A scene from the fake movie “Massacre At Sioux Falls” is about ready to be filmed as we open Fargo’s next “true story.” The film’s star, future U.S. President Ronald Reagan, is busy getting made up, causing a delay in filming, which leads to the director and another actor making uncomfortable small talk to pass the time. They’re Waiting For Godot while they’re Waiting For Dutch.
Reagan was Godot for the people filming this movie, but also for the country at large, as Americans were waiting for a hero to come in and rescue the country from the Jimmy Carter presidency and basically, Make America Great Again. But maybe, as with Godot, you don’t always need someone else’s help to make you great. You might find yourself waiting around for a long time with no answer. And then, it’s too late. That would become the mindset of Peggy Blomquist, this season’s Lester Nygaard. Peggy’s life mission is one of self-actualization...to be able to write her own story and to realize her full potential, as *she* sees fit, without the constraints imposed by her good-hearted husband Ed’s desire to raise a big family and eventually take ownership of the local butcher shop at which he works.
Peggy comes to see her accidentally hitting a stranger on the road with her car as the catalyst for her journey to self-actualization. Peggy acts like a downright sociopath after hitting the stranger: after the man’s head crashes through the car’s windshield and with blood continuously dripping onto the passenger seat, Peggy drives all the way home with the body lying on the hood on the car(!). After arriving home, she’s more concerned with today’s mail and getting a blood stain off of her shirt collar than she is with the possibly dead man’s body in the garage. Then, seconds after Ed discovers the man, who is actually still alive, he is forced to kill him in self-defense. Ed wants to go to the police, but Peggy shrewdly convinces him that doing so would destroy his butcher-shop-and-lots-of-kids American dream. Ed becomes a reluctant accomplice in helping Peggy cover up the whole fiasco.
So, just who was the man that Peggy hit? Why, it was Rye Gerhardt, youngest son of the Fargo-based Gerhardt crime family, which also includes older brothers Dodd and Bear, mother Floyd and father Otto. A conversation early on between Rye and Dodd introduces us to the question of who will inherit the family reins when Otto is no longer around. This happens to be a timely question, as we see Otto keel over from a stroke just after meeting him. A story for a later time: news of Otto’s death reaches the Kansas City crime syndicate, whose frontman Joe Bulo proposes a Northern Expansion Strategy to take over the Fargo territory. So, there’s that to look forward to.
Even before Otto’s death, Rye is naturally low man on the totem pole when it comes to taking over the family. But besides his age, Rye doesn’t seem able to carry his weight: he’s behind on collections from the local business folks, which earns him ridicule from Dodd. Rye, perhaps realizing that his place in the family has a ceiling, finds it pointless to continue waiting for his own Dutch that will never come. He goes out on his own path. He agrees to partner up with the local typewriter salesman to get a share of the money spigot that is the wave of the future: correcting typewriters. But you have to spend money to make money, and this salesman is a gambling addict whose accounts were frozen by a local judge. Rye agrees to “convince” this judge to remedy that hardship.
Rye follows the judge to The Waffle Hut in Luverne, Minnesota. Rye, a little high on nose candy, attempts to verbally bully the judge in the diner. His attempts are laughably ineffective, and actually earns him some bug spray in the eyes. “Okay, then.” Rye reacts by shooting and killing the judge and the only other people in the diner, the waitress and the cook. Actually, the waitress is not quite dead yet, and slowly tries to make her way outside and away from the diner. Rye pursues and finally kills her. It’s just about then that Rye is distracted by a bright object in the sky which could perhaps be a UFO. This distraction allows Rye to be introduced to Peggy’s car.
Called in to investigate the scene at The Waffle Hut is our old friend, Minnesota State Trooper Lou Solverson, father of the future Mrs. Molly Grimly. Present-day Lou Solverson is still haunted by the real-life Massacre At Sioux Falls, and there’s no doubt we will know exactly what that was about by season’s end. Also on the scene is local sheriff Hank Larsson. Hank is the father of Lou’s wife Betsy, who is battling cancer. I wonder if we’ll get to know How Lou Met Molly’s Mother. Must’ve happened somewhere outside of the Northern Midwest, since neither Betsy nor Hank have a trace of regional accents. Anyway, Hank and Lou conclude that this crime scene is a robbery gone bad, and is a local matter. Case closed for Lou. Nothing for him to see here (except maybe for that shoe hanging in the tree). Later, at a local bingo hall, Lou’s pal Karl Weathers, a conspiracy nut, doesn’t seem to agree. “This thing’s only going to get bigger.” I would say you’re probably right, Karl. Say, wasn’t Peggy wearing polka dots when she hit Rye?
When it comes to Peggy, the lesson learned from Lester Nygaard is that you can cover up your wrongdoings only for so long. You might be able to use a newfangled correcting typewriter to white-out a mistake, but once the blood is shed, there’s no way out. You can never get that blood stain completely out of the shirt. Once the blood starts mixing in with the spilled vanilla milkshake, it’s too late.
Good start for the season, and I like how many smaller threads this plot has. Nothing quite had the punch of the double murders that opened up last season, but I don't know how you could have recreated that. Still, it's an effective plot, and the acting is top-notch again this season.