TV Review: Fargo - Season 2: Episode 9
Season 2, Episode 9: The Castle
SUMMARY: Ed (Jesse Plemons) and Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) are used as bait in an attempt to nab Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) and the Kansas City mob, but a renegade Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) has other ideas.
REVIEW: With this being the penultimate episode of Fargo – season two, right from the start it's a lightening-fast installment jam-packed with action and intrigue. Considering how amazing the season has been so far, that doesn't really distinguish it from how the show has played-out pretty much every week so far, but even as far as Fargo goes, this one is extra special.
The long-teased massacre at Sioux Falls finally goes down this week, but in a unique twist, the episode is narrated, true-crime style, by none other than last season's Martin Freeman. With it being revealed early-on just how blood-soaked an event this was going to be, the majority of the episode is a nail-biting lead-up to the climactic massacre, where the rest of the Gerhardt family, including matriarch Floyd (Jean Smart) and Bear (Angus Simpson) meet their maker courtesy of Hanzee – although it's Lou who finally puts paid to the hulking Bear (thanks to some extra terrestrial intervention).
What's interesting is how we're really able to see how Lou (Patrick Wilson) got totally burnt-out on being a cop here, with his good work being stymied at every turn by the idiotic South Dakota cops, who launch a shockingly dumb sting operation, while having the level-headed Lou escorted out of town nearly at gunpoint. While he's able to swoop in and (somewhat) rescue Hank (Ted Danson) from becoming a lamb to the slaughter (his wounds don't seem to be fatal), to make matters worse, his terminally ill wife Betsy (Cristin Milioti) collapses during his absence (hopefully she's not dead), with him being absent when his family most needs him – making his devotion to Molly as a work-a-day dad all the more bittersweet.
The climatic shootout is absolutely nuts, with Adam Arkin's direction being top-notch as usual. What makes it especially strong is how beloved most of the characters have become, with you even feeling somewhat for the villainous Floyd and Bear as they get picked off. Lou, while he wanders in Gary Cooper-style to save the day, isn't portrayed as too much of a superhero, with him letting Ed and Peggy get away (with Hanzee in pursuit) to save his beloved father-in-law. It's also worth noting that if Hank's aliens hadn't intervened Lou would be a dead man. It's a tribute to how amazing Fargo is that the last minute arrival of a UFO seems like a completely reasonable climax, although the hints have been dropped along the way with Rye seeing it before getting killed in episode one, and Betsy finding all of Hank's alien-language cards a few eps ago (too bad he's sidelined and didn't get to see what I presume are his pals show up). Best of all – Betsy's line “it's just a flying saucer Ed.” Brilliant.
Like I've said each and every week, I've come to the point with Fargo that I'm no longer really reviewing the show as each of my reviews have become more-or-less love letters or rants about how amazing it is. Unless next week's ends with Hank retiring to open up a bar in Boston after getting his youth restored by the aliens and changing his name to Sam Malone, I think we can safely say this season of Fargo has been some of the best TV ever made.