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Fargo recap: 'Do you understand the difference between thinking and being?'

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Fargo season two, episode eight: "Loplop"

This week, we get to see the other side of the coin that was flipped in the last episode, checking in on the bumbling Blumquists, Dodd, and Hanzee. It’s hard to tell who’s got heads or tails on the coin. No one’s safe, and no one’s truly got the upper hand on anyone else in Fargo’s mad world.

Plus, finding out which side is up isn’t any easier when you’ve lost your head. And that’s precisely what’s happened to Peggy, who has finally self actualized and/or gone off the deep end.

After shocking Dodd into submission and tying him to a chair in her labyrinth of catalogs, she sits on the stairs and stews. It’s a scene that harkens back to the beginning of the season when Peggy’s hunkering down on the garage stairs after the fatal mess with Rye. Once again, she’s in an eerily similar situation involving dead people in her house, and in that moment, she snaps.

In place of Dodd, Peggy sees an imaginary life coach sitting Freud-like on a chair and doling out advice. “Do you understand the difference between thinking and being?” he asks. She doesn’t. At least, not at first.

But like anything Peggy sets her mind to, she eventually reasons her way around it and understands what she needs to do in order to self actualize. She needs to stop thinking about what she wants and just go out and get it. No more being that kid who waits around for a teacher to give permission to go to the bathroom — just do it.

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Ed breaks the spell when he makes it home on foot, telling Peggy they’ve got to make a run for it before Lou and Hank catch up to him. Peggy realizes this is her first chance to put her newfound self actualization into effect, and she rises to the occasion. She also lets Ed know she caught herself a Gerhardt. (Ed promptly punches his light out.)

While making their getaway, Peggy and Ed talk over each other’s neuroses while cruising in Dodd’s boosted car with one of the best uses of split screen in the whole of Fargo thus far. They’re literally right next to each other — and while the split brings them closer together on our screens, it’s indicative of how wholly distant they are from one another’s realities.

She’s unable to keep herself from trying to impart her newfound wisdom on poor Ed, who’s just trying to figure out who Dodd is and how to best use him for leverage in this crazy situation. Along they cruise and gab over one another, towards a hidden cabin in the woods just south of Sioux Falls.

Ed’s got a plan, which we saw come to fruition in last week’s episode. After attempting (and failing) to get the Gerhardt clan’s attention multiple times, he sees in the paper that Mike Milligan is holed up at the Pearl Hotel. (So that’s how he found Mike’s number.)

Mike’s all but about to have a heart attack of gratitude when he hears the news, but it’s too bad because while Ed says that Dodd’s in the trunk of his car, Dodd is actually escaping his bonds at the cabin.

Peggy is once again in her own world, absorbed in the faux Reagan show that’s been on all Fargo’s TVs this season: Operation Eagle’s Nest. This episode shows Regan saving the day for a French couple who’s about to get shot up by a German officer. We’re in the show so long that we almost forget that there’s other stuff going on (alas, the show and its plot are an apt symbolic device) — and Peggy certainly does forget. By the time she looks up, Dodd’s wrestled free of the ropes and is about to teach her a lesson.

Ed comes home to find Peggy knocked out on the floor, and as he goes to check on her, this episode’s first “Holy shit!” surprise comes when Dodd throws a noose around Ed’s neck.

Here, Dodd falls victim to the classic villain monologue syndrome. He starts gabbing to Ed (who is literally turning purple under the noose) while totally ignoring the fact that Peggy has come to again and is about to stab him. Everything gets bungled — Peggy only gets him in the foot, the knife breaks, and she can hardly find a way to hack Ed down before he’s dead.

But somehow, she does it. It’s better to be the hero rather than think about how to do it, after all.

Meanwhile, Hanzee has diligently been stalking the Blumquists all the way to Sioux Falls. He’s gathered clues at their house — including a note about the Life Spring hotel from Peggy’s boss Constance. He follows them through middle-of-nowhere towns, stopping along the way to gather intel on the twisted Bonnie and Clyde duo.

Hanzee stops at a local watering hole to see if anyone’s seen the couple, but the whole pit stop is a disaster and a half right from the get-go. He arrives at the townie bar only to see a plaque commemorating Native American hangings with a huge pile of vomit underneath. (Symbolism! This episode has plenty!) When he asks for a glass of water, the bartender spits in it. When he asks for a shot of tequila and some info on the Blumquists, he’s effectively told to go to hell. And when he tries to leave, a posse of racist townies come outside to hassle him.

Hanzee’s having none of that.

Within 30 seconds, he shoots two of the townies in the knees, lets one get away, goes back inside to finish off the bartender, and comes back outside to kill off the cops that show up.

Next, Hanzee calls upon Constance, who’s ready to Life Spring her own way into self actualization (and maybe Peggy’s bellbottoms, too). He waits with the hippy-dippy hair stylist until Peggy calls her to say she’s not going to make to the conference after all. While Constance makes a valiant effort to get the Blumquists’ exact location, she fails, and probably pays with her life. Constance’s pitiful last words: “I tried. You heard.”

Finally, Hanzee finds and storms the castle cabin, and Dodd (who’s being trussed up by the Blumquists again) thinks he’s finally saved. Too bad the Gerhardt idiot starts calling his savior a “mongrel” and a “half-breed.”

Hanzee is so done with this shit. He did his three tours in Vietnam, got a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, and what does he have to show for it? He’s a lackey in a small-time syndicate where his superior (and the rest of the world) treats him like total dirt. It’s time to stop following and start making his own tracks.

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So he puts a (very satisfying) bullet into Dodd’s skull. (Another “Holy shit” moment.)

And then he asks Peggy for a professional haircut, in what feels the one of the weirdly sweetest and most surreal moments of the show. He’s a wanted man with his picture plastered all over the front page of the local paper, and he’s been the subject of heinous discrimination in part thanks to his appearance (and the ridiculous racism of everyone around him). It’s high time for Hanzee to get a new lease on life and start fresh with a sleek new do. He’s totally sincere in his request — he does want a haircut, and when Peggy finally starts messing with his tresses, you can practically see the ecstasy of breaking free from everything on Hanzee’s face.

Too bad Lou and Hank have been hot on Hanzee’s heels this whole time. They’re visible just through the woods, guns drawn and ready to go out blazing. Hanzee snaps from his revery and fires away at the cops before he runs out of bullets and Peggy stabs him in the back with her scissors.

Hanzee makes a break for it, Lou and Hank are the next people to storm the castle cabin, and the bumbling Blumquists — the little couple that could — are left with their hands in the air.

Random notebook dump:

-What an episode. While it started off a little slow — especially compared to last week’s episode — this one built to be one of the most satisfying blowups yet.

-Peggy, ever the caretaker, makes beans for lunch and feeds Dodd (who’s tied to a pole) like a baby… after she stabs him (twice!) for being a rude misogynist. It’s so surreal, twisted, and satisfying while ultimately driving home the point that Peggy really isn’t in her right mind.

-Speaking of Peggy getting acquainted with sharp objects: love how stabby Peggy got this episode. Not once, not twice, not thrice, but FOUR times, like it’s as normal as meditative breathing on her way to self actualization.

-Poor, poor Constance. All she wanted was a nice night of Chablis on ice and the chance of quality sexy time with Peggy. Instead, the maid will probably find her body in the morning, thanks to Hanzee.

-Ed’s supposed to meet Mike at a hotel in Sioux Falls the next morning to deliver Dodd… but Dodd’s dead, and they’re all basically in police custody. But hey, at least we’re getting everyone into Sioux Falls’ borders for the impending massacre.