Episode seven: "Who Shaves the Barber?" [Warning: Spoilers for FX's Fargo series]
Time's a funny thing, isn't it? Sometimes it slows to a near-glacial pace, or speeds up until you don't realize hours have passed. In "Who Shaves the Barber," the fourth dimension (let's all agree that's time, okay?) functions in weird ways.
See also: Fargo recap, episode six: Snowpocalypse
Take the opening scene: Gus waits in the hospital, head in his hands, while Molly's recovering from the gunshot wound he idiotically bestowed upon her during last episode's whiteout conditions. The camera pans back, and you see that time's going backwards -- the nurses and hospital staff are moonwalking through the halls as Gus's sense of worth begins to implode under the stress.
Meanwhile, there's a voice over of Chazz Nygaard's family at the breakfast table, getting ready for school. It's the calm before the shitstorm that's about to happen when the gun Lester planted flies out of quiet, little Gordo's knapsack while he's in the cafeteria. Cut to Mrs. Nygaard, Stepford-wifing her way through household chores when the police storm her house. There's a minute where the vacuum overpowers the doorbell, and she pauses for just a moment, cocking her head before letting the officers in -- as if she has all the time in the world to attain familial nirvana.
Pop. There goes that insulated bubble.
When a distraught Kitty Nygaard calls her husband at work, he automatically decides not to answer, until his secretary says it's urgent. When he hears the news about Gordo, he doesn't even hang up the phone before he dashes home (and narrowly avoids sliding on ice into two cop cars near his driveway -- props for the killer, minimalistic soundtrack here, too). Finally, when his world is coming apart does Chazz's timeline slow to a grinding halt. The cops find Lester's planted evidence in the gun chest (panties, boudoir photos, bloody hammer... and Chazz's recent internet search history won't be doing him any favors either). Kitty hawks an impressive loogie onto Chazz's forehead, and he's off to jail for the foreseeable future.
Bill's finally vindicated regarding Lester's supposed innocence: See? He was right all along! With Lester, he goes through the events that happened the night Pearl Nygaard and Sheriff Thurman were offed, letting that guilty son-of-a-bitch weave a web of lies until Bill's brought to tears and let's him go while Chazz is stuck screaming in a cell. To be fair, Bill is sort of reacting like a normal person in these circumstances. With all the deaths (including the previous sheriff), the "missing" Malvo lookalike, and Gordo's unwitting show-and-tell item, it's no wonder he's an emotional mess clinging to whatever truth he can. That doesn't mean it's right.
And boy, does Molly get hit hard with that.
Recovering slowly-but-surely after taking a bullet, Molly meets the target of her own bullets -- Wrench -- to seek answers about why he and Numbers were there. This scene is painful, not because the only people in it are nursing serious injuries, but because there's a mix of empathy and resentment in the air between the pair. Also, it mirrors the scene when Gus finally got the guts to tell Molly he'd pelted her and she lost her spleen because of his idiocy. "I'll get you a new one, I swear!" he says earnestly, like he'd just lost her coat or something. Nice, Gus.
She finally puts the pieces together, and when her dad finally gets her signed out of the Duluth hospital so they can go back to Bemidji, she wants him to stop at the police station first. There, she finds that Bill's nabbed the wrong guy... and well, everything's gone awry.
Overall, this felt like one of the more cinematic episodes of the season so far, and that served "Who Shaves the Barber" really well. The camerawork on this episode is incredible, leading viewers on an adventure through this terrible, frozen tundra of madness -- without actually seeing a lot of that madness onscreen. We're made to gather clues and form our own visions of how things are going down for each of the characters.
The best example: Malvo's Fargo killing spree. In a single shot, we see Malvo hobbling awkwardly with an automatic weapon hidden under his coat, sneaking past the FBI and straight into the crime lord's headquarters. The camera doesn't follow Malvo inside. Instead, it hovers on the windows, voice overs of the bullet-riddled action inside blaring as the camera follows Malvo's position from the exterior. Only when he pushes that loud-mouthed, Mai Tai-loving hitman out a window do we see Malvo at his
best worst in the building.
In this episode, we find it's not just the local officers that are bumbling idiots, the FBI isn't really on top of its game, either. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele join Fargo's cast as some Subway-loving G-men who are -- you guessed it -- terrible at their jobs. More preoccupied by whether or not that "Eat Fresh!" sandwich is fast food or not, they totally miss that Malvo's walking around with an assault rifle in broad daylight. Then they miss the shooting. Then they miss the guy falling out of a window (until he's splattered on the pavement, that is). And then, in true Fargo form, they miss Malvo slipping into the crowd unnoticed as local law enforcement shows up.
The addition of Key and Peele as Bill Budge and Webb Pepper (you gotta hand it to writer Noah Hawley for these ridiculous names) sort of makes you feel like they're going to whip out some of their signature characters from Key and Peele (duh) and start calling folks like Sheriff Bill "Be ill." But we're intrigued by Budge and Pepper nonetheless. Let's see if they get their wits about them a little better than Sheriff Bill did during his
sob-session "interrogation" with Lester.
Lastly, after killing his wife, framing his brother and nephew, and generally being a terrible guy -- Lester goes one step further and gets his "palms greased" by the money-hungry, drunken widow Hess (Gina is alive!). Knowing that she's been denied her late husband's insurance policy, Lester goes to visit Gina and take advantage of the situation: on her marriage bed, while looking at a photo of them gun-toting in Western wear as she complains that he's hurting her multiple times. After he finishes the deed, we don't hear a peep from Gina, and we're left wondering once again if she's okay.
Random notebook dump:
It's nice to finally get away from Milos's storyline, as Biblically epic as it was. We needed a breath of fresh air, and Chazz Nygaard's perfect family falling apart was just the ticket.
How does Malvo's boss in Reno basically have a premonition Malvo's waiting to maim and/or kill him for more information on the Fargo crime syndicate? Anyone? (Also, what's up with the Korean-bashing? Not cool.)
Lorne Malvo continues to have the best lines on Fargo: Malvo: "Two hombres took a run at me in Duluth." Malvo's boss: "Mexicans?" Malvo: "That's the wrong part of the sentence to be focusing on."
Close second for dialogue wins this episode: Gus: "You want some pop or something?" Molly: "No, I want a new spleen. That's what I want. So you, uh, better get crackin' mister."
Between Molly and Lou's quiet understanding of each other, and her shared sadness of the current circumstances with Wrench, Alison Tolman's proving herself an actress to be reckoned with.
Speaking of, more Keith Carradine's Lou, y'all. (This is our wish for every episode of this show.) He keeps peekin' in; but every time that happens, we want to see Lou with some slightly meatier material.
Also, did you catch that '96 Fargo reference when Lou turned on the TV so he could watch the Gophers hockey game? Wade Gustafson was practically glued to the TV screen watching what? "Gophers!"
Lastly, who thought Martin Freeman could actually pull off being such an awful, awful character? We were skeptical at first, but aw jeez, we hate your smirking guts now. Well done.
Important takeaways from this episode:
Lester says Chazz was having an affair with his wife and (so far) successfully frames him for Pearl and Thurman's murders. Then he goes and has sex with the widow of the guy he basically had murdered. Classy dude, that Lester Nygaard.
Malvo went ballistic on the Fargo syndicate. The only thing left for him to do is try to strong-arm that buried money from Milos, right?
And oh yeah, Molly's alive!