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Death, death and more death on 'Fargo'

'Gift of the Magi' is violent episode that delivers the carnage alluded to all season


/ Courtesy of FX The Spectrum

TV Show: “Fargo”

Network: FX

Grade: A

Philosopher and writer Albert Camus once wrote, “A man without ethics is a wild beast loosed upon this world.” Camus’s nihilist philosophy of the absurdity of life and inevitability of death seems tailor-made for “Fargo.

The cashier at the butcher store reads through one of Camus’s books and suddenly the absurdity of life and inevitability of death quite literally bursts through the door.

In the vein of this philosophy, Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffery Donovan) seems to be the “wild beast” that is released upon the world of “Fargo.”Last episode, Dodd guaranteed the brewing war would not be peacefully resolved. In “Gift of the Magi,” Dodd makes sure the war is not a civil one.

By framing the Kansas City Gang for the killing of his brother Rye, he effectively manipulates Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart) into feeling pure rage towards the rival gang.

This is the first time we have seen Dodd’s brutality through manipulation. We’d seen much of his violent tendencies but now it seems Dodd is truly “a man without ethics.”

“Gift of the Magi” gets real violent, real fast.

As the Kansas City Gang moves on to the Gerhardts home, Gerhardt henchmen ambush them from behind, led by Ohanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon).

The Kitchen brothers react by shooting almost all of the Gerhardt men before Ohanzee cuts one’s neck open and the other is knocked out.

Ohanzee then sends Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) to Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) in a final show of brutality.

And this all occurs before the first commercial break.

The pace slows down afterward as Ronald Reagan (Bruce Campbell), escorted by Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), campaigns throughout Minnesota.

As Reagan commends Lou for his service in Vietnam, Reagan begins to recall his “service” by playing a World War II soldier behind enemy lines, showing just how out of touch he seems to be with the American people.

And yet, he believes in his own rhetoric so much that it starts to seem like the truth, especially to many of the people he is speaking to.

Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman) complains about Reagan’s bloated speeches and how he is merely another actor but can’t help himself when Reagan walks by. He shakes his hand eagerly, falling for the dream Reagan is promising him.

The pivotal scene in Monday’s episode comes in the latter half, as all good pivotal scenes do.

Charlie Gerhardt (Allan Dobrescu) wants to prove to the family that he can be useful, despite his crippled hand.

He volunteers to kill Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons) as retaliation for killing Rye. After backing down the first time he went into the shop, he enters again. His one shot misses Ed but sparks a massive fire. As the attempted murder devolves in true “Fargo” fashion, a Gerhardt henchman has his skull split by Ed which he emphasizes repeatedly was self-defense.

In many ways, Noreen Vanderslice (Emily Haine) plays out as the classic Camus character.

As she passes time reading a Camus book, a man walks in looking to kill her boss.

Through no fault of her own, she is thrown in to a perilous and absurd situation, showing how quickly life can turn ugly and for seemingly no reason at all.

As Camus wrote, “at any street corner, the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.”

Like every episode in season two of “Fargo,” there just has to be a reference to UFOs.

This time, Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) sees a drawing of a UFO by her daughter. She is puzzled by it, but ultimately moves on.

We must wait to see if the Gerhardts beat the Kansas City Gang, the Blumquists get away with it or if the UFO references have anything to do with anything.

Dan McKeon is a contributing arts writer. Arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com.


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