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Fargo finale recap: Palindrome

Answers, explanations, endings, and beginnings add up to a fantastic conclusion

Posted on

Chris Large/FX


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

Wow. That was an ending — so full of thematic and emotional moments that landed powerfully, yet delicately — worthy of the best-series-of-2015 status EW critic Melissa Maerz bestowed on the season. The finale was bloody brilliant and morally right, loud, quiet, and deep. I mean, how do you recap that?

Well, you start at the start and work your way to the end. (Thanks, Lou.)

This is a true story.

Those opening words were ringing in my head throughout the conclusion of Fargo’s second year, even after having read them at the start of each episode. Obviously, like the film, none of this is true in the factual and historical sense, but it is undeniable on another level. People died, Peggy. We see their faces as Lou reads the epigraph. Specifically, we see the Gerhardts — Rye, Otto, Dodd, Simone (whose death is finally confirmed), Floyd, and Bear — an entire family wiped out because of rage, greed, and chance. In the course of the finale, titled “Palindrome,” a few characters share their ideas of what it’s all meant. This being Fargo, the “it” they’re trying to explain is the mystery of all human existence, how we survive in the face of the Frenchman’s joke.

The answer is that everyone’s story is true, but mostly only true for oneself. Camus, for all of his French wisdom, cannot speak for Betsy. She has Molly, and in Molly she has purpose. “We’re put on this earth to do a job,” she tells Noreen. “Each of us gets the time that we get to do it.”

Lou echoes the sentiment later in the car with Peggy, though he’s a bit more accepting of Camus’ language. “Your husband said that he would protect his family no matter what, and I acted like I didn’t understand, but I do,” Lou says. “It’s the rock we all push, men. We call it our burden, but it’s really our privilege.” This is his experience, based on his time in the military and what he saw as people fled Vietnam, some of them pulling off some really incredible-sounding helicopter maneuvers.

The funny thing is that both Lou and Betsy mostly agree with Camus. The latter diverges on the whole “Does God exist?” issue, but if Noreen ever gets to the end of that damn book, she can tell them that The Myth of Sisyphus is all about finding purpose (Betsy’s “job” and Lou’s “burden”) in the world that exists around you. Unlike organized religion, there isn’t an absolute answer to how it’s done. It just happens that both Betsy and Lou have found theirs in their family.

Did I mention that Betsy is still alive? Well, if her line of dialogue up above didn’t give it away, Mrs. Solverson survived the nasty fall she took in the previous episode. According to Noreen, she’s had a bad reaction to Xanadu. The good news is that the pill appears to be the real deal and not the placebo. The bad news is that the medication might kill her before the cancer does.

While Betsy was unconscious, she had a dream. For viewers who have seen both seasons of Fargo, the sequence, which takes Betsy through the years in Lou and Molly’s lives she won’t be around for, may have been the most emotional of the evening.

“That night I had a dream. It felt so real, even though I knew it couldn’t be or wasn’t yet. I dreamt of a magical future, filled with wondrous devices, where everything you could ever want is available in one amazing place, and there was happiness there. Then I saw farther still, years, decades into the future. I saw a handsome older man, his back still straight, visited by his children and grandchildren, people of accomplishment, of contentment. Then I saw chaos, the fracture of peace and enlightenment, and I worried that the future I had seen, magical and filled with light, might never come to pass.”

See, it’s all true.

NEXT: Ed and Peggy get smoked out