Fargo: Palindrome
December 14, 2015 8:36 PM - Season 2, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Peggy and Ed Blumquist try and make a run for it.
posted by komara (37 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have so many things I want to say about this episode but by far the thing I want to say the most is:

"Mr. Numbers! Mr. Wrench!"

because that's what I said out loud as the episode aired.
posted by komara at 8:36 PM on December 14, 2015 [9 favorites]

I knew what was gonna happen to Ed the moment they stepped into that freezer.
posted by Windigo at 8:38 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

But ok.....question....in season one Lou is telling his granddaughter about the night he stayed up all night with a gun to protect his family against bad people in the winter of 1979, right? We never got that scene, did we?
posted by Windigo at 8:42 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Ya we did. He was outside tying knots. I found it on the Googles.
posted by turbid dahlia at 8:44 PM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

Now that that's out of the way:

- the opening montage of all the dead Gerhardts was just beautiful, or at least as beautiful as it's possible to make so many wasted lives.
- Betsy's speech about her vision of the future did wonders to instill in me some sense of worry about Lou even though we know for absolute sure that he survives. I honestly wondered for a minute if the show was going to tell us, "But this happy vision is an alternate reality, and in Betsy's reality none of this ever happens and Lou comes to a horrible end." I mean I wouldn't have put it past them. I would also have accepted this just fine.
- Man, the use of War Pigs was so effective. I never would have thought that to be the appropriate soundtrack to this show, and yet it was.
- and then to show Milligan listening to it in the car. Wow.
- I enjoyed the shades of (but not necessarily direct callbacks to) No Country for Old Men, in the bit where Ed and Peggy went to get in the car and the driver was shot from a distance, and then later the few seconds of tense shootout in the quiet nighttime business district of some small town, people diving behind cars, people following blood trails, etc.
- Kirsten Dunst's acting when Peggy realizes that Ed is dead was just wonderful. I have never been a fan of hers, but I absolutely am now.
- Mr. Numbers! Mr. Wrench!
posted by komara at 8:46 PM on December 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Milligan's 'ending' hit the sweetest note for me.

The only ending that kinda left me hungry was Peggy's. She's told not to move, and that's...it. I think we all were waiting for her to tear off in the car though. The way Lou angled his body away from her, the way it was shot, we were supposed to prepare ourselves for that. I guess her story started in a car, it had to end that way as well.
posted by Windigo at 8:53 PM on December 14, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, Lou's story about the Chinook helicopter during the evacuation of Saigon- that really happened. The pilot's name was Nguyen Ba Van.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:23 PM on December 14, 2015 [15 favorites]

Betsy's vision/dream moment was a nice callback to Raising Arizona.
posted by cazoo at 9:46 PM on December 14, 2015 [5 favorites]

Moses Tripoli was in season one.
posted by Gary at 12:47 AM on December 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

Sepinwall review and he also noted the Tripoli connection: "Kill and be killed. Head in a bag. There's the message."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 1:02 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

So is Hanzee Otto's son that he had with the maid?
posted by moons in june at 1:50 AM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

Great episode! And a good ending that wrapped it all up.

- Betsy's dream about the future (with Season 1 actors) made me tear up. It also convinced me she was about to die, but she didn't.

- So glad to see that Shit Cop survived! (I guess that shouldn't be a surprise, I think he was in season 1.) I'm sure he has a name but as soon as he showed up I yelled "SHIT COP!"

- Peggy's hallucination about being smoked out like in the movie was just perfect.

- Not sure why Hanzee changed his mind about pursuing Ed and Peggy... But he's probably lucky because there's no way he would have survived Peggy's ice-pick.

- Loved seeing Mike settled into a cubicle. He seemed absolutely shocked at the beginning of the scene and about to settle in and become a new man at the end. (And he had one of the new Selectrics!)

- I liked the explanation of Hank's room full of symbols: he's a closet language nerd. In retrospect that makes perfect sense since there were all sorts of different symbols all over the room from different systems. Never would have guessed that since I had UFOs on the brain.

- I liked Peggy's ending, she was already changing her goals and fantasizing about going to prison in California. And I did expect her to steal Lou's car and run off, but I'm glad she didn't.

Best season of TV I've seen in a long, long time.
posted by mmoncur at 2:09 AM on December 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

Loved seeing Mike settled into a cubicle.

Yeah, I thought that was so bittersweet for the character. It was like a cowboy suddenly having to adapt to the modern world (ala Monte Walsh) after building a career based on the old paradigm.

That scene raised a detail question for me, though. That list of benefits being recited...How common were 401(k)'s in 1979? They were enacted just the prior year, and remained pretty obscure through a good part of the 80s, as far as I can recall.

It just seemed like an odd inclusion, unless it was meant to paint the crime-corporation as being as bleeding-edge as possible.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:17 AM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

As soon as Milligan called Syd friendo you knew he was a goner.

I thought this episode was a bit of a let down overall. In tone. It just didn't have the tension of any of the other episode, especially last week's. That one was so amazing that it would have been hard to top, I guess. I felt unsatisfied with some of the wrap ups. I was glad to know for sure what happened to Simone though. I mean...most of us thought she died but I did hold out hope. And I did love Milligan ending up in the sad little office, and with that little glance to the left, you knew he could already feel the walls closing in.

Kirsten Dunst has to win something for this.
posted by the webmistress at 7:06 AM on December 15, 2015 [6 favorites]

Ha! I wondered about the 401k as well.
posted by Windigo at 7:07 AM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

I'd have been really happy if the episode ended with Lou getting in his car outside the Market. The plaintive, swelling music playing in that scene was from the original movie, or very similar, and the dialogue with stupid cop was the perfect summation of the show: "Well, like anything, I guess. You know. Start at the start, work your way to the end."

The next 40 minutes was completely unnecessary, and I found it mostly unsatisfying. There were a few payoffs, but I'd have been OK with ambiguity.
posted by QuakerMel at 7:49 AM on December 15, 2015 [4 favorites]

I really enjoyed this season, though not as much as the last season. I liked Molly more than Lou.

But once again, I find myself irritated with the choices about women and ending of story arcs. I was frustrated that it was not Molly who took out Malvo, and I am frustrated that Peggy's excuse of "but my life is circumscribed by expectations for women" was both an excuse for setting off all the violence, and sort of a joke on the director's part - like, "hah, she still wants to self-actualize and doesn't even get it!"
posted by ChuraChura at 7:53 AM on December 15, 2015 [7 favorites]

I was definitely Googling Moses Tripoli as soon as Hanzee started talking plastic surgery and sounding like Malvo. I think that would have been a step too far. Going to have to watch out for him when I do a rewatch of Season 1 very soon because I don't want to say goodbye to this bizarre show yet.
posted by yellowbinder at 8:09 AM on December 15, 2015

I am frustrated that Peggy's excuse of "but my life is circumscribed by expectations for women" was both an excuse for setting off all the violence, and sort of a joke on the director's part - like, "hah, she still wants to self-actualize and doesn't even get it!"

I didn't read it that way. I think Peggy is one of the better looks at the limitated opportunities for women since Betty Draper. She really does get it it her last scene -- that no matter how many classes she takes, no matter how many plans she makes, and no matter how actualized she becomes, the system is rigged against her.

I mean, we're supposed to think that Lou is a good guy and a good cop, but he consistently behaves as though Peggy is somehow at fault for everything going on. She's not -- she's a side show. The war would have happened one way or the other, and her accidentally killing Rye probably actually saved a few lives, seeing how willing Rye was to take out civilians.

Everything Peggy wants is stymied by men. Her husband wants her to settle into a life of being a housewife and mother, and insists on using her savings to buy a business that will force her into that life while denying her the opportunity to attend the classes she wants. And he couldn't be any more oblivious about her desires -- all she wants to do is go to California and cut movie star hair, and she couldn't be any less subtle about it, as she has filled their entire house with magazines that are about nothing but hairstyling and California travel, and they cover every surface, so much that people can't sit down.

But she plows on ahead, trying to find the secret that will unstick her. Classes? Maybe, but while she's going about her business, that murderous idiot Rye has to step into the street right in front of her. She doesn't know why she just drove him home. Maybe she doesn't have time for yet another man getting in her way. Maybe she hopes this will somehow force a change. It's like a dream to her, but it gets her moving, gets her to push her husband to start driving to California.

But even that is interrupted by men. Men after men after men, coming to her door with guns, and her husband, instead of taking her to California, just going to another of his family's houses, another place she doesn't want to be, another place where men with guns come to the door and dictate to her how her life is going to be. It's no wonder she obsessively watches a show in which a woman is trapped and a man is at the door with a gun. It's not just the climactic scene of the film -- it's her life, all summed up.

And here's the thing. She's a real force of nature. Almost everybody who comes for her dies. She has no problem asserting herself to these men with guns, knocking them out, stabbing them, electrocuting them. In a different world, she would have been Floyd Gerhardt, and probably would have made it work. She's tougher than Floyd, more willing to hurt people to get her way.

But there's no place in this world for tough women who want to make something of themselves. Floyd ends up dead, as does Simone, as does Constance, all killed by men as punishment. But Peggy was stronger than any of them. She's the only one who survived.

And what is her reward? Dreaming about possibly going to Alcatraz and being lectured to shut up by a cop who believes that men are put on earth to protect women, despite the fact that he has never once protected Peggy, and has actually abandoned his dying wife to be a bystander to carnage.

I like to think there is a coda to this movie, where Peggy is in prison, in California, and has gotten work in prison cutting hair, and, maybe every so often, a celebrity passes through on a federal charge, like Martha Stewart, and she cuts her hair, and is happy.

But Fargo is not set in a fair world, and Peggy, in her last scene, has realized it.
posted by maxsparber at 8:32 AM on December 15, 2015 [64 favorites]

The "penitentiary just north of San Francisco that looks out on the bay" is probably her thinking of San Quentin -- actually a men's prison. She's romanticizing it as a nice place.

The shots of Hanzee roaming the supermarket were processed to make them feel off-kilter -- hallucinatory, not reality.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 8:55 AM on December 15, 2015

"The shots of Hanzee roaming the supermarket were processed to make them feel off-kilter -- hallucinatory, not reality."

Thank you for bringing this up. I was wondering at the time why the lights were blinking and everything was so damn weird, but then I got caught up in the story and forgot to go back and think about it after we were shown that Peggy was ... uh ... hallucinating? daydreaming? that Hanzee was out there. Makes sense now that this is how we saw it in her head.
posted by komara at 9:29 AM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Thanks for that, maxsparber, that scene was kind of fucking me up and I really didn't have the words to explain exactly why.
posted by moons in june at 12:32 PM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

So much to go into esp re Peggy... I could write an essay, but it's crazy busy time at the mo, but a couple of points.

Couldn't help but smile when Broker tells Milligan to learn golf to help get on in the corporate world - It didn't seem to do a lot for golf fanantic Jerry Lundegaard in the original film

Hanzee's early obsession with a magic trick and then... abracadabra... he vanishes

We never saw the traffic stop that saw Lou Solverson shot and leaving the force... and I kinda wonder if that knot tying night really was the all night vigil mentioned in season one, was there another? Next season is apparently near the present day... but will we ever go back, may be the late 70s early 80s?
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:52 PM on December 15, 2015

Couldn't help but smile when Broker tells Milligan to learn golf to help get on in the corporate world

My first thought was that as a black man he wouldn't be allowed on the golf courses in Missouri.
posted by LizBoBiz at 1:15 PM on December 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

The one thing that I really expected to happen that did not happen: we did not see a young Wade Gustafson coming into his money in some way that tied him into this season.

I mean Fargo S01 made its ties to Fargo-the-film very explicit, with the money in the case on the side of the road marked by a red ice scraper. I was just sure that the mob money in this season would end up being that money after having been passed through Wade.

and who knows? Maybe it all is, maybe that's for later. I was just sure it would happen in this season, though.
posted by komara at 2:02 PM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

Can someone explain what happened to Hanzee after this season? Especially with regards to the mob, Numbers and Wrench, and Malvo. I'm trying to make sense of how all the various forces tie together.
posted by 2ht at 4:00 PM on December 15, 2015

Hanzee got plastic surgery and became the bearded mob boss that Billy Bob killed in the first season.
posted by maxsparber at 4:36 PM on December 15, 2015 [2 favorites]

So, er, what about Bear's son Charlie? Isn't he still sitting in the holding cell at Lou's precinct in Luverne?
posted by flyingsquirrel at 5:06 PM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

From creator Noah Hawley:

"he served about four years in prison and got out as the sole surviving Gerhardt and had to make a life for himself. On a lot of levels, he’s left behind as the last man standing of the Gerhardt family. I’m sure he took a long hard look at himself and the fact that his nature, which was much more gentle, was in such conflict with his upbringing. If he’s out there, I’d love to get a letter from him someday."
posted by komara at 5:09 PM on December 15, 2015 [12 favorites]

Okeee then.
posted by flyingsquirrel at 5:20 PM on December 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

I really love how many questions are left unanswered (well, questions that don't feel like plot holes). We don't need to see how Lou gets his limp. We don't need to see Betsy die. Those events are cogs in the wheel of this job we have here on earth.

Still wondering about the aliens (I laughed out loud when Mike walked into the Gerhardt house and shouted "Hello, people of Earth!"). But man did I love it when Hank started talking about a universal language. Mr. Squirrel is fluent in Esperanto and has a passion for utopian constructed languages, so we were literally cheering out loud (until we shushed ourselves so we could hear Ted Danson speak, because yes give him all the awards too).
posted by flyingsquirrel at 5:30 PM on December 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

That was wonderful. This was a masterpiece.

The thing I loved about Mike's ending was it so clearly acknowledges that though high finance and crime have always been connected, in the future they are one in the same, and it will be the biggest swindle in history. It connects so well with the grandiose nature of Mulligan and the grandiose egos of the swindlers themselves.

Loved the depth of the characters. You can see everyone's perspective from a personal point of view, from Peggy, Ed, Hanzee, everyone. You know where they're coming from. Every character had range.

Loved the line about not knowing how to write this up.
posted by juiceCake at 6:04 PM on December 15, 2015 [3 favorites]

This season and this episode were amazing. I can understand how people could feel this episode was underwhelming, since it was all denouement, but it was so effective. I teared up at Peggy's "come on Ed, we're saved!" (because I had four beers) and again at Betsy's "Camus didn't have six year-old daughter" speech (because I have a four-month-old).

I think Hank's explanation of the office was a reference to Blissymbols.
posted by team lowkey at 2:01 AM on December 16, 2015 [2 favorites]

I would like to think that Lou's story about the baby being caught from the helicopter happened to coincide with Betsy calling bullshit on Camus. They were both getting to the same point; they were saying the same thing, only with different words, different background metaphors. Lou struggled more than Betsy did, I think because he has not been raised to be a primary caregiver the way that she has been, but they were getting to the same point.

All Camus can see is this: we live in a world where babies sometimes fall and can die from those falls. What Lou and Betsy see is this: but when those babies fall, we reach out and goddamn grab them.
posted by meese at 11:30 AM on December 18, 2015 [5 favorites]

Thing is, I don't feel that Peggy was actualized or was held back by Ed or any of the others. Ed may be oblivious, but Peggy sure as hell isn't up front about it. She's secretly taking birth control while letting Ed think she's down with babies. He tells her he wants to buy the shop and she spends the cash on the seminar anyway.

And let's not forget the insane passive way she dealt with hitting Rye. She left him there, stuck in her windshield for Ed to deal with. Sure, Ed was oblivious, but Peggy was too. Neither of them communicated in any real way to any one. They were both so very wrapped up in their vision of what the world would be, that they never, for once, thought about other individuals. Peggy's so focus on her own actualization that she can't see the epic harm she's done. Ed' self-absorption is a little more benign, but he still only focuses on his needs to the exclusion of others. Both of them lead to an epic rain of death that is just mind-numbing.

Sure, there would have been some folks killed in the Gerhardt/KC throwdown, but Dodd couldn't have used Rye's death for the retaliation motivation. And if he wasn't out looking for Peggy and Ed, Hanzee wouldn't have been in that Sioux Falls bar, or the convenience store. Nor would he have been in a position to set up the Gerhardts to take on the cops. Did Hanzee manage to personally kill 22 people to balance out the Sioux that were hanged? I'm not sure, but his break couldn't have happened without the spark lit by Peggy and Ed's escape.

Either way, I don't think Peggy is a good guy or a victim in any way, shape, or form. At any point in her life, she could have packed up and left to go to California. Even after she hits Rye, she could have owned her actions and gotten him help. Called the police, what ever. Before that night, she could have bailed on Ed and done her own thing. Like a lot of women in the seventies did. Instead she kept grasping at straws and looking for the quick fix for her situation. A Lifespring conference, a magazine, a dream...nothing real, nothing that involved her doing the work and making the sacrifices.

Don't get me wrong, I loved Peggy's callousness and her fondness for a cattle prod, but she's no victim here. Not by a long shot.
posted by teleri025 at 7:56 AM on December 21, 2015 [6 favorites]

Its interesting how so many of the tropes from the time period are referenced obliquely in this series. "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" had come out in 1977 and gave us the whole expectation of UFOs poking about in the mid-west in search of who knows what. "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" was produced as a radio play from 1978 - and we hear Martin Freeman (who starred as Arthur Dent in the 2005 adaption) giving the type of "reading from a book which records everything" narrative that was popularised by this. We have Hank playing about with Bliss symbols (how to read Bliss) that were getting interest after Bliss' "Semantography" was published in 1978.

And finally, the palindrome brings us back where we started more or less and we get an ending to a gruesomely violet series that seems like something from The Waltons.
posted by rongorongo at 3:49 AM on June 29, 2017 [1 favorite]

« Older Brooklyn Nine-Nine: Yippie Kay...   |  Supergirl: Hostile Takeover... Newer »

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