Fargo Season 2 Episode 4 Review: Fear and Trembling

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If there's one thing you can say about Fargo, it's that the show never lets the plot drag!

Fargo Season 2 Episode 4 made serious moves in terms of forwarding the plot and deepening existing characters. Mike Milligan, Lou Solverson, Floyd Gerhardt, and Hanzee Dent were the obvious standouts this time around, but that's not to say everyone else was standing around, sleeping on their feet.

"Fear and Trembling" started off with a great, brief flashback to a younger Otto bringing little Dodd along to a confrontation with a mafia enemy.

On Fargo Season 2 Episode 3, Ben Schmidt mentioned to Lou that Otto's father, Dieter, founded their empire and was shot nineteen times by a rival. The man who was taken out by Dodd seemed to be that rival, at least based on the lofty, egocentric lines he was busting out on Otto.

Kill the king, be the king. That's the world. If you're feeling sour about it, write a letter to Napoleon.

Mob boss [to Otto]

Definitely wasn't expecting little Dodd to be the one to do the deed, but it certainly does say a lot about adult Dodd's current temperament. He looked positively mesmerized by the knife in the man's neck after he stuck him.

The flashback was an excellent parallel to Dodd's present-day scene with Charlie. He took his disabled nephew along with him on a job (or not even really a job – it was basically just causing mischief at a donut shop). He gave eager Charlie the chance to prove himself, which Charlie (predictably) leapt at.

It was interesting that we didn't see Bear find out about this, but it will absolutely come up later. Bear has been vocally, strongly against Charlie's involvement in the Gerhardt family business (plus he doesn't particularly seem to like his brother) so he will definitely have some sort of confrontation with Dodd once this little donut excursion comes to light.

Like little Dodd, Charlie was basically quivering with glee after successfully punching out the Kansas City dude while at his uncle's side. There is no way Charlie is going to stay out of this ever-complicating mess.

The major Gerhardt storyline this time around consisted of Floyd meeting up with Joe Bulo to present her counter-offer. Her counter (to pay off the KC fellas, cede 20% of the territory, and have the Gerhardts remain partners ruling North Dakota) was not a surprise, because she'd already basically laid out her idea earlier in the season.

That said, the scene was completely bad-ass. Floyd is an awesome, no-nonsense lady, and I'm loving seeing her in the leadership role. I'm kind of dying to see Dodd try to usurp the role so we can see her shut him down in due course.

Floyd: Maybe when you look at me, you see an old woman. And I am sixty-one. I've borne six children, had three miscarriages. Two of my sons are here today. Two were stillborn. My firstborn, Ellron, killed in Korea. Gook sniper took off half his head. The point is: don't assume just because I'm an old woman that my back is weak and my stomach's not strong. I make this counter because a deal is always better than war. But no mistake. We'll fight to keep what's ours till the last man.

Bulo, predictably, rejected her offer and threatened Gerhardt family extermination if Floyd didn't accept the new, lowered offer. As what I assume was a punishment for Floyd's daring to challenge them, Bulo sent Milligan and the Kitchen brothers to torment old, helpless Otto, who his granddaughter referred to as a "legume."

Floyd, who is a no-nonsense kind of woman (to put it lightly), was not about to take Bulo's counter-counter-offer and attack on her husband sitting down. Just as she threatened, Floyd was fully prepared to defend her family's legacy.

It's war.


Simone is an odd one. Sometimes she seems clever and like a promising character, and other times she comes off as an absolute moron. Her association with Milligan seems to fall into the latter category.

It's totally understandable that Simone wants to get back at her father and is a-OK with Milligan killing him; Dodd is an epically abusive jerk.

But her grandmother Floyd seems to have only ever stuck up for Simone and cared for her, so it doesn't quite make sense to me why Simone would so easily turn on all the rest of the Gerhardts. There are only two options here: either Simone is really that stupid that she doesn't understand the severity of what she's doing, or she is plotting something larger and is actually very clever.

Leaning towards the former at this point, because it doesn't seem like she has any major ambitions other than snorting coke and naively reminiscing about the sixties like the little girl she really is.

Simone: Y'know what depresses me? I missed the sixties. Free love. Drop acid. Woodstock. Wake up one day, decide you wanna call yourself Flower Rainblossom, you just call yourself Flower Rainblossom.
Mike: Yeah but the seventies were always coming like a... hangover. And you know what happened to Flower Rainblossom? She's on methadone in Bismarck. Turning tricks for breakfast meat.
Simone: I know, but at least I would've had fun. Be free. Like how you get to dream before you wake up.

The scene between Simone and Milligan was great, mostly because Bokeem Woodbine as Milligan can basically do no wrong. Between his no-nonsense dismissal of Simone's rose-colored nostalgia and his uber-upbeat "Joe Bulo says hello!" after butchering Otto's keepers, this was a fantastic outing for Milligan (once again).

If I had to give the MVP award to someone, though, it would definitely be Hanzee. For a man with relatively few lines, he evokes such an intense presence. The scene between Hanzee and village idiot Sonny at the car shop was absolutely riveting.

Sonny: Listen I was in 'Nam, ya? Up there they called me Mad-dog. So you just-- you, uh, watch your--
Hanzee: Do you miss it?
Sonny: What?
Hanzee: The country. Y'know, the wet, the heat, the bugs. Do you miss it?
Sonny: God, no.
Hanzee: It's this quiet I can't get used to. This... frozen winter.
Sonny: Yeah, well... can't argue with you.
Hanzee: Did you work the tunnels? "Send the inyun," they'd say. "Who cares about booby traps? Give Hanzee a flashlight and a knife and send him down into the black echo." Moving through the earth like a rat. Killin' off Charlie, takin' his ears.
Sonny: Ears?
Hanzee: You gotta push their faces down in the earth so they don't scream and wake the others.

Talk about chilling. Absolutely fantastic. Three cheers for Zahn McClarnon as "that injun."

Not only was Hanzee spooky as all get out, he also displayed some objectively impressive detective skills. I'm pretty sure he had less direct information to work with than either Lou Solverson or Mike Milligan and yet he seems to have now pieced the crime together almost in its entirety.

I half-expected Hanzee to pop out and dispense of the Blomquists as soon as Peggy closed the door after Lou. I'm not sure I even would have minded.

OK, that's a little harsh. I don't dislike Ed. It's just that his chief characteristic seems to be "that poor sap." Luckily, it appears that he's finally beginning to get really fed up with Peggy's BS after her silly Lifespring course purchase put the purchase of his butcher shop (y'know, their livelihood) in jeopardy.

Can you tell how much I'm hating on Peggy? This is nothing against Kirsten Dunst, who is doing a fantastic job in the role. It seems fairly clear that we are not supposed to sympathize with Peggy.

If her dishonesty with Ed wasn't bad enough (taking the birth control pills secretly while letting him ramble on about their future offspring like the poor dope he is), her conversation with her aggressive boss Constance certainly underscored how annoying, self-centered, and easily manipulated she is.

Weirdly enough, I think I dislike Constance even more than I dislike Dodd. Dodd, at least, is intriguing in how deplorable he is. He's interesting. Constance mooning over Peggy and talking smack about sad sack Ed is extremely grating. I'm ready for her to get caught in the Gerhardt vs. Blomquist crossfire that I'm sure is fast approaching.

Lou is pretty sure of this, too, it seems. His visit to the Blomquist home (right on Hanzee's tail) was another highlight of "Fear and Trembling."

Lou: There's a look a boy gets when he's been shot or a landmine takes off his legs. And he's laying there in the mud, trying to get up. 'Cuz he doesn't feel it yet. His brain hasn't caught up with the reality which is, he's already dead
Peggy: Ed... he's scaring me.
Lou: But we see it. The rest of us. And we lie. We say, "Lay still. You're gonna be fine." If you'd been to war, you'd know the look. See, you and Peggy... you got the look. You still think it's Tuesday. You have no idea what's coming.

Lou cut straight to the point with the Blomquists. He warned them about who Rye Gerhardt was, what his family does, and told them flat-out that they needed to confess if they wanted to have any hope of surviving this.

Naturally, Peggy was not going to let anything as paltry as a hit-and-run and murder cover-up stand in the way of her dreams of being the "Very Best Peggy She Can Be" (ugh). Ed seemed ready to confess to Lou, but Peggy interrupted and shut the whole thing down. This will definitely come back to haunt her. The whole cover-up plan was incredibly flimsy and foolhardy, so none of this should come as a shock to the pair.

Stray Observations:

  • Loving Karl Weathers' interactions with that dope Sonny.
  • If Ed winds up missing out on that damn butcher shop because of Peggy's nonsense, I am going to flip out.
  • Ed is totally going to miss out on that damn butcher shop.
  • Cristin Milioti is weirdly fantastic at playing dying characters. Betsy's cancer storyline is a very minor subplot in the grand scheme of things, but it is working wonders for humanizing and grounding Lou in the midst of this epic-scale mafia-and-murder drama. The scene at Betsy's doctor's appointment was a great small moment, and so frustrating to watch.
  • More Hank! More Ted Danson! C'mon show.
  • Constance mentioned that Peggy's course is in Sioux Falls. Fargo Season 1's older Lou Solverson mentioned the Sioux Falls massacre, referring to it as the cause for his leaving the police force. Odds are this is going to be the scene of the Gerhardts coming after the Blomquists for Rye's death. Calling it now: the multiple plot lines will converge at Peggy's Lifespring course, which will be hilariously ironic.
  • Also, go ahead and Google Lifespring if you haven't already. Oh, poor stupid little Peggy.
  • "Fear and Trembling," like the earlier episode title "The Myth of Sisyphus," refers to a philosophical work, this one by Kierkegaard. This one deals with themes of faith and hope, among other things. Kierkegaard wanted to examine the anxiety present in Abraham when God tested him by asking that Abraham kill his own son. Spoiler alert: Abraham was totally willing to do it, God rewarded him for it, it was all good because Abraham had faith in God. 

What were your thoughts on "Fear and Trembling"? Did you find the plot developments in this episode to be sufficient, or are you aching for more action? Who was your MVP of the episode, and why was it Hanzee? Sound off by commenting below and remember to watch Fargo online here at TV Fanatic in case you missed anything!

Fear and Trembling Review

Editor Rating: 4.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.9 / 5.0 (21 Votes)

Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Fargo Season 2 Episode 4 Quotes

Dodd: Gimme a chocolate glaze and--
Charlie: And an old-fashioned.
Dodd: An old--? An old-fashioned. [to injured man] C'mon, get some zip in ya. [cattle prods the man; to donut shop worker] It's on them.

Kill the king, be the king. That's the world. If you're feeling sour about it, write a letter to Napoleon.

Mob boss [to Otto]