Fargo: Buridan's Ass
May 21, 2014 6:06 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

Lots of people have guns. The massive snowstorm hits Minnesota. Something else falls from the sky, too.
posted by DevilsAdvocate (51 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Aw, jeez, Gus...

Bad week for... well, for everyone who wasn't Lorne nor Lester. Just one fucking gut punch after another, even for people I hated.
posted by Etrigan at 6:10 AM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


After last week's episode I didn't think the show could ratchet up the tension any more...I was wrong.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 6:20 AM on May 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Oh, gods, seriously. Either the snowstorm gunfight or the SWAT assault on Chumph could have been the climax of an entire season, and they weren't even the climax of this episode. Colin Bucksey directed this episode and last week's, and the next two guys are going to have a hell of a time doing better.
posted by Etrigan at 6:28 AM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


I found myself constantly distracted during the SWAT assault and the snowstorm shootout by just how bad the CG was, and I'm not usually a stickler for such things, but man. I also found Chumpf's shooting to go on way too long - I'll let the producers claim it was a nod to Miller's Crossing and "the old man's still an artist with the Thompson" but ... ugh.

On the other hand, Malvo's line "That's okay - I'd be insulted if you didn't try" would have saved just about any episode.
posted by komara at 7:21 AM on May 21, 2014 [5 favorites]


I found myself constantly distracted during the SWAT assault and the snowstorm shootout by just how bad the CG was, and I'm not usually a stickler for such things, but man.

Yeah, that was regrettable. They just aren't doing snow well, which you'd think FX coulda put some money into.

I also found Chumpf's shooting to go on way too long - I'll let the producers claim it was a nod to Miller's Crossing and "the old man's still an artist with the Thompson" but ... ugh.

I got out of it more the idea that Chumph might be saved somehow.
posted by Etrigan at 7:34 AM on May 21, 2014


Oh, I meant specifically once bullets started entering his body. They just kept shooting and shooting and shooting, and then some more. And then blood comes out his mouth, and then more blood. I found it excessively gory for a TV show.
posted by komara at 7:48 AM on May 21, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I thought the shooting went on an inordinately long time. Pretty gratuitous.
I'm not sure what I think of this episode. Sad about Molly (hopefully, she's just unconscious) Honestly, though, I found my attention wandering during Lester's scenes.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:54 PM on May 21, 2014 [1 favorite]


Sad about Molly (hopefully, she's just unconscious)

I hope so too but it looked pretty bad, and getting her to a hospital in that storm isn't going to be easy.

I'm kind of sad about Mr. Numbers too. He grew on me.
posted by homunculus at 3:07 PM on May 21, 2014 [2 favorites]


I am choosing to wipe my memory of the Molly situation, because....wtf. But yeah, that was a violent episode, though in my mind, it still doesn't touch Hannibal, which would be shocking even apart from the fact that it's also shown on network TV.

One thing I didn't get: when Lester escaped the hospital and went to his brother's house, he was leaving and his nephew saw him. He gave him a loooong look and silently turned back to his snack. Have I missed something here? Presumably his nephew knows he's in the hospital - are we supposed to think his nephew saw him and is not going to say anything to anyone? I guess it's possible but I don't see how a kid that age would not say something unless he knew something was up and it needed to be kept secret (and I haven't noticed anything to indicate the kid is aware of anything).
posted by triggerfinger at 4:33 PM on May 21, 2014


One thing I didn't get: when Lester escaped the hospital and went to his brother's house, he was leaving and his nephew saw him. He gave him a loooong look and silently turned back to his snack. Have I missed something here?

I can see it going either way, and either would make sense:

1 -- The kid says something to someone, blowing Lester's plot to frame his brother.

2 -- The kid never says anything, because he's just a kid and it was just a weird thing and kids sometimes just do weird stuff like that.

Either way, I was thinking loudly at the TV when Lester was changing at the hospital, Don't be so fucking deliberate and unsneaky! Just move already! So I'm glad to see he got caught doing the same thing later.
posted by Etrigan at 5:02 PM on May 21, 2014


"are we supposed to think his nephew saw him and is not going to say anything to anyone?"

I expect it'll go down something like this:

POLICE: "Why do you have these photos and this bloody hammer?"
CHAZ: "I don't know! Someone must have planted them there! They're not mine!"
POLICE: "Who would want to do this to you?"
CHAZ: "Lester! He did this to me!"
GORDO: "Oh, yeah, I saw Uncle Lester in the house."
POLICE / CHAZ: "When?"
GORDO: "Yesterday in the afternoon."
POLICE: "No, he was in custody at that time. It's okay, son, you don't have to make up stories to help your dad."
GORDO: "I really did see him!"

etc.

at least I'm guessing that's what went through Lester's head when he was spotted because he knew (but we didn't at the time) that he was going to go back to the hospital to place himself back in custody with no one the wiser.
posted by komara at 6:14 PM on May 21, 2014 [4 favorites]


Was there a little postit-like sign on the pole that the car crashed into at the end? Or is that just a normal square reflective plate? It doesn't seem to be readable at any time, but it looks odd because it's perfectly oriented towards Stavros as he's kneeling there.
posted by ceribus peribus at 12:14 AM on May 22, 2014


Did anyone else pick up on the "Gustafson Parking Garage" reference to the original movie?

I keep wondering if a grown-up Scotty Lundegaard will show up at some point.
posted by doctornecessiter at 3:53 AM on May 22, 2014 [7 favorites]


"I keep wondering if a grown-up Scotty Lundegaard will show up at some point."

Who did you think Mr. Wrench actually is, then?
posted by komara at 6:48 AM on May 22, 2014


No one has mentioned the fish yet?

THE FISH!
posted by The Deej at 7:05 AM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


Fish raining from the sky are like dwarves in dream sequences: you just roll your eyes because the director is trying way too hard at that point.
posted by Etrigan at 7:23 AM on May 22, 2014 [5 favorites]


The fish is a thing that can and has happened - a waterspout/strong wind event picks up the fish and rains them down later, over land. Not sure of the likelihood of this happening in Northern MN, though.
posted by troika at 8:03 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


*pretends that those of us from colder climes were totally unfazed by the fish*
posted by ceribus peribus at 8:32 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Gonna be a cold one today, might get some fish!"
"Oh, yeah?"

posted by ceribus peribus at 8:34 AM on May 22, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Not sure of the likelihood of this happening in Northern MN, though."

Considering how many times they've showed us ice thick enough to walk on I'm guessing there's no open water up from which these fish could be picked.

I found the fish scene disconcerting in a series that has so far shown zero interest in the supernatural. I kept expecting a Malvo-radioed helicopter with big now-empty net dangling to be shown above the scene. I mean not really, but it would have made more sense to me than "Act of God."
posted by komara at 8:38 AM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


From the article on the Australian fish rain:

Meterologists say the incident was probably caused by a tornado. It is common for tornados to suck up water and fish from rivers and drop them hundreds of miles away.

Surely it's possible that there could be unfrozen lake water within a few hundred miles of this area. Though I get it, it still reads as more of a random writing device than as a result of the natural flow of the story.
posted by doctornecessiter at 9:04 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm just ignoring the "fish" part of that and pretending that they ran off the road because, y'know, of the huge fucking storm of the century blizzard they were trying to drive through.
posted by Etrigan at 9:05 AM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]


I kept expecting a Malvo-radioed helicopter with big now-empty net dangling to be shown above the scene. I mean not really, but it would have made more sense to me than "Act of God."

Yeah, as soon as this happened, my lovely bride and I both assumed Malvo somehow orchestrated it. I yelled out "Fish cannon!" Of course, he may have and it just hasn't been revealed.

Either way, it doesn't ruin this excellent show for me. It reminded me of Magnolia, though, and Stanley commenting during the frog-storm, "This happens. This is something that happens."
posted by The Deej at 12:38 PM on May 22, 2014 [4 favorites]


"assumed Malvo somehow orchestrated it"

The more I think about it the more I am convinced that the show has displayed a setup scene for every one of Malvo's big actions - the pills, the crickets, th ... oh, no, wait, preparation for the shower blood wasn't revealed in advance, I don't think.

Nevermind, that ruins my theory that the fish couldn't have been Malvo because we weren't shown him setting it up. I mean I still don't think he did it, but it wouldn't be out of the show's regular operating procedures if they choose to claim that he did.
posted by komara at 1:13 PM on May 22, 2014


The shower blood might not have been shown in advance, but it was revealed immediately (we might have known he did it before we saw Stavros realize it had even happened). If it had been Malvo, based on precedent, we'd know.
posted by Etrigan at 1:29 PM on May 22, 2014


Am I wrong or has Malvo's plan gone off the rails? The reason he set up Chumph was to keep the police busy while he was dealing with Stavros but after being waylaid by Numbers and Wrench he's on foot in the storm and Stavros isn't meeting him anyway.
posted by ghharr at 1:35 PM on May 22, 2014


It certainly should be off the rails. If it's not, and they're trying to have us believe that Malvo is that adept a planner, I'll be quite cross.
posted by Etrigan at 1:38 PM on May 22, 2014


Ok, some better observations, to make up for my silliness earlier (sleep deprivation is killer):

* Regarding the nephew's credibility:
"Took Gordo to a specialist last month... think he might have the autism" — Chaz, episode 1
* Mr Wrench is going to be without a translator now. Will that hinder his pursuit of Malvo?

* Concerning the fish:
it's possible that there could be unfrozen lake water within a few hundred miles of this area.

Perhaps Lake Superior, which has frozen over a couple times in history but usually doesn't? The fish did seem to fall right as the huge windstorm was ending.

Personally I want it to be Malvo's work somehow. Arguments in favor:
1) The fish look like the ones shown during the opening credits, swimming in the restaurant's fishtank.
2) "Got a special on remote control helicopters" — Calamity Joe, episode 5

* Title reference: Buridan's ass.
Should two courses be judged equal, then the will cannot break the deadlock, all it can do is to suspend judgement until the circumstances change, and the right course of action is clear. — Jean Buridan, 1340
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:50 PM on May 22, 2014 [2 favorites]


There's also another fish theory floating around out there: explosion in the lake.

Consider this actual Fargo news item from the end of 2012:
FARGO, N.D. (AP) — Hospital officials have upgraded the conditions of several of the five men injured in an explosion in an ice fishing camper in northern Minnesota.

...

The men had stayed overnight in the privately owned camper-ice fishing house.

Officials say the propane furnace exploded and blew out the windows Sunday on the shore of Lake of the Woods. Authorities say they are confident the explosion was accidental
Hopefully they'll backfill some kind of explanation. I'm not sure I can make peace with the Magnolia "that's something that happens" approach the Deej mentioned.
posted by ceribus peribus at 11:19 PM on May 22, 2014


Now that I'm thinking about it, and correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't the crickets and blood shower designed by Malvo to be interpreted by Milos as acts of God? It would only make sense that the fish rain would be also. Malvo would want the son's car to crash, and in a way that would look to Milos like the hand of God came down from the sky, grabbed the car and crushed it...Or at least as close to that scenario as Malvo could muster.

ceribus peribus: 2) "Got a special on remote control helicopters" — Calamity Joe, episode 5

Theeeeere is is. Though I kind of hope not, my belief-suspension is starting to crack.
posted by doctornecessiter at 4:05 AM on May 23, 2014


Hey, guys, about the fish... DUH! THIS IS A TRUE STORY. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.

Someone just Google Bing a few news stories from 2006 and we'll have our answer.

We can be so dense sometimes.
posted by The Deej at 6:07 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Someone just Google Bing a few news stories from 2006 and we'll have our answer.

I Ask Jeevesed it, nothing so far. Jeeves is dumb.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:33 AM on May 23, 2014 [2 favorites]


Aw, Jeeves.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:55 AM on May 23, 2014 [7 favorites]


"Personally I want it to be Malvo's work somehow."

The more I think on it the more I can't imagine why it would be. We saw a rain of fish which ended up causing a wreck in which Stavros's son was killed. Working backwards: how could Malvo have any confidence that this would be the outcome? Why would he think that dropping fish would cause a fatal wreck?

The show is presenting this event as "Stavros didn't do what was expected and his son was taken as punishment" or at the very least it's playing up that Stavros himself is interpreting it that way.

If that was the expected outcome of a planned fish drop, that's pretty damn risky. The driver could just as well have stopped cold, no wreck. Or the car flips but airbags protect the occupants.

If that was not the expected outcome of a planned fish drop, then what was? Making a little mess on a highway?

It just doesn't make sense to me that this is a Malvo-planned action. So far he's shown himself to be pretty risk-averse and confident that his machinations will have the desired outcome. Dropping fish on a car to kill a guy and convince his father - who is supposed to be somewhere else anyway - that it's somehow his fault and God's angry? I don't buy it.
posted by komara at 8:59 AM on May 23, 2014


Despite my hopes, I have to agree with you there. I'd maybe accept a flexible setup such that the fish only had to harass them off the road, where he would ambush them, incapacitate them, and convert the scene into a "fatal" crash, but ... why bother even using fish in the first place, then? The nine plagues imagery is intended for Stavros not the bodyguard; the fish could be added to the scene afterwards. And Malvo had no advance knowledge of where Stavros or his son would be at the time, or even that they would be separated. And, and, and.

Plus, the fish were still alive when they landed, and there were a lot of them. More than would fit in an aquarium or even in the back of a pickup waiting for their turn in the fish cannon. So he must have fed the cannon from a dump truck! No, this was a wide swath, a multi-lane airborne piscine wave, too great for even the mightiest cannon. Also too many for an airdrop by toy helicopters; he would have needed a cargo plane. So from an implementation standpoint it's also more likely the fish were in a nearby lake minutes before hitting the road.

Perhaps Malvo is empowered as se’irim to summon winter tornadoes at will? But he didn't even know at the time that Stavros had other plans for the bag. So no motive either. I guess this really is going to present as something normal, however unlikely, that actually happens.

Maybe we'll get another movie homage if Stavros tries to retrieve the money and can't find the same spot again.
posted by ceribus peribus at 10:44 AM on May 23, 2014


FISHSCAM.
posted by Etrigan at 11:24 AM on May 23, 2014


Uproxx interview with Glenn Howerton (Don Chumph).
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2014 [1 favorite]


Poor Don Chumph. Considering how horrifically people are dying on TV shows/movies these days, sometimes it's difficult to really be affected by someone's death but this one left me pondering for hours.
posted by futureisunwritten at 12:18 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


Poor Don Chumph. Considering how horrifically people are dying on TV shows/movies these days, sometimes it's difficult to really be affected by someone's death but this one left me pondering for hours.

I felt much the same way. I think it's because it was so obvious from the start, and there was no single thing where you could say, "Oh, this is what doomed him." No, he was doomed from the instant we saw him, but he could have done so many things differently, and Malvo could have done so many things differently, and there were so many places where he could have just killed him, but we got this slow-motion murder that was just... so... painful... to... watch... come... to... fruition.
posted by Etrigan at 12:30 PM on May 26, 2014 [1 favorite]


I thought poor Don was surely done for in the previous episode and instead he just gets locked in a closet. A brief reprieve.

Come to think of it, he seemed expendable to me from the first time he appeared on screen. Wouldn't have accurately predicted how he went though. Damn.
posted by futureisunwritten at 2:02 PM on May 26, 2014


I thought poor Don was surely done for in the previous episode and instead he just gets locked in a closet.

I thought he was done-for basically every time he and Malvo were in the same room for the entire series, or for that matter every time he wasn't in the same room as Malvo but could have been suddenly electrocuted or shot from a window or have stepped on a land mine under a carpet... yeah, pretty much every time we saw Don, I was a little amazed he was still alive. That's why his extended death worked so well -- he'd managed (through sheer stupid luck, mostly) not to die for so long while swimming with a shark that I figured, Well, shit, he'll luck his way out of this, right? BANG. Okay, he's been shot, but he won't be BANGBANGBANGBANGBANGBANG yyyeah, he's really dead.
posted by Etrigan at 2:18 PM on May 26, 2014


"he'd managed (through sheer stupid luck, mostly) not to die for so long"

I wouldn't even say that. I'd say that you were right he was marked for death as soon as Malvo saw he could use him, which would have been pretty much as soon as he saw the bronzer on the note.

After that there was no escape. His removal from the equation was going to be at the time and place of Malvo's choosing, period.

I'm not saying I knew that Malvo was going to kill him, I'm just saying that I don't think luck had anything to do with his lifespan.
posted by komara at 2:46 PM on May 26, 2014


Also I should add that at the end of E01 I was absolutely unimpressed with Malvo and Thornton's portrayal thereof. I guess the show's creators assumed that we'd be comparing him to Buscemi's character in the Fargo movie, the "goofy bad guy" being the first hook upon which we thought to hang him.

Who could have known he was more brother to Stormare's Grimsrud in terms of being competent, willing to do whatever it takes, and probably sociopathic?

all of which is to say that E01-me would be laughing right now at the idea of E06-me contemplating the badassness of Malvo. "Him?"
posted by komara at 2:53 PM on May 26, 2014


His removal from the equation was going to be at the time and place of Malvo's choosing, period. ... Also I should add that at the end of E01 I was absolutely unimpressed with Malvo and Thornton's portrayal thereof.

Yeah, this is what kind of kept me thinking, Maybe Don can get out of NOPE never mind. In the first episode, Malvo wasn't shown to be the long-term planner that we're seeing now -- he was a devilish prankster who killed Sam Hess just because he liked Lester, shot the chief of police just because he was there, and got that kid at the hotel to piss in the gas tank just so he could get him caught for his own amusement. Killing Don just because Don is an annoying fuckwad has been totally in line with Malvo's character, regardless of whether he might theoretically be useful some day.
posted by Etrigan at 3:02 PM on May 26, 2014 [2 favorites]


I just checked Wikipedia and... there are four more episodes of this? I'm not sure my nerves can take it. I was away at the weekend and so I glommed it rather than fight with the 4OD website. My wife (who had watched it on TV) warned me that it was intense, but I'd caught up on Hannibal first, so I thought I was prepared for anything. In any case, in the absence of actual ad breaks I had to pause it for a few minutes in the middle and go for a walk around the flat in order to get through it.

The gun in the bag was a particularly mean touch, Lester. Even unloaded guns get people hurt.
posted by Grangousier at 1:46 PM on May 27, 2014


I wanted a Gus/Molly relationship so badly I was crushed when she got shot at the end. Ugh, I wonder if the writers did that just to throw the cliché "shippers" normally featured in TV shows off.
posted by mathowie at 11:46 AM on December 27, 2014


I'm just wondering how Mr. Numbers & Mr. Wrench found Malvo in the middle of a snow storm. No one else except Malvo would know his exact location at that moment, yet the duo know exactly where he is, somehow. Which means they must have found him either totally by accident right at that point and signaled to each other somehow (since they were in separate cars) to put their plan into action, or they would have tracked him at least to Don's house in which case I don't get why they held off on attacking him.
posted by bjrn at 9:48 AM on December 31, 2014


I just wanted to let folks know that I saw this episode on a plane. Everything was normal, except the title - some gentle soul preparing the episode summary for the in-flight entertainment system had changed the title to Buridan's A**.
posted by zamboni at 6:09 AM on February 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


A third of the way in, and man Lester's escape from the hospital was THRILLING. I was losing my mind. And I can't believe Lester is already on the lam with this many episodes left to go!
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:24 PM on March 6, 2016


"I never wanted to be a cop" oh god Gus is fucking doomed
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:40 PM on March 6, 2016


This snowbound gun battle is astonishing and OH MY GOD GUS YOU MASSIVE FUCKUP

And that slow silent pan in to Lester's face at the end??

What an amazing freakin episode why am I just now watching this
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:00 PM on March 6, 2016


« Older Veep: Special Relationship...   |  Louie: Elevator part 2... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments