Posted by : Patrick | November 25, 2015
***FULL SPOILERS AHEAD***
The last few episodes of Fargo have been rock-solid to completely awesome, but in my reviews it seems like I was always writing the caveat that despite the tense set pieces, fantastic visuals, and ear-pleasing cadence of the conversations, on the actual story front things had been a little light. The way things had been building, however, that was bound to change, and so we see what amazing things happen when style meets substance with the seventh episode, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It”.
I’ve spoken before on the excellent cinematic qualities of this season, but when they exist to support a meaty story, this show becomes unmatched in the TV landscape. “Did You Do This” kicks things into high gear right form the start, with a Goodfellas-esque montage of mafia warfare that cuts each side deeper than they seem to have been emotionally prepared for. For the first time, we see Mike Milligan’s in a weak position, chastised by his superiors for not containing and finishing this transaction after a particularly bloody hit in their own backyard, and threatened with replacement. Even the man himself, so sure of himself in nearly every frame in which he appears, seems to have lost a little bit of confidence in his ability to control things, as we are treated to several shots of him staring off into nothing, deep in thought. He may be a little shaken, but his resolve is steady nonetheless, and by the end we see that Mike is in this for the long haul, all the way through to the bitter end.
The time we have with this “side” character is just one example of how adept Fargo, and “Did You Do This” in particular, is at juggling its characters and maximizing them for the most impact. Everyone has their part to play; everyone is important, no matter their screen time. This episode we get a chance to spend more time with people that haven’t been in the forefront so far, from Floyd striking a deal with Hank and the Fargo police chief despite the bad taste it leaves in her mouth to some touching moments at home with Betsy and her new houseguests. Carl and Sonny demonstrate a different slice of humanity apart from the backstabbing and bitterness happening across the border. This is true loyalty, based on concrete bonds, not an ambiguous code of honor meant to keep a crime family in line. These people also have pride, but also respect for the fact that each of them is trying to look out for the other. This is in stark contrast to a family constantly looking over their shoulder for the next betrayal.
It’s the scenes with Bear and Simone that push this idea to the forefront. There was always going to be a comeuppance for Simone’s sleeping with the enemy, but I never thought it would be Bear. Of all the Gerhardts, he’s the one that seemed to be the most loyal (apart from matriarch Floyd) to the idea that this business is still a family first, but that last shred of childish naivete is now gone. His talk with Simone in the truck was evidence that what he had thought was a tight-knit unit is really only staying together to further their own selfishness. No one cares about him or his boy. A moment of pause during the execution will, I believe, be the last we see of the man who wanted things to remain as they were. The new Bear now has machinations he’s willing to keep from his mother, and vendettas of his own, especially against older brother Dodd. I’d have a hard time believing that the killing of Dodd’s daughter didn’t come partially from a place of vengeance, even if only a little. With his own henchman now, a funny East Coast affiliate named Ricky G, look for Bear to throw yet another wrench into everyone’s plans.
The world turns as Lou, Hank, and Fargo cop Ben try to get proactive and become players in this game instead of janitors of the messes it creates. Arresting Floyd looks like it will pay off in information about how to strike at the Kansas City mafia and make the region undesirable, but it’s an interesting move choosing a side. Lou and Hank both appear uneasy with this role, but willing to recognize it as a necessary evil in order to prevent absolute chaos and the downward spiraling of the entire situation. Ben’s relief, on the other hand is the cause for one of the funniest lines of reproach so far from our blunt Minnesota law enforcers. Ben doesn’t want the world to change, but it’s too late; change is exactly what’s coming, as Milligan notes earlier. Lou and Hank aren’t so much trying to prevent this as wrap their heads around it; they just want to understand, know where they sit in this new world, and if slowing down a mafia war by teaming up with one side buys them some time to get more comfortable with what’s on the horizon, so be it. Running to catch up with the pace of the universe has been a problem for almost everyone in Fargo, and it will be interesting to see who ultimately gets left behind.
Regardless, things moved quite quickly in “Did You Do This? No, You Did It”, and once again the series was at its top-notch finest. This was one of the best episodes of the season so far, and only bolsters this show’s already impressive library. There was even a wtf?! moment that recalled the bizarre UFO allusions with Betsy’s discovery that her father, Hank, has a strange room covered in strange drawings of strange symbols that may represent many some or all of the players in this story. What is going on? I have no idea, but I’d be surprised if it didn’t connect to the mysterious hovering lights. With only three episodes remaining, this would be an odd time to introduce an entirely new element into the mix. A small part of me hopes Hank is an alien; he’s too good for this world.