Fargo: Palindrome

It’s been quite the experience. Fargo, season 2, has come to an end. Not a conclusion, per se; an end. Last year, I wasn’t convinced yet. The first season was too much of a ‘Going Coen’ type of exercise. The tone was spot on, but the story as a whole felt too fragmental, and the reasoning of the characters was often hard to follow. This year, the cohesiveness is there. Understanding of the characters is there – no matter their goofiness. The tone has stayed. The absurdity has risen to great heights. The show deserves every Golden Globe nomination it received last week. It’s a pity it’s over now, with the finale ‘Palindrome’.

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Alien
I love how Lou (Patrick Wilson) speaks the words that every episode of Fargo starts with. ‘This is a true story…’
I love the montage of all the casualties of the last few weeks, and the inclusion of Lou’s wife Betsy (Cristin Milioti), who then opens her eyes.
I love the flash forward to the Future Lou (Keith Carradine) and Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman).
I love the use of the song ‘War Pigs’ by Black Sabbath to kick things off again.
I love how Mike (Bokeem Woodbine) enters the house. Is he… an… alien..? No, it was just tongue-in-cheek, wasn’t it? Was it?

Relentless
I love Peggy’s (Kirsten Dunst) ‘You’re going to be okay’, after seeing a pretty devastating wound. Relentless Blumquist optimism.
I love Peggy and Ed’s (Jesse Plemons) emotional moment (in a cold storage).
I love ‘You see the shotgun, right?’
I love the ticking clock in the background, during Mike’s speech about kings. And cruelty.
I love the cold, making Peggy hallucinate.
I love how Lou’s obnoxious colleague Ben ‘I don’t know how to write this up’ Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell) is almost overtaken by emotions.

Dreaming
I love Lou and Peggy’s car drive.
I love Peggy’s romantic idea of a Californian prison, overlooking the ocean.
I love Lou’s war story.
I love ‘They call it our burden, but it’s really our privilege’.
I love Peggy’s look in the backseat, like life has been drained from her face.
I love the car drive ending with ‘California Dreamin’’

Desk Job
I love how the makeup artists went all out on Hanzee’s (Zahn McClarnon) face.
I love that Mike’s done all his hard work, only to get offered a desk job. (Probably means he’s not an alien after all.)
I love that he has to get something grey, or pinstriped.
I love that the show’s quietly moved into the eighties. The end of an era. Everything’s different now. Everything’s just about the money.

Good Intentions
I love how Mr. and Mrs. Solverson are such a believable couple, including inside marriage jokes.
I love that Hank (Ted Danson) is creating a new language. Based on boxes and triangles.
I love that he sees himself, not as a good man, but a man with good intentions.
I love that the season ends with Lou and Betsy in bed. Tomorrow’s just another day. No reason to let her die from cancer in the last scene. Everything’s fine at that exact moment. They turn off the light and go to sleep.

Fargo: The Castle

It almost feels unfair that Fargo, at least when it’s 1979 concerned, is almost over. Next week gives us the final instalment of the perfect revival of absurdism since 2037. (I tried a little absurdism right there myself; see how hard that is?) Could Fargo have paved the way for other completely off-beat drama, or is it one of a kind, an unimitatable kind? We’ll just have to see. Right now, let’s kick back, relax and enjoy ‘The Castle’, wonderfully directed by Adam Arkin (Justified, Masters of Sex, Sons of Anarchy).

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If I Were Us
I love the anything-but-slick opening of the episode, with the opening of a history book. As if the show’s based on real events. Wait a minute. Isn’t it a true story, then? Wasn’t the first season real either? But the movie was, right? Yes. Thank god.
I love the narrator, too.
I love the shot through the window of the supply store. Such a hard shot to make – I mean the camera shot, of course – with the reflection as clearly visible as the store manager behind the window.
I love the ‘We are not alone’ sticker. It would be totally random, but we know better. Or do we?
I love ‘They don’t look like much.’
I love ‘If I were us…’
I love how Lou (Patrick Wilson) sticks up for the Blumquists.

Non-Synchronicity
I love that Ed (Jesse Plemons) doesn’t know what a ‘wire’ is or means.
I love Peggy’s (Kirsten Stewart) ‘Hey!’
I love the non-synchronicity of the scene with Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) making a phone call.
I love the conversation between Hank (Ted Danson) and Captain Jeb Cheney (Wayne Duvall).
I love that Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) is on the look out, on top of a building that reads ‘Optometrist’. Or is that a bit too much on the nose? You know what, I don’t care.

Hashtag Hero Shot
I love how Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell), excuse me, Detective Benjamin Schmidt is becoming more and more of an asshole. A gullible asshole.
I love Chief Gibson (Terry Kinney) out of his uniform, just hanging it all out, passive-aggressively telling Jeb that the ice machine is ‘all crapped out’.
I love ‘I’m an outdoor guy myself’ in this context.
I love Floyd Gerhardt’s (Jean Smart) pose, white sweater, red coat, swung to the side, her gun exposed. Hashtag hero shot.

They
I love the obvious shadows of bad guys moving across the curtains, but everybody’s too busy playing cards (and discussing whether or not pissing in the pool is acceptable).
I love how Jeb completely overdoes his fall off the bed.
I love the look in Bear Gerhardt’s (Angus Sampson) eyes change.
I love the freeze frames.
I love that Lou sees… something… in the sky..?
I love that it has ‘puzzled historians for decades.’
I love the shootout between Hanzee and Lou.
I love that Hank will probably survive.
I love that they finally show up.

Fargo: Loplop

Noah Hawley is hot. And rightly so. He’s being linked to several new shows and adaptations, not to mention FX renewed his Coen/Hawley brain child Fargo for a third season. But we’re still in the second. Episode 8, ‘Loplop’, a longer one than usual. More to see. More to love.

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Positive Peggy
I love Peggy’s (Kirsten Dunst) hallucination, which is a philosophical Coen version of The Matrix’ ‘The Architect’.
I love ‘He’s the leader.’
I love the overhead shot when Peggy and Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons) drive away (with Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffrey Donovan) presumably in the trunk). Is it more than just a nice shot? A UFO, maybe?
I love the Blumquist house. Not just the magazine basement, but also the living room, with the squared lowered floor section. One more thing that makes me wonder: when did that go out of style?
I can’t get enough of Peggy swinging the electrocuting stick around.
I love ‘Foot’s on the other shoe now.’
I love ‘Positive Peggy is what they call me’, after stabbing Dodd twice in the chest.
I love Dodd eating beans.
Correction: being bean-fed.
I love the look Dodd gives Ed, terrified of Peggy.
I love Ed telling his wife to ‘stop stabbing him.’

Puzzle
I love Ed making phone calls, but no one’s answering.
I love Peggy is finally ‘working as equals’ with Ed.
I love Ed deciding to just call ‘the other side’, to take Dodd off his hands.
I love Ed’s conversation with Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine).
I love how all the characters are steered towards one location – for the apotheosis. This must’ve been Hawley’s plan all along, and even though it’s only a 10-episode season, it’s been one heck of a puzzle he’s created. This season in particular will go into the TV drama screenplay writing history books as the example of ‘How it’s done’.

Bone Structure
I love Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) interrogating the shop owner, specifically his final word: ’Yes’.
I love the breaking of the knife handle.
I love Dodd’s solution of getting the knife out of his foot, or should I say getting his foot out from under the knife. Or something. I don’t think there’s a way to describe the balls on this man.
I love Peggy coming to the rescue.
I love ‘You’ve got the bone structure.’
I love the arrival of Lou (Patrick Wilson) and Hank (Ted Danson).
I love the slow motion.
I love that Hanzee’s out of bullets.
I love the pair of scissors flying through the air.
I love that Hanzee escapes. We’re running out of bad guys, it’s nice to keep one around for a little longer.

Aliens
I love the cabin Ed and Peggy are holding Dodd. It’s one of Fargo’s many strengths; sets and locations. Even though ‘Loplop’ may be running a bit long, especially considering it almost entirely qualifies as a flashback, there’s a lot to enjoy. I do hope the last two episodes will be more kaleidoscopical again, although that seems impossible now, with so few characters left. And I hope that UFO hasn’t just been a silly gimmick. I don’t need to see aliens, but it’d better play a role of importance.

Fargo: Did You Do This? No, You Did It!

In last week’s ‘Rhinoceros’, Fargo walked a straight line, but the show’s grown a few extra limbs again, which has resulted in ‘Did You Do This? No, You Did It!’, an episode like a broken up chocolate bar; delicious splintered pieces of the same thing.

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Jaws
I love the fargonian predictability. On a show like this, you know trouble’s on the rise when two window washers are moving into view. Is it just a nice touch? Something to add extra flavor? Or does it have a purpose? You’re damn right it has.
I love the use of music. The episode starts with a killing collage, accompanied by the song ‘Locomotive Breath’ by Jethro Tull.
I love ‘I’m grown’.
I love the Jaws reference. Because it’s Jaws, ya?
I love that the police waited till ‘the dirt settled’.
I love the deep voice of Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson), not to mention the grunts in between.

Adorable Chubby Police Captain
I love ‘I’m going to smoke’, while being in an interrogation room.
I love the cops pulling out the ashtray, like that’s what you do. I love that it’s probably completely accurate – taking place in the seventies and all – and at the same time it’s a clear comment on the times we live in now.
I love smoke on screen.
I love guest star Terry Kinney (Oz, Show Me a Hero, The Mentalist), who always seems to pick ‘tough guy’ roles – but never looks the part. Here, he plays an adorable chubby police captain. Fargo, because of being populated by different degrees of goofball, really brings out the best of every actor on the show.
I love ‘This thing is over when you say it’s over.’
I love the ‘northern expansion’.
I love Floyd Gerhardt’s (Jean Smart) eye-roll. Hey, it’s in the tiny details, you know.

Seen Me or Watched Me
I love the grey, bleached, light-brownish look of the show. I love the subtlety of it; it’s not an obvious filter.
I love ‘sending The Undertaker’.
I love the vocabulary of Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine).
I love the elevator mirror. Very Bohemian Rhapsodian.
I love ‘Seen me? Or watched me?’
I love ‘the noose’. Just because of the sound, I guess.

Speeches and Pants
I love the creepy smile of Ricky (Ryan O’Nan, Ray Donovan, The Unusuals, Mercy).
I love Lou Solverson’s (Patrick Wilson) speech to Mike. Nail + Head.
I love Mike’s speech to Lou.
I love Karl (Nick Offerman), his back, the couch and the floor. And those pants. When did they ever go out of style? Now that type of clothing should be in clothing stores – and not just in vintage clothing stores.

Triumphant & Downplayed
I love the trip of Bear and Simone (Rachel Keller). It had quite a Sopranos feel to it.
I love the fish-eyed aerial shots.
I love you never see (or hear) Bear pulling the trigger.
I love Floyd’s ‘they bought it’ look.
I love ‘That’s one way to think about it.’
But what I loved most was the great climax of the episode, which featured a both triumphant and downplayed return of the long absent Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons), making a phone call.

Fargo: Rhinoceros

There aren’t many characters left in the world of Fargo. Besides, the Gerhardt family is after Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons), which seems to be the main – and at this point only – storyline. There isn’t even a single UFO peeking around the corner this week, so it’s all pretty straight forward. Operation Get the Butcher. The only thing standing between Ed and Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan), is a handful of police officers. More than ever before, ’Rhinoceros’ turns the show into a full-blown western, paying tribute, in very Fargo fashion, to Assault on Precinct 13.

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Unprovable
I love Lou Solverson’s (Patrick Wilson) reference to westerns; ‘This kind of thing didn’t work in westerns, and it’s not going to work tonight’. Especially season 2 of the show, qualifies Fargo, in my book, as a 21st century western. That also makes me a bit uneasy, though, because with that UFO flying about, I hope it won’t turn into Cowboys & Aliens.
I love ‘unprovable’.
I love Dodd getting kicked the shit out of him, but calmly telling the shitkicker to ‘cut it out’.
I love Dodd talking with blood in his mouth.
I love Mike Milligan’s (Bokeem Woodbine) poem recital.

Grits
I love Simone’s (Rachel Keller) seventies blue bell bottoms.
I love Simone’s ‘grits’.
I love ‘You just try to be dramatic’.
I love Ed’s own interpretation of the Pushing the Boulder story.
I love Ed’s arrest is where Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman) really comes into the fold. It seems everyone’s connected to the story now.

Outside the Blumquist House
I love Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) stepping outside of the Blumquist house.
I love the Gerhardt cars just standing there. Lights on. Nobody stepping out.
I love how unimpressed Dodd is, seeing police officer Hank there.
I love Dodd’s weapon of choice.
I love ‘Ed home?’

Allies
I love the Blumquist magazine maze.
I love Peggy and the Stick.
I love how Karl enters a room (or police station for that matter) drunk.
I love ‘Hold on now, we’re all allies’.
I love the tension on Hank’s face.
I love the tension on Karl’s face.
I love Karl smoking a cigar.

Foxhole Brotherhood
I love Lou’s simple escape plan.
I love Lou and Ed getting picked up by Hank, and Ed deciding to make a run for it.
I love how Lou and Hank just let him go; they’ll find him again soon enough.
I love foxhole brotherhood.
I love the moment the song ‘Man of Constant Sorrow’ kicks in. Perfect.
But most of all, and I’ve already mentioned it, but it can’t be mentioned enough, I absolutely love Dodd’s line of ‘Ed home?’

Fargo: The Gift of the Magi

Who’s going to get the gift and what kind of gift is it? Gold, frankincense or myrrh? I guess we’ll never know. Fargo is like creator Noah Hawley’s brain, with a lot of tiny doors randomly opened, that makes for an awesome kaleidoscopic tale of reality, religion, supernaturalism and absurdism. As usual, I shall list everything I love about it.

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Simplicity
I love the simplicity of a shot. Just a line across the screen. An horizon, with a bus moving from right to left.
I love the bus is Ronald Reagan’s campaign bus.
I love that Reagan (Bruce Campbell) states that the rise in ‘crime’ is equally as bad as ‘standing in line for gas’.
I love forest shootouts. Snowy forest shootouts. Especially snowy forests that aren’t dense. Are you paying attention, Game of Thrones?
I love hunters getting hunted.
I love that at least one of the Kitchen Brothers isn’t invincible.
I love the way the shootout is cross-edited with Reagan’s speech.
I love Joe Bulo’s (Brad Garrett) big uh-oh moment.

Errands
I love Ed (Jesse Plemons) and Peggy Blumquist’s (Kirsten Dunst) book and magazine storage basement.
I love the soft-toned arguing of the Blomquists.
I love mistaken identities.
I love the dress on Simone Gerhardt (Rachel Keller).
I love the term ‘run an errand’.
I love Karl Weather’s (Nick Offerman) crabs joke.
I love Lou Solverson’s (Patrick Wilson) reply.

Paper Bag
I love the silver linings of Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine).
I love that a situation that’s nothing compared to the Cuban missile crisis is being compared to the Cuban missile crisis.
I love that ‘my mom knows Floyd’ is followed by an eye-roll.
I love the hard cut to a wooden Indian statue.
I love that you just know Charlie (Allan Dobrescu) is not going to go through with it.
I love how Charlie steps back into the car – with a small paper bag.
I love the way Reagan can’t come up with a good answer to Lou’s question.

Fire
I love ‘moments ago’.
I love the fight inside the butcher shop.
I love how they pulled off a big fire like that; not the easiest of special effects, I imagine.
I love that Ed’s not as wimpy as he appears.
I love the fact that Charlie needs to be saved.
I love that there’s always something somewhere, to remind us there’s still a UFO out there. (But I do get a bit impatient, to be honest.)
I love the sound Dodd Gerhardt’s (Jeffrey Donovan) leather jacket makes.
But what I loved most of all was Ed’s ‘thank you’.

Fargo: Fear and Trembling

It’s a bit of a slow week for Fargo. ‘Fear and Trembling’ isn’t as snappy as the first three episodes of season 2. There’s still a lot to enjoy, of course. For all intents and purposes, this week was all about circling the wagons. The Gerhardt family tried to stand their ground, keep their turf, against Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett), but interim crime boss Floyd (Jean Smart) didn’t stand a chance. I’m sure Bulo never really considered their counter offer, but Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) made it easy for him to decline. The Gerhardts are going to roll over, no matter what. From what we know about them, rolling over is not in their vocabulary.

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1951
I love a brief throwback to 1951. I suppose for a third season, anything’s possible now, in terms of time era. If season 2 isn’t bound to 1979, then season 3 could tell an absurd tale spanning several decades, why not?
I love the fact dads in the 1950s still tell their sons to be quiet in a movie theatre.
I love this particular son turns out to be Dodd Gerhardt, and we find out how his life of crime began; pretty traumatic, I’d say.

Right Hand Man
I love the casting of Dodd’s right hand man with a spastic right hand, Charlie (Allan Dobrescu). The proper medical term is osteoarthritis, by the way. I assume Dobrescu doesn’t wear some sort of prop (this is still Hollywood, after all), and indeed suffers from this joint disease. It’s great for him as an actor to get jobs in spite of it. It’s great that it’s actually incorporated in the script, in a way that shows it’s not as impractical as you might think. The scene in which he proves to Dodd he’s no lesser man than anybody else, sends the great message of ‘yes, I may be disabled, but my disability doesn’t make me pitiful; I can still do anything I want.’ Like being Dodd’s right hand man, which quite honestly, isn’t such a smart thing to want.
I love ‘I’ll give you a kiss.’
I love how Dodd hesitates when he’s ordering an ‘old-fashioned’ for Charlie.
I love Dodd, I can’t help it.

Ed, Peggy, Karl and Sonny
I love the authentic, but also boring and kind of sad love making of Ed (Jesse Plemons) and Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst).
I love how Ed, who’s finally sleeping with his wife again, is getting way ahead of himself. He goes from orgasm to picket fence in 3.6 seconds.
I love that Nick Offerman’s back again. He’s been stringing together a bunch of memorable supporting roles lately.
I love how Sonny (Dan Beirne) tries to convince Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) that he’s fought in Vietnam and they called him ‘Mad Dog’.
I love how Karl (Offerman) and Sonny are like Laurel and Hardy.

Nostalgia
I love that Mike (Bokeem Woodbine) got an unexpected finger inside of him, from Simone (Rachel Keller).
I love that it was actually her thumb.
I love how people in the seventies are missing the sixties. Like people in the eighties must’ve missed the seventies, and the people in the nineties the eighties, etcetera. It’s very nostalgic, looking back on a time that feels like it was better but wasn’t, and this season Fargo is full of nostalgia, which I love, too.
I love that Lou (Patrick Wilson) and Hank (Ted Danson) find Ed’s car.
I love that Lou puts one and two together quite fast.

Tuesday
I love the typically seventies, desolate look of the Pearl Hotel.
I love, no, adore the set where Floyd and Joe are negotiating. Beautifully creepy and masterfully lit.
I love that the grinder makes funny sounds.
I love how Peggy’s trying to stand up for herself and is coached by Constance (Elizabeth Marvel).
I love even more how Peggy manages to stay so incredibly polite.
I love the opera music underneath the scene where Hanzee’s inspecting Ed and Peggy’s house.
I love the conversation between Lou and the Blomquists.
I love ‘His brain hasn’t caught up with reality.’
But what I love most is the line: ‘You still think it’s Tuesday.’