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The 7 - Movies & TV - Fargo 2x5: “The Gift of the Magi”
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Mr Shh
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#1 Posted on 11.11.15 1549.18
Reposted on: 11.11.22 1551.07
At first, Peggy Blomquist saw Lou Solverson’s unpleasant warning that the Gerhardt family will be seeking retribution for Rye’s accidental death as the perfect reason for her and Ed to pack up and run away to the West Coast, which is what Peggy wanted to do all along anyway. Ed, however, sees it as the perfect reason *not* to run, believing naively that they should deal with whatever comes their way (or, at least Ed concedes, it will deal with them). Stay the course, Ed says. It’s the butcher shop and a family, or nothing. Well, it's pretty much nothing.

Hanzee returns to the Gerhardt home to report to Floyd the results of his investigation, specifically, that a local butcher ran down Rye with a car and then disposed of the body. Dodd (brilliantly) sees and then seizes the opportunity to spin this finding differently: that a Kansas City soldier named the Butcher of Luverne is the one responsible. Dodd uses this lie to force his mother’s hand to quickly and forcefully escalate the war with K.C. And so, we bear witness to the second massacre during this season of Fargo, as the Gerhardts ambush the K.C. crew while on a hunting trip. Hanzee ends up with the most significant kills. He slits the throat of one Kitchen brother and sends the other Kitchen brother back to Mike Milligan with Joe Bulo’s head in a nicely wrapped box – a gift to the devil from a not-very-wise Dodd.

Dodd is pretty giddy about watching this war take shape. He’s downright excited about K.C.’s forthcoming retaliation. But in the meantime, it’s time to take out the Butcher of Luverne. If Ed only knew of his reputation. Dodd’s young nephew Charlie wants to be one to do the deed. Dodd might not think Charlie has the stomach for something like this yet, but he does see it as the next step in his surrogate raising of his brother’s son (a brother who wants his son to make something of himself and stay clear of the crime business). And besides, he’ll send his man Virgil along to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Everything goes not smoothly. Charlie’s first attempt at taking Ed out at the butcher shop fails after he strikes up a flirty conversation with cashier Noreen over the book she’s reading, The Myth of Sisyphus, an overtly meta references to the title of a previous episode. No witnesses, instructs Virgil. But Charlie gets cold feet. The second go-around would prove to be more eventful. Charlie misses his shot, the butcher shop is accidentally set ablaze, and Virgil, who comes in to help, first accidentally shoots Charlie, then gets a meat cleaver in the skull thanks to Ed. The legend of the Butcher of Luverne continues to grow.

Ed, now that his dreams have literally gone up in flames, realizes that Peggy was right – it’s time to run away. He races home to collect his wife and his belongings. But wait! Peggy, after getting shot down by Ed earlier, decided to leave on her own. She packed her bags and goes to pick up her freshly repaired car. She’s ready to drive to California by herself, when she experiences a change of heart. Maybe *Ed* was right. She ends up selling the car to recoup some cash so that Ed can make that down payment on the butcher shop. When Ed frantically arrives at the house, Peggy is there ready to share the good news. Look, honey, I sold the car so that we can buy the butcher shop! But, sweetie, I burned down the butcher shop so that we can drive the car and go far, far away!

Up until the incident at the butcher shop, Ed was steadfast in keeping his dreams alive, absurdly so, considering his and Peggy’s situation. He believed he could live out his dreams with his wife, when rationally there was no way that could happen. Similarly, Lou and Betsy Solverson, perhaps irrationally, believe a new drug is curing Betsy of her cancer. What’s more likely is that Ed, Lou and Betsy are lying to themselves to avoid the cold reality of their respective situations. Ed strikes you as the kind of person who, like Karl Weathers, would shed a tear when hearing Ronald Reagan’s (played brilliantly by Bruce Campbell, by the way) charismatic and inspirational speeches about Americans being able to overcome any challenges they face. But when you challenge the rhetoric and try to find something tangible to latch onto, there is no answer. When your rational mind fails to find a rational answer, you eventually resign yourself to the absurdity of it all. Lou and Ed are on their way to embracing the absurd.
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#2 Posted on 15.11.15 0018.03
Reposted on: 15.11.22 0021.42
My wife and I finally had the chance to blitz through the first five episodes so I am finally free to read your awesome recaps! Thanks, Mr. Shh!!!

(also, the following comments apply to the first five episodes, not just this one)

The way this season is teasing the Massacre at Sioux Falls is great. As soon as Peggy mentioned that her seminar was there, it became clear that she (and Lou) are guaranteed to survive to the end. I for sure thought Ed was a goner during the confrontation at the Butcher shop, but damn if he didn't acquit himself well. If only he wasn't blind to how his wife is constantly duping him and clearly not invested in the dream of a family. I just wanted Ed, Noreen, and the Gearhart kid to run off together away from that Butcher shop, as they all seem like decent people. (The Gearhart kid is young enough that the influence of growing up in a crime family can be remedied, although it may be too late for that now.) Probably the safest place for Ed would be in prison, although we've seen that not always to be the case. I can't imagine the Gearharts or anyone from KC would really be interested in getting locked up in Luvurne for the night.

I LOVE that Betsy Solverson may be the best detective in the family. She can continue the Gunderson and Molly Solverson tradition proudly.

Lou's speech to Peggy and Ed about having the look on their face was brilliant. Peggy is SUCH an idiot. She and Dodd's daughter are both selfish morons completely blind to the situation that they were in. (I should have realized that Bulo's head was in that hatbox... I thought the remaining Kitchen brother was going to cut her head off and put it in there.)

Nick Offerman, Ronald Reagan fanboy, was great. (Also, I love that in a complete turn around from Ron Swanson, he has everything BUT the moustache.)

At first this season felt like assembling a chessboard with its slow burn, but instead i realized it is like Lou Solverson sitting on his porch tying knots, except the knot is a noose. The noose was completed at the end of ep 4, and the shootout between KC and the Gearharts, and the burning of the Butcher shop was the first pull on it. Things will only get tighter from here.

Also, LOVED the continuity of Lou sitting on his porch again when shit was getting thick. I forget which thread it was pointed out that Lou is one of the best characters on tv, but they were totally correct. His banter with Malvo in the diner plays so much differently now that we know just a little of what Lou's been through, and we haven't even seen him deal with Sioux Falls just yet.

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