Posted by : Patrick | December 4, 2015
***FULL SPOILERS AHEAD***
Last week Fargo kicked the story into high gear, so naturally I expected the show to maintain this momentum up through these last three episodes (is this season already almost over? Man…), but “Loplop” curiously decides to jump back a bit and focus on the events surrounding Ed and Peggy that led to episode 7’s mysterious phone call. Now, normally I’m completely against this type of break in the story flow. Feeling the need to use an entire hour to jump back and explore past or parallel storylines is one of the more annoying things a TV show can do (I’m looking at you, Walking Dead). Anything that slows progress I generally regard as filler that covers for thin plotting, but one of the reasons this second season of ‘Fargo’ will go down as one of my all-time favorites is how it handles episodes like “Loplop”. Yes, this is a heavy “character” episode, but there’s no question it furthers the plot; whereas most shows insert interludes like this to provide explanatory backstory which shows how we got where we are, in “Loplop” the character change actually points to where we’re going. And by the end, as per usual on this show, things have only gotten worse.
“Loplop” picks up with Ed arriving home after escaping from Lou and taking off running down the backwoods road. He is rightfully surprised when he discovers that Peggy has tased the shit out of Dodd and is now holding him prisoner, but both parties in this couple have been forced to adapt so quickly to everything happening that a mob family member tied up in his basement isn’t quite enough to shake Ed at this point. At the start of the season it would have made no sense that Ed can think and move this kind of speed, but the show has handled both his and Peggy’s transformations well, and their ability to almost ignore the immense danger they’re in and formulate plans together is impressive for a pair that once seemed so ill-matched. In fact, they’ve probably never been closer. Nothing like a little murder and kidnapping to rekindle the spark. They are partners, each deluded in their own way, but able to keep on living. Peggy may be becoming lost in her own mind, dreamily imagining her own situation relates to the romance of an old war movie, but she can still fend for herself, and though Ed thinks somehow that he can make a deal that will allow he and his wife to go back to a normal life (never gonna happen), he’s proven to be more ruthless with each obstacle he faces. Still, even more after this episode one can’t help but sense that these changes will ultimately lead to their downfall. Their stubborn refusal to accept the consequences just speaks to Lou’s earlier speech to them on the couch. They’re dead, and they don’t even know it.
And so, with Dodd in the trunk, they head off for a lakeside cabin. One of the great things about this season of Fargo is how little they’ve had to rely on reminding people of the movie with visual references or otherwise; the tone has been spot on, but they’ve kept the character types and scenarios distinctly their own. “Loplop” really is the first time I’ve thought of the series’ inspiration, as much of it takes place in this remote cabin, with a black and white TV and a hostage. Instead of being derivative, however, the dynamic is completely different here; It’s the hostage who represents the real danger, the looming threat. Dodd’s escape isn’t something we’re necessarily rooting for, as we know he is absolutely drooling at the chance for vengeance. On top of that, his interactions with the Blomquists make this episode the funniest of the season. I kind of wish he could be tied to that chair forever, with the three of them living out the rest of their lives together.
Alas, that was not meant to be, and in true Coen Brothers fashion, the big man’s death is both shocking and treated as nothing special. That it is Hanzee who does it is the real surprise. Up until now he had seemed so loyal, despite the insulting way Dodd often treated him. He, like Milligan, always seemed to be in complete control of himself, but over the course of his time tracking Ed down, it became clear that he is starting to crack. While the incident at the bar may have been satisfying, it was the result of a man who cannot restrain himself anymore, and when he tells Peggy after dispatching his former boss that he’s tired of this life, we believe it; we have seen it. He still has his instincts, however, and Hanzee isn’t willing to bow out quite yet. I hope Ed and Peggy at least warn Lou and Hank of what’s out there, because if Hanzee decides he still has something to settle, this could get ugly.
I did have some problems with elements of “Loplop”, specifically Dodd’s mistake in not killing Peggy (leaving her simply unconscious), which allowed for a very convenient rescue of Ed, but at least that scene played out well, with one last showcasing of Dodd’s talent for brutality. Even less believable was the incredibly informative small town newspaper that happens to show up at exactly the right time, multiple times. Uh, c’mon, Fargo; you’re better than that. I was wondering how Ed got Milligan’s number at the hotel, and this might have been the worst way for that to happen. Journalist: “Hey boss, there’s a notorious mobster hiding out at a local hotel. What do you think?” Editor: “Well, I highly doubt anyone in that murderous organization would object to us detailing the whereabouts of one of their main guys. Front page, boys!” And of course, Hanzee’s photo was also naturally right in plain sight exactly when it needed to be. I don’t mind coincidence, but this was a bit too much.
Aside from that though, “Loplop” was another fantastic episode, a character-driven hour that foreshadows the future of this strange couple, as well as settles a few things about Hanzee and his motivations. With only two episodes left, the pieces are in place for Fargo to turn on the afterburners on the way to the Sioux Falls Massacre.