Nov 24, 2015

TV Recap: Fargo - "Did You Do This? No, You Did It!"

Welcome to the new series that will dissect every episode of season two of FX's Fargo. From its faithfulness as an adaptation of the Coen Brothers classic to its growing plot, this will be a look at all things involving the show, its mythology, and occasional predictions of things to happen. There will be highlights of special moments in the series and deeper dissection of what may make this anthology series so endearing. What will happen in this freshman series about a homespun murder mystery? You'll have to read the recaps every Tuesday to find out more.

Season 2, Episode 7
"Did You Do This? No, You Did It!"

“None of us are family anymore.”
- Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson)

The Gerhardt family is suffering some major losses as Mike Milligan (Bookem Woodbine) begins to do a massive attack on their associates. When Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson) discovers that Simone Gerhardt (Rachel Keller) is sleeping with the enemy, he takes her into the woods and kills her. Meanwhile, Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) travels further into the chaotic mess in order to solve the increasing murders. This leaves Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) in the hands of Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman), of whom she accuses of having a drinking problem. It does not go well. Bear tries to move on after murdering his sister, but finds it difficult. Lou accuses a fellow cop of being bad at his job. The battle between Milligan and the Gerhardts begins to elevate even further as the episode ends with them sending men to attack each other.

Most Blatant Homage

This is an episode packed front to back with visual cues from The Coen Brothers' entire catalog. Even the various songs are covers of tracks you've likely heard in The Big Lebowski and O Brother, Where Art Thou?. However, the one that is likely the most blatant is the one from Miller's Crossing, which serves as the episode's greatest moment. Like in the film, a man escorts someone into the woods to be killed off. This time, it is Bear murdering Simone for disobeying the family code. The imagery is stunning and the transitioning shots are beautiful unto themselves. However, there's even more trickery in the mix, as some of the grandiose cinematography recalls the landscape shots of True Grit. Whether or not this was all intentional, one scene in this episode manages to embody so many homages that it is itself a masterpiece in references.

Death Count

1. Three people murdered in office by gunmen disguised as window washers.
2. One man strangled while sitting at a bar.
3. One man drowned in a toilet.
4. One man shot in an open area
5. Bear murders Simone
6. Mike Milligan murders two men in his apartment.


EPISODE COUNT: 8
TOTAL: 33

MVP:
Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson)

It's a really tough episode to sit through for one sole reason: a brother has to murder his sister for the betterment of the family. It's one of those things that feels rather sinister. However, Simone brought it upon herself for choosing to double cross two rival gangs. While the episode is packed with other harrowing moments, it's still a little tough to see anyone having a rougher time than that of Bear, who has been one of the strongmen for most of the season. However, he shows his strongest side yet by having to keep the family's professionalism over his own emotional stakes. It's another great performance in a long line of great performances this season. Still, it would be impossible to have a show with a moment as emotionally wrenching without something like this to make things more difficult to justify.

Best Scene

While it seems redundant to only highlight one scene in the whole episode, it's also hard to think of any having as much emotional impact as this one. As much as the show has managed to blend dark humor with darker drama, it hasn't really had to deal with difficult kills too much (despite a large body count). This may be one of the few times that death becomes an emotional stake, and one that is possibly too much, even if you can totally understand the reasoning behind it. Add in a lot of Coen Brothers references, and you get a masterclass in what this show does amazing well. It's emotional. It's beautiful. It's also downright tragic. Such a great scene in an otherwise really good episode that continues to show why season two is among the best things on TV this year.

Overall Thoughts

While the episode is a little overlong, there's no denying that the build-up to Simone's murder is among the finest things that the series has ever done. Even if the remaining story wasn't able to live up to that moment, it still has plenty of bleak and vulnerable moments that show the series shifting from its more comical first half into a more dark and philosophical second half. The murders feel more intense and everyone feels like they will be offed at any moment. It helps that the show perfectly established these characters and makes us care for even the less likable of them. I will admit that it's a little long and some of the non-Simone moments don't work. However, the grief is high and the story's heating up beautifully. The show would have to do something radical in the remainder to make this not one of the best things of 2015. It's not only a loving tribute to The Coen Brothers. It's a tribute to what great miniseries TV can be.


Rating: 4 out of 5

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