages, and as he is dying, Ed forces Peggy to confront this disconnect. Ed says “Peg, I don’t think we’re going to make it…even if we get out of this, you and I aren’t going to make it.” Ed is basically saying their relationship is over, they have wanted different things the whole time. He wanted his life in Luverne, he wanted to own the butcher shop and raise a family. Peggy had never wanted that. Ed has realized this relationship is no more.
My thinking was that hearing this forced Peggy to reject it as reality, and she goes into a fantasy that Ohanzee suddenly decided to smoke them out of the meat locker (I thought this was actually happening until we see that it was Lou and Ben trying to get in, and there was never any smoke). Peggy’s defense mechanism in knowing her life with Ed is over was to go into a (false) narrative that makes sense to her; that the Ronald Reagan movie she has been watching in the hotel room where the characters are being smoked out by a Nazi, and are saved by the hero (Reagan) at the last moment, is happening here to her and Ed. But life is not a movie, and the Gipper is not showing up to save the day.
And seeing her in her most vulnerable and insane was tough as Lou and Ben try to calm her down. She calls for Ed, she wants the happy ending. She thinks she deserves a happy ending after all of this. But it is not to be. Ed died keeping his promise to Lou that he would do anything to save his family, and he did. RIP Ed Blumquist, I actually liked his character a lot.
After this, with the scene of Lou driving Peggy back to Minnesota was also a hit to the emotions. Lou finally breaks down some, recounting the final days of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon. He saw the horrors of that war and the desperate desire to survive. It was a fantastic scene. He then stops at that same payphone at the border and finds out Betsey had collapsed, adding to the hell he has been going through.
All the while, Mike Milligan and the surviving Kitchen brother arrive at the Gerhardt compound in Fargo. Mike spares the maid (which since she really hasn’t done anything wrong, was a sigh of relief). Mike is taking this territory for Kansas City, like he had promised. Then that scumbag Ricky shows up to loot the house. Ricky has to be even more thickheaded than Dodd, because he mouths off to Mike and the Kitchen brother, even with a shotgun pointed at him. But as Mike says, he is the new king and he awards an act of kindness and an act of cruelty among his subjects. And Ricky gets the cruelty (the maid got the kindness) not only with the gut shot from the shotgun, but left to die in agony (that was pretty messed up, even for a character I really despised).
Mike is rewarded for his efforts in taking Fargo for Kansas City. He is rewarded with a desk job, health insurance and a 401K. Mike won by taking Fargo, but loses the life he enjoyed to become a corporate cog in a bureaucratically-run organized crime syndicate. The old ways are no more, and now he is stuck at a desk from 9-5 finding out ways the crime syndicate can save money. It is no longer the Old West, and he is told to wear more corporate attire and to cut his hair. The 1970s are over, and the 1980s are beginning.
At the end, Lou is home with his family. Hank is alive, but in rough shape (aren’t they all at this point). But being together is what is important. It was a nice scene to see after all this chaos.
And we find out what those weird symbols Hank had in his office were all about. He was making a new language, one that is more universal. Pictures, he says, are clearer than words.
Ohanzee’s story ends with someone (Kansas City? Another crime syndicate?) offering him a new identity. That identity is Moses Tripoli, and the head of the Fargo crime syndicate in season one is Mr. Tripoli. He had asked Peggy to cut his hair short and alluded to her that he was tired of that life. They add more hints here with the two kids on the baseball field, one is deaf and this seems to hint that these two might be Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench from season one. They get bullied and Ohanzee takes out a knife and rushes the field. So it is heavily alluded here that Ohanzee changes his identity to become the future crime boss of Fargo. Ohanzee also alludes that he might build his own empire.
Also, Mr. Tripoli’s quote from season one is “Not apprehend. Dead. Don’t care extramarital, don’t care not related, kill and be killed. Head in a bag. There’s the message.” Which Ohanzee says in this scene at the baseball field, “kill and be killed.” Ohanzee also put Bulo’s head in a bag as a message to Kansas City. So, my bet is Ohanzee is this guy.
- In Betsey’s dream, she sees “everything you want in one amazing place” which is a Target/Walmart style store.
- “People of Earth!” is how Milligan announces himself when he enters the Gerhardt compound.
- “It’s World War III out there, in case you didn’t notice,” Ben says to Lou.
- “You’re always trying to fix something, even when nothing is broken,” Ed tells Peggy.
- The image of Ohanzee in Betsey’s vision is the almost same as how Peggy sees him in her hallucination.
- “Who am I, the professor from ‘Gilligan’s Island?'” Ricky says to Milligan.
- When Ben breaks down, saying he has no idea how to write up this horror he saw, made him sympathetic. Lou consoling him was a nice touch.
- “I’m taking Peggy Blumquist back to Minnesota. If anyone has a problem with that, after the week I’ve had, can keep it to themselves.” Lou is so Minnesota Nice, even when he is frustrated.
- Peggy ranting in the backseat of the car about how she has always been a victim is countered by Lou saying “Peggy, people are dead.”
- Noreen from the butcher shop is taking care of Betsey and Molly, which was a nice touch.
- Milligan is told all the deals being made these days are on the golf course.
- Lou questions whether or not to write down in his report that the “gun fight was interrupted by a space craft.”
- I like how the UFO remains a mystery. It was weird, but didn’t seem too out of place during this season.
- The use of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” was awesome.
- Mike flips down Simone’s baby picture while at the compound, showing he did care for her a little.
- I’m sure glad Hank survived. And I liked how they kept referring to Molly being stubborn, and Lou asking her if she wants to go fishing again.
This was a fantastic second season of “Fargo.” I’ve really enjoyed doing these write-ups and I appreciate everyone who has taken the time read them (and corrected me at times, which I appreciated). It has really felt like a digital water cooler conversation with all of you. I plan on writing a blog on the whole season, what I think it did better than season one and what it didn’t, where I think it might go from here and whatever else pops into my head. That should come sometime later this week.
Thank you all for reading.
2 thoughts on “‘Fargo’ Season Two, Episode 10: Palindrome”
Joe, Thanks for recapping each episode. It really helps to reinforce what I saw the night before and pick up anything I may have missed. Did you catch that Ohanzee is most likely the son of the maid and old man Gerhardt? Ricky mentions it before being shot by the Kitchen brother (kitchenette).
Oh man, that flew right past me. That actually makes sense as to why he treated like a lesser-than in the family. Good catch!
Thank you for reading these, Tom. Writing my thoughts out helped me make sense of certain things I had seen on the screen. The third season is supposedly going to air in the spring of 2017, so I have a little time to decompress from this season. LOL.