Fargo is fraught with tension. Each episode is built of scenes of people sitting or standing in rooms, talking, that somehow raise your heart rate and turn your stomach in knots. Much of it is rooted in dramatic irony or the implied threat of violence, to the point that when the violence actually does happen, it feels more a relief than a shock.
In this weeks episode, curiously titled “Loplop” (the alter ego of Dadaist Max Ernst), this tension is built into the zig-zagging plot. Whereas last episode we saw the perspective of the good guys (Hank Laarson, Lou Solverson and crew), “Loplop” focuses on the subjects of the manhunt, Peggy & Ed Blumquist, and seeks to answer the myriad questions opened last week. This leap-frog approach to storytelling is somewhat frustrating in between episodes, but is immensely satisfying when glaring questions get answered.
We start with Peggy hallucinating in the basement, talking to a tied-up Dodd Gerhardt but imagining him as her Life Spring life coach. She may be having a psychotic break, but she’s also having a revelation; her hesitance to act is what’s been holding her back all this time. “Do you know the difference between thinking and being?” her hallucinated life coach asks. “Think or be, you can’t be both.” When Ed rushes home from his foot-powered escape from Lou Solverson’s custody (a rare misstep) and absconds in Dodd’s Cadillac with Peggy, Dodd, and “the clothes on our back,” we see Solverson and Laarson arrive just a moment too late, connecting us in the timeline with last week’s episode. After they leave, we find Hanzee lurking in the shadows (he’s real good at that), and then sniffing around at the Blumquist’s for clues to there whereabouts. Which leads him to Sioux Falls, and poor Constance Heck.
In the getaway car, Ed and Peggy’s minds both race at a mile a minute. Peggy is still reeling from her epiphany, liberated from her “museum of the past” (“we’re not trapped anymore!”). Ed is merely trying to keep it together, rolling with the gut punch of losing his shop and abandoning his family homestead, choosing to focus on the tasks that lie ahead of him. He decides to head to “uncle Grady’s cabin” in the woods, but he could have said they were going to Disneyland and Peggy would still be smiling. “I just gotta keep us alive,” he tells her. She couldn’t be happier, or more delusional: “You’re doin’ it, hon! We’re actualized!” They’re in the same car, ostensibly talking to—or more like at—each other, but they’re on different planets. If it wasn’t already clear, the split-screen draws a physical divide between the couple, who are leaning on each other harder than ever.
When they reach the cabin and restrain Dodd, we get a deeper look at Peggy’s psychosis. Kirsten Dunst has been chewing up every scene she’s been in this season, and the three moments she’s left alone with Dodd while Ed goes to make a call from a payphone are no different. Part delusional housewife, part “Minnesota Nice” with a little bit of Kathy Bates in Misery mixed in, her scenes with Dodd reveal the extent of her delusions while giving us a glimpse at what Dodd is like when he’s truly impotent, stripped of all his violent masculine energy and at the mercy of a hairdresser that’s a “little touched.” His escape from bondage was inevitable, but when it happens, we see the true depths of his misogyny: “No matter what you do to ’em, these goddamn twats just won’t stop ’til you put em down.” If Ed wasn’t turning purple from the noose Dodd slips around his neck, it would almost be funny to hear Dodd lecture him about “giants” like “Napoleon” who have “the potential for greatness.” And the shot of Peggy reacting when she realizes Dodd is free and standing over her? Absolutely stunning. Give this woman all the Emmys. All of them.
One aspect of life in the Minnesota/Dakota region that doesn’t get addressed until this episode is the treatment of Natives. We see Hanzee dutifully accept his second-class status as a “half-breed,” but since there aren’t any other Native characters, it’s hard to get an idea of what life was like for them in the 70s. Until this week. When Hanzee travels to South Dakota to find Constance (and therefore the Blumquists), he stops at a bar with a plaque commemorating the hanging of 22 Sioux indians less than a hundred years prior. There’s vomit on the ground in front of it, setting the tone for his encounter with the patrons inside. When we see a trio of hicks eyeing him up as he settles in at the bar, it’s clear this isn’t going to end well. And while we finally see just how that shootout we heard about last week plays out, most revealing was Hanzee’s exasperation at the racism he encounters, after having risked his life during three tours in Vietnam. Not only does it not change anything, but he suffers the indignity of people not even believing him. He’s tired of this life.
So it’s really not that shocking when he finds the cabin, murders Dodd and asks Peggy for a haircut. He escapes out the back just as the cops bust into the cabin to find Ed, Peggy, and a dead Dodd. Should be interesting when Mike Milligan shows up.