Lester's close call leads to a break for Molly, while Grimly gets caught up in Malvo's plan, which is nearly complete.

Credit: Chris Large/FX
S1 E5
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So remember that shotgun Lester was going to use to try to intimidate Malvo after he bludgeoned his wife to death? The one that Malvo then used to kill Chief Thurman? The weapon that likely still had both Lester and Malvo’s fingerprints on it when the cops arrived at the murder scene and took it as evidence? Yeah, that gun finally gets a starring role in Fargo episode 5, The Six Ungraspables.

The episode opens with a flashback to how Lester acquired the gun. Swayed by a final markdown on irregular socks — there’s one ladies’ sock stuck in with each pair of men’s — the “best offer” deal the clerk makes with him is this: “Give me $55 and I’ll throw in this 12 gauge.”

Lester makes the purchase “for protection,” he tells his wife back at home. “If anyone could shoot themselves in the face with an unloaded firearm it’s you,” says Pearl, in case we needed a reminder that henpecking her husband was one of her favorite hobbies. Of course, to prove her point, Lester drops the gun while searching for a place to keep it. He settles on the top of a cabinet, where he also places the shells for safekeeping.

Flash-forward to the crime-in-progress and the phone call he made to Malvo, as well as his practice attempts at being a tough guy. The focus shifts to the gun, which Lester left in the corner, and Malvo grabbing it, then shooting the chief in the chest. The camera shifts to a hyper-stylized, very Coen-esque close-up of the shotgun blast, the shell leaves the chamber and the shot explodes outward, pellets hit the chief, careen through his chest, through his back, with one piece finally lodging into the hand of Lester.

Flash-forward again to Lester’s hand. It’s infected and pulsating and oozing something fierce underneath the bandages.

When we last saw Lester in the present, he was stuck in a jail cell with Numbers and Wrench, the two men who hours earlier had planned on killing him. Then Lester tased Numbers and narrowly escaped, only to find himself in what may be a worse predicament than being dragged out on a frozen lake by two toughs from Fargo.

Lester is pale and sweating; we’re back in the holding cell in Bemidji, where Lester sits between Numbers and Wrench. Wrench gets up, looks around, leans against the cell door.

“Look, I’m sorry,” says Lester. Numbers is taking him in. “About electructing you. I was just… this is obviously a misunderstanding, ‘cause like I said, I’m just an insurance salesman.” He runs out of logical sentences and strings together a series of “I’m just sayings,” and “wells,” and “you sees….”

All this time during Lester’s pathetic protests, Wrench is taking off his boot, taking off his sock, putting his foot back in his boot…

“You said him,” says Numbers. “On the ice. You said him. You said it was him. Not you.” Numbers wants a name, and he’s going to get it. He slams his hand against Lester’s injury while Wrench shoves his sock into Lester’s mouth to stifle the screaming, which is surely gag-inducing on a number of levels.

Lester almost passes out from the pain. Numbers demands that he doesn’t black out. He needs that name.

Lester caves. “Wait! Please! NoooMalvo! Malvo! Lorne, I think. Like the fella from Bonanza.”

Numbers signs to Wrench. Lester is going to throw up. He’s hearing the washing machine sound the whole time.

“If you puke in here I’ll kill you,” Numbers threatens. “I’ll actually kill you.” And you believe it.

Lester tries to summarize the last four episodes: Malvo took his car, Duluth impound has it, the police have a picture, they put out an APB.

Numbers and Wrench have their bail posted. Numbers keeps screwing with Lester: What if they want to stay in the holding cell with their new friend? No? That’s OK, they know where to find him…

Numbers and Wrench leave. Lester loses his lunch.

Elsewhere in Bemidji, Molly is in civilian clothes, trying to do civilian things like fold laundry while listening to a nature program that she’s got on in the background. Naturally, it’s a program with an emphasis on predators.

“No way around it,” she says. She puts on her uniform and heads into the station, where Bill is distracted by StormWatch. New predictions: 2 feet of snow.

Molly, as always, in undeterred. She jumps right in and starts talking about the phone dump taken from Lester’s house on the night of the murders. Bill is concerned about plowing.

Molly once again oversteps her boundaries; she talks about how she brought in the manager from Leroy’s Motor Inn, where someone from the Nygaard house called right around the time of Pearl’s murder. Molly says the woman ID’ed a photo of the suspect “from the naked fella kidnapping.” His name is Lorne Malvo and he stayed one night — the night Hess was killed.

Bill is dumbstruck: “You found this how?” Good police work, you dummy.

Molly says she talked to housekeeping; the boy discovered tokens from the Lucky Penny left behind.

“How many plows?” Cindy, on the phone, wants to know. Everyone except Molly has snow on the brain. Bill wants at least three, but they’re only going to get “two good ones and a pickup with a baby plow.” Bill can’t multitask. Molly wants to make sure he’s listening and gets a distracted “yes.”

Molly says she talked to the dancer who was with Hess when he was killed. She says Hess was bragging about making fun of a guy whose nose he broke… that same day. Who do we know got his nose broke the day Hess died?

It’s starting to finally sink in for Bill…who is being harassed by Cindy about the baby plow.

“So you see,” says Molly, “Hess breaks Lester’s nose, Lester goes to the emergency room, meets our suspect. That night, Hess gets killed. The next day, Lester places his call where the suspect is staying and shortly thereafter or thereabouts Mrs. Nygaard and the chief are killed.”

Molly has it all figured out – and she finally has Bill’s attention. He finally waves off Cindy and the baby plow people with an “I’ll call ‘em back.” “Son of a bitch,” he says to Molly.

“Yes sir,” she agrees. “So I’m thinking maybe this is a murder for hire…” Well, you’ve almost got it figured out, Molly. She wants permission to go to the Nygaard house and question Lester again.

But Lester’s not at his house, Bill informs her. He’s in their holding cell.

On the Duluth end of the investigation, Grimly is still trying to figure out Malvo’s game. He asks his daughter Greta for help in looking up this so-called “pastor Frank Peterson” on the Internet. She gets a few hits, including one site that shows a picture of Malvo-as-Peterson. He asks her to look up Lorne Malvo. Nothing.

Grimly is trying to piece together the facts: Why did Malvo stay in Duluth? And why was he on that street – Milos’ street – on foot?

Meanwhile, Malvo pays another visit to that well-organized drug dealer, who has an even more high-tech setup when he opens his van’s side door. The interior shot this time includes videos of wolves in the snow. (Predators, we get it.)

Malvo is looking for a police scanner. The guy’s got a special on remote control helicopters, but you know, you can’t monitor police activity on those. Malvo declines the pink model and sticks with black. He also wants a walkie-talkie, but they come in pairs so you can chat with friends, he is informed. Malvo says he doesn’t have any friends, but maybe he’ll give the spare to the dealer: “I’ll call you up late at night. You can listen to me s–t on people,” he says. That doesn’t go over well, but point taken.

Malvo is continuing his blackmailing plan. He arrives at Don’s; he wants to make a phone call. Don, unsurprisingly, is confused. “Are you supposed to be here?”

Malvo walks in and heads to the kitchen to use the phone. He opens his briefcase and plugs his recorder into the phone. Malvo calls Milos, which Don finds highly exciting.

On the other end of the line, Milos is pale and sweaty and staring off into space. “Let me talk to him,” Malvo says in his own voice. He’s back to playing Milos’ confidante.

Milos is feeling abandoned by Malvo. Malvo says he was hunting; does Milos need help with that bug situation? But Malvo is too late: Milos says he’s going to pay the blackmailers. “I broke a promise. So I gotta pay,” he says.

Milos can’t even sleep anymore. He’s been thinking. God brought 10 plagues upon the house of Pharaoh: “blood and locusts, flies and boils, and the last is the death of the firstborn son.”

“What exactly do you think is happening?” Malvo wants to know. He is an expert at dissecting and breaking people.

“The firstborn son!” Milos repeats. “The book of Exodus. God is watching and he knows.” Milos is making sure his son is taken to a safe place. He asks Malvo if he thinks he’s crazy.

“We’re only as good as the promises we keep,” Malvo says. He may not know what exactly Milos is hiding, but he has his weaknesses figured out.

Milos instructs Malvo to pick him up in an hour. “We’ll get the money,” he says. But the money should be the least of his worries when dealing with a guy like Malvo.

Don can’t believe Milos is going to pay 1. Million. Dollars. Malvo isnt’ celebrating quite as much as Don. He wants to know if Don has a closet that locks. Don suggests the pantry, which Malvo inspects. Don is wondering what a million dollars looks like. Can he lay in it? That part in the movies is his favorite, he says. Malvo wants a drill. He needs screws.

Don continues dreaming about granite tile and French lotions that smell like sunflowers. Malvo instructs him to step into the pantry. Oh Don, you are so dumb.

He walks into the pantry, still blathering on and on about how he’s going to spend the money and wondering what Malvo’s going to do with his share when Malvo locks him in. He drills screws in to fully secure it. But what if Don has to go to the bathroom?

“You’re a smart guy, you’ll figure it out,” Malvo says.

“Poop,” Don responds.

Back in Bemidji, someone’s having eerie, awful flashes back to Pearl’s murder. It must be Lester, right? Yes, he’s delirious in the holding cell… he’s mumbling… “You bought me the tie!” Molly and Bill wonder what the hell is wrong with him.

Well, it turns out he’s in septic shock. Lester’s in an ambulance, accompanied by Molly. She wonders if it’s a cut; the EMT thinks it might be a puncture, but it’s hard to tell “with all the gore.”

“Towel sounds, she’s washing towels… socks… for $55 he threw in the shotgun,” Lester says, fading in and out.

“Mr. Nygaard: Did you pay Lorne Malvo to kill Sam Hess?” Molly asks. He’s delirious, but maybe in this moment he will finally tell the truth.

For a moment, Lester looks aware. “I never paid him.”

Molly tries her theories: Offered to pay? Made a deal, but it went south?

Lester insists he never paid. “I didn’t pay,” he repeats, which isn’t dissuading Molly’s theory that some sort of arrangement had been made, but fell through… even though she’s wrong. Before she gets a better answer, they arrive at the hospital and Lester is wheeled in.

Meanwhile, a man walks out of a black sedan and over to the old boat of a car Number and Wrench are driving. He knocks on the window; Wrench rolls it down and receives an envelope. We don’t see the man’s face… but he’s wearing a badge. Bemidji’s finest, eh?

Cut to Grimly, who’s unable to sleep. He looks up and sees his neighbor across the way in the same situation. Grimly’s got a troubled mind. His neighbor’s got two kids and a wife “who thinks out loud.” The neighbor says he’s coming over.

He’s one of those deep-thinking, prophetic Coen characters – the opposite of Grimly, there to act as a guide. The neighbor says he can’t complain about the cold, his holey socks, the kids needing braces. And apparently that is enough for Grimly to spill his guts. He knows a guy is guilty of a crime. He has everyone else fooled, but Grimly knows he did it.

So find the proof, the neighbor says matter-of-factly.

I’m no detective, Grimly says, brushing off the notion. Molly is amazing, he adds, which seems like confirmation that she’s been on his mind more than for her fact-finding. “And then there’s Greta,” he says, giving excuse after excuse. “Am I supposed to put myself in danger or just let it go?”

The man launches into a parable, which makes Grimly nervous, ’cause he’s bad at this stuff. Again, it’s very Coen-esque, as we see the man in a dream-like reenactment of the tale:

“A rich man opens the paper one day; he sees the world is full of misery. He says, ‘I have money. I can help.’ So he gives away all of his money. But it’s not enough. The people are still suffering. One day the man sees another article. ‘Dozens die daily due to lack of donor organs for transplants.’

“He decides he was foolish to think just giving money was enough. So he goes to the doctor and says, ‘Doctor, I want to donate a kidney.’ The doctors do the surgery; it’s a complete success. After, he knows he should feel good but he doesn’t, for people are still suffering.

“So he goes back to the doctor, he says, ‘Doctor: This time I want to give it all.’ The doctor says, ‘What does that mean, give it all?’ He says, ‘This time I want to donate my liver. But not just my heart. I want to donate my corneas, but not just my corneas. I want to give it all away. Everything I am, all that I have.’ The doctor says, ‘A kidney is one thing but you can’t give away your whole body piece by piece; that’s suicide.’ And he sends the man home. But the man cannot live knowing that the people are suffering and he can help. So he gives the one thing he has left. His life.”

The man, sitting in a bathtub, had written “organ donor” on the tiles before cutting himself, blood splattering across the wall. Cut to a headstone: ‘Here lies Jeremy Hoffstead who gave everything.”

“And does it work? Does it stop the suffering?” Grimly asks. He really needs to be walked through this one.

“You live in the world, what do you think?”

“So he killed himself for nothing?”

“Did he?”

“You’re saying… What are you saying?”

“Only a fool thinks he can solve the world’s problems,” the man says.

“Yeah, but you gotta try, don’t ya?” Grimly responds.

Grimly still can’t sleep after his pep talk. He’s in his bed, still suffering. “Nope,” he says, gets in his car, and drives.

Meanwhile, Malvo is driving Milos to Phoenix Farms. Milos goes into his office and pulls out that old briefcase that once was his godsend. He begins filling it with money when his son Dimitri walks in.

Dimitri says he was talking to the bug guy, who said the cricket situation was really weird. They weren’t local crickets; they were the kind that you buy at the local pet store to feed your lizard.

“God sent them,” Milos insists.

But it turns out Demitri has some brains after all. He called all the local pet stores, and wouldn’t ya know… but Milos doesn’t have time for his fool of a son, and he’s going to lose a million dollars because of it.

At the hospital, Molly is fighting with the vending machine when the doctor comes over to give her an update on Lester. He hand is “super infected”; the doctor drained the wound, removed the “foreign object,” cut away the necrotic tissues (shiver), and filled him with IV antibiotics. He won’t lose the hand, but it’s close.

Molly wants to know more about this foreign objet, which the doc says appeared to be a shotgun pellet, possibly with some fabric attached to it… like it had passed through something or someone first. Molly wants to talk to Lester, but it’s going to be a while before he can answer any questions.

By the way, the doc wants to know: Did she see Ida? She had the baby, a girl, Bernadette.

But before she pays Ida a visit, Molly is going to do some more (illegal) police work. She drives to Lester’s house and opens the door with the spare key that is unsurprisingly hidden under the doormat. Molly wipes her feet and walks in. It’s hard, seeing that bloodstain still on the floor. She walks down to the basement, flashlight in hand. Blood still stains the walls, the fish poster. She looks around and stops at the washing machine, so Lester’s mumblings must have seemed like a clue. She moves the washer and unhooks a hose. She unscrews the back with a coin and inspects the insides. She fishes her hand inside and finds… nothing. It’s a nice little suspenseful scene because we know the washer had been Lester’s hiding place for the hammer he used as a murder weapon. But why would she think to take apart an appliance to look for clues? Why isn’t she pulling the shotgun out of evidence?

Onto the next monologue, this one from Malvo while driving Milos back to his house. He brings up St. Lawrence, the man whom Milos honored with a stained glass window in his home. The Romans burned him alive; why?

“‘Cause he was Christian,” Milos says.

Maybe, but Malvo has other ideas. “I think it’s because the Romans were raised by wolves. Greatest empire in human history, founded by wolves.” Malvo smiles. “You know what wolves do: They hunt. They kill. It’s why I never bought into The Jungle Book. The boy’s raised by wolves; he becomes friends with a bear and a panther. I don’t think so. I knew a guy once had a 110-lb. Rotweiler; one night this girl thought it’d be funny to get down on all fours, let the dog hump her. Dog still had its balls. Well the dog gets up there but he’s not in on the joke. This is just a bitch in heat as far as he’s concerned. He’s not leaving until he gets what he came for. Well the girl too late realizes the kind of mistake she’s made; she wants to get up. But the dog had other ideas. Had to shoot it behind the ear to get it off of her.”

Milos is trying to comprehend. These metaphors aren’t going over well.

“Well I’m saying the Romans, raised by wolves, they see a guy turning water into wine, what do they do? They eat him,” Malvo says. “‘Cause there are no saints in the animal kingdom. Only breakfast and dinner.”

Malvo eyes Milos, sitting behind him, and the mood turns even more sinister. As he drives around a bend he sees a man in the road; it’s Grimly. But Malvo doesn’t plow him over, he turns on the brights, blinding Grimly, and continues driving. Not a good time to start trying to be a detective, Grimly.

Malvo pulls up to the house and opens the trunk. Milos grabs the money and dismisses Malvo; their business has come to an end. Milos forks over some cash and tells Malvo to hit the road by dawn. Malvo says he’s sorry it didn’t work out, though you know he’s going to make that million dollars his own.

Elsewhere, it looks like Grimly gave up on his investigation for the night as he pulls up to his apartment building. He gets a call from Molly, who’s still in Lester’s basement. A van pulls up, lights off, as Grimly walks toward his building. It’s Malvo.

Grimly tries to go over the clues with Molly, but he admits that he’s not sure what he’s looking for. “Plus, you know, it’s dark out, so maybe I’ll go back out tomorrow,” he says.

Molly says she was thinking about driving out to Duluth in the morning to take a look at Lester’s car. And then she tries to set up another cop date: Maybe they can get together afterwards, compare notes on this thing. Gus says he’d like that, but is he going to make it ’til tomorrow?

Malvo is listening on his police scanner. He turns on his walkie-talkie; he listens in on Greta’s conversation with someone helping her with homework. Grimly’s neighbor knocks on Malvo’s window.

“You’re not supposed to be here,” the man on neighborhood watch wisely observes.

“Oh no, I’m pretty sure I’m right where I’m supposed to be,” he says, rolling his window back up.

The man knocks again, and the conversation escalates. “You have black eyes. You’re trouble. I’m going inside and I’m calling the cops,” the man says.

Once again, Malvo picks up on his prey’s fears and exploits them. “You know, some people think you don’t need alarms on second story windows. Think they can save a few bucks and still be safe. Another way they save money is they don’t hook up the alarm to the phone line. So the bell rings but the cops don’t come. Or they come but only after the neighbors call. Which if this community’s tight, as you say, you know, just might be quick enough to save your life. Or your children’s lives, maybe.”

Malvo rolls up the window and drives away.

Back at the hospital, Molly polices the police, who are being rowdy outside of Ida’s room. She kicks them out and goes in to see the baby. She and Ida make small talk about the brand new little girl but quickly get to it: “How much do you wanna…” Molly begins to ask, but Ida cuts her off. “I don’t need details just tell me you’re taking care of it.”

“I’m trying, yeah,” Molly says quietly.

The baby cries. The focus is taken away from the murder investigation. and placed back on Bernadette. “Vern’s idea,” Ida says, “his mother’s name. I wanted Ally. And now he’s dead. That man always knew how to win an argument.” They both laugh sadly.

Ida instructs Molly to get some sleep. Molly says she’s heading to Duluth in the morning but she’ll check back in tomorrow. But the way everything is going, who’s still going to be standing tomorrow?

Before she leaves the hospital, Molly walks over to Lester’s room. He’s on his side facing away from her, so she can’t tell he’s actually awake. When Lester hears someone enter his room, he closes his eyes and pretends to sleep. But Molly’s on to him, and without even seeing who just walked in, he knows it.

Episode Recaps

An anthology series Inspired by the 1996 Coen Brothers film of the same name.
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