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Fargo, Ep. 2.08, “Loplop”

Fargo Season 2, Episode 8 “Loplop”
Written by Bob DeLaurentis
Directed by Keith Gordon
Airs Mondays at 10pm (ET) on FX

“Loplop” is a return to Fargo‘s roots, both television and cinematic, evoking images of each with its cabin-in-the-woods setting and slight tilt (back) into the absurd. After last week’s disconcertingly fragmented hour, “Loplop” is a sigh of relief, filling in the many blanks leftover from “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” and setting up a number of important dominoes to fall in the season’s highly anticipated final two episodes. It’s not a perfect hour, but it’s an abundantly promising one, a darkly hilarious, focused reprieve from the sprawling storytelling of recent episodes.

“Loplop” picks up where “Rhinoceros” ended, returning to the climatic events at the Blomquist home: Now on the run with Dodd tied up in the trunk, Ed and Peggy find themselves in very different mindsets. The split-screen technique employed all season works to great effect here, detailing how little Ed and Peggy are listening to each other, the former trying to survive while the latter revels in “finally actualizing”, like a violent, dangerously unstable little butterfly coming out of her suburban cocoon. Peggy’s transformation in this episode is truly frightening. It’s the moral “awakening” (slash poisoning) Coen protagonists face all the time: Will freedom turn them into an inspiration, or an absolute monster? Peggy falls somewhere in the middle, giving Ed a bit of confidence while simultaneously poking holes in Dodd with a knife (to teach him a little respect, of course) before becoming so engrossed in the sacrificial fantasy of a Reagan film on cable that she allows Dodd to free himself, and nearly kill them both.

Simply watching Ed and Peggy domesticate a hostage situation is entertaining as hell; it captures that endearing goofiness Fargo observes of its most harmless characters. Except, of course, Ed and Peggy are anything but harmless, which changes the timbre of their behavior into something a lot more sinister, like when Dodd announces he has to go to the bathroom and Peggy leaves Ed to take care of it. He does, placing the soiled teapot he uses to assist Dodd in the sink afterwards, one of the many amusing touches given to this little two-act play happening inside the four wooden walls of Ed’s family cabin.

Fargo-Jeffrey-Donovan

Swirling around that cabin are the people hunting them down, primarily Hanzee, whose carefully maintained calm falls apart in a bar located on the site of a Sioux massacre, leaving a trail of blood that stretches from said bar to (possibly) Sioux Falls and around it, depending on the fate of Constance and the unluckiest convenience store owner in the world (“I’m just biding my time here until they take me out with my toes up” he says, the instant Hanzee walks into the door). Watching Hanzee feels like watching Malvo back in season one, with the added empathy of Hanzee’s difficult, racism-laced path through the northern midwest driving his character. His frustrations with Americans and Dodd both come to a head in this hour, and Zahn McClarnon chews the shit out of that harrowing experience, delivering a knockout performance rivaling that of anyone else on the crew.

When Fargo finally brings all of these battling elements together in the final moments, it leads to one of the most entertaining sequences of the season. After fighting off Dodd and saving her husband’s life, Peggy is greeted at the door by Hanzee, sick of the life he’s been living (and ready to look different than the pictures of him all over the police departments and newspapers in North Dakota). While Dodd screams at him to kill Peggy and “The Butcher of Luverne”, Hanzee sits down and calmly asks for a haircut, “something a little more professional”, he tells Peggy, “I’m tired of this life.”

In that absurd moment, the various journeys of Fargo‘s second season come into clear focus for a moment: On every level, season two of Fargo is about people trying to “self-actualize” themselves into new positions in the world. How they go about this self-transformation is where all of this season’s characterization comes from: Dodd trying to become a boss, the K.C. organization trying to become a multi-state syndicate, Peggy unleashing the monster inside herself. Every act in this season, including those of America happening in the background of the late 1970s, is about desperate acts of seeking self-definition, grasping at existential straws and too often, coming up empty. As Fargo enters its last two episodes, it’ll be fascinating to see how its characters arrive at their metaphorical destinations. Many will end up in the grave, of course, victims of the supposed lives they thought they were destined to lead, or somehow “earned”. But life is not earned—life is survived, and watching the many people of Fargo learn that fact over the last two hours looks to be an engrossing watch, indeed. Okay, then? Okay, then.

 

Additional Thoughts

  • Hang in there, Hank!
  • I nearly vomited when Dodd tried to pull the broken knife out of his foot, slicing his hands in the process.
  • People may wonder why Dodd didn’t kill Peggy, but I think that’s pretty obvious: He underestimated every woman in his life (he had four daughters??!), and was setting up Ed’s body to watch whatever depraved things he was going to do to Peggy while “taking his time”.
  • Great little visual touches: The noose hanging over Ed’s head in the background of the phone booth, part of a hangman game spelling out “S_O_X F_LLS”, and the alien symbols from Hank’s apartment hanging above the bar Hanzee enters in.
  • Dodd’s childlike mannerisms come full circle in this episode: He can neither feed, nor clean himself while becoming the surrogate hostage child of the Blomquists.
  • Oh, poor Constance.
  • “Hun, you gotta stop stabbin’ him.”
  • “May I say; brother, I like your style.”

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