We took a step sideways, rather than forward, in "Loplop." Fargo Season 2 Episode 8 followed the same span of time as Fargo Season 2 Episode 7, switching gears and focusing on the characters missing from our last installment – Peggy, Ed, Dodd, and Hanzee.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, droning on about Noah Hawley's storytelling mastery ad nauseam, it was really a credit to his abilities that this installment didn't feel the least bit like we were grinding to a halt or abruptly pulling the breaks on the main action.
"Loplop," like "Did You Do This? No, You Did It!," set everything up perfectly. Fargo Season 2 Episodes 9 and 10 are going to be a hell of a ride.
To generally remark on "Loplop" as a whole, I'll say I certainly appreciated what felt like a narrowed focus. The installment previous felt much grander in scale and focused on a wider variety of characters in an array of locations. It served the important purpose of lining up our remaining characters and "getting them into position," so to speak.
If that sounded like a chess metaphor, it's because it is one. Fargo has the sort of complexity you'd find in a chess game, and like chess, the pieces have to be set up for the oncoming denouement – in chess, the checkmating of the king, and in Fargo Season 2, the Sioux Falls Massacre. As such, we know where the story is headed, but the pleasure is in how we find ourselves there. And what a pleasure it is.
We finally got confirmation that there are definitive screws loose in Peggy's head. As she sat on the steps in her basement in the opening moments of "Loplop," trying to ignore the scattered bodies, the tied up Gerhardt, and the general disarray of her prized magazine collection, she hallucinated a man who proceeded to give her a vague, platitudinous speech about "actualizing" and "being vs. thinking." Guessing that was either a literal or figurative incarnation of the Lifespring founder that Peggy has name-dropped all season.
It was all very odd, and perfectly set the tone for Peggy's continuous unraveling as the hour and a half progressed.
Think or be. You can't do both.Peggy's hallucination
Ed arrived back at their house and found Peggy and the mess in his basement. At Ed's arrival, the hallucination dissipated, and it became clear that Peggy was talking at a tied up Dodd the whole time. Dodd must have loved that! I'd have given anything to get even a brief few beats of Dodd being like, "WTF, lady?" as Peggy babbled about actualizing and being.
When a misogynistic, violent, all-around despicable dude warns you that your wife is cuckoo, you should probably listen to him, Ed. Dodd gave Ed the first warning back at the house, but Dodd tried to spin it as if he was an innocent passerby that crazypants Mrs. Blomquist accosted (nice try, Dodd... no, not really) but Ed, of course, knew of the Gerhardts and saw right through it.
I feel like Ed has been getting steadily savvier as the season has progressed, which is nice to see. I mean, he's not a genius or anything at this point, but his mental acumen has generally been on the up while Peggy's has spiraled.
Ed's plan, in theory, was decent. I mean, the smart thing would have been to listen to Lou Solverson from the get-go and put their trust in the police. However, after the events of Fargo Season 2 Episode 6, it's fair that Ed (who has now seen the Gerhardts hold a police station hostage) would assume that law enforcement would be unable to effectively protect him and his wife.
So, to the cabin they went, Peggy babbling all the way, Dodd in the trunk where he belongs, and Ed, panicky, doing that Ed thing of talking over Peggy and only intermittently realizing weird and/or offensive things that she's said. (Example, paraphrased: "Hey Ed, isn't it great that all of this accidental murdering has allowed us to escape our boring old life?" "But Peggy, I liked our boring old life!")
At the cabin, "Loplop" revealed itself to be a great diversion of absurd, dark comedy. Jesse Plemons, Kirsten Dunst, and Jeffrey Donovan were obviously having a ball with these scenes. I am convinced that the three were each trying not to laugh when Ed had to help Dodd pee. The three actors have fantastic comedic timing and comedic backgrounds, so it's no wonder that they played off this oddball comedy to a T.
There were so many great moments in the cabin that it's better to just list them out: Peggy poke-stabbing Dodd to teach him some manners, force-feeding Dodd beans, Ed's quiet "Hon, you can't keep stabbing him!" to Peggy, Ed putting the pillowcase over Dodd when he refused to stop looking at the two of them in bed.
There are more, but those are the few that immediately came to mind as particularly memorable. Peggy stabbing Dodd served double duty: it was both comical and terrifying, seeing how freely she caused harm and drew blood at this point in time.
Ed, meanwhile, periodically stepped away from the cabin to place calls to the Gerhardts. We saw the other side of this last week, when Bear kept ignoring calls from "someone" who claimed to have Dodd because he simply didn't care to retrieve Dodd.
He had periodic small-talk with the cashier, who is only interesting in that he is one of the few people to encounter Hanzee and be left alive. Didn't quite get why Hanzee did that, but someone needed to call the cops on him and get Hank and Lou to the cabin, I guess.
Hanzee had his own arc that converged with Peggy/Ed/Dodd's when he finally tracked the Blomquists to their cabin. Zahn McClarnon gave a hell of a performance: understated, powerful, deeply emotionally charged. McClarnon proved in "Loplop" that he is the only true rival to Bokeem Woodbine for performance of the season (which, of course, is not to sneeze at the many other actors blowing it out of the water week to week on Fargo).
Hanzee is a complicated man, and we know next to nothing about his past. This installment made clear that he suffers from being inextricably tied to his Native American identity, to the point where lugheaded fools' racism won't even allow them to appreciate the fact that Hanzee is the epitome of an American hero – he revealed, here, that he served three tours in Vietnam and won both the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. Meaning he exhibited exemplary bravery and was wounded in combat.
Hanzee is a tragic figure, for sure. But interwoven with scenes of Hanzee confronting good old fashioned midwestern racism were scenes of Hanzee slaughtering jerks at the bar, the bartender, and the two troopers who were virtually innocent and just arrived at the scene after being called by the bartender. So while Hanzee is tragic, he's still not a good person.
I'd argue he's far more sympathetic than Dodd, though. Hanzee's request for a haircut from Peggy was unexpected, emotional, powerful, and so very telling. It worked on multiple levels: he wanted to part ways with his Native American heritage, or he wanted to work on disguising himself to leave the mob life behind.
Peggy: Professional, you said?
Hanzee: Yeah. Tired of this life.
In perfect Fargo fashion, things reached their boiling point and promptly exploded in the final fifteenish minutes. Dodd escaped while Peggy was distracted by the fake Ronald Reagan movie. Ed, who had just given up on calling the Gerhardts and made a plan with Milligan to turn over Dodd over in Sioux Falls, returned to the cabin to find it (seemingly empty) – only to be overtaken by Dodd, who strung him up like a haunch of meat (butcher symbolism!).
Hanzee, having held Constance hostage in order to coerce Peggy's location out of her (to no avail, and RIP Constance, probably) and finally getting the lake information out of the cashier, made his way to the cabin as well.
Peggy came to, fought off Dodd, knocked him out, and saved Ed. Which was far and away her most amazing moment this season. Seriously, that was awesome and it almost makes me love Peggy. (Almost.)
Jesus Christ, you mongrel. Just shoot these two and get me to a fucking hospital.Dodd [to Hanzee]
Hanzee being the one to kill Dodd was all kinds of satisfying. It was fairly clear what was coming as soon as Hanzee entered the cabin and didn't immediately shoot Peggy and Ed, but the fact that it was semi-expected didn't diminish the moment (for me, at least).
This felt like a natural progression of Hanzee's character. It didn't feel like a plot point for shock value. It made sense, and I'm really interested to see how Hanzee will play this off.
Because, somehow, Hanzee is a ghost or something and managed to escape Hank and Lou storming the cabin by the skin of his teeth. Realism isn't something I'm typically a stickler for, but what are we supposed to believe happened there? Hanzee exited the cabin and dissipated into the night? What?!
Anyway, here we are now: Lou and Hank have apprehended the Blomquists. Milligan is on his way to Sioux Falls, thinking he will retrieve Dodd and resolve his problems with his Kansas City bosses. Dodd is very dead.
Hanzee has dissolved into another dimension and/or the spirit realm and is en route to make up some convincing story to report back to the Gerhardts.
- Ed tried to use the "Butcher of Luverne" identity when trying to intimidate the Gerhardt person who answered the phone (Ricky, I think? Forgettable dude from Buffalo) and it was just adorable. Oh, Ed and his in vain attempts at mean muggin'.
- Peggy was watching "Operation: Eagle's Nest" – the faux-Ronald Reagan movie that (I believe) Reagan mentioned to Lou back in Fargo Season 2 Episode 5 (not by name) and (definitely) the movie that Molly was watching in Fargo Season 2 Episode 3. Significance? Unclear. But I do appreciate the continuity and careful attention to detail.
- And speaking of the movie, I thought it was a nifty stylistic choice for the audience to have their full focus taken over by the film, mirroring how Peggy's full focus was monopolized and distracted by it.
- I had a thought. All we know about Hanzee's beginnings is that he was taken in by Otto Gerhardt at a young age. My astute Fargo review commenters have noted the physical resemblance between Hanzee and Bear's son Charlie. Some have guessed that Hanzee secretly fathered Charlie. My alternative theory: could Hanzee be Otto's illegitimate child? There is literally zero evidence for this that I can call to mind, but it would be incredibly interesting and would cast so much of Hanzee's character and his actions in a new, more complex light. I doubt we'll ever have this addressed outright, but I love this idea.
- Holy makeup crew, Batman! Dodd looked like a blood-drained ghoul in the last few minutes and the visual of Ed's face as he was slowly being strangled by that noose is not something I'll be forgetting anytime soon.
- "Loplop" ("superior of birds") was the alter-ego/symbol of "artistic inspiration" for the surrealist artist Max Ernst, related to hallucinations Ernst had while sick with measles as a child. Very clearly related to Peggy, in this case.
What did you think of "Loplop"? Are you glad that Dodd's dead? Was Hanzee the right one to kill Dodd? Sound off by commenting below and watch Fargo online here at TV Fanatic, why dontcha?
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.