‘Fargo’ Season Two, Episode Two: Before The Law

With Otto Gerhardt forever out of commission (it seems), there is a power grab for not only the leadership role, but the whole Fargo Criminal Empire that his father built (from a shoeshine box, no less).

The Gerhardt family is facing internal wars with the leadership role now in the hands of the family matriarch, Floyd. She is dealing with both Kansas City and her hot headed eldest son, Dodd. Kansas City wants to take over their criminal empire — corporate style (there apparently no more room for a “mom and pop” crime family in 1979 North Dakota). Dodd wants the throne, his promised lifelong destiny to be the leader of the family business.

FARGO -- ÒBefore The LawÓ -- Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd Gerhardt, Zahn McClarnon as Ohanzee Dent. CR: Chris Large/FX
FARGO — ÒBefore The LawÓ — Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd Gerhardt, Zahn McClarnon as Ohanzee Dent.
CR: Chris Large/FX

He openly defies Floyd in front of the family, saying “a boss can’t be a woman.” Floyd begs to differ — she comes off as pragmatic (once she’s dealt with the current crisis looming with Kansas City, she says she will hand Dodd the business, but I don’t believe that for a second) when dealing with the business and her kids. She offers no alternative, her word is final. She has Bear on her side, and nobody knows what the heck happened to Rye (whose body is sitting in the Blumquist’s garage in a cooler). Dodd wants to find Rye before Floyd does (as does Kansas City, whose plan is to flip one of the Gerhardt boys in their favor, otherwise they will take all of them out).

As we see, Ed Blumquist is taking the whole “running over Rye, dragging him half-hanging out of a windshield and then stabbing him to death with a garden instrument” thing badly. It is not sitting well with him, but his desire to keep his dream of building a family in Luverne is strong enough to make him make this “mistake” go away. Peggy seems less troubled by it, telling him he should go to work to keep up the facade that all is well in their world. It’s not, but he will do whatever he needs to do to keep his vision of their future life alive.

FARGO -- “Before The Law” -- Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Plemons as Ed Blumquist, Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blumquist. CR: Chris Large/FX
FARGO — “Before The Law” — Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Jesse Plemons as Ed Blumquist, Kirsten Dunst as Peggy Blumquist.
CR: Chris Large/FX

And that means he needs to clean up the car, and dispose of the body. Which means he brings Rye to the butch shop, where he grinds Rye into hamburger.

The Kansas City guys are tracking down Rye, with Mike Milligan mercilessly typing a complaint letter to GM with the sleazy typewriter salesman’s (that Rye was involved with in the booming typewriter business) tie stuck in the typewriter’s ribbon. Once he spills the beans about Rye “talking” to a municipal judge from Fargo, they know immediately where Rye has been and what he has done. They head on down the Luverne looking for him.

FARGO -- ÒBefore The LawÓ -- Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Brad Mann as Gale Kitchen, Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan. CR: Chris Large/FX
FARGO — ÒBefore The LawÓ — Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: (l-r) Brad Mann as Gale Kitchen, Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan.
CR: Chris Large/FX

Lou is having issues with the Waffle Hut Massacre. Once he finds out it was a judge from Fargo that was killed, he knows this is not a small murder case on his hands. His father-in-law Hank is also pondering the crime (he has Rye’s shoe, still baffled as to how it got up in the tree). Hank wonders if it was by chance she was killed, or if she was a reason this horror happened.

Lou takes a detour with his family in his car to revisit the Waffle Hut. As he ponders what exactly happened (staring at the can of bug spray the judge nearly blinded Rye with), his wife Betsey and little Molly literally find the smoking gun as they are building a snowman. Lou also sees the Kansas City fellows driving by, prompting him to call Hank and let him know about the suspicious car driving through.

FARGO -- ÒBefore The LawÓ -- Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Cristin Milioti as Betsey Solverson. CR: Chris Large/FX
FARGO — ÒBefore The LawÓ — Episode 202 (Airs October 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Cristin Milioti as Betsey Solverson. CR: Chris Large/FX

Hank does happen to stop these guys, giving a pretty jarring back and forth between him and Mike Milligan (the brothers are not much for talkers). Hank wants them not only out of Rock County, but out of Minnesota.

Lou also stumbles upon  the butcher shop as Ed is grinding Rye’s remains. Ed accidentally chops off Rye’s fingers when he hears Lou knocking on the door (to be fair, the business was closed). With a little back and forth between these two, along with Ed trying to hid the fingers lying on the floor, Lou leaves with some bacon and no idea what Ed was really up to.

At this time, Peggy is at home, trying to get her co-worker who drove her home out of the house. She is caught by her friend as being the one who stole all the TP from work, and trying to explain the huge hole in her car’s windshield.

It was a long episode (the longest one so far in the whole series, I think), but it is leading up to some big things I believe.

Observations:

  • Luverne was apparently a hopping town in the 1979, with local bus services and a fairly large downtown area.
  • When Ed is sporting those tighty whiteys as he burns his clothes, he was reminiscent of Walter White in his tighty whiteys from “Breaking Bad,” a show which actor Jesse Plemons was also on.
  • I love Jean Smart’s Floyd, and I think she has been a bigger part of the family operation than anybody really knows. I want to know more about her.
  • Dodd telling a story to a man that he not only cut off his ears, but has been dead the whole time.
  • I’m getting a Lorne Malvo vibe from Mike Milligan.
  • “Mom’s doing daddy’s job again,” to which young Molly yells “Go mom!”
  • “Sometimes wonder if you boys didn’t bring that war home with you,” Hank says to Lou, as they discuss war and life after war. Lou is still dealing with his demons, as is Hank but there is a generational gap, as well as a difference between what each experienced in WWII and Vietnam. Hanks says the first six years after he returned, the area didn’t have a murder.