Fargo: A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage
June 11, 2014 8:14 AM - Season 1, Episode 9 - Subscribe

Lester has an unexpected encounter, Malvo changes course, and a new investigation leads Molly down a familiar path.
posted by komara (59 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
And the husband of the year award goes to...
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:24 AM on June 11, 2014 [18 favorites]


I really want to give up on my theory that Oswalt knows more than he lets on but the show makes it so hard to tell if he's incompetent or devious. Still leaning towards well-intentioned and partial idiot ... mostly.

The opening this week reminded me of the opening of the Coen Brothers' Intolerable Cruelty with the focus on the teeth, the UV light. Dental work versus teeth whitening, but still reminiscent.

Man oh man, that shot of Malvo in the elevator, backlit with what looked like huge bloody wings ... that was perfect. Same with his line, "Haven't had a piece of pie like that since the Garden of Eden" - further reinforces for me that Malvo is being portrayed much like Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, a kind of malevolent (malvo-lent?) force more than an actual person.

Further parallels with No Country include that terrible terrible tense conversation between Malvo and Mr. Solverson (echoing Chigurh and the gas station attendant) and the reinforcement that perhaps the protagonist may never actually have a real face-off with the dark force that's upsetting her world. That in-the-back-door / out-the-front-door scene was excruciating, especially the way they kept the audio of the restaurant conversation playing over the shots of her driving, as if to say, "She's an integral part of this even if she's not (yet) physically present." Normally that kind of "oh you just missed 'em" shot strikes me as hokey but in this situation it was played perfectly and felt absolutely appropriate.

Favorite quotes: "You do know people were murdered in this house, right?"
as well as Susan Park's delivery of "Also, you can gamble at the airport."
posted by komara at 8:30 AM on June 11, 2014 [7 favorites]


That in-the-back-door / out-the-front-door scene was excruciating, especially the way they kept the audio of the restaurant conversation playing over the shots of her driving, as if to say, "She's an integral part of this even if she's not (yet) physically present."

I think Lou definitely knew something was amiss during his conversation with Malvo. He must have seen Molly's board for mapping out the case. Wonder if he knew who he was talking to?
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:36 AM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


I think Lou definitely knew something was amiss during his conversation with Malvo. He must have seen Molly's board for mapping out the case. Wonder if he knew who he was talking to?

That's an excellent point. He clearly knew that something was going on, but was he thinking, Fuck it, this guy wants Lester, and Molly thinks Lester's dirty, so let them kill each other or was he just thinking, This guy's a predator, and I want him preying anywhere but in my diner.?
posted by Etrigan at 8:49 AM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Poor, poor, faithful Linda, who covers for Lester without even knowing what she's covering for... and doesn't even ask him about it afterwards, at least that we see on screen.

I think this was the first episode which directly referenced the episode title within the episode itself. The AV Club recap notes that the fox/rabbit/cabbage puzzle is not unlike the plotting of this episode itself, where the writers have to get everyone to Bemidji without putting certain pairs of characters together...yet.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:13 AM on June 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


That's an excellent point. He clearly knew that something was going on, but was he thinking, Fuck it, this guy wants Lester, and Molly thinks Lester's dirty, so let them kill each other or was he just thinking, This guy's a predator, and I want him preying anywhere but in my diner.?

Yes! Now I'm wondering whether Malvo knew who he was talking to. I think he did.
posted by futureisunwritten at 9:27 AM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think Lou definitely knew something was amiss during his conversation with Malvo. He must have seen Molly's board for mapping out the case. Wonder if he knew who he was talking to?

I think Lou also suspects Malvo might have been involved in the bloodshed in Sioux Falls he referred to.
posted by homunculus at 10:08 AM on June 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


"Yes! Now I'm wondering whether Malvo knew who he was talking to. I think he did."

At first I thought Malvo asked Lou, "Is that your son?" as a way of trying to fake him out, to get him to lie about something. Clearly Molly is the important one, I was thinking, and so he's obliquely trying to get information about her.

... and then I remembered I'm looking at this from a viewer's perspective, and that Malvo has seen Gus, would clearly remember Gus from the arrest, has spent ample time in front of Gus, and that was just a year ago. By contrast, I believe he's only seen Molly once, in a blizzard.

So of course he would ask about Gus. I'm just so caught up in the show that I was making everything in that scene All About Molly.
posted by komara at 10:14 AM on June 11, 2014 [3 favorites]


Yeah, I also think Lou thought Malvo might have something to do with the Sioux Falls case, and/or recognized him from Molly's board o' genius.

Chigurh and the gas station attendant

...which itself always read to me as a malevolent echo of the hilarious encounter with the gas station attendant in Raising Arizona ("you got any of those balloons that blow up into funny shapes?" "Well, no, not unless round is funny.")

Question: why does Lester keep bugging Malvo even after Malvo's told him to back off? I mean, Lester's obviously perfectly happy how everything has turned out, so I guess I just wasn't clear on what Lester thinks he would stand to gain by confronting him (even if he was just acting impulsively, and/or drunk on the power of Insurance Salesman of the Year). A confession? An apology? Lester knows Malvo will never do that.
posted by scody at 11:10 AM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I've been trying to figure that out too, scody. The only explanation that rings true for me is that Lester really just wanted Malvo to be proud of him. So pathetic!
posted by dialetheia at 11:14 AM on June 11, 2014 [8 favorites]


"Question: why does Lester keep bugging Malvo even after Malvo's told him to back off?"

In part it's his drunkenness, but in part it's to show us the viewers how much Lester has changed. His nag of a wife is dead, he got rid of his condescending brother, he has a great job, new office, new wife, awards, recognition - he's on top of the world ...

... and juuuuust dumb enough to take that all to heart and think he's unstoppable. His ego is what gets him in trouble here. "Old Lester would have just turned around and left," you can almost hear him thinking, "but I'm New Lester! I showed him my new suit! He probably doesn't recognize me but now I'm Important and he'd better stop ignoring me."

I got the impression that Lester was bugging Malvo just to prove to himself that he was New Lester and wouldn't take no for an answer - a personal backlash against the worm he used to be. He's just too drunk to see there's a difference in standing up to a bully like Sam Hess versus standing in the path of a force of nature.
posted by komara at 11:21 AM on June 11, 2014 [23 favorites]


thanks, komara, that rings true to me -- especially your comment about the new suit ("It's Bill Blass!").
posted by scody at 11:24 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


The scene with Malvo chatting to the owner of Lester's old house and his kids was just awesome.
posted by gyc at 11:38 AM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]




Such a great episode. My favorite part was in front of the diner, as Malvo was leaving, when he walked right by Peeper and Budge again. My husband and I looked at each other and giggled when that happened.
posted by the webmistress at 1:54 PM on June 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


Sooooooo.... what about the brother-in-law in the Witness Protection Program? Red herring?
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:15 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think the brother in law was the bounty, not the dentist.
posted by Monochrome at 3:18 PM on June 11, 2014 [13 favorites]


> I really want to give up on my theory that Oswalt knows more than he lets on but the show makes it so hard to tell if he's incompetent or devious. Still leaning towards well-intentioned and partial idiot ... mostly.

I think Oswalt is in the grip of cognitive dissonance. I find his refusal to believe that a meek Nice GuyTM could be a murderer more plausible than the fact that thousands of Americans refuse to believe scientists on cosmology, biology, and climatology.
posted by Monochrome at 3:28 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


And what was that recording Malvo was listening to? The fellow mentioned "my son, Albert, is dead" but I don't know what that refers to.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 3:30 PM on June 11, 2014 [2 favorites]


Sooooooo.... what about the brother-in-law in the Witness Protection Program? Red herring?

I just assumed it was just another one of Malvo's contracts and not relevant to the main storyline. With the way this show is going, who the heck knows?
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:05 PM on June 11, 2014


Also, I missed this watching but saw it posted on another site. Lester only booked a single one-way ticket. It really hit me how calculated his second wife's death was. I was never really Team Lester but now I'm wishing bad things for him in the final episode.
posted by futureisunwritten at 4:13 PM on June 11, 2014 [6 favorites]


Lester only booked a single one-way ticket.

Whoa, seriously? I did not notice that. Alan Sepinwall points out that Lester did give Linda his parka, obviously just to make her look even more like him, and also says, "The reaction of the Austin crowd to that sequence was as loud and angry as I've ever heard in a theater, and my own notes on it are just a string of obscenities after a certain point."
posted by Etrigan at 4:18 PM on June 11, 2014 [5 favorites]


"Sooooooo.... what about the brother-in-law in the Witness Protection Program? Red herring?"

The brother-in-law (of Stephen Root's character) was in the Witness Protection Program. Malvo had been impersonating a dentist for ... what'd he say, six months? just to get close to Root and therefore to try to learn the location of this brother-in-law, who had a $100,000 bounty on his head.

Malvo was literally less than a day away from meeting this guy. Lester shows up, and Malvo willingly threw the bounty away just to prove his point. "Do you really want to do this, Lester?" he says, before shooting everyone, then something like, "That was a $100,000 bounty, but you wanted to do this. Did you see the look on his face when I pulled the gun?"

So ... the whole purpose of the brother-in-law WPP storyline was to show that Malvo will plot for months to get his work done but happily throw it away in an instant just to be Malvo about it.
posted by komara at 5:06 PM on June 11, 2014 [18 favorites]


Got it! (I think!)

90 minute season finale next week! I am so conflicted....
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:20 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


Also - do you think Malvo accidentally killed Linda? Malvo doesn't seem the sort to make mistakes.
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 6:27 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


So ... the whole purpose of the brother-in-law WPP storyline was to show that Malvo will plot for months to get his work done but happily throw it away in an instant just to be Malvo about it.

"Are you just being Malvo about this?" is going to be my new accusation of bad faith over on the Blue.
posted by Etrigan at 6:29 PM on June 11, 2014 [20 favorites]


And what was that recording Malvo was listening to? The fellow mentioned "my son, Albert, is dead" but I don't know what that refers to.

I've been thinking that might just be his way of unwinding after a hard day at the office. He pretends to be a guy that says "aces" non-ironically for 6 months so reminding himself of past conquests is how he lets off steam.
posted by Green With You at 8:20 PM on June 11, 2014 [9 favorites]


Canadian Actor of the Week: The mouth at the beginning was played by Lorne Cardinal, best known as Davis from Corner Gas.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:53 PM on June 11, 2014 [4 favorites]


I really want to give up on my theory that Oswalt knows more than he lets on but the show makes it so hard to tell if he's incompetent or devious. Still leaning towards well-intentioned and partial idiot ... mostly.

I was worried that Oswalt was going to check Budge and Pepper's credentials , thus further discrediting Molly's investigation in his eyes.
posted by Ranucci at 9:09 PM on June 11, 2014 [1 favorite]


And what was that recording Malvo was listening to? The fellow mentioned "my son, Albert, is dead" but I don't know what that refers to.

I think Malvo is a chaotic serial killer who experiences pleasure from killing. Remember how he took that long drag on the cigarette after shooting Linda? Perhaps the tapes are trophies he has brought back from various assignments.
posted by mecran01 at 12:04 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Perhaps the tapes are trophies he has brought back from various assignments."

We've seen him once already recording a tape and slipping it into the case. I don't remember where - probably in a scene with Don Chumpf, but I'm not 100% certain. Regardless, I recognized the case as "Malvo's collection of recordings from past jobs" so I know there was context given earlier in the season.
posted by komara at 6:21 AM on June 12, 2014


Malvo is being portrayed much like Chigurh in No Country for Old Men, a kind of malevolent ... force more than an actual person.

Yes, and that became distracting this week in a way this show hasn't been for me before. The writing for Malvo got too far into twirly-moustache cartoon villain for me. Lester too, in a way.
posted by transient at 6:35 AM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Why did Malvo not kill Lester in Vegas? Why shoot everybody in the elevator EXCEPT the guy who poses a risk because he knows what you really are?
posted by something something at 8:03 AM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I think Malvo just likes fucking with Lester. Now, of course, he's going to try to kill him.

Predictions for the finale? Who is going to make it out alive?

Will we see Mr. Wrench again? What about Stavros?
posted by gaspode at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2014


"Why did Malvo not kill Lester in Vegas?"

Because the show's producers were playing a game of Fox, Rabbit, Cabbage and trying to get everyone to Bemidji at the same time without losing anyone in the process.

Okay, so that doesn't adequately explain why they showed Malvo just letting Lester walk away instead of making it a challenge. Maybe we'll just have to pretend that it was because he was hit on the head, even though that didn't seem to faze him much.
posted by komara at 8:21 AM on June 12, 2014


Malvo recorded the call Lester made to him after he killed his wife. I was certain that was for blackmail purposes,but maybe not.

I think "Is this what you want?" was asking "Do you want to start the game again?" No fun to just kill him.
posted by InfidelZombie at 8:23 AM on June 12, 2014 [3 favorites]


Does anybody know if they intend to have a second season or is this supposed to be something like True Detective where the story is contained in just one season beginning to end?
posted by Justin Case at 9:14 AM on June 12, 2014


It's supposed to have a new cast and new story for season 2, just like True Detective. Though I don't know how they are going to replace Billy Bob Thornton for season 2 (just like how are they going to replace Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson).
posted by LizBoBiz at 9:42 AM on June 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


So what happened to the supermarket king and the ransom money?


posted by Catblack at 1:43 PM on June 12, 2014


"So what happened to the supermarket king and the ransom money?"

My impression, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, is this:

Malvo set up Chumpf to take the fall for the blackmail / ransom. I mean eventually the cops would figure out that he didn't tape himself to that workout machine, but that would at least give Malvo time enough to get out of town.

Malvo went through a series of elaborate setups to convince Stavros that God was angry and to help put him into the mindset that paying the money would be the right thing to do. Unfortunately (?) he pushed too far and Stavros tried to give the money directly back to God by burying it in a snowbank just as he found it. [other FanFare commenters have speculated that this is going to be played as the binding force between the movie, this season, and future seasons of Fargo - the money being found and used and put back into the wild.]

On his way to deal with Stavros - presumably to collect the money - Malvo was caught in the blizzard and ambushed by Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers. After that he stuck around just long enough to figure out who had ordered this attempted assassination. He then visited their organization in [name of city, I have forgotten] and perpetrated that massive shootout / slaughter in retaliation.

At which point things probably got hot for him so went into hiding, washing his hands of the Stavros thing since he couldn't very well stick around to meet up and take the money. This is probably when he began the plan on the brother-in-law in the Witness Protection Program, perhaps to make up for the botched plan for Stavros' money.

I don't think Malvo knows that Stavros ditched the cash. All Stavros knows is that his son is dead and he (Stavros) probably never even made the meetup point anyway.

Not necessarily tidy but I think that sums it up.
posted by komara at 2:08 PM on June 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


One scene that made me squirm as much as the looming threat of violence was Malvo recounting the famous Tim Conway / Harvey Korman dentist sketch from the Carol Burnett Show as if it happened to him.
posted by The Deej at 2:29 PM on June 12, 2014 [15 favorites]


Also, I'm re-watching it now and Lester was wearing a dark grey/blue coat on the drive home from the airport after fleeing Vegas. He happens to see his old orange coat hanging in the basement when he gets his gun, a coat he knows Malvo would recognize. He contemplates it for a few seconds before grabbing it. So setting up his own wife was even more coldly premeditated than it first appeared.
posted by The Deej at 3:02 PM on June 12, 2014 [13 favorites]


And he specifically told her not to bring a coat, too. Too warm in Acapulco (or wherever).
posted by Etrigan at 3:24 PM on June 12, 2014 [7 favorites]


Yeah, he said "Oh, you're not gonna need a winter coat where we're goin'!"

I also noticed that after he shows her the (one person, one way, passenger: Lester Nygaard) plane ticket (brandishing two sheets of paper as if they are two tickets), he puts the papers in the inside coat pocket of the orange coat. I wonder if this will end up biting him in the ass.
posted by The Deej at 3:44 PM on June 12, 2014 [8 favorites]


Oh jeez, just saw that the actor who plays Gus is Tom Hanks' kid.
posted by Catblack at 8:19 PM on June 12, 2014


Oh jeez, just saw that the actor who plays Gus is Tom Hanks' kid.

Thank god it's Colin, and not Chet Haze, the rapper!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 10:44 PM on June 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


"Are you just being Malvo about this?" is going to be my new accusation of bad faith over on the Blue.

It's like being Miley. Only way, way worse.

Some of the long hallway shots in the Vegas hotel (combined with the score in those scenes) had a Barton Fink feel. Or should I say, they had that Barton Fink feeling.
posted by doctornecessiter at 8:49 AM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


Gah! I was expecting to see Danny Torrance on his Big Wheel!
posted by potsmokinghippieoverlord at 9:49 AM on June 13, 2014 [4 favorites]


echoing Chigurh and the gas station attendant

See also, Stephen Root using the word "friend-o."
posted by mudpuppie at 6:57 PM on June 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


I was expecting to see Danny Torrance

Yes, the tracking shots down hotel corridors (and the ominous waiting at elevators) seemed very much Shining references to me.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 11:03 PM on June 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


Since it's our last chance for conjecture, it just crossed my mind that perhaps both Oswalt and Lou know exactly who Malvo is, and (because of Sioux Falls, which Oswalt hasn't been connected with I think, but never mind about that, he's the right sort of age and I'm MAD THEORIZIN') what he is capable of if you don't just walk away. Which is what both of them are doing in their own ways: Lou by leaving the police and opening a diner and Oswalt by steadfastly refusing to investigate the case properly, and they've both been doing their best to encourage Molly to get to safety by following their examples. Which she's refused to do, so she's going up against the devil.
posted by Grangousier at 4:12 PM on June 15, 2014 [4 favorites]


I can't wait for the finale and then might have to do a rewatch. I'm hoping Molly and her family make it through ok but I'm not terribly attached to anyone else.

Anyone else doing the finale prediction sheet?

Scody I'm sorry that you got spoiled for Breaking Bad.
Is there a general fanfare consensus about what spoilers (in other shows) you can talk about in a thread for a given show?
posted by oneear at 9:53 PM on June 15, 2014


Anyone else doing the finale prediction sheet?

OH GOD IF THEY KILL GRETA I WILL FUCKING LOSE IT.

Is there a general fanfare consensus about what spoilers (in other shows) you can talk about in a thread for a given show?

No, but I'd lean away from spoiling anything recent.
posted by Etrigan at 5:57 AM on June 16, 2014


I'm really liking the idea that Malvo isn't really a person but some abstract force of nature. I find it tantalizing that his name is two letters away from being an anagram for "malevolent." And that reference to the Garden of Eden in the diner. Like, he's always been around and always will be.

That feels like a shout-out to Smalls in "Raising Arizona," who, IIRC, wasn't really a human being but some aspect of himself that Hi had "unleashed."

I agree with Sepinwall that in the opening bit, it sure seemed like he went to a lot of trouble and expense for a bounty as small as $100,000. Which suggests (a) he does it for the fun of it/because that's who/what he is, and (b) he has unlimited resources available to him.

And my god, that scene in the diner. I just kept waiting for it to explode ... and then it didn't. Pretty amazing scenes throughout this episode.
posted by jbickers at 7:32 AM on June 17, 2014 [2 favorites]


I agree with Sepinwall that in the opening bit, it sure seemed like he went to a lot of trouble and expense for a bounty as small as $100,000. Which suggests (a) he does it for the fun of it/because that's who/what he is, and (b) he has unlimited resources available to him.

Maybe the $100K is his fee on top of reimbursed expenses, so he didn't feel like he was "out" any of the latter.
posted by Etrigan at 7:45 AM on June 17, 2014






Oh my god, the last scene was insane. Malvo is frightening and watching Lester on the run is INTENSE. I hope the finale is both of them dying just to release the tension.
posted by mathowie at 9:32 PM on December 29, 2014


Regarding the Billy Bob Thornton character's name, the brainwashed juvenile in the Washington DC area Beltway sniper case was also named Malvo. That case had some incredible details, which he discusses in an interview conducted ten years later.
posted by carmicha at 6:12 AM on July 16, 2016


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