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Fargo recap: Buridan's Ass

Malvo’s plan results in unexpected consequences while Lester hatches a devious scheme of his own.

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Fargo Recap
Chris Large/FX


TV Show
Drama, Crime
run date:
Current Status:
In Season

Something’s fishy in Minnesota – or is that the smell of all the dead bodies beginning to pile up? We’re losing people who can help uncover the truth about the Bemidji murders as Malvo – and now Lester – enact their elaborate, devious plans.

But first, we’re finally introduced to Fargo. The crime syndicate boss is meeting with his henchman in an Asian restaurant, going over what appears to be financials as his brusque Aussie underling dominates the conversation. (Bonus: Now we all know how to prepare fresh fish.) The boss is a man of few words: “Sam Hess,” he says. His numbers man – not to be confused with Mr. Numbers – flips to a page in his ledger and reads: “Assets deployed. Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers. Three days plus lodging plus mileage.”

The boss man doesn’t seem to like what he is hearing. The Australian is unsettled as he explains that Numbers and Wrench don’t believe Hess’ killing is related to the business. It might be extramarital on the wife’s side; they’re on their way to apprehend the guy.

“Dead,” the head guy says. “Not apprehend. Dead. Don’t care extramarital, don’t care not related, kill and be killed. Head in a bag. There’s the message.” And he stabs his fish and sucks on the head to make his point.

Don, meanwhile, is having his own feast (of pathetic sorts). He’s still stuck in the pantry and still dreaming about all of that money he thinks he’s going to get, hypothetically inviting people to his fancy new Turkish baths. Poor, delusional Don. Not sure where he decided to use the bathroom, but at least there are snacks. Malvo lets him out; it’s time to make the call.

Don’s upset, naturally – his feelings were hurt, ya know? He’s not going to get that 60/40 split of the money, no matter how much he thinks he’s doing all of the work in this blackmail scheme. But wait — “Why is there paper on the windows?” he wonders. What’s in Malvo’s bag? Don does perk up at the idea of getting to use the “voice thingy” again and does his best Darth Vader impression before Malvo hands him a script to read to Milos.

Milos is waiting for the call. It’s snowing; he’s sitting in his office, staring at his ice scraper, sitting in front of his St. Lawrence stained glass window, recounting how he got the money to make him the Supermarket King in the first place. The phone rings: “Once upon a time there was a little boy,” Don says through the voice modifier. “He was born in a field and raised in the woods. And he had nothing. In the winter the boy would freeze and in the summer he would boil. He knew the name of every stinging insect. At night, he would look at the lights in the houses, and he would want. Why was he outside, and they in? Why was he so hungry, and they fed? It should be me, he said. And out of the darkness the wolves came, whispering. You understand what I’m saying?”

Milos nods. “Yeah.” These parables are having the desired effect on all of the characters – Milos, Grimly – but does every teaching lesson or Malvo intimidation need a metaphor? Even for a Coen-themed series, there have been a lot of these Meaningful Stories in just six episodes.

Milos is instructed to make the drop at a parking garage. He hangs up; Malvo wants to know if it sounds like he’s going to pay, but Don “doesn’t know what that sounds like.” No matter — the trainer’s use to Malvo is almost up anyway. To make that point, the hit man whacks his accomplice over the face with a blender.

To set the scene of The Storm of the Century descending upon Minnesota, we get Molly driving to Duluth, listening to the weather report. She meets Grimly at his apartment; he says he sent Greta to a friend where she’d be safer, which may be the smartest thing he’s done all season. He fills her in on his neighbor’s run-in with Malvo, but admits he didn’t call it in because no one believes him anymore anyway. (Except her. Aw, budding cop feelings.) The good news: The neighbor got the plates, and it turns out the SUV Malvo was driving belongs to Phoenix Farms, where a chipper, totally unhelpful cashier tries to call the manager to talk to the two cops. No luck. Molly leaves her card and says they want to ask about a company car. She even writes down the plates, which will inevitably turn out to be a terrible decision, right? Milos believes he’s mixed up in some shady business. Malvo is out for blood. And now Molly just let them know that she’s onto them – even if she doesn’t know exactly what’s going on. Why wouldn’t she have just said, “Look – we’re the fricking law and someone needs to get in touch with us ASAP.” It seems that she gave away way too much here. But Molly doesn’t seem concerned. She wants more coffee. Cop date!

It’s snowing in Bemidji, too, where Lester tells a nurse at the hospital that he’s ready to go home. But that’s up to the cop sitting outside of his door, she says, refusing to tell him why his room is being guarded. Lester knows why, of course. He strips the IV out of his arm and tries the window; it’s locked, and he’s trapped. He hears someone outside and hops back into bed. Turns out Chazz has come to berate him and tell him what a bad brother and all around terrible person he is. He only knows the half of it.

Chazz tells Lester what the cops are saying: They think he may have hired a hit man to knock off Pearl. Lester puts on his best poker face. “I swear to God I did not do this, anything,” he says.

“Well they think you did, so you’ve got to give them something. Someone,” Chazz says. “If you want this to go away you have to give them someone.” And to really drive his point home: “You’ve been a burden my whole life. You’re done. There’s something wrong with you, there’s something missing.”