If Abraham had actually gone through with the act of sacrificing his son Isaac at God’s behest, would it have been considered murder? This question lies at the heart of Kierkegaard’s “Fear and Trembling,” wherein he discusses the unapparent contradiction between the “ethical” person and the “religious” person. The ethical person (the tragic hero) is resigned to fulfilling a universal, common good, which presupposes a finite, (yet complete) rational understanding of the world. On its face, Abraham’s would-be sacrifice of his son would be murder according to the ethical person, unless such an act would serve a greater common good. Kierkegaard notes several examples where the killing of a child(ren) by a parent serves the common good. The religious person (the knight of faith), on the other hand, commits such an act because doing so would be to fulfill his or her duty to God. This motivation presupposes that a complete understanding of the world (or our existence) cannot be obtained by reason alone – it requires a leap of faith and a resignation to the absurd (that which cannot be rationalized). By definition, the acts of a religious person are motivated by a deeply personal experience with God (or, the irrational); they are uniquely individual, whereas the acts of the ethical person are commonly universal.
Lou Solverson is a classic example of the tragic hero. He is fully resigned to supporting the common good, which is defined by a nearly universally-accepted code of ethics. That’s his job, after all. It remains to be seen what becomes of Lou after he presumably suffers through the aftermath of his wife Betsy’s war with cancer (a deeply, personal attack by the absurd and irrational). But for now, he remains a tragic hero.
Throughout this episode, we follow Dodd Gerhardt’s right-hand man, Hanzee, as he continues trying to figure out what happened to Rye Gerhardt. Hanzee finds a piece of broken car headlight glass in The Waffle Hut’s parking lot, which, after a tense encounter at an auto repair shop, eventually leads Hanzee to the Blomquist home, where he finds enough evidence to conclude that Rye was hit and killed by the Blomquist’s car. When Lou Solverson arrives at the auto repair shop to investigate the aforementioned tense encounter, and after examining the Blomquist’s damaged car, he also concludes that the Blomquists are responsible for killing Rye. Lou meets up with Peggy and Ed at their home and confronts them with the truth. He is more concerned with their safety after they were responsible for the death of the son of Fargo’s crime family.
Their insistent denials reveal the Blomquists to be knights of faith, resigned to act in ways that fly in the face of rational behavior. Peggy and Ed’s personal goals and desires, which are not compatible with each other, are further threatened by the situation. Ed’s motivations are arguably nobler. He revealed himself to be a knight of faith back in the first episode. His desire to fulfill his duty to his wife led him to sacrifice Rye Gerhardt and grind up his body. He acted (and continues to) act irrationally to protect his wife all for the reward of raising a family and owning a butcher shop. Would Peggy protect Ed at all costs? Or, would she sacrifice him if it was necessary to satisfy her personal good?
The Gerhardts, led by Floyd, met with the Kansas City contingent, led by Joe Bulo, in a neutral location to discuss Kansas City’s offer to buy-out the Gerhardt operation. Floyd rejects the offer, but provides a counter-offer that allows for a fair partnership between the two sides. No dice, says Joe Bulo. Dodd Floyd can’t be trusted after he attacked two of Joe’s men unprovoked in a donut shop and Joe’s not convinced that Floyd can keep her hotheaded son in check. While the meeting was taking place, Mike Milligan and the Kitchen Brothers, in response to the donut shop attack, and tipped off by Dodd’s daughter Simone (apparently willing to sacrifice her father), killed all of the members of Otto Gerhardt’s entourage as they were leaving a doctor’s appointment for Otto.
Because of Dodd’s actions, Floyd Gerhardt is implicitly being asked to sacrifice her own son. But is she a tragic hero or a knight of faith? How do you discuss the rational or irrational motivations of crime family matriarchs, whose day-to-day actions are themselves not rational and do not serve the universal good? Sure, within the relatively small circle of criminals, there exists such a thing as a common good. Floyd’s counter-offer to Joe Bulo would have served the common good of two groups of criminals. Since that is off the table because of Dodd, would sacrificing Dodd serve the common good? Would it maintain peace between K.C. and Fargo? What would Otto say if he was able to speak? Given what happened to Otto’s entourage, Floyd’s decides to go to war with K.C. And I think, after the tender moment she shared with Dodd during the car ride home, Floyd is fully resigned to the fact her son will be sacrificed.