Starting to watch a new TV show is a lot like dating: you go on a first date (watch the pilot) and decide if you want to watch the show again. Maybe you quarrel along the way. Maybe you break up. But if you keep watching, there probably comes a point where you fall in love with the show.
I’ve liked Fargo all along, but “A Fox, A Rabbit and A Cabbage” marks the episode where I fell in love with the series. What a brilliant hour of television. Once again, the series upended our expectations in the most entertaining and suspenseful way.
After last week’s episode, I was convinced that Lester would hightail it out of the hotel bar and get out of Vegas as fast as he could to avoid a confrontation with Malvo. He knows what this man is capable of. But no, this is the new confident Lester, the one who won’t be ignored and wants to show off his Bill Blass suit and snazzy new haircut. He’s desperate to have Malvo recognize the man he’s become. But, to use one of my favorite phrases, Lester gets hoisted by his own petard.
Malvo tells him to walk away, and Lester just won’t do it. “Is this what you want? Yes or no?” he calmly asks Lester. When Lester says “Yes,” Malvo kills three people without hesitation and tells Lester, “That’s on you.”
Lester leaves Vegas in the middle of the night trying to escape Malvo but it is, of course, too late. Security cameras in the elevator have Lester there when three people are executed, which leads Molly to his doorstep.
Malvo has also come to Bemidji to find Lester. A frantic Lester, who knows Malvo is out to kill him, sends his wife Linda to her death by having her into his office, orange parka at all. (I knew I was right to be worried about Linda.) The wife who belittled him and the wife who worshiped him both meet the same fate. In some ways, Lester is even more evil than Malvo. At least Malvo owns up to who he is. Lester is a murderous coward who still probably thinks all that has happened is not his fault. Nothing is creepier than Lester telling Linda, “Put your hood up. I’d hate for your pretty face to freeze.”
Agents Budge and Pepper come to talk to Molly and are actually not incompetent FBI agents, but two guys who were on a stake out for 156 days where nothing happened. They were bored and they let their guard down. Their belief in what Molly is telling them brings her almost to tears. When they see her board at the office connecting everything, they are impressed. Bill tries to ward them off, but they dismiss him unceremoniously. Finally, Molly is vindicated.
It was a great episode for Billy Bob Thornton. The opening sequence with Malvo as a dentist in Kansas City was, to use one of the not-so-good dentist’s favorite words, “aces.” The scenes were simultaneously comical and foreboding, and gave viewers real insight to how long Malvo works his marks. And we got more of how Malvo likes to mess with people just to mess with them. You can see the delight as he tells the kids who live in Lester’s old house about the murders that took place there.
With only one episode left, everything is brilliantly converging. Molly finally has people who believe her. Malvo is in town. Lester is backed into a corner with both the police and Malvo after him. I can’t wait to see how everything gets wrapped up.
Other thoughts on “A Fox, A Rabbit and A Cabbage:”
• It was an excellent fake out to cast well-known actor Stephen Root as Dr. Burt Canton. He’s a familiar enough face that I thought he would be around a lot longer than he was
• “You’re the granddaughter I always wanted but was afraid to buy online.” Words cannot express how happy that Molly/Gus/Greta/Lou scene made me.
• I wonder if there’s a chance we’ll see Stavros Milos again? It seems strange to leave his story line hanging out there.
• Also, poor Chazz is still in jail. Will there be any vindication for him?
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.