FARGO Recap: “The Rooster Prince”

     April 22, 2014


The chaos and violence that defined the first hour of Fargo are starting to have some ramifications.  In its second hour, “The Rooster Prince” began to illustrate what a mad and connected world of violence Bemidji is, something that Molly is starting to piece together (thankfully, because the Molly of the premiere would have never gotten there).  But Bemidji is a small town, and personal alliances are standing in the way of justice.  Hit the jump for why you should never open and sniff a jar filled with pee.

fargo-the-rooster-prince-allison-tolmanR.I.P. Verne last week, but his death apparently imbued Molly with the detecting sense she needs to hone in on the case(s) at hand.  She believes that the murders at the Nygaard house are connected to the murder of Sam Hess, as well as the car/body/underwear found out in the snow.  Her boss Bill, on the other hand, has a deep belief in coincidence, actively cooling off her investigation.  Meanwhile, that mysterious man who everyone is looking for (who we know to be Malvo) has removed himself from that former situation, and taken up work (concealed as a minister) with Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt), the supermarket king of Minnesota, who’s being blackmailed.

Like the movie, the mystery isn’t the point.  As the television show piles on the mysteries for the characters, viewers are given insight into all of the answers.  It takes away from any element of “whodunnit,” but makes it interesting to see how the characters come close to, or completely miss, the clues in front of them.

Molly has some pieces of the puzzle, like her suspicions about Lester (regarding his conversation with the mystery man at the hospital) as well as his foul personal history with Sam Hess, but lacks the key that locks them together.  Grimly has that key, but without the supporting information.  The best scene of the episode was when Grimly has dinner with his daughter Greta (Joey King), using an example from her school about bullying to foggily justify his choice of letting Malvo go (knowing now, as he partially does, of the crimes Malvo likely committed).  Greta wasn’t having any of it, and opined that nothing should stand in the way of justice, even personal safety.  “It’s your job,” she says.

But Malvo isn’t the only one causing chaos in Bemidji.  “The Rooster Prince” introduced two new characters, another hired killer duo: Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) and the deaf Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard).  The two are reminiscent of Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare‘s characters in the Fargo movie, but are much better at what they do (for instance, the equipment used to get rid of the wrong man they picked up, who had the misfortune of looking like Malvo and having a kinship with knives, wasn’t a messy woodchipper, but a machine to drill a hole in the ice).

fargo-the-rooster-princeIn addition to Stavros, “The Rooster King” also introduced his wife and her trainer (Glenn Howerton), who provide Malvo with some additional information about the blackmail, along with the opportunity to repeat an unfunny joke to the couple’s simple son Dimitri (who is very reminiscent of Arrested Development‘s Buster Bluth.  Shrill wives and gormless sons are becoming a theme).

Lester, for his part, had an interesting turn combing over his house to study the murder weapon, and cry into his wife’s sweater.  As Molly continues to press him about his recollections before and during the murders, it seems like Lester is in for a Raskolnikovian descent into guilt.  What started off, like in Crime and Punishment, as a justified killing (to the murderer, both there and in Fargo) becomes an all-encompassing void of shame.  The buckshot hole in his hand also reminds one of Lady MacBeth: out out, damned spot!  It never lets him forget what he did, or how it all happened.

All of this continues to add up to a very twisted world full of violence, suspicion and dead-ends, but there’s still somehow a sense that justice (whatever that means) will ultimately be served.  How these stories will connect is, meanwhile, the most interesting aspect of the show (and the only real mystery).

“The Rooster King” added some new elements to Fargo‘s tale, but overall it’s still a very slow-moving endeavor that is overly reliant on quirks and dead-pan deliveries of strange occurrences.  In the Fargo movie, the murder case was in stark contrast to the seemingly peaceful and kind town.  In the Fargo series, where it’s hard to find kind or genuine people, no one seems surprised by acts of extreme violence — they appear to live with it.

Episode Rating: B

fargo-the-rooster-prince-martin-freemanMusings and Miscellanea:

— I liked the addition of Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench, particularly their extended sign language scenes.

— Stylistically, the show is obsessed with windows and background action (which can provide some of the show’s better humor).

— Little things like Lester standing next to his “Everything happens for a reason” sign, and Stavros being positioned under the crown symbol on his sign are nice touches.

— “What he lacks in common sense he makes up in self esteem” – Lou Solverson.

— “Highly unusual is the time I found a foot in a toaster oven. This is just odd” – Malvo.

— Molly came into her own a lot more in this episode.  As a Marge-lite, she’s towing the line ok, despite her constantly furrowed brow.

— “What’s a karate expert’s favorite beverage? Kara-tea!” – Dimitri.