9.8

Fargo Review: "Rhinoceros"

(Episode 2.06)

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<i>Fargo</i> Review: "Rhinoceros"

I’ve been trying to think of a show that is more perfectly cast than the second season of Fargo. The drama is giving actors like Jeffrey Donovan an opportunity to show viewers a side we’ve never seen (I can’t think of a character further from Michael Westen than Dodd Gerhardt), and brilliantly playing to the strengths of actors like Nick Offerman.

Offerman was spot-on in the showdown between Karl Weathers and Bear Gerhardt. His face was a perfect mixture of steely resolve and absolute terror. Bear was ready to storm the police station to get his son Charlie released, but the loquacious Karl talked him down and convinced him that walking away was the smart thing to do. “You take him out of here and he’s running the rest of his life,” he tells Bear. It was just an amazing scene for Offerman, who has been kind of quietly hanging out in the background for the first half of the season offering comic relief and wit. This was his moment to shine.

Lou was the epitome of calm in a crisis. “That kind of thing didn’t work in Westerns and it’s not going to work tonight,” he tells Bear, before ordering his men to lock the doors and put broken glass by the window. We also got more insight into the Dodd/Bear relationship. When Bear finds out that Dodd sent Charlie to kill Ed, he attacks him. Dodd’s reaction is to beat his brother with his belt (but not before giving him a choice of the belt or the buckle), which he is about to do before his mother stops him.

Even though the butcher shop burned down, and people attempted to kill her husband and her husband is in jail, Peggy still thinks she can go to the Lifespring seminar. “You’re a little touched aren’t you?” Hank says to her. When Dodd comes looking for Ed at the Blumquist house, Hank staves them off long enough for Peggy to hide. It turns out that being a hoarder is actually very helpful when hiding from a crazed killer. Peggy gets Dodd with the taser before he can attack her. Hanzee doesn’t kill Hank, but instead just knocks him out, which makes you wonder if Hanzee has some kind of code about only killing someone when absolutely necessary. Last week he spared the life of one of the Kitchen brothers.

Simone tells Mike that her entire family has gone to Laverne is search of “The Butcher.” She thinks that means Mike will go kill her dad, and it probably does, but not before he and his men attack the unprotected Gerhardt compound. Did Floyd and Simone survive the ambush? Most likely not. Simone is someone so clearly desperate to be loved, that she will literally sleep with the enemy and get herself killed in the process.

Ed is in prison not wanting to talk until his lawyer (that would be Karl, the only lawyer in town) tells him it’s okay. Lou protects Ed by taking him out of the prison and through the woods so the Gerhardts can’t get to him. Ed, taking the term “bad decision” to a whole new level, runs away from Lou. He’s trying to get to Peggy but Hanzee is on his trail. Ed has survived longer than I thought he would. But can he survive until the end of the next episode?

“Rhinoceros” was a masterpiece in timing and direction. I breathed an audible sigh of relief when Bear got back into his car. The genius of the show is that you never know exactly what will happen. It was just as likely that Bear would have stormed the police station, killing everyone in his sight as it was that Karl would convince him to back down.

Only four more episodes to go. Okay then.

Stray Observations:

Loved the closing credits interspersed with more of Karl’s inebriated chatter.
Simone’s message for her dad is to “Kiss my grits.” For those of you too young to get the reference, it is what Flo used to say to her boss on the TV show Alice.

Ed telling Lou about the myth of Sisyphus is more heavy-handed than the show usually is with its metaphors.

“Can’t have him getting killed without me. Never hear the end of it at dinner.”

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.

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