“Before The Law” is a parable about a man who seeks the law, something worth attaining and something that should be attainable by all. The law sits on the other side of an open doorway that is guarded by a doorkeeper. The doorkeeper proclaims that the man cannot pass through, but dares the man to try. The man is dumbfounded, since the law should be accessible to everyone. He’s also intimidated by the imposing physical presence of the doorkeeper, so he doesn’t try. Rather, he waits outside the door and tries to verbally convince the doorkeeper to let him through. He does this for the rest of his life. Just before dying, the man asks why no one else has tried to pass through. The doorkeeper reveals that this door was just for the man, and now it is too late to pass through – the door will be shut. The parable defies consistent interpretation: is the doorkeeper an external force preventing access, or does he represent the man’s own internal mental and psychological obstacles? What would have happened if the man simply tried walking through the door? We’ll never know. But we *will* find out what happens when certain of Fargo’s characters walk through their own open doors.
Is power something worth attaining, and should it be attainable by all? Eldest Gerhardt son Dodd would answer yes and no, respectively, to those questions. In the wake of father Otto’s stroke which left him incapacitated and unable to continue leading the Gerhardt crime family, the Kansas City syndicate sent a contingent, including Joe Bulo, Mike Milligan and the Kitchen brothers, to visit matriarch Floyd Gerhardt and offer to buy out their entire operation. Dodd, who feels that he should assume leadership of the family simply because of birthright and gender, acts like a petulant child when he finds out he was excluded from the meeting with Kansas City. Floyd, while sitting at the head of the kitchen table (depending on perspective), attempts to persuade Dodd, while sitting at the head of the kitchen table (depending on perspective), to lay low until the dust settles, then she will gladly hand over the reins to him. The doorkeeper is literally asking Dodd to wait outside the door. Dodd, unlike the man in the parable, chooses not to wait. He plans to usurp power away from his mother, but he needs the support of his brother Rye to do so, since his other brother Bear is siding with their mother. He sends his partner Hanzee off to find Rye. Joe Bulo has a similar idea about using Rye as a swing figure in this situation, so he sends Mike and the Kitchen brothers off to also find Rye. This eventually leads to an encounter between Mike and Sheriff Hank Larsson, during which Mike shows himself to be a proto-type of modern-day Lorne Malvo. Mike speaks with a calm voice and constant smile that betray the malevolence underpinning his words.
Is happiness something worth attaining, and should it be attainable by all? Last week, we saw that Peggy Blomquist wants to begin a journey to self-actualization. This week, we see that that desire is at least partially influenced by her boss at the beauty salon at which she works, Constance. Peggy backs out of the self-help seminar that she was going to attend at Constance’s suggestion, claiming that she and her husband, Ed, are trying to save money to eventually buy the butcher shop where Ed works. Constance tries to convince Peggy that the doorkeeper guarding the open door to her happiness goes by the name “we.” Don’t be a prisoner to we, Peggy. Peggy’s excuse about saving money was just a front. In reality, Peggy and Ed are scrambling to cover their tracks after their involvement with the unfortunate death of Rye Gerhardt. Peggy is trying to carry on with normal day-to-day activities, while Ed, completely stoic, is stuck staying behind cleaning blood off the floor of the garage, burning his clothes afterwards, and turning Rye’s dead body into ground meat late-night at the butcher shop. Ed is an unwitting accomplice in this ride. His dreams of a fulfilling family life are effectively shattered. Before the Rye Gerhardt incident, he didn’t even know there was a door leading to happiness, because he thought he had already attained it. Now, he’s not so sure. He makes out a figure standing in front of a door. Is it Peggy, or is it himself?
Is truth something worth attaining, and should it be attainable by all? Funny thing about truth: The Truth Is Out There, but does one actually know that? The door leading to truth doesn’t need a doorkeeper, because that door is usually closed. How can you attain truth if you don’t know to look for it? Minnesota State Trooper Lou Solverson is having second thoughts about turning the investigation into The Waffle Hut massacre over to local authorities. There was something about the expression on the dead cook’s face that just doesn’t sit right with Lou. This inexplicable hunch leads Lou back to The Waffle Hut to re-examine the scene, where he has to open a closed door to enter. While inside the restaurant, his wife Betsy, while playing around with their daughter Molly in the parking lot, discovers the probable murder weapon buried in the snow. Later, after Lou sees Ed Blomquist’s truck parked in front of his butcher shop after hours, Lou knocks on the closed, locked door to check in and maybe pick up some bacon. The truth that lies on the other side of the door is that Ed is busy chopping up and grinding Rye Gerhardt’s body. Even though Lou is allowed passage through the door, he doesn’t realize what is attainable on the other side. And frankly, why should he? For him to do so means he needs to acknowledge that human beings, even ones he knows well, are fully capable of *anything*, including really, really bad things, given the right circumstances. But it’s near impossible for humans to recognize this quality in other humans. Aliens, on the other hand, are probably having a field day observing us. Get Well Soon, Betsy!