‘Fargo’ Recap: A Real “High Noon” Day


None of the four families in this season of Fargo are doing so hot right now. With expectations of future violence, the Gerhardts are calling in their banners, taking stock of their impending muscle ahead of the impending war with the Kansas City syndicate. Kansas City—along with everyone not named Blumquist—has yet to find Rye Gerhardt, and has so far failed to complete their intended transaction in the business-like manner that they would prefer. The Solversons hope against hope for Betsy’s recovery, and Peggy Blumquist seems intent on ensuring her demise.

Much of the action this week is spurred by Lou Solverson’s trip to Fargo, North Dakota, to find out what he can about the judge that Rye Gerhardt murdered. This brings him into contact with Ben Schmidt (a.k.a. Gus Grimly’s “kind of a prick” lieutenant from Season 1), who appears to involuntarily soil himself when Solverson informs him that the print on the murder weapon belongs to a Gerhardt: “When you put a dead judge, the Gerhardt family and some hitters from Kansas City in a bag together, I’d go back to thinking it might be best to confess to the crime myself. Go live a long life in a cell somewhere, with hot and cold running water.” We see this terror firsthand when the pair call on the Gerhardt compound and Schmidt quickly turns over his gun to the Gerhardt muscle; the compound feels like sovereign territory, which confuses the hell out of the straight-arrow Solverson. Floyd doesn’t feel the slightest bit bashful about admitting to bribery of the local judiciary in front of two cops, and it’s clear who the authority is in these parts. Solverson remains armed, with his hand on the butt of his revolver, surrounded by thugs with weapons, and doesn’t flinch when human pit bull Dodd arrives and gets directly in his face. Ballsy as hell, for sure. But wise? That remains to be seen.

Solverson’s doggedness brings him to another lede, following the “squirrelly” typewriter salesman’s invitation to his shop, where he finds the prog-rock band Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers. This standoff ramps up the tension from the earlier one with Hank Larsson with an old-fashioned Mexican standoff, though you wouldn’t know it from Mike Milligan’s demeanor, which never seems to change from curious amusement. But it’s in this scene that the unspoken specter of the show, that awkward, involuntary “Minnesota Nice” social construction is finally addressed. It paints every interaction with the locals in Luverne (and Bemidji before it); a sort of forced politeness that’s punctuated by the hokey accent, don’t ya know. Recalling his traffic stop with Hank Larsson, Milligan explains, “It’s the way you’re unfriendly, you’re so polite about it.” Solverson escapes his second showdown unscathed, but this time, it seems that he, too, understands that further violence is not just possible, but perhaps inevitable.

Back in Luverne, Larsson is posting wanted posters for Rye Gerhardt, the newly identified gunman of the Waffle Hut slayings, which understandably terrifies Peggy Blumquist—but not as much as Betsy Solverson’s brilliant deduction that the fancy shoe left at the crime scene points to a hit-and-run. In yet another instance of a Solverson woman’s detective skills being thwarted by a man, Larsson dismisses the theory, with what might be the most laughable line in the series to date: “It’s not like you’re gonna drive home with a Gerhardt in your windshield and cook dinner.” LOL.

There’s yet another UFO reference, with a stranger in a Jimmy Carter gas line schooling Lou on the vagaries of extraterrestrial visitation. But like the rest of the episode, it doesn’t reveal much, feeling more like a set up than anything else. There’s so many moving parts in this season that these episodes serve as primers for the real action; at this point, the characters are well-defined, and their motives identified, to the point that it’s about damn time for some action. The gravelly fate of the typewriter salesman hints at what’s in store.