You can set your watch by penultimate episodes… if for some reason you have a watch that measures when in a season of television a lot of people will die.
The second to last episode of Fargo season 2 did not fail to deliver the promised Massacre at Sioux Falls, but since this is Fargo, the expected showdown did not lack surprises. Or, you know, impeccable acting, writing, directing, editing, lighting, color timing, and special effects. (More on the last one a little later.)
Something that has been true about Fargo since its first season is that it has never grown complacent, often using out-of-left-field cold opens or unexpected flashbacks. “The Castle’s” stylistic flourish came in the form of a narration (and a very welcome return) from Martin Freeman, who presumably plays the role of Brixby, the author of The History of True Crime in the Mid West, a book we page through in the episode’s opening moments.
The yellowed volume carries a familiar disclaimer: “The events depicted in this book took place in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, and North and South Dakota from 1825 to the present. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occurred.”
The book opens to Chapter 14, entitled “Luverne, Minnesota – 1979: The Waffle Hut Massacre,” and Brixby begins to read. He explains that the other moniker for the bloodshed we’ve watched unfold — the Massacre at Sioux Falls — is more commonly used by laypeople, so to hell with that. I’m Team Waffle Hut Massacre all the way. The conclusion that the author comes to, and ultimately why he classifies the crimes as originating in Minnesota, is because of Ed and Peggy Blumquist, the supposed innocents who got unfittingly swept up in the violence. Innocent or not, the butcher and the hairdresser are the archetypal Fargoian characters, and it feels appropriate that the final hour is set to wrap up their story.
Who wants to create a Kickstarter to publish this book for real?
The action begins in media res as we see the fallout from last week’s tense and contained episode. Hanzee continues his Anton Chigurh tribute tour by returning to the gas station near the cabin. The attendant who alerted the police to Hanzee’s presence dies trying to do so again, and the still-long-haired man proves there’s a lot you can do with some hydrogen peroxide and some crazy glue, by cleaning himself up (in a similar fashion to the above scene) in the bathroom.
“Not much is known about our Hanzee Dent,” Brixby continues. “We have no birth certificate, no tribal or family history.” It’s fascinating that neither we nor Brixby cannot pinpoint when Hanzee turned against the Gerhardts. It’s telling that it’s his story, as the orchestrator of the bloodbath and as a Native American man, whose story isn’t heard. The show keeps most of Hanzee’s life, past and present, a mystery, mirroring the amount of concern those things were given by the people around him, and it’s left up to us and Brixby to posture what he could have been thinking. The best we have is the moment in which he tells Peggy that he’s “tired of this life,” which Brixby sounds aware of, but Hanzee still remains mostly a mystery.
NEXT: Take this quiz to find out if you’re Gary Cooper or Betty LaPlage.