Tuesday, May 20, 2014

REVIEW: 'Fargo' - A Massive Snowstorm Strikes Forcing Multiple Deadly Interactions Amongst Many Characters in 'Buridan's Ass'

FX's Fargo - Episode 1.06 "Buridan's Ass"

Malvo executives his master plan, while Lester attempts to craft one of his own. Gus and Molly team up in Duluth.

It's been a couple of weeks since I last checked in on Fargo - Tuesday nights have just been so busy lately but now most of the broadcast network stuff has concluded. And boy, did I pick a massive episode to return with. We are over halfway done with the season. The end game is being set up for all the characters and they are being forced into deadly confrontations with one another. "Buridan's Ass" is a destructive episode. Several important characters die here. And I can only imagine things getting much worse during the final four episodes of the season. The episode opens with a "Storm is coming" prediction and, boy, does that come true by hour's end.

The phrase buridan's ass is to describe a scenario where someone is forced to choose between equally bad options out of desperation. They'll die without choosing or have to deal with the repercussions of the choice that they made. Everyone seems to be in a compromising situation throughout this episode. The only one who gets to end the episode with a smile on his face is Lester. He thinks he has all of this planned out and is in pure self-preservation mode. He managed to sneak both in and out of the hospital without being noticed and perfectly set up his brother to take the fall for the murders of Vern and Pearl. He still sees himself as the victim in all of this even though that hasn't been true ever since he smashed his wife's face in in Episode 1. He's trying to convince himself that he is not the monster that he is. That's making him a much more natural lier. But the more he tries to live in that truth the more he has to act to make sure the actual truth does not come. So when his brother doesn't want to stand by him, he easily just gets enough evidence to make sure that Chaz goes down for Lester's crime. It's all set up here and clearly will lead to a climatic and pivotal moment later on. But the fact that Lester does all of it is proof enough of how horrible and bad he has become.

And after Molly put together so much of the case against Lester last week, this week she's with Gus and trying to track down Malvo and try to understand his involvement with all of this. Those two are now intersecting with the other parts of the world - namely the Supermarket that Stavros owns. They don't interact with him but they are starting to put the pieces together of this large puzzle. But more importantly, they just get to bond some more. They are the heroes in this story and they enjoy the other's company. We learn that Gus really wanted to work for the post office but the job at the police station was available and he needed a job to support Greta.

Malvo, meanwhile, is executing his plan to deal with Don as well as collect the money from Stavros. On the one end, his plan is successful. He gets Don murdered with the police only suspecting that it was suicide by cop. Now, I don't believe the cops would easily just get to that conclusion and be happy with it. Wouldn't the duck tape tip them off that something else might have been going on? But the way that sequence was framed - with Don largely in shadow as the cops burst through the door with the blizzard back lighting was both gorgeous and made me go along with them so easily dropping several bullets into him.

And the white blanket of the blizzard was one of the best and most haunting images from this show yet. There's practically no visibility. I loved the shot where its just a white screen and then Mr. Numbers slowly dissolves into the middle of the frame. The blizzard causes panic and action. The Fargo crime syndicate wants Malvo dead for killing Sam Hess. But it's astonishing by how cool Malvo remains even when he's getting shot at. We see him and don't see a way out for him. But once Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench approach where he is he has magically slipped away or even got behind one of them to stab a knife in. It's very brutal how he kills Mr. Numbers. It's gory but quick. By the time, Molly and Gus get there he's dead already. And Mr. Wrench is no where to be found - faded into the cover of the snow. Molly charges forward. She confronts someone. We don't know who until next week. But Gus - being the uncertain guy that he is - shoots at the first person he sees approaching. But it turns out to be Molly! That moment is the most shocking turn of events yet! She's our hero she can't die so easily, right? Gus worries a lot about the bad people in the world who do bad things. He always wants to do good and teaches his daughter to do the same. Molly has a different viewpoint of the world. And yet, in this moment, Gus does a very bad thing that is sure to have major ramifications throughout the rest of the season.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Buridan's Ass" was written by Noah Hawley and directed by Colin Bucksey.
  • This has been such a breakout role for Allison Tolman that I hope Molly isn't dead even though it seemed that way by hour's end. Her death was the only one that felt ambivalent. But her father has always been worried about her being on the line of duty. This turn of events would cause him to completely lose it.
  • This is the first time that someone has referred to Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench by those names, right?
  • Gus' story of wanting to be a mailman really does bring a lot of his nervous characteristics into better perspective. I'm interested to see what the fallout of shooting Molly will be.
  • But how did Don survive that first initial strike the police did at the house?