The Castle is the title of an unfinished novel (it actually ends mid-sentence) by Kafka which describes one man’s struggle to gain access to the overly bureaucratic authority that rules from a castle over a particular village. Its many themes can be applied on several levels to the characters from this season of Fargo. The most transparent is Lou’s frustratingly futile attempts to convince the South Dakota state police on the scene at Ed’s uncle’s cabin that allowing Ed to go through with the meeting with Mike Milligan (despite Dodd Gerhardt being deceased) is a really stupid and dangerous idea. There are other ways Kafka’s work can be applied
Wait, is that a UFO?
AN ACTUAL UFO HAS DESCENDED ON SIOUX FALLS!
Nearly every episode of this season has included some reference to UFOs/alien observers, some more overt than others (Rye Gerhardt is distracted by bright lights in the sky right before getting hit by Peggy’s car), but they were always ambiguous. In this episode, ambiguous gets thrown out the freaking window, as a very visible flying saucer with very bright lights hovers directly over the scene known as the Massacre at Sioux Falls. We have been waiting for this pivotal historical event ever since it was first mentioned by Lou last season (set in 2006). This season has had its fair share of massacres, each one deadlier than the last. So, it is naturally expected that this one, the Massacre, will be the deadliest of them all. And it was.
The Motor Motel in Sioux Falls was the setting for this bloodbath. Last week, we saw Hanzee begin to turn away from the only life he knew, that of Gerhardt assassin. He shot Dodd Gerhardt in the head in front of Ed and Peggy, after Ed struck a deal to meet Mike Milligan at the motel to trade Dodd for protection from the rest of the Gerhardts. The boneheaded chief of the South Dakota statie contingent decides that Ed will go through with the meeting, where he will be wired in order to capture incriminating admissions from Mike. Lou’s continued disagreement with this plan, fueled by the fact that the very dangerous Hanzee is still out there somewhere, earns him banishment from South Dakota. And this is how Ed, Peggy, Hank and the South Dakota police move into place.
Hanzee does the rest. After escaping from the cabin, he patches up his scissors stab wound. With crazy glue. After tracking Ed and Peggy to the motel, he calls Floyd Gerhardt and continues with his betrayal by telling her that Mike and the K.C. crew have Dodd holed up, alive, at the motel. The Gerhardts send their contingent to Sioux Falls. Floyd, exhausted by the continued failure of her sons to kill The Butcher of Luverne, accompanies them. And let’s not forget that Mike Milligan is en route as well.
And as all of these players are converging on the same location, Lou tries to call home to check in. No one is free to answer the phone, though, because little Molly Solverson has just discovered her mother, Betsy, lying on the kitchen floor. Betsy appears to have lost (or is very close to losing) her battle with cancer, as she collapses while making orange juice. Lou’s life (and ours, too) is about to get a helluva lot sadder very soon. Before Lou can try calling home a second time, a dispatcher informs him that Constance Heck’s body has been discovered at the Southnik Hotel. Lou races back to Sioux Falls, attempting to radio his South Dakota counterparts to no avail, as the stupid chief has gone radio-silent in preparation for the next day’s sting.
And then, it happens. The Massacre at Sioux Falls. The Gerhardts arrive at the motel and meet up with Hanzee. Bear orders Hanzee to stay behind with Floyd and leads the rest of the clan around the motel, busting room doors down and shooting anything resembling a human being. The cops fire back. Lots of people on both sides are killed. Hank takes a bullet to the gut. Bear soon discovers that Dodd isn’t in the room Hanzee said he would be and realizes that they are engaged in a gunfight with police officers. At that very moment, Hanzee offers his final betrayal by stabbing Floyd, his former master. Bear sees this and begins moving towards Hanzee, but is quickly stopped by a bullet from Lou Solverson’s gun. “Stopped” is not really appropriate – more like “annoyed.” Hanzee, meanwhile, has taken to pursuing Ed and Peggy. Bear, ignoring Lou’s gunshot, turns his attention to Lou and charges him! More bullets do nothing to stop this bear, who tackles Lou to the ground and begins choking the life out of him.
In an instant, the lights of a flying saucer instantly turn on and shine down on the chaos below. Everyone freezes. No one has any idea what to say or do. A wounded Hank eventually takes advantage of the confusion to kill Bear. The last surviving child of Floyd and Otto is dead. Peggy and Ed flee after briefly incapacitating Hanzee: “It’s just a flying saucer, honey. We gotta go.” The lights go dark and the UFO flies away. Lou, at Hank’s insistence, chases after Hanzee. Mike Milligan and the Kitchen brother *finally* arrive to a quiet parking lot strewn with dead bodies, and promptly drive away.
The television show Fargo, in homage to the movie on which it is based, has adopted the movie’s overriding mythos: This Is A True Story. The show not only adopted and embraced it, but in the second-to-last episode of its second season, turned it up to eleven. We come to learn that the true story we are witnessing is one of many found in The History of True Crime in the Midwest, a book that depicts events that took place from 1825 to the present. Accompanying this revelation is the introduction of a narrator (Martin Freeman!) who provides insight at various points during this episode. Our narrator says a little too much about why Hanzee is pursuing Ed and Peggy (which means Hanzee is doing it for some unknown reason), but says nothing while the flying saucer hovers above the Motor Motel.
Here’s the thing. Here’s why this device is so BRILLIANT. Introducing a history book and a narrator as storytelling mechanisms, by definition, introduces the possibility of an *unreliable* narrator and *unreliable* historian. The events depicted in this history book are only as true as the recollections of the historian’s interview subject. Did a flying saucer actually descend upon Sioux Falls during the Massacre? Maybe. Maybe not. But the person who told the story to the historian certainly *thinks* he did. But who told the story? Who has a hidden room in his house covered with weird symbols and runes? Who suffered recent head trauma that may be affecting his perceptions? And who is only one of a handful of people to witness the entirety of the Massacre and survive?
Your theory about Hank as historical witness is brilliant!
Didn't Malvo say he was at Sioux Falls too?
I hated Peggy for her stupidity much like I hated the Chief last season, but her odd competency since realizing herself has me impressed. I actually cheered for her when she clocked Detective Ben(jamin). And her pragmatic dismissal of the UFO was awesome.
Hank surviving(?) only to return to the news about his daughter is going to be heartbreaking.
Well, I think the show landed with a THUD and this from some one who LOVED episodes 1-10. 11 was a filler, 12 was decent, but I was expecting a payoff from 13 and outside of that last 5 minutes, I was wanting and expecting more.