“This thing’s officially out of control.”
That was quite a thing, wasn’t it? The long-promised Massacre At Sioux Falls certainly lives up to the name, and the quasi-mythical quality it’s taken on via things like this week’s introduction of the True Crimes Of The Midwest literary framing device (narrated by Lester Nygard, doing his best Paul Bettany). There are upwards of a dozen violent deaths, hundreds of shots fired, double-crosses, and oh yes, a goddamn flying saucer. And then the perfect button, with Mike Milligan and his Kitchenette showing up too late for the party and having perhaps the most sensible reaction possible.
The appearance of the UFO, in such striking and definitive fashion, should be a total dealbreaker as well. It’s technically the deus to end all machina-s, appearing from the ether to save our hero from imminent death. And as a rationalist spoilsport, the intrusion of the supernatural into a narrative that was doing just fine without it should be especially galling to me. I won’t name names, as I don’t want to drop vague but large spoilers in a post about a different topic entirely, but there are a few genre pieces that have raised my ire by taking a hard turn into the magical at the end. And this is only exacerbated the more I felt they had already succeeded at building up a cast and universe that I cared about on its own terms. You know, the actual hard work.
Or maybe it’s just that Peggy’s “it’s just flying saucer” dismissal is so pitch-perfect that it punctures any head of steam I might have been building about the laziness of using magic or aliens to wrap up plot threads or bail characters out of corners you regret painting them into in the first place. Because if there are two things I can’t accuse Fargo of, it’s laziness or sloppy plotting. This season, much like the first, has had gears turning within gears within gears on a plot level, with storylines interweaving in a manner that manages to be at once organic and consistently surprising. And I can’t even hold the brazen inorganic-ness of the UFO against the show. Sure, Bear had never seemed more formidably like his namesake than when he was charging straight through gunshots to maul our hero, but he could have just keeled over at any point, or caught a final stray bullet, or a deliberate one from Hank, or Hanzee, or even Mike, and any of it would’ve been perfectly natural and believable. They didn’t need to do this at all, so the fact that they did just tickles me instead of making me call bullshit. The show is so confident in its voice and style at this point, so unafraid of jumping the shark, that it’s attaching freaking laser beams to their foreheads.
Okay then, time for Coen Bros Bingo And Other Random Shit.
COEN BINGO AND OTHER RANDOM SHIT
– Hanzee’s self-surgery in the bathroom calls to mind Chigurgh’s in No Country.
– The fanciful narration has a little bit of The Big Lebowski’s cowboy wraparound, with its inability to quite nail down its own theme.
– Man, that driving drum theme that closed out last week and played when Lou turned back to South Dakota this week gets my blood pumping.
– A great touch: The Gerhardt kids’ height markings on the door jam, now riddled with bullet holes, next to Floyd during that last phone call are a wonderful touch, driving home that even if they “win” that night, the war has already cost her what they’re fighting for.
– The episode ends with a country-fied rendition of “Run Through The Jungle”, one of the Creedence songs to appear in The Big Lebowski, and maybe my favorite.
– If there were any bum notes about “The Castle”, it was the narrator spelling out Hanzee’s motivation for continuing to pursue the Blumquists, or the Dakota police chief being so over-the-top antagonistic to our guys that looking back, I see and hear Paul Gleason playing the role, all DVR and IMDB evidence to the contrary.
– And maybe, if I’m being extra churlish, I could’ve wished for a more elaborate death scene for Jean Smart (because Lord knows there wasn’t enough going on in the Massacre sequence). Actually, I wish we’d gotten a little more Floyd overall, though I’m not sure how or at the expense of what I would want it to come.