Fargo: "Buridan's Ass"

(Episode 1.06)

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<em>Fargo</em>: "Buridan's Ass"

Well, this was a particularly bloody episode of Fargo. Don Chumph, Mr. Numbers, Dmitri Milos, and Stavros’ bodyguard all went to that great TV heaven in the sky in spectacularly brutal fashion.

Set against the “worst blizzard in Minnesota history,” with snow coming down at a blinding rate, “Buridan’s Ass” was also the most cinematically beautiful episode thus far. I’ve been in storms like that, where you cannot even see your hand in front of you the snow is coming down so hard. There’s a certain grace to freshly fallen snow and putting the death of these characters against that backdrop was a rather brilliant juxtaposition.

The clever trick Fargo is pulling off is creating suspense and mystery even though viewers already know whodunit. So I’ve thought Don Chumph would die since the moment we saw him (he is, as the saying goes, not the sharpest tool in the shed), and after last week’s episode, I was confident Don wouldn’t live past tonight’s episode. But did I expect his death would come because Malvo set him up as a sniper shooting innocent pedestrians? That he would die at the hands of a SWAT team? No, I did not. Also, poor Don Chumph! He was so concerned with getting his 60/40 split of the money that he only mildly wonders why Malvo has covered his windows with newspaper and has a duffle bag full of duct tape.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Martin Freeman’s performance as Lester and this was his best episode yet. After an unpleasant visit from his brother (“You’ve been a burden my whole life. You’re not right in the world”), Lester stages an escape from the hospital. He frames his brother for the murder of Pearl, planting the hammer, pictures of Pearl and a pair of her underpants in his brother’s gun cabinet. Lester hesitates for a moment, looking at pictures of Chazz and his family. But then back at the hospital, a sly smile comes over his face. The put-upon Lester who has suffered verbal abuse from his brother, his wife and bullies his whole life finally thinks he has the upper hand.

Stavros has a moment of clarity and believes the solution to his problems is to rebury the money, ice scraper and all. He thinks this will reverse his bad fortune and end what he believes is God’s wrath. But his son and his bodyguard die when dead fish rain down on their car and cause a car accident. This time it really was what insurance companies would refer to as an “act of God” and not an act of Malvo. But now Malvo is without his ransom money. What does he have planned next for Stavros?

There were many great moments in tonight’s episode, but my favorite scene was the quiet, coffee shop conversation between Gus and Molly. Gus relays the parable his Jewish neighbor told him in last week’s episode, and the ever-practical Molly wonders, “Why didn’t the fella just go work at a charity?” while Gus confesses the reason he became a cop is because Greta’s mom died and he needed a paycheck.

In the dark and twisted world of Fargo, we see the blossoming romance between Molly and Gus. She nervously fixes her hair, they share a cup of coffee, and Gus confides in her that he never wanted to be a police officer. And moments later, Gus, already proven to be the more nervous one of the duo, accidently shoots her when he mistakes her for a criminal. All I have to say is Molly better be okay. She remains the best part of the show.

Other thoughts on “Burdian’s Ass:”
• This is the first time Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench have been called by name. The only reason I knew their character names up until now is because they were in the press notes.
• Mighty convenient that Lester’s hospital roommate just happened to have bandages covering his face, don’t you think?
• I can’t believe Lester never put pants on the entire time he was out in the storm.
What did you think of this week’s episode of Fargo? Do you think Molly is okay? Which character will be the next to die? Talk about it below.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.