Fargo: "Who Shaves The Barber?"

(Episode 1.07)

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<em>Fargo</em>: "Who Shaves The Barber?"

Lester Nygaard has never been innocent, but this was the episode when he truly went from hapless murderer to evil incarnate. After calmly framing his brother for the murder of his wife and the chief of police and using some of the same verbiage that has been lodged at him (“You’re not half the man your brother is!”), a smug smile crosses Lester’s face. He is quite pleased with himself and totally thinks he’s living the cliché: Lester Nygaard has gotten away with murder.

Buoyed by this triumph, he goes to visit the widow Hess. Lester knows that there’s no insurance money. Sam Hess stopped paying his premiums, but Lester lets Gina Hess believe that he’s the man to get her the money fast. By the next scene, they’re having sex, and Lester is sleeping with his enemy’s wife – the ultimate revenge. Even when Gina cries out, “You’re hurting me!” he keeps going. Now, he feels invincible, and I’m betting that will be his downfall. He’s way too confident. There’s a delightful maliciousness that Martin Freeman is bringing to his performance, clearly fully embracing Lester’s dark side has been creatively freeing.

Of course, the big news of the episode is that Molly is alive. She’s alive! I didn’t really think the show would kill off its best character but Fargo really did make us sweat it out. It was far too long before we saw Molly alive, if not exactly well, in her hospital room. Gus confesses that he is the one who shot her, and the two have a charming exchange about how now he owes her a spleen. Only in the world of Fargo could two characters flirt about missing body parts.

Even injured Molly doesn’t stop doing her job. She visits Mr. Wrench in his hospital room. His first question: what has become of his partner? Devastated to learn that Mr. Numbers is dead, he will be of no help to Molly, but she figures it out anyway. Drawing a diagram on her hospital window, she connects all the players. She still thinks Lester hired Malvo, but that’s really the only place she’s off. One of the reasons Allison Tolman’s performance is so great is that I absolutely believe that even though Molly is injured and probably on a lot of painkillers, she would be able to figure out exactly what is going on.

Unfortunately for Molly while she’s been recuperating, Bill has completely bought Chazz’s guilt. The transformation of Bill’s character has been great. Instead of seeming like an idiot (which is how he came across in the early episodes), he now seems like a man overwhelmed by the tragedy happening in his small town. He’s misguided but he does care. When Molly returns home only to discover that Chazz is being blamed for the murders, she is utterly confused and left standing outside in the snow trying to figure out what her next move will be.

Meanwhile, Malvo is tracking who sent Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench after him. He finds the mob men who did and shoots up the entire lot of them while two FBI agents (played by Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key) idly eat their lunch in their car right outside. This was a fantastic scene. We have so much blood and gore on television, and there was something almost more terrifying about just hearing the gun shots and having the camera follow Malvo’s action from the outside, a mass murder spree that we don’t see.

The FBI agents are more worried about covering up their negligence than actually catching who did it, and Malvo saunters out of the building unnoticed.
Other thoughts on “Who Shaves the Barber?”:

• Chazz needs to call a lawyer, and soon.
• No Stavros this episode, which is interesting. Is the show done with him?
• Just some really lovely work between Keith Carradine and Tolman in this episode.
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.