‘Fargo’ Season 1 Episode 5 Recap: “The Six Ungraspables”

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Last week’s episode, “Eating The Blame” was the most interesting episode of Fargo so far as it seamlessly weaved the series in with the film. It was a game-changer that wasn’t exactly a game-changer; it appears that quick cold open is about as deep as this connection will get (and I’m OK with this). This week’s episode is interesting in a different way. It often feels like a retelling of the events so far but it somehow works and remains engaging. It’s more visually stimulating than the rest of the season has been, it brings Molly closer to the end game, and it’s just straight-up good. At the risk of sounding simplistic, this is what keeps sticking out for me when I watch Fargo: It’s such a good show. Easy as that.

“The Six Ungraspables” (which has the cheeriest opening yet: a wheat field replaces the snow in the background of the “This is a true story” disclaimer, letting us know it’s a different time) begins with a flashback as Lester haggles over a package of irregular socks and the sales clerk throws in a 12-gauge. It’s the only way a quavery man like Lester would end up with such a gun. He’s not going to go out and buy one but he’s a curious guy who will use the opportunity to buy a gun if it arises. Then there’s another flashback to the night Lester killed his wife Pearl and debated trying to pin it on Lorne Malvo (I always find this a bit off when I think about it because, even to protect himself, there is no way Lester could have pulled that one off).

We get another view of the murder — this time, we see when Malvo picked up the gun — with some fun visual effects, like the slow-motion bit of the bullet entering the sheriff and the buckshot that entered Lester’s hand, causing the wound that’s been festering from the beginning, festering just as much as his guilt. There was some speculation that the wound was psychosomatic but this episode throws that idea out of the window.

But we back jump to present time with Lester in a jail cell along with Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench who are calmly trying to pry out information from him while Lester nervously wriggles around, reminding Lester of the “him” he mentioned before. “I’m just guessing that Hess was not head-stabbed by a girl,” Lester says. C’mon Lester, it’s 2014. A woman can murder just as well as a man can. Eventually Mr. Numbers gets the information he needs out of Lester who sells out Lorne Malvo’s name, but the issue of Malvo’s name is another thing entirely. Still, spilling the beans can’t be good for Lester but Lester has more immediate problems to deal with.

Molly’s been making serious headway in her own investigation into the murders. Last week, she found out that Lester placed a call to the motel around the time Pearl was murdered and found out it was to Lorne Malvo. Now she knows that Hess broke Lester’s nose shortly before he was murdered. When she tells Deputy Bill this, he actually listens for once and the two go to question him.

They’re a little too late to talk to Lester, though, who has gone into septic shock in the jail cell. There are these quick, eerie flashes to what he’s done — quick cuts of his house, of the time he met up with Malvo — that are showcasing his guilt and how it’s eating him up, how when his mind blanks out with pain, all that’s left for him to obsess over are his crimes. The wound isn’t an imagined manifestation of his guilt but it’s still representative of that guilt, punishing him in small doses, but not enough.

There is forward momentum in the blackmail plot, too (a plot that has never fully captured my attention but has remained interesting enough (with the plagues) to keep me on board with the whole thing). Malvo has scared Stavros enough for him to agree to pay up — “We’re only as good as the promises we keep,” Malvo tells him. Clueless Don is excited and for a second I’m worried about his life as Malvo has Don obliviously collects a bunch of tools that I was sure Malvo would kill him with — a drill to the head, maybe? I wouldn’t put it past him — but instead Malvo hilariously locks Don in the closet and drills it shut.

It’s funny, yes, but the relief at the end made me realize just how much of a violent force Malvo is. There has been these types of characters on television before, these violent, chaotic types that murder everyone around them, but there’s something even darker about Malvo. “You have black eyes. You’re trouble,” a stranger astutely points out. It’s jarring because he’s so calm, so quiet, and often quite funny yet I constantly worry about everyone who comes into contact with him. I knew there was no way Gus would bite the dust so early in the series but I still expected him to in that outdoor meeting. Now, with the walkie talkie and the way he’s staking out the apartment, my worries are placed solely on Greta.

Anyway, as Malvo is scaring everyone in town, Molly is still dead set on finding out the truth, trying to pry it out of Lester in the ambulance. He repeatedly says that he didn’t pay Malvo to kill anyone — which, technically, is true — but Molly doesn’t get much more out of that. She does sneak into the still-bloody house and opens up the back of the washing machine where Lester stashed the weapon. Again, it’s a retelling of what the viewers already know but it’s a step forward for the characters.

“The Six Ungraspables” has two great conversational scenes. First, Gus and his neighbor talk about the futility of trying to do good with a parable about a rich guy who sacrifices everything, eventually his own life, to help the world. But it doesn’t really make a dent, does it? You can give up your organs and there will still be other people who need organs, and there is still evil lurking everywhere. “You gotta try, don’t you?” Gus asks, but he doesn’t seem so sure. He’s all Greta has and while continuing to go after Malvo is the right thing (and surely what he will do), it’s still putting Greta in harm’s way, both as a target or as someone who will lose her father. Then there’s the sweet conversation with Molly and Ida in the hospital after she has a baby, a quiet but determined conversation that reveals that Molly’s never going to rest until this is all solved.

But how long will this take to be solved? Lester hasn’t confessed, not yet, and Molly has never come across Malvo. The episode ends with Molly peeking in on Lester, terrified in his hospital bed, and childishly shutting his eyes as if believing that if he can’t see her, then she can’t see him. He truly is a coward.