“It seems very pretty,” she said when she had finished it, “but it’s rather hard to understand!” (You see she didn’t like to confess, even to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) “Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate.”
– Alice, upon reading the nonsense poem “Jabberwocky” in Through The Looking Glass“Rhinoceros” was probably the closest we’ll ever get to seeing a Coen Bros version of Rio Bravo, which is something I never realized I wanted, and now I’m simultaneously elated that I sort of got it and disappointed that I’ll probably never get it for realz-real. Ah well, at least this made for one seriously great, maddeningly tense hour of television. Fargo has never felt more like a western than in tonight’s episode, wherein sheriffs have stand-offs with goons who lay siege to the local jail, while an actual Indian stalks silently about with murderous intent. And also Mike Milligan recites “Jabberwocky”. Because why not?
But “Rhinoceros” had something you don’t often see in classical westerns, or siege movies for that matter – a lawyer emerging as the unlikely hero of the whole affair. Some of us were talking last week on the message board about our nominees for the next generation of the Coen bros’ repertory, now that the McDormand/Buscemi/Turturros of the world are getting on. I suggested Nick Offerman to succeed John Goodman, and tonight bore me out beyond anything I could’ve anticipated. We know from Parks And Rec the guy can make anti-government ranting funny, but his little breaks in his drunken anti-authoritarian ramblings to say hi to Sandra and whatnot slayed me. We knew Karl Weathers did not lack for sand after backing off Hanzee (who just gets more terrifying by the week) from the garage. But his efforts this week while outnumbered, outgunned and also drunk, were on another level, particularly because he could’ve excused himself from the whole affair had he been so inclined. But Karl Weather, much like Carl Weathers, doesn’t back down from a challenge, even when clearly overmatched. Have another drink counselor, you earned it.
So both Blomquists live another day despite the respective lynch mobs that show up on their doorsteps, but it’s hard to say that they’re winning. Ed is on the run with Hanzee on his trail, which is pretty much the very last place I’d ever want to be. I was clearly wrong a few weeks back when I talked about Milligan in relation to the Coen’s nemesis archetype, as the tracker would give Anton Chigurgh the willies with his efficiency and implacability over the last few episodes. The KC syndicate would actually be in a world of trouble if he wasn’t bound to help nimrod Dodd undermine his own family. We must be due for a flashback to show how Dodd saved Hanzee’s life when they were little, because that alliance seems to make less sense each week.
Anyway, it’s unclear where Peggy ends up after administering potentially the most satisfying cattle prodding in television history (to be fair, it’s a fairly young medium). Presumably she took off before Hank woke up, or maybe after since he gets called away to deal with the siege situation right away. In any case, it was a very strong episode for Kirsten Dunst, starting with the homespun denial as she swears to a nonplussed Hank that she and Ed have done nothing wrong (though even at the height of her lather, she doesn’t declare that he is innocent but that the charges are “unproveable!”), moving to outright desperation as Hank threatens her with forensics and she eventually tiptoes right up to the precipice of a confession. That little speech about how she feels like a stranger in her own house provides some context for the obvious question of why you would just drive home with a Gerhardt in your windshield, making her a little more sympathetic without really justifying her actions. It makes Peggy into a near-tragic figure; she has done some really terrible things, but could be so much happier if she was either a little bit better of a person, or if she were a little bit more callous and could actually throw herself into her self-centered pursuits whole-heartedly. But alas for her, her nature is restless enough to always have one foot out the door, but just sentimental enough to keep California permanently out of reach.
One assumes that she’ll make it as far as Sioux Falls, however, even if she doesn’t like what she finds there. Okay then. On to Coen Bingo and other random shit:
COEN BINGO AND OTHER RANDOM SHIT
– No sign of the UFO this week, unless I was just distracted by all the awesome cowboy shit.
– A very 70’s-upped version of “Man Of Constant Sorrow” plays over the end credits, which song plays a large role in the soundtrack and plot of O Brother Where Art Thou? It’s apparently done by Blitzen Trapper, whom I know for their earworm “Furr”.
– All the standoffs this season call to mind the various instances in True Grit where Cogburn, LeBeouf and Mattie face down larger/more numerous foes. How that has become the most forgotten Coen movie is beyond me; it’s fantastically entertaining and beautiful from start to finish.
– Betsy opines that Vietnam would’ve gone a lot smoother if the cooler heads of women had been allowed to prevail. Given current circumstances, Floyd Gerhardt would no doubt agree.
– Dodd claims not to see his nephew as crippled, saying instead he sees heart and will, much as Milligan claimed that his boss’s severed head is naught but a business opportunity to him. But nobody takes this selective perception as far as Peggy, who sees dead gangsters and a burned down shop as a ticket to California.
– Peggy fighting off Dodd in the basement calls to mind Frances McDormand’s troubles at the end of Blood Simple.
– Lou slips with Ed out a second story window while being stalked by Hanzee, which is a move also employed by Coen protagonists Llewelyn Moss and Leo when their domiciles come under attack. They also all have “L” first names, which is significant because oh hell I’m just making shit up at this point.