“We can’t leave because we’re the future. And they’re the past.” – Mike Milligan
Picasso’s “Guernica” is one of history’s most famous anti-war paintings. It’s black and white depiction of people and animals suffering in the wake of a bombing has moved folks since its creation in 1937. Allegedly, while living in Nazi-occupied Paris, a German soldier saw “Guernica” in the painter’s studio and asked, “Did you do this?” Picasso replied, “No, you did it!” This exchange is a fitting title for Fargo’s powerful seventh episode – one that saw characters making painful decisions and getting their comeuppance. Some took it lying down (or, on their knees), while others kicked against the pricks. How did it all come to this? Who “did it”?
It’s a moral grey area these characters inhabit (even the cops at times) so it’s a tough question to answer. Did the “absurd” that Lou is struggling against do it? Did the years of tradition that forced Bear’s hand do it? Or is it something that can only be found in the ciphers and symbols tucked away in Hank’s den? Regardless, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” saw some of the season’s – scratch that – the entire series’ best acting, writing, editing, and directing (Keith Gordon). This might go down as one of the best Fargo episodes ever and in my opinion it was one of the best hours of television in a long, long time.
Much of that was on the shoulders of Angus Sampson. The Aussie actor has made Bear Gerhardt one of the most hypnotic characters on the show and tonight we saw him let it out. Bear started out as the sensitive one. The one who quietly cried when they talked about pop. We could glimpse a dark side behind those heavy eyes and now with the war in full swing and betrayal within the family, we’ve seen just how strongly Bear hangs on to “tradition.” When someone betrays the family, the “rules” dictate they’ve got to be put down. After catching Simone coming out of the Pearl Hotel, Bear knows what has to be done.
In a Coen Brothers film, a walk in the woods is never a good sign (see: Miller’s Crossing) and this stroll didn’t end so well for Simone. Then again, we never see/hear the shot, so it’s possible Bear left her stranded there. But I doubt it. His reaction afterwards, smashing up his cast in rage and the split screens during the ride home, hinted that he did indeed pull the trigger. And, I mean, they played “Danny Boy.” C’mon.
The split screen montage of the Gerhardts was a good visual reference for questioning “Did You Do This?” Was it Floyd with her commitment to the family? Rye with his shooting of the judge? Dodd when he kicked the snot out of the Kansas City guys in the donut shop? Simone when she decided to sleep with the enemy? All viable candidates for the catalyst.
While Bear was making his own painful choice in the woods, Floyd Gerhardt made hers in a Rocky County interrogation room. To a degree, turning snitch goes against everything she stands for. But what she stands for even more is her family, which is why she squawked about Kansas City’s drug/weapon cache. It’s good for the family strategically – with the cops basically on their side they can hit Kansas City on two fronts.
“I think we just chose a side.” Lou Solverson and Hank Larsson are in full-steam ahead mode now and getting proactive on everyone’s ass. Seeing Lou kick in Mike Milligan’s door and sock Gale Kitchen in the face was impressive. More impressive was Lou’s unwavering confidence in the face of Milligan – a stark difference from their first confrontation. With a daughter and sick wife waiting for him at home, Lou is more determined than ever to bury this war and take on the “absurd” with everything he’s got. Patrick Wilson continues to absolutely kill it every episode as we watch Lou transform from puzzled police officer into the stoic, unshakeable man he is in season one.
Mike Milligan didn’t budge either during their little pow-wow in the hotel. He continued to deliver his loquacious mix of quotes and riddles in order to make his point. That’s the awesome thing about Mike. You’d think it would be tough to believe someone so cool and silver tongued, but he always tells the truth. Just in a roundabout way. His version of the truth, at least. And in his version, Kansas City is the future and the Gerhardts are the past. They can’t coexist. This goes back to the season’s overarching theme of the death of the family business while corporations swoop in.
The question is whether Mike is going to be alive for that takeover. The Hamish Broker says he took a chance hiring a “darkie” and now that Mike’s failed to deliver, the Undertaker came to town. Only for like a minute. Then Mike blew his head off. What a one-two punch that moment was. Never count Mike out. He’s one resourceful s.o.b. with something to prove. Whether or not Kansas City will believe him about the Gerhardts taking out the Undertaker is left to be seen.
He could possibly redeem himself if he can get to Dodd Gerhardt first, with the help of everyone’s favorite butcher, Ed Blomquist. Him and Peggy were sorely missed this week, but Ed’s phone call to Mike at the end was the perfect cherry on top of an amazing episode. Judging from the game of hangman on the wall of the phone booth, the Blomquists are in Sioux Falls (possibly with Hanzee on their tails). Riding around as fugitives with Dodd in the trunk may not be the ideal situation for Ed and Peggy, but hot damn did this whole murderous misadventure bring them closer together.
Murder to save the marriage? Only in Fargo.
Rating: ★★★★★ Excellent
I Want to Believe
• Looks like Hank’s got a hobby or two, huh? Judging from the glimpses we got of his research, the ciphers and symbols seemed to lean heavily towards family. There were ones that meant Love, House, Child, Family, Father, and Sick. It seems Hank is trying to tap into something arcane to find a cure for Betsy. There was also Angry Conversation, Fetus, and Dead. Yikes.
• Lots of awesome music choices tonight, including Jethro Tull’s “Locomotive Breath” and “O Death” by Austin’s own Shakey Graves.
• Hank calls Hanzee “Ours.” The PD really has chosen a side.
• I loved Lou’s reaction to Bear offering himself up in place of Floyd. “No, you’re good.”
• Glad we got to see Mike’s sleeve gun again. That thing is too cool to only use in one episode.
• Anyone else get a little emotional when the split screen of Rye came up?