“You see, you and Peggy, you’ve still got the look…You have no idea what’s coming.” – Lou Solverson
“Fear and Trembling” was an episode rife with Fargo’s trademark bursts of violence and rich with tension. Ultimately, it closed on a somber note, as it left a lot of characters unsure what path to go down. Lou Solverson feels unsure about a world that’s lost its moral center. Ed and Peggy Blomquist have to stop arguing over money long enough to focus on the wolves coming to their door. And Floyd has been pushed to the one place she didn’t want to go: war. Overall, it was a pensive, melancholic week for the folks of Fargo.
The first five minutes explained a lot about Dodd, huh? “Fear and Trembling” began with a flashback to 1950, when Otto Gerhardt brought young Dodd along for a murder – a baptism in blood, so to speak. “He has to learn how men are,” Otto tells their prey just before Dodd sticks a knife in the back of his neck. It’s clear now where Dodd got his penchant for knee-jerk violence.
Dodd’s been at odds with Floyd over how to handle the Kansas City situation since day one. He finally decided the hell with it and made the first move against them during peacetime. Before Floyd can sit down with Joe Bulo, Dodd (and Charlie) beat down two of Kansas City’s droogs in the donut shop. This was a nice bonding moment between Charlie and Dodd (who wishes he had a son), though the “chocolate glazed” moment felt a little too self-aware.
Kansas City made their first move as well. And it was a doozy. They took out three on the Gerhardt side while all Otto could do was sit there and drool. What a tightly wound little set piece that was. Mike Milligan removing Otto’s hat was a subtle gesture of disrespect (see: Miller’s Crossing) and the casual manner in which him and the Kitchen Brothers walked away was ice cold.
That’s the way of the Kansas City mob. All business. As Bulo explains, he’s not one for family business. It gets too personal. When one of his employees fouls up, he can maim them. Is Floyd willing to do the same to her sons? No, of course not. We’ll see if her maternal love is a weakness or strength in the oncoming war.
Speaking of Floyd, Kansas City may have turned down her offer, but Jean Smart owned that scene. What a commanding delivery she had during the “You see an old woman” dialogue. I replayed that sucker a few times.
While the Gerhardts and Kansas City begin their war, the war at home continues for the Blomquists. Peggy goes behind Ed’s back and uses their money for the Lifespring seminar, meaning their account is tapped and the butcher shop slips through his fingers. Like the painting above their mantle of the peaceful field where the cows graze, Ed was hoping for an idyllic, simple life. That dream started going out the window when Rye Gerhardt went in the grinder, and it’s made only more impossible this episode. The money’s gone. The fireplace screen is moved. And Lou Solverson knows (almost) everything.
What a phenomenal scene. All Ed and Peggy could do was sit there and play stupid while Lou laid all the cards out on the table. It’ll be interesting to see where Lou takes it from here. The Blomquists unwillingness to shoot straight with him doesn’t leave him many choices as a cop. During that final scene of him out in his yard, he spoke about the world losing its moral center – of people not knowing right from wrong anymore. I think he was talking about the Blomquists, yeah, but also about himself to an extent. Being faced with the “absurd” (talked about last week), he’s not sure where his own moral barometer is going anymore.
Lou and pretty much every character are facing tough decisions in the coming episodes. Alluding to this, the title “Fear and Trembling” comes from the 1843 book of the same name from existential philosopher Søren Kierkegaard, in which he explores the difference between serving the greater good or ourselves. I’m paraphrasing (Kierkegaard’s philosophical work is way more religious than that), but it speaks to what Lou, the Blomquists, and Floyd Gerhardt grappled with this episode.
The noose is tightening around everyone as the plotlines converge and people challenge their own ethics.
Rating: ★★★★ Very good
I Want to Believe:
- The only UFO chatter I noticed this episode were the lights near the Waffle Hut that appeared as Hanzee examined Peggy’s tracks. He closed his eyes and really soaked it in.
- We’ve seen a Dodd flashback and a Hanzee one now. I’m itching for a Bear one.
Another thing I’m dying to see: a showdown between Mike Milligan and Hanzee, who apparently has a long history of taking ears. The two most intimidating characters on the show, in my opinion.
- That brief moment where Dodd puts his head on Floyd’s shoulder was absolutely beautiful. There was no dialogue but it spoke volumes.
- I loved Dodd’s “I suppose we could use a lawyer” line to Charlie.
- The look Lou gives Betsy when he’s called away is heartbreaking. This is followed by the pain he hides when he first arrives at the auto shop and tries to show confidence in front of Hank. Patrick Wilson is killing it.
- Simone Gerhardt continues to be a wild card. She was more than happy to dish out information (and a thumb) to Mike and she expressed indifference to the possibility of her father Dodd being killed. I’m really interested in what road her story takes. Even characters on Fargo that feel secondary are deeply interesting.
- Mike Milligan with the Taxi Driver sleeve gun. Nice.