‘Fargo’ recap, episode 7: The venting of spleens

Martin Freeman as Lester Nygaard, Joshua Close as Chaz Nygaard (Chris Large/FX)

Quick recap

While Molly is out of commission, Malvo pays off a few debts. Also, Lester talks and Lester walks. And does a few other things too.

Real good?

With the supermarket blackmail scheme over, Malvo is drawn back into the main plot, which is only to the good. In the aftermath of last week’s bloodstained white-out, this episode further explores the dark nature of people with whom one should not mess. And against all odds, Lester has somehow become one of them. Unfortunately for him, Molly probably is as well. Three and a Half North Stars.

Minnesota bona fides

Gus didn’t kill Molly, but the shot he fired in blind panic took out her spleen. Now, medieval medicine held that the spleen was the source of anger. There may be something to that, because when Molly wakes up in the hospital and Gus confesses, she isn’t angry at him at all. They just joke around about getting her a new spleen. Either the medieval physicians were right or Molly is very Minnesotan.

Talking Minnesota

Later, when Molly’s dad Lou shows up for a vigil at his daughter’s bedside, he immediately turns on the Gophers game (KHBX, channel 16, which of course does not exist). With something else in the room to focus on, he is able to hurl open his emotional floodgates about Molly’s brave encounter with an assault rifle-toting hit man and allow his feelings to gush forth in an overwhelming torrent. “Proud o’ya,” he mutters.

There are also chatty Minnesotans, and Lester gets one on the phone at the cleaning service that he’s finally gotten around to calling. “How ya doin’ there then!” chirps the local who answers the phone. But when Lester mentions blood, the friendly banter ends with shockingly un-Minnesotan abruptness punctuated by a dial tone.

Looks like home

The episode opens with Gus in the family waiting room of a large Duluth hospital, possibly St. Mary’s Medical Center. The twilit winter sky in the window behind him is a masterpiece. It’s quite conceivable that St. Mary’s has waiting rooms with a view, unlike the windowless one I spent some time in last fall. On the other hand, the actual hospital room I visited had an impressive view of the ore carriers out on Lake Superior. Unlike Molly’s room, whose view is suspiciously similar to Lester’s back in Bemidji.

The return drive from Duluth to Bemidji is a little surprising, in that there are large areas of fields no longer covered by snow. Not only was there a recent blizzard, but we Minnesotans know that when the snow stops, that’s when the real cold starts. Winter must have been winding down outside Calgary when the driving scene was shot.

Full recap

Joshua Close as Chaz Nygaard (Chris Large/FX)

Lester’s plan to throw his family under the bus works like the charm Lester never had. The gun he stashed in his nephew’s backpack falls out at school, triggering a police search of Chazz’s home. Chief Bill and the cops discover the hammer that killed Pearl, the intimate photos of her, and a pair of her underwear, right in Chazz’s gun safe where Lester left them. Bill brings in Lester to find out what he knows about this, which Lester is only too happy to share. In the version of events Lester unspools for Bill, he walked in on Pearl trying to end an affair with Chazz, only to watch helplessly as Chazz murdered first Pearl and then Chief Vern. Bill eats up this dramatic story with a spoon, up to and including Lester’s claim of having exclaimed in the face of such horror, “Chazz, what the heck!” So Lester skates and it looks like Chazz is going down for his crime.

Later, at work, Lester volunteers to visit the widow Hess, supposedly to break the news that Sam’s life insurance claim has been denied. But he’s really there to imply that he’s willing to scratch her back if she scratches his…other thing. And thus Lester takes his final revenge on Sam in the form of taking Sam’s wife to bed.

Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo (Chris Large/FX)

Malvo, in something of a mood after the attempt on his life, travels to his agent’s office in Reno to find out who in Fargo ordered him whacked. The agent reluctantly comes off the information, and Malvo returns to the upper Midwest with an axe to grind — or rather an assault rifle. And for the second time in as many episodes, invisible violence ensues. A shockingly violent sort of radio play is acted out as the camera on the street follows the unseen massacre from mirrored office window to mirrored office window, until Malvo walks right out of there. Which is going to be rather embarrassing for the two FBI agents (Comedy Central stars Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele) who were on stakeout when Malvo walked right past them loaded for bear.

We get to re-experience last week’s snowbound shoot-out from Molly’s severely limited point of view: Malvo loomed up out of the snow in front of her, but then Wrench was behind her, and as Molly wheeled to squeeze off two rounds, Malvo vanished into the blizzard. And then of course Molly fumbled around in the snow some more until Gus put a stop to that by perforating her spleen. In the hospital, Molly is not only not mad at Gus for shooting her, she doesn’t appear too annoyed with Wrench, either. Yes, Molly visits the deaf hit man in the hospital room she  put him in, and doesn’t appear to carry a grudge against him now that they’re off the field. On the other hand, she doesn’t get much information from him, other than remembering that she encountered him and Numbers bracing Lester in his office back in Bemidji. As for Wrench, he appears devastated by the news of Numbers’ death, even though he can still communicate via dry-erase board.

Returning to her room, Molly maps out the whole affair on her window (presumably using a dry-erase marker; no Minnesotan would deface a window like that with a Sharpie). She’s forming a pretty accurate picture of what’s been going on with Lester and Malvo, and Gus agrees with her that Lester must have been the one to send Numbers and Wrench after Malvo here in Duluth. Lou comes to take Molly home and the two cops share a bittersweet farewell over the flowers Gus brought for Molly (the FTD “Sorry About Your Spleen” bouquet, based on my cursory examination). Back in Bemidji, Molly stops by the station for an update, only to learn from the desk sergeant that Bill already thinks he has Chief Vern’s murder neatly buttoned up and irrevocably pinned on Chazz Nygaard. Judging by Molly’s breathless reaction, she clearly disagrees. Either that or Gus grazed a lung, too.

Next week: Karma is either in no hurry to deal with either Lester or Malvo, or it’s taking its time to wind itself up real good.