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FARGO Episode 7: Desperate Times Call for Fruitless Measures

After last week’s Fargo episode, which was an hour of pure tension reminiscent of a high noon duel, this week’s follow-up saw the fallout of those battles. It turns out almost everyone finds themselves in the same spot, and that is out of options and running out of time.

Floyd has to make an unholy alliance with the police, and they with her, if either stand any chance of stopping an out-of-control war. Mike can’t get ahead with his “company” without taking drastic action, and Bear has to do the unthinkable for the safety of the family. This inevitable war that no one wanted is heading toward its conclusion, and almost all can grasp that there will be no winners, just a few survivors. So the actions have become desperate, actions that each character would probably have considered unthinkable a short time ago.

Which is exactly the note the episode ended on, when Ed called Mike to tell him he had Dodd Gerhardt in his trunk. Rather than flee, which they might realize is futile, Ed and Peggy are making their own desperate attempt at getting out. It all seems so hopeless, like taking pills to cure your cancer even when you know they are sugar.

While not the action-filled affair of last week, this week’s episode was a gut punch in a much different way, thanks to the show’s female leads. Jean Smart’s under-control but grieving matriarch had the weight of her family’s existence with her in that interview room. It isn’t easy to be tough but vulnerable, but she’s successfully walked that wire all season. And so has Cristin Milioti, who finally acknowledged what the Solverson clan has tried to ignore, that she is going to die. It wasn’t sappy and it wasn’t overly emotional; it was real, and it was all the more heartbreaking because of it.

However, the real standout scene and performance belonged to Rachel Keller as Simone Gerhardt. I haven’t found her character particularly sympathetic this season: a turncoat is a turncoat and loyalty, even misplaced loyalty, is a virtue unto itself. Yet, when she was standing before her uncle’s gun, pleading for her life, I found myself hoping he’d find the mercy to let her go. It was crushing, the kind of moment that makes you forget these are just characters. Everyone on Fargo has to answer for his or her decisions, but it doesn’t make it easy to watch.

(I can’t be the only one who thought about Silvio and Adriana in the woods from The Sopranos during this scene, right? It felt like an homage in the best way. We might have had less time with Simone than we did with Adriana, but the humanity of Bear, in yet another incredible scene from Angus Sampson, somehow made it just as sad, a result of the emotional connection between the two, one than Silvio and Adriana didn’t really have. Even when paying tribute, Fargo manages to be great on its own.)

There are only three episodes left, and everyone has made their final, desperate attempt to win, but only now when the game is already lost. It all feels so stupid, so avoidable. You only have no options when you made the wrong decisions at the outset. Good and evil, right and wrong, they have a lot of gray between them, but the results are black and white. Just like poor Simone found out.

She won’t be the last.

What did you think of this week’s episode? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

Image: FX

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