[This is a review of Fargo episode 8. There will be SPOILERS.]
Since the appearance of the almighty trickster Lorne Malvo, the world of Fargo, or, more the point, the lives of several characters depicted therein have been thrown into a unique kind of controlled chaos, one for which resolution – or immediate resolution, anyway – may not actually be in the cards. Malvo’s corruptive influence and chaotic signature has left nearly all the characters who are working against his authority – whether they know it or not – in a place much like Gus Grimly was back during the events of ‘Buridan’s Ass‘: essentially lost in the blizzard, shooting at shadows, and striking all the wrong people.
When ‘The Heap’ begins, then, it has been quite a while since Malvo was even in Bemidji, and yet his presence is still profoundly felt. Like when Lester trades in the symbol of the life he has left behind by getting rid of the broken washing machine, a lemon that had been recalled by the manufacturer, and conspicuously unreturned by the man who repeatedly failed to fix it himself.
And so, after the offending contraption has been removed, Lester sits on the floor of his basement (the place where he killed his wife) and calmly sits watching the new machine work efficiently and quietly. It is an incredibly dark moment, as it suggests that Lester has won, and, more specifically, Lester has won because of the intervention of Lorne Malvo.
In that regard, Lorne Malvo has also won, because those charged with chasing him and bringing him to justice – at least those not named Molly Solverson – are convinced that their blind shot at a shadow actually struck the true culprit. And so, it seems that no matter what Molly tries to do, or whom she goes up against, she always winds up being outgunned.
Bill tells her to drop the case against Lester because everybody wants a win, and even though its fraudulent, Bill and the Bemidji police got themselves that win – they even went out for drinks to celebrate (i.e., concretize) that victory. And later, despite her reservations, Molly finds herself placed in the impossible position of potentially crushing Ida, who has accepted Bill’s version of the truth as the foundation on which she can begin reclaiming her own life. And so, the truth winds up buried and the wicked (even the hospital bound Mr. Wrench) ostensibly wind up being rewarded.
The situation seems more than a little one-sided, and, perhaps, even hopeless – which is in keeping with the story so far – but with an unexpected leap forward one year, Noah Hawley and Fargo seem to be saying that good things come to those who wait.
Normally, time jumps feel like cheap tricks used to get shows out of narrative cul-de-sacs, a way to service a sense of renewal, or something like a reboot without actually having to do any of the heavy lifting required of such an endeavor. Here, though, the time jump comes conspicuously before the narrative’s conclusion, which creates a (potentially incomplete) sense of a renewal for everyone.
Lester is successful and confident, Malvo has apparently changed his look drastically, and Molly and Gus have started a family together (with the added bonus of Gus no longer being allowed to carry a firearm in service of the law). That falsity of the new beginning, then, becomes more pronounced as the realization that these various new positions (happy as some may be) are the result of events that have yet to be truly resolved.
‘The Heap’ calls attention to the notion that while the wicked are seemingly rewarded and the good are essentially punished, there is a sense of balance coming. That balance manifests first in the episode’s most touching moment, a humanity restoring sequence featuring Bill as he introduces his foster kid, Tahir El Kachief (Barkad Abdirahman), and recounts the incredible story of how the seemingly lost Tahir was recovered and brought to his foster family in the unlikeliest of circumstances.
“Don’t question the universe. Things just work out,” Bill tells a very pregnant Molly who is still secretively investigating the Malvo/Lester case. And for a series that has thus far built a compelling tale around the notion that, if given the right circumstances, anything can and will happen, the idea that sometimes things just work out sounds just about right.
Fargo continues next Tuesday with ‘A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage’ @10pm on FX.
Photos: Chris Large/FX