Tuesday, May 27, 2014

REVIEW: 'Fargo' - Lester Gives a Statement to the Police & Malvo Walks Into a Building with a Gun in 'Who Shaves the Barber?'

FX's Fargo - Episode 1.07 "Who Shaves the Barber?"

Malvo seeks answers, while Lester finagles a few of his own. Molly and Gus try to get past a setback in the investigation.

Thank goodness! Molly is alive. And the reveal that she served a bullet from last week's bloodbath isn't that surprising. It's all very much in line with what we know about Gus Grimly. Because of his characterizations, it's easy to be believe that A.) he would mistakenly shoot her and B.) not lethally shoot her. Allison Tolman has been the true revelation on this series and killing her off so soon would be one dangerous crime. Fortunately she survives and even though she's stuck in a hospital, her mind is still racing on the case. But while she is correctly putting all the pieces together, major developments are happening back in Bemidji. It's all building up to one of the strongest acting moments by Tolman so far - when she returns to the police station and learns that Bill has arrested Chazz Nygaard. She's left speechless and in disbelief. She was certain that she cracked this case and that everything revolves around Lester. To learn all of this the way she does is very disastrous.

But it's also very upsetting as we are just forced to set back and watch as Lester's grand plan to frame his brother slowly and perfectly clicks into place. Literally everything goes according to plan and Bill is just completely willing to go along with it because of how big and rare this case is in the history of the town. As the camera follows Gordo's backpack throughout those first few minutes, we are meant to be at unease and worrying just when the gun will be discovered. We sit through a family breakfast, Gordo getting on the bus and then it just goes flying against the lunchroom floor after some guys bump into the bag. It's sickening imagery. And then, the sequence moves on to the search of Chazz's home. His illegal weapon is found as is all the evidence that Lester planted. And then the cherry on top comes when Lester is brought in to tell his side of the story and backs up the narrative of his wife having an affair with his brother. And he spouts out that story so wonderfully real. Bill is just willing to go along with it because he doesn't know to think better. To make sure that it all makes sense. He's willing to sympathize with Lester because they are old pals. They have a shared history together. Lester exploits that terrifyingly. He's not a complete monster yet. There are several lines within that monologue where he over-flourishes - like saying that Chazz is his only brother to only better build up the hurt of the betrayal. It's masterfully disturbing to see what he has become.

And to see how he moves with such ease in the aftermath of all of the events is just as upsetting. The first thing he does when he gets home from the police station is to try and get someone to come clean the blood stains on his living room floor. And then, he wants to get back to work. Like nothing happened, like he needs something to do to fill his days. Work then sends him back into the world of Gina Hess. Martin Freeman and Kate Walsh just have such fun chemistry together. And here, he gets to celebrate all that he has accomplished. It's the proudest moment of his life as he gets to nail Gina as the ultimate prize for killing her husband and his wife. It's a moment entirely about him. She's desperate for the insurance money - which is never gonna come because Sam stopped paying. But even in the act, she's saying she's in pain and Lester doesn't care about her until he finishes. He's exhibited his newfound dominance - which stands in stark contrast to the Lester we first met in the premiere.

Elsewhere, Malvo escapes the white-out bloodbath without a scratch. He eluded the men who were trying to kill him. And yet, he calmly is just trying to find out who sent them in the first place. While the other characters are largely isolated to one location, Malvo jumps from Duluth to Reno to Fargo, North Dakota. He's truly becoming his own independent contractor and is just so easily getting away with every heinous act he does week after week. Here, he just walks into the building with a machine gun and takes out a couple floors of men and it's not until one flies through the window on the uppermost floor that the FBI agents who are just sitting outside realize that something is going on inside. It's a wonderful sequence. The camera just pans across the exterior of the building as we only hear Malvo enter each floor and the panicked reactions from everyone inside. It's a masterfully artistic decision that really does work here.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Who Shaves the Barber?" was written by Noah Hawley and directed by Scott Winant.
  • Key & Peele! They debut as FBI agents Bill Budge and Webb Pepper. And I'm guessing they are going to be fairly important to the series' endgame. Although it's quite entertaining watching Malvo pull out a machine gun right in front of their car while they're on a stakeout.
  • Starvos was a big part of the bloodbath last week and here he's not really a factor in any of the stories. That's odd. He's not a completely necessary character but he too dealt with tremendous loss last week and we don't get his immediate reaction.
  • Chazz's shouts at Lester could wonderfully be read as either from an innocent man wondering what his brother just did to him or a rightfully convicted man angry at said brother for turning on him.
  • Also odd is Molly's willingness to forgive Gus for shooting her so easily. She's very understanding which only makes her seem like a better person even though it makes him feel worse.
  • That Molly-Mr. Wrench scene was also really good. It was so simple and yet she was able to connect so many pieces from so little information he was willing to give.
  • But do you really know the conditions of today's fast food restaurants? Do you?