Season One, Episode Six
As I’m still catching up with episodes of Fargo, I’m doing my best to space them out as much as I can. I’ve never been the type to binge-watch television shows, and for the good ones I never want to. I need to be able to digest every episode and take the time to think about what’s exactly being said and done. With “Buridan’s Ass” I wish I watched this live because I definitely need a whole week to recover from such a great episode.
Up until this point, Malvo has been a great character that you didn’t mind rooting for even though you understand he’s bad. He’s a murderer and he’s darn good at it and rarely walks away from a sticky situation. He continues the blackmail scheme with Chumph and gets Stavros ready to deliver the $1 million. This is the episode when he turns from bad to evil. In a very calculated plan, Malvo stages a shooting from a house where he has taped Chumph up right by the door holding a shotgun. At first I was confused along with Chumph as to what exactly Malvo was staging, but slowly as it all became clear I simply shook my head in disbelief.
In addition to that, I tip my hat to Fargo for being able to turn a goofy character that I knew was going to die and really didn’t care about, to feeling terrible for the way Chumph went out. Those final moments when the police were breaking down the front door and seeing Chumph breaking the tape over his mouth were excruciating. The inevitable did happen and Chumph was shot dozens of times. It was a cruel trick that Malvo played on everyone and at the end of the scene I hung my head. Up until now, I didn’t mind Malvo’s vicious games but now I only want him to be caught.
Which brings us to our heroes, Gus and Molly. The two finally get together despite a nasty blizzard coming into town to share notes and ideas about Malvo. After Malvo is in the clear from the shootout that results in Chumph’s death, Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench track him down and engage in their own shootout in the middle of the blizzard. In case you’ve never experienced a snowstorm like this, the snow is so thick that you can’t see ten feet in front of you. After Malvo disposes of Mr. Numbers (through trickery yet again!), Molly and Gus appear at the scene. Molly trudges on after Malvo and Gus is steps behind after confirming Mr. Numbers is dead. With his gun out, Gus is shaking with fear (along with it being freezing cold) but his adrenaline is running high at the opportunity to finally snag Malvo at the scene of a crime. The moment he’s able to make out a body, he shoots. As the viewer, you just know this is going to end horribly, but that didn’t stop me from crossing my fingers that it was Malvo. Unfortunately, the worst occured and it was Molly who Gus shot.
I know! I swear if Molly is dead I’m going to find Malvo myself! But that’s not all! Lester is able to sneak out of his guarded hospital room to frame his brother for the deaths of his wife and the police chief. Now Lester has been a pretty likeable character (like Malvo) up to this point. It’s easy to sympathize with him because he’s always being taken advantage of and no one ever gives him any credit. He’s passing through life without a fighting bone in his body. Well phase one was snapping at his wife, which resulted in her death. Yeah, he over-did it, but it was good to see him break out of his mold. And now he concocted a very thought-out plan by placing the hammer, gun, and photos of his wife in his brother’s gun cabinet. But that’s not it. He also places an empty handgun in his nephew’s book-bag. Right?! Evil!
The perfect moment in this scene is after Lester places everything in his brother’s gun cabinet. He sees a photo of the smiling family hanging on the wall and for those few seconds, we believe he’s had a change of heart and isn’t able to go through with such a conniving plan. But no, the brilliance of Fargo flips that upside down. He stares at the photo because he realizes an additional angle he can frame the family that involves the child. It’s despicable, but I can’t imagine a scenario that his plan doesn’t work out. Oh Lester, you have changed and it’s not for the good.
What I loved about this episode so much is that as the viewer, I felt like I knew what was going on up until this point. I thought I knew that Molly and Gus were the heroes and they wouldn’t be touched; Lester was a pushover who made a mistake but is still a good guy; Malvo has morals and only focuses on people who deserve to get hurt and so on. But the opposite happens. We now have two legitimate villains in Malvo and Lester. Molly’s future is unknown and I don’t know if I have much faith in Gus to get things done by himself. And what was that about with the raining fish?! What a cruel turn of events for Stavros, who stashes away the money where he found it in the snow-pile. He thinks he’s doing what the Lord wants from him, and he’s rewarded by a freak event that ends up killing his son and bodyguard. In the world of Fargo, nothing is going the way it should… and that’s what makes this show so damn good.