Well known is the story of Sisyphus, the man who was punished by the gods for all eternity to push a large boulder up a hill, only for the boulder to roll back to the bottom whenever it was close to the top. In “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Camus uses the story to comment on the absurdity of human beings trying to find meaning in their existence. How can human life have meaning, when every second spent trying to find meaning is a second closer to death? How does one reconcile an existence where meaning cannot be found, where human reason is useless? Where meaning does not exist, neither do any codes of values or law or morality. So, when one recognizes and embraces the absurdity of human existence, actually embraces the eternal punishment of rolling that boulder up a hill, one can discard any notion of common good and the rules that support it. This allows you to live by any code of conduct you see fit, as Lorne Malvo did last season, and as people like Mike Milligan (of Mike Milligan & The Kitchen Brothers fame) does this season. This becomes a form of self-actualization, or as Peggy Blomquist would put it, being the best me I can be.
Common rules are so, well, common, that when you encounter someone who ignores them so easily, it’s an abrupt shock. “Am I the only one here who’s clear on the concept of law enforcement?” As he continued his investigation into the The Waffle Hut massacre and the disappearance of Rye Gerhardt, Lou Solverson found himself in two separate really, really tense encounters with people who openly flaunt their rejection of the common rules, i.e., really bad criminals: one with the aforementioned late-70s prog-rock band and the other with the Gerhardt family. Lou amazingly keeps his cool in both cases, despite being wildly outnumbered, firing back with that good ol’ polite unfriendliness. By the way, when Mike Milligan makes his observation about that polite unfriendliness, and his voice turns into a demonic snarl when he says “like you’re doing ME a favor,” it’s enough to scare you shitless.
Rye Gerhardt continues to be the central character in the story. Everyone has a different motivation for finding him (or hiding him, as the case may be), and this drives the action. Dodd’s partner Hanzee (or is it Ohanzee?), who has a strange fascination with white rabbits, and Dodd’s daughter Simone, while looking for Rye, bump into Squirrely Skip Spring, Rye’s typewriter salesman partner-in-crime. When Dodd later determines that Squirrely Skip knows jack about where Rye is, Skip meets his end buried alive underneath a ton of asphalt.
A quick aside about Rye: he is the first Sisyphus we met this season. He was raised in a crime family that embraced its own code of law. That code is the only truth Rye knew and believed. When Dodd comments that the Gerhardts own all of the judges around here, Rye doesn’t know there to be another way about it. So, in the first episode, when he tries to bully the only judge that apparently *isn’t* owned by the Gerhardts, and is met with resistance, it’s an abrupt shock. He might have said, “Am I the only one here who’s clear on the concept of judge intimidation?” He then starts acting like Sisyphus, repeating his verbal bullying over and over, with no success, until bug spray in the eyes triggers the massacre that is central to these early episodes of the season.
Lou is also Sisyphus, in a way. Every lead he follows will always lead to another knot to untie. When (if) he solves a case, there will always be another waiting. But he is not Camus’ Sisyphus, though. Lou doesn’t feel that his vocation in life, while never-ending, is hopeless. He is the face of the common good and does what he can to support it. His drive for truth is unrelenting. That’s a trait he likely passed down to Molly. The actual ability to uncover the truth, however, Molly likely inherited from her mother, Betsy, who put forth a theory while getting her hair done that more or less solves the case of Rye Gerhardt. She deduces, rightly so, that someone must have hit Rye with a car. Peggy, that someone, hears Betsy’s theory and of course, shoots it down. Who would be so cold-hearted as to hit a person with their car and not call it in, she asks? Peggy then frantically tracks down Ed to help cover up what should be the last bit evidence that can lead back to her – the car with that darn hole in the windshield (noticed by Peggy’s boss last week). The plan is to deliberately wreck the car some more, collect the insurance proceeds, and have all of the damage, including the windshield, repaired. The plan worked. Eventually. Victory belongs to the Peggy – the boulder was successfully pushed to the top of the hill. Something tells me Peggy’s not up on her Greek mythology.
I think Lou Solverson might be my favorite character on television right now. He's just so unflappable, you can't help but like him. I'm not sure if my favorite line was, "I'm from out of town, so forgive me if I'm supposed to be terrified right now" or "I must have gotten lost on my way to the lake."