Fargo recap: Playing God and the Godfather


Episode three: "A Muddy Road" [Warning: Spoilers for FX's Fargo series]

Being in the right place at the wrong time is such a pain. And that's what happens to just about everybody in this week's thrilling episode of Fargo. After last week's slow second installment following a strong premiere, this episode -- directed by Randall Einhorn -- feels more at home in that familiar Fargo-esque world.

Get ready for ambushes galore, folks.

See also: Fargo episode two recap: Hot dish cures everything

Malvo infiltrates a St. Paul office and drags a guy out by his tie, not bothering to hide from security cameras. He pulls a curved knife out, and strips the man before stashing him in the trunk. We find out that this is the frozen dead guy, Phil McCormick, from the first episode who "escaped" into the woods after Malvo hit a deer.

Lester's back at Bo Munk Insurance Shop, tired of listening to old ghosts in his head while sitting at home alone. Even his coworkers are surprised he's up for clocking hours again so soon after his wife's death. (It's noted later in the episode that it's been three days since Gus let Malvo go, so it's pretty darn soon after Pearl's death for Lester to be working again, right?)


When Lester's boss sends him out into the field to chat with Sam Hess's widow, Gina, she puts the moves on him -- literally. We find out she used to be a stripper in Vegas until Hess whisked her away to the frozen tundra to have two kids. She hated her husband, she hates her kids, but she loves money. When she finds out that Lester's the insurance guy, she goes from being a day-drinking grump to being a day-drinking vamp eager to get her hands on the money.

That buckshot wound of Lester's looks like it's getting out of hand (no pun intended). When he goes to change the bandage and poke at it while back at the office again, he can hardly speak to his coworker through the bathroom door. No doubt, this parallels the way he feels about the situation with his late wife: infected by pain and secrecy.

Unfortunately, Lester stays in the office while his coworkers go to Arby's (one of Marge's favs, from the Coens' Fargo), and that means he gets to meet the hitmen, who are waiting for him in his office after staking him out at the Hess house. They both ask -- in their own way -- if he was canoodling with Gina after conspiring to kill Sam.

"Ahh, I gotta deaf cousin," Lester gasps as things are about to get rough, and deputy Molly comes to the rescue. Sort of.

Numbers and Wrench pretend they want an insurance policy, and head out before Molly slyly ambushes Lester with a photo of Malvo under the pretense that she wants an insurance policy, too. Seeing him blanch at the sight of security-cam footage of Malvo and that soon-to-be popsicle, she knows there's something up. Good job, Molly.

Meanwhile, Malvos is turning Stavros Milos's blackmail situation on its head. He's found the "blackmailer," thanks to some errant bronzer on the note belonging to Mrs. Milos's orange-hued fitness trainer. Malvo ambushes the guy, Don Chumph (what are these names?!), at his studio (right place, wrong time, dude) and strong-arms the trainer into doing dirty work for him.

Malvo begins laying the foundation for a real mind-fuck for Milos. The hitman has killed the supermarket king's trusty dog (Godfather reference, anyone?), left another blackmail note, and switched his pain reliever with Adderall bought from some guy in a van (who's also selling zombie kits).

Milos is getting antsy -- not only because of the situation at hand, but also thanks to his regular dose of prescription "speed" -- and he invites Malvo over to talk strategy. The decor at Milos's house is strange. Notable things on the walls: an oil painting of Milos, a really intense stained glass window of St. Lawrence getting burned alive, and a framed ice scraper (Ding-ding-ding! Huge Fargo '96 reference/clue here). Milos tells Malvo about his weird relationship with God, something the former will be using to his advantage. Milos pops his pills like they're Tic Tacs, but instead of his usual acetominophen, he's chewing on 30mg pills of Adderall like a college student with a 40-pager due.

Later, Gus and Greta Grimly drive 150-ish miles to the Bemidji P.D. so Gus can start making amends for letting Malvo go a few days prior.

This might be the one time in the episode that someone's in the right place at the right time. Despite being scolded by Bill about her sneaky tactics ("I gotta say, I'm super ticked here," Bill says to Molly after she reveals her preliminary findings about Malvo and Lester. Right back atcha, buddy.), Molly steps right up to the plate when she hears Gus mention Lester Nygaard at the front desk.

This, by the way, is perfect meet-cute for northern Minnesota cops if there ever was one.

Gus spills his guts to Molly, and she starts putting more pieces of the puzzle together. She realizes Malvo was driving Lester's car, shows Gus the security photo from the St. Paul office building, and gets an affirmative: "Ho. Lee. Cow. YAH!"

Molly takes the Grimlys to Lou's for some extra questioning and boozy milkshakes. Before she gets there, Gus feels Greta out for approval on the deputy right before Lou hands out menus and asks if anyone else is coming along. Referring to Molly, Greta says, "A very pretty lady will be joining us." Nice one, Greta, but you practically can see Lou sizing Gus up for a hot second before he asks about Ben Schmidt, Gus's boss. Lou drops a reference to his days on the force with the "prick" (his word) on a joint task force in Sioux Falls, something that Schmidt also mentioned to Gus. We'll probably hear more about that later.

Molly retells an anecdote her perky, if emotionally unstable, friend brought up at a lunch date about a boyfriend with a spider egg laid in his neck (which hatched as they were doing the deed). "Not sure I want to live in a world where something like that could happen," says Molly over her milkshake, after ruining everyone's appetite.

Now, speaking of those freaky baby spiders... it's time for the biblical stuff.

The episode ends with a voiceover of Malvo reading from Exodus 2:5 and 2:11 as he contaminates Milos' shower with blood from a butcher shop. The tale recounts Pharaoh's daughter discovering Moses floating in the reeds, as well as how Moses eventually killed an Egyptian and buried him in the sand. It doesn't take a scholar to see the blatant symbolism here in Fargo, and it's making to be like the 10 plagues of Egypt descending upon little ol' Bemidji. Let's do a count of the plague signs so far, shall we?


Water into blood: This one's pretty obvious. Milos' blood bath shower.

Deceased livestock: Milos is practically living with dead livestock, what with the butcher's shop visible through his office window at work. Also, his dog got slaughtered.

Boils: Lester's festering buckshot wound, duh.

Storms (of fire and hail): At the very least, Milos is getting hot flashes on the regular (while sitting in front of that fiery stained glass window), we guess thanks to his new Adderall habit. Also, we learned last week that late Sheriff Thurman's old boss was killed in a freak hailstorm accident.

Lice/pestilence: That damn terrifying spider egg-in-the-neck story that keeps getting brought up? Yeah.

Death of firstborn: Barring the actual deaths that happened in episodes one and two, there are a couple possibilities here. First: the younger Hess kid (Moe) accidentally shoots the older one (Mickey) when he sees their mother straddling Lester. (Moe! With the crossbow! In the yard!) Plus, Mickey was also called up by Malvo in the pilot and told his father's fortune was going to his younger brother, which symbolically means Mickey was pretty much dead to his father anyways. Second: Milos has a son -- presumably his first and only -- so there might be something bad on the horizon for this poor, joke-loving grocery fella.

What's left: wild animals/flies, frogs, darkness, and -- the big one -- locusts. Did you catch any other biblical references we missed? Come to think of it, do you think we'll get a Cain and Abel parallel between Lester and his successful little bro later on? Got another theory? Let us know in the comments.

Death count:

Still five humans. Plus the dog.

Random notebook dump:

Did anyone else think Malvo looked just like Alan Grant with a raptor claw lecturing a dumb kid in Jurassic Park when he pulled out that knife in the first scene?

Kate Walsh, as Gina Hess, really chews the scenery with Lester, and it's fantastic. It's like, who brought The Demented Real Housewives of Bemidji onto the show? Can we have more?

Lester ends up in Chazz's gun storage room when his little brother is listening to music, steals a taser, and then proceeds to go outside with Chazz for some shooting range therapy. Note, Lester fires Chazz's automatic with his eyes shut, like a real pro n00b.

Adderall and acetaminophen do not look the same. Especially those 30mg pills.

St. Lawrence, unofficial "Patron Saint of Bad Asses," according to Milos, is also the patron saint of librarians. Funny, if you recall Numbers' and Wrench's Bemidji library query from last week's episode.

[Editor's note: Don't have cable? Looking to read recaps? Want to discuss the show in the comments? We'll be recapping each episode weekly as it airs. Stay tuned!]