‘Fargo’ Season 2 Episode 6 Recap: “Living in a Museum of the Past”


Slow-burn character development is one of television’s strongest weapons. And in this second season of Fargo, Noah Hawley is wielding it with expertise.

Early on in “Rhinoceros,” the season’s sixth episode, Lou Solverson is hauling Ed Blumquist off to jail, as his father-in-law Hank Laarson settles in to question his wife Peggy. Peggy, played with disturbing nuance by Kirsten Dunst, is quite possibly the least likable character on the show to this point; she lies, steals, and deceives throughout, and the first time we meet her, she runs over a man in the street, drives home though “the back roads” with his body on the hood, parks in the garage, and starts making dinner. We know she’s a junior-level hoarder, with magazines threatening to swallow her house like it has her basement. And we know she’s been fixated on a self-help seminar in Sioux Falls, even if it’s not clear whether she knows her boss at the hair salon is trying to seduce her on the weekend trip.

But it’s during her informal interrogation by Laarson in her kitchen that her motivations begin to emerge. The magazines she’s hoarding? Beauty (for work) and travel (not for work) magazines. The house they live in is Ed’s house. He grew up there, with his parents. She feels them repeating the lives of his parents, tethered to their small town, dreaming of escape. “You ask me why I buy all these magazines?” she asks Laarson. “I’m living in a museum of the past.” To Peggy, Sioux Falls probably sounds like Hawaii. In that moment, she becomes human.

Up in Fargo, the Gerhardt boys are scrapping amongst themselves, and need Mama Floyd to give them orders: Bring back Bear’s son Charlie, and kill the butcher. When they show up at the Blumquist residence in Luverne and Laarson greets them on the porch, he finds himself staring down a handful of cars filled with armed men, but never once loses his cool, even finding a way to call Dodd stupid without getting shot. With lots of low angles, slow tracking shots, Dodd’s cattle prod, and his henchmen’s menacing looks, the scene’s tension is thick. It’s a relief when Hanzee knocks him out from behind, even if Peggy is still somewhere inside.

Where she is, is the basement, but it feels more like the manifestation of her subconscious. Down there, amongst the endless piles of beauty and travel magazines, she’s at home. After sending Bear and the majority of their caravan to the police station to get the butcher and break Charlie out, Dodd and two of his thugs head down to search for her. But like Carl Rudolph Stargher in The Cell, they’ve entered the home turf of her mind, where she’s at her most powerful, most assured. Hiding amongst the paper like a ninja, she takes out one henchman with a sink. Dodd takes out the other with an accidental twitch pistol shot, dropping his cattle prod in the process and sealing his own fate. As he investigates his henchman’s demise via kitchen sink, Peggy takes him out with his own cattle prod.

At the station house, Bear and the bulk of the Gerhardt muscle lay siege to the building that houses both Charlie and Ed Blumquist, “The Butcher.” Karl Weathers, who, as the only lawyer in town, has been called in to defend Ed, is recruited by Lou Solverson to defend Charlie as well, in an attempt to talk down Bear as Solverson makes an escape with Blumquist. Nick Offerman turns in a masterful performance as Weathers, who is hammered when he gets the call, but manages to sober up enough to reveal his true character: a brilliant, terrified, and brave soul.

With most of the Gerhardt muscle in Luverne on business, Floyd and Simone are left mostly to themselves at the compound. When Simone calls Mike Milligan to betray her family’s secrets, it’s with the hope that he’ll also kill Dodd, her father. But Milligan’s modus operandi is seemingly one of careful consideration before striking at the most vulnerable targets. He used Simone’s info to attack her dad after a doctor’s visit, and after Simone tells him about the mission to Luverne, he strikes at the heart of the Gerhardt compound, left nearly defenseless.


-We still have no idea what happened to Peggy after she stuck Dodd with his own cattle prod. Had she absconded by the time Laarson regained consciousness? Is Dodd alive? Did Laarson even check the basement?

-After Solverson escapes with Ed into the forest, Laarson drives by to pick them up, but Ed runs off down the road. Rather than chase him, Solverson and Laarson get in their car and drive in the opposite direction, towards where they think he’s going to go. Hanzee, who had been following them, decides to follow Ed instead, on foot. Does he catch him first?

-When Mike Milligan, 1/2 the Kitchen and the rest of the K.C. hitters light up the Gerhardt compound, we see Floyd and Simone hit the deck. Are they toast?