I’m fascinated by Lester Nygaard. He’s an absolutely terrible person but one who is able to convince himself that he’s not. He gets worse and worse as the series go on yet I am still 100% invested in his story, always wanting to know more about him, and always simultaneously disgusted and impressed by his actions. There’s no arguing that he’s despicable but what keeps me interested is how, during these last few weeks, he’s shown a surprising and frightening aptitude for criminal behavior.
Previously (or erstwhile), Lester snuck out of the hospital to plant “evidence” at Chaz’s house to frame him for the double-murder that Lester and Malvo are responsible for. Fargo wastes no time going down that road. The episode begins with Gordo at school and a gun falling out of his backpack, leading Deputy Bill and the rest of the police to investigate Chaz’s house. They find the gun cabinet, the shotgun, and the photo and underwear that Lester left there. As Kitty angrily swings at him, held back by an officer, Chaz’s expression goes from bewilderment to hesitant realization that this is Lester’s doing.
At the station, Lester gives the performance of his life. The ease in which he falls into this fictional tale, to a point where he seems to believe everything he’s selling to Bill, is downright chilling. He paints a vivid picture of the nonexistent affair between Pearl and Chaz, explaining that Chaz was the one who hit Pearl with the hammer (in a telling callback to the pilot, Lester flips the script and says Pearl told Chaz “You’re not half the man your brother is”). The reason Lester didn’t go immediately to the cops is because he’s scared of Chaz and his temper, worried that he would be next. But Lester bravely offers himself up, saying the cops could lock him up if necessary. What a strong soul, that Lester! By the time he’s done spinning this yarn (and that accompanying score!) and Bill is crying, I almost believe it myself — and then remember that Lester is nothing but a sociopath. God, this show.
After a long cold open, “Who Shaved The Barber” flashes back to the shocking shootout that anchored last week’s episode. This time we see everything go down from Molly’s snowy, blinded perspective. She spots Malvo but is distracted by someone behind her and fires her gun, blindly shooting Mr. Wrench. She turns back around and Malvo is gone. Then another shot, this time from Gus, and she’s struck and falls to the ground. But she’s not dead! Of course she’s not dead; Molly is too important to the story and the entire hero of the season. If she had died, I would have little to no desire to continue watching the remainder of the series. Fargo has set up plenty of twists from the beginning but the one thing that has always been put in place, seemingly set in stone, is that Molly will be the one that saves the day when this is all said and done.
In the hospital, Molly’s a good sport about the whole thing, never losing her wry sense of humor (she demands a spleen from Gus, who is a total nervous wreck about the whole thing). The bullet went clean through her and she’s already ready to get back to work. Molly’s obsessive and now it’s even more personal — it may not have been Malvo that directly caused her harm, but it wouldn’t have happened without him — and so she’s become even more determined. She continues to investigate from the hospital since Mr. Wrench is in a hospital room above her. (Also, Mr. Wrench’s expression when he learns that his partner, Mr. Numbers, has died? I have to admit it hurt a bit, even knowing that the two of them murders. Again: this show!)
Molly draws diagrams on hospital windows, connecting the dots between everything and everyone much better than Deputy Bill has. She goes back to the station and learns how much she missed in the short time she was in the hospital — suddenly, the case is all but solved and it was Chaz. Molly doesn’t believe it, of course, but she’s disorientated as all hell knowing that Lester is out there and that he could be out there forever, never paying for his crime.
“Who Shaves The Barber?” also introduced Fargo‘s two newest characters (and my most anticipated duo): FBI agents Budge and Pepper, perfectly named and perfectly played by Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, respectively. Prior to Fargo‘s premiere, I was a little apprehensive of their involvement in the series (yet still excited) because I wasn’t sure what the tone of the show would be. After watching a few episodes, I couldn’t wait for their arrival and it didn’t disappoint. They fit perfectly with the darkly comic nature, not quite bumbling FBI agents but certainly not good ones, either. As they sit in their car, arguing about unhealthy fast food, Malvo walks directly past them with a gun and into a building for a shooting spree.
The camera remains outside the building the entire time but tracks Malvo’s murderous path, following him walking down the hall and into separate rooms (yet we never see the actual violence, just hear horrifying screams and gunshots) and even up the elevator. A gun blast takes out the window and we get a quick peek inside before a man falls out the window and finally Budge and Pepper realize what’s happening.
And that’s not the only truly disturbing thing happening in this episode. There is also Lester conning his way into having sex with Gina Hess. He takes her from behind and stays focused on the picture of Sam Hess that hangs on the wall, thinking about the time Hess punched him, literally getting off on fucking his dead bully’s wife. With three episodes left in this season, I can’t even think about what else is going to happen — and how much lower Lester is going to sink.