Let’s talk about the future. Or, the present, rather. Either way, put the guns aside for now so we can have a conversation.
The episode begins with continuing escalation. Three people meeting in an office meeting are killed by a pair of window washers, Gale Kitchen kills a man in a bar, and another is drowned in a toilet.
On the farm, the Gerhardt family holds a funeral for Otto, who was apparently killed in the shooting last time. Simone tosses Rye’s belt buckle into his open grave. As Otto’s body is laid to rest, Simone and Floyd head back to the house.
Bear arrives with an accomplice, Ricky, played by Ryan O’Nan, who has come out from Buffalo to lend a hand. Simone sticks around, despite the adults wanting her to go inside. Bear reports: they got five from management, but lost Roost and Seymour. Two days have passed and no word from Hanzee. As for Dodd, Bear couldn’t give a shit. He thinks the family may need another hole.
They’re just men, Simone says. It’s not like her father is the shark in that movie. He just shits and sleeps. For that, Floyd smacks her across the face for always looking for a fight. She thought Dodd was bad, but Simone is no different- they’re porcupines. Simone responds by saying that this family deserves the ground. Floyd immediately regrets hitting her, but Bear says that there’s not enough of them left to start telling the truth. They watch as Simone drives off, which is perfect timing on her part.
Ben Schmidt and Lou Solverson arrive and need Floyd, not Bear, to come with them. Floyd complies. Charlie is in state penitentiary, awaiting trial. As for his brother, Bear claims that Dodd found Jesus. Of course. Ricky informs Bear that a man has called with information regarding Dodd’s location. Bear tells Ricky to take a message.
At the police station in Fargo, Ben’s superior, Chief Gibson, played by Terry Kinney, asks Lou, Ben, and Hank why Floyd Gerhardt is in holdup. To be frank, Schmidt and Solverson are tired of playing clean-up. Lou, Ben, and Hank want to ratchet up pressure on both sides and let them know that these killings aren’t going unnoticed. As for the butcher, there’s an APB out on Ed and Peggy Blomquist, but neither has turned up yet. Ah, so Hank didn’t check on her after all.
Times aren’t as bloodless as Gibson remembers from his dad’s days. For example, Elliot Ness himself deputized his father ATF during prohibition. Dad talked of Tommy-Gun bloodbaths and heads rolling in the road. Though Gibson never thought he’d live to see days like that, here we are. Can’t live in a world where people leave their front door unlocked anymore. Seriously, did people do that way back when?
So Hank and Gibson speak with Floyd, who has an elaborate setup for smoking a pipe. Hank introduces himself to Floyd and speaks about the disagreement he had with both Dodd. Hank decides to call that confrontation a draw. After all, he got sucker-punched by the Indian before he could show his potential. Sure. Gibson is sorry about Otto, who was shot up in his own home by some Kansas City hosenscheisser. Hank’s wife passed last summer, but the last thing she asked was did he smell toast. The hell?
Hank then asks Floyd how far this will go. Charlie is in jail, Dodd missing, husband missing. It’s a question of how many ghosts you can live with for the rest of your life, but Floyd isn’t concerned. Hank shot a man through the teeth in Vichy, France and he can still see his face. Floyd maintains that the butcher from Luverne killed Rye, but Hank maintains that he’s known Ed all his life and knows that he doesn’t work for the mob. If he’s working for Kansas City, Hank will cut off his own toe.
Gibson talks of a case where a kid stabbed his parents to death. When he asked why, the kid couldn’t say. It just came over him all of a sudden. Stories used to be simpler, Floyd says. Now you don’t know where it starts or ends. The officers agree that this thing ends when Floyd says it’s over.
She says that her boys won’t stop because they’ve lost too much. So the two ask Floyd to point them in the right direction- something actionable towards Kansas City and make this northern expansion unpalatable. In essence, be a snitch. Well, like Floyd says, it’s hard to be simple in times of complication.
We then cut to Simone arriving at the Pearl Hotel. Mike Milligan speaks with his superior, Hamish Broker, played by Adam Arkin, about the situation that Milligan apparently does not have under control. It was one thing when Joe Bulo was killed, but Broker thinks more and more that Milligan isn’t, as Braverman said, smarter and more capable than the other darkies. Mike asks for two days, but he gets two days instead. If nothing comes of that, then the Undertaker pay a visit.
When this call ends, a pissed Simone enters to chew Mike out for killing Otto instead of Dodd. In response, Mike quotes rattles off a series of quotes. If the goal is to kill your oppressors, what does it matter who goes first? Simone is upset that she could have been killed. This talk is interrupted when Lou and Ben storm in the room, with Lou ordering Ben to take Simone out with him.
Lou remains with Gale Kitchen and Mike Milligan. On the elevator down, Simone tells Ben that she can handle herself. Ben has been keeping an eye on Simone and the last place she should be is in a hotel room with those kinds of men. But Simone puts the moves on Ben, asking him to not tell anyone. He won’t, but she uses this chance to put him down. She’s done lying down for men. We will see about that.
As Simone heads to her car, Bear and Ricky pull up next to her. Her shitty cover story is that she came to score some weed. Bear tells her that it’s not safe for any of them around here. Ah well, she can score weed elsewhere. Though Simone has her car, Bear says that Ricky will drive it back while Simone rides with him.
Back in the hotel room, Lou tells Mike that he doesn’t have to necessarily leave, but just not be here. Mike believes in Manifest Destiny, but here’s the thing- Lou has two pairs of shoes: one for summer and one for winter. You’re not meant to have more than you can handle. So this need for conquest and owning things that aren’t meant to be owned, like people and places- that’s a problem, not a solution. Capitalism isn’t the problem, but greed and making this thing all or nothing.
In response, Mike talks about a factory man. The boss thinks that the man is stealing from him, so every night, guards search his wheelbarrow. Ben suggests patting down the man, and that’s what happens. Hell, he’s stripped naked, but still nothing. Ben thinks this means the man isn’t stealing, but Lou figures it out: he’s still stealing wheelbarrows. The point is that sometimes the answer is so obvious, you can’t see it because you’re looking too hard. He can’t leave because he’s the future, not the past.
The past can no more become the future than the future can become the past. Well, Lou has said his peace, but he asks Mike to not be offended if Lou doesn’t say hello before he shoots.
Betsy Solverson, arriving home and finding some extra shoes, arms herself with a shotgun. Holy shit, the Solversons do not fuck around. But it turns out to just be Sonny and Karl, cooking breakfast. Lou gave them a key and told them to look after Betsy and Molly while he’s away.
While Betsy doesn’t strike you as someone who needs looking after, Lou did ask Karl and Sonny to watch the house, so here they are. Karl gets the sofa while Sonny will sleep on the floor, as it hurts Karl to sleep on his back if he’s on the floor. Now Betsy can either argue or find out while Karl is called The Breakfast King of Loyola. I, for one, would like to know who calls him that.
Side-note, I can’t help but laugh at Sonny’s instant reaction to Betsy or the fact that cancer-stricken Betsy is still good at moving with a gun.
On the road, Simone asks if there’s been any word from Grandma, despite how tough Floyd is. She maintains that she went to score weed, but Bear says nothing. Eventually, he asks why Simone doesn’t ask about Charlie? When she learns of his location, she wants to visit him. Bear tells Simone to refer to Dodd as Dad, even though he’s done a lot of bad things to her. Bear isn’t defending Dodd, but just telling Simone what he is. So what is he to Bear?
Simone finally asks where the two are headed when Bear drives off the road and stops the truck. She’s afraid of what may come next, but Bear forces her from the truck. He finally says what Dodd is to him: a man who used his snake tongue to snatch his son from him. As for Simone, Bear says that it doesn’t matter what she meant to do, but sleeping with the enemy is still treachery. After the second war, the French would shave a lady’s head for bedding the Germans and ran her out of town. That or worse.
Bear continues to walk Simone through the forest. She offers to help, saying that the Kansas City folk trust her, but Bear says that such isn’t their way. The body count is on Simone, Bear says. That goes for Otto’s death, too, but Simone won’t have that on her. She counters that Floyd wanted to negotiate, but Dodd wouldn’t let her. He’s a snake, just as Bear said. Simone is just a victim.
Bear pulls out his gun and tells Simone to kneel. As Simone pleads for her life, saying that they’re family, Bear tells her that none of them are family anymore. Simone begs to be banished and run out of town instead, but Bear says that it’s already done.
He later returns to the truck alone and slams his cast on the hood over and over until it loosens off of his hand.
Back at the house, Ricky says that someone called Bear again with Dodd’s location. Dodd rages at him, but Ricky told the caller that Bear was out. He doesn’t say anything unless Bear tells him. If this caller contacts him again, Bear wants Ricky to essentially tell him to piss off. Ricky asks if Bear is being a bit cold, but when Bear come back to him, Ricky backs off, saying that this is none of his business.
At House Solverson, Betsy receives a call from Lou. Betsy says that she doesn’t need looking after, but it’s all hands on deck and Lou tells her that she doesn’t know how bad it is out there. Karl is drinking, Molly is short and likes Noreen, so things are well. As for Betsy, she’s better in some and worse in others.
She can’t rest, though, after hearing how bad things are. Lou tells Betsy to ask about John McCain’s thumb screws. Apparently if McCain can survive five years in Viet Cong thumb screws, Betsy can beat cancer. Hank soon joins as Betsy wishes for Lou to come home soon.
Hank reports that Floyd is ready to flip. Things will change if she puts them in the game.
We cut to Floyd, who wants it on the record that this is a matter of last resort. Also, she doesn’t want any of her children and grandchildren to be liable for any repercussions. This is her war, after all. They agree, so time for her to tell what she knows.
Kansas City runs most of their dope through an outfit called Legit Trucking out of Cincinnati. Their material is hidden in the tires. It’s also stored in two locations in town: a nail salon and auto repair shop on 1st- check the air pump inside. Also, they may have weapons on the roof.
As the officers head off, we cut to Gale bringing Mike yet another phone call. The Undertaker is coming. Mike Milligan is done.
Back at the Fargo Police Department, Floyd finds Bear and the Gerhardt clan waiting for her. She instructs him to bring Hanzee in and find Dodd as well. Lou believes that the officers just chose a side.
Word is now that an Indian shot up a bar while looking for a couple. One trooper is dead and one is clinging to life. Ben feels that it’s South Dakota’s problem. If Hanzee is in pursuit, then Ed and Peggy can’t be too far. And wherever Hanzee goes, Dodd is also there. When Ben wants to hand this to his superiors, and reminding Lou that they just promised to give the Gerhardts a free pass, Lou rightly calls Ben a shit cop…even though he’s getting promoted next month.
Back at House Solverson, Betty tries to convince Karl that he’s just fine. Apparently, Lou was supposed to marry Betsy’s sister, Lenore, but then there was Vietnam and Lou got enlisted. Lenore wasn’t good at waiting, so Lou got the apparent dud instead. If Karl built an ark, he’d take Lou and Betsy over him and Lenore any day. Betsy then asks Karl if he’ll look after the family, but he says that she got the good pills…right? The Xanadu.
No, Betsy is sure that she got the sugar pills. If Lou needs to get married again, that’s okay, but not this one girl, Rhonda Knutson, whose eyes are too close together. And Betsy shuts down Karl before he can talk about John McCain’s survival rate. John McCain is a fighter pilot, while Betsy lives in a quiet Minnesota home. There’s a difference. Oh, and she tells Karl to stop drinking because it’ll kill him. Karl responds with a warm hug.
We then stay with Betsy as she heads to Hank’s home and calls out for Snowball. She looks over some family photos before calling out for Snowball again. She soon enters a room filled with papers of symbols and drawings lined all over the walls.
Bear and Floyd return to the Gerhardt home. Floyd needs to apologize to Simone, but Bear says that she left in a hurry. Rick once again has news for Bear. There’ll be no secrets anymore, Floyd says, so time to talk. Hanzee is on the phone with word that he found Dodd.
Mike Milligan waits in silent anticipation when he hears that the Undertaker is headed up. He continues to get dressed as Undertaker and his…well, undertakers, board an elevator and head up. They soon arrive in the room, where they’re promptly slaughtered by Gale and Mike Milligan. Time to bag and drop them in the woods. If the boss calls, then the cover story is that the Gerhardt family killed them.
Oh, but then the phone rings. Mike eventually answers. The man on the phone says that it’s Mike’s lucky day, as the caller has Dodd Gerhardt in the trunk of his car.
On the other end of the phone, Ed Blomquist, after delivering his message, drives off as the episode comes to a close.
The past two episodes have had a fair amount of action and tense situations in them with little room to breathe. There were calmer moments, yes, but they dealt a lot with the escalating war. This episode does as well, but in addition to the ongoing conflict between the Gerhardt family and Kansas City, it focused on characters looking towards the future and mapping out their lives well beyond their years.
Given that this season is a prequel to the previous one, we’re certain of at least one thing: Ben Schmidt, Lou and Molly Solverson are all expected to survive. Everyone else is a big question mark. And while that’s not the reason for this, the episode devoted time to characters wondering about what happens after the violence ends and the dust settles. If you’re still standing, where do you go from there? And what becomes of your family and friends?
It dealt with having to face potential ghosts in addition to the old ones faced on both sides, whether enemy or friend, as there’s inner conflict and turmoil between both Kansas City and the Gerhardt family. The escalating violence continues to get worse and though there’s less of it here, that’s not a bad thing. It’s a reminder that the losses on both sides will keep stacking high, and we haven’t even hit Sioux Falls yet.
So it’s not out of place for matriarch figures like Floyd and Betsy, or even someone like Bear, to take extra stock in the family by taking precautions and measures to ensure their family’s protection long after they’re out of the picture. It shows that, despite the growing violence, they still do what they do for the sake of their families.
I think I may have enjoyed this episode a bit more than others because it gave attention to characters that we’ve seen, but not focused on for much time. A lot of this season has dealt with Lou and Hank, Dodd, as well as Ed and Peggy, and while we’ve seen and heard from others outside of them, this is the episode that gave development to people like Floyd, Betsy, Mike Milligan, and even Karl after his major defense play last time.
Whether it’s on the show or film, Fargo has shown how the tiniest action can embroil you in a world of conflict. But while people such as Jerry, Lester, or either Ed or Peggy manage to dig themselves deeper, someone like Floyd wants the buck to stop with her. It makes sense: she made the call to go to war, Dodd acted impulsively, and now she’s lost her husband.
Sure, she hasn’t had to dirty her hands yet, from what we’ve seen, but she won’t have the burden of this conflict put onto her kids. By the way, in my opinion, the scenes at the station may very well be some of Jean Smart’s finest acting thus far.
The Gerhardt family is already fractured, though. Bear catching Simone and then leading her into the woods was a tense moment as he threw her infidelity and betrayal in her face, and she absolutely deserved it. With Dodd not around right now, Bear needs an outlet for his anger and for Charlie’s incarceration. And he’s noticed Simone’s impudence. That, coupled with finding her at the same hotel as Mike Milligan, sealed her fate. It was a well done sequence of events.
However, the question remains whether Bear did the deed. Television and film have taught me that unless you see and hear it happen, followed by a body, nine times out of 10, the person will live.
Now there are exceptions. Let’s draw upon another Coen Brothers’ work: No Country for Old Men. We didn’t see whether Anton shot and killed Carla Jean, but given his code and how he checks his shoes upon exiting, it’s implied that he did indeed kill her.
Here, though, it’s a little foggy, given how Bear has more of a heart than Dodd. If there were any moment for him to show care for the family that’s falling apart in front of him, it would be here by letting Simone fend for herself. It remains to be seen whether that was the case, but where would Simone go? She jeopardized her familial ties and Mike won’t have much use of her going forward, so she’s lost on both sides.
Lou said something to Mike Milligan that stuck with me when thinking of Simone: you’re not meant to have more than you can handle. That holds true for many of the characters, but Simone in particular because she meddled with forces she couldn’t control. She wanted Dodd dead, but ended up losing Otto in the process. She defied family, which earned her some slaps from both Dodd and Floyd, and the moment Bear caught her in the act, it was already over in Simone’s eyes.
Though the Gerhardt family chose war, they may not have expected to take on as much as they did. They’re a simple family and Kansas City is a giant operation. No matter how much they could fight back, things would get worse before getting better. Losing Otto is a major sign of that.
While Otto hasn’t had much to do since his stroke, his presence is still felt and it’s a big loss for the family. Like Joe Bulo’s death, I didn’t think Otto would die as soon as he did because he’s already in a weakened position and witnessed an attack already. Killing him would just hasten his death, but this show manages to throw your expectations out the window with good writing.
From here, there can be no going back because too many people have been killed and that body count will continue to grow. It’s as inevitable as Mike telling Lou that the northern expansion is inevitable because it’s the future. Several times this season, characters have reflected on simpler times where people lived as good neighbors and could leave their doors unlocked. Now we live in a world plagued by war, cancer, violence, and the Mickey Mouse Club. There are no simpler times anymore.
It all comes down to expectations versus reality. The authorities want the violence as a whole to stop, but can’t do that unless they get in deep with one side. It’s less bloody than adding to the violence, but this does still mean that you’ve picked a side in an ongoing war.
Betsy may be more than capable of defending her household, but she doesn’t know everything that’s going on and these are dangerous people we’re talking, so it’s not too out of place for Lou to rally Karl and Sonny to aid in her defense.
I do want to talk about Betsy for a second. Cristin Milioti might not appear as much as some of the other actors on the show, but damn it if she doesn’t sell her performance each scene she’s in. This episode was no exception. Betsy may be fighting a losing battle with cancer, but Milioti never makes her out to be weak and pathetic. Quite the opposite. She knows that she’s going to die soon, but she isn’t bothered because she knows that her family will be in safe hands.
Here, Betsy isn’t taking on more than she can bear, but if the situation calls for it, she will. And it’s not because she has something to prove. She’s not making herself out to be John McCain because she’s just a simple Minnesota woman. But like Floyd and even Simone to a point, she shatters the stereotype people have of women being completely helpless and clueless.
Betsy’s story is one of tragedy, I feel. She’s a dying woman in a world where there’s no discernable response to stemming the violence. Despite having the sugar pills, despite her husband risking his life, despite knowing that she may not live long enough to see her daughter grow up, she’s taking advantage of the time she has left. The scene between Betsy and Karl was a very warm moment made better by the way Milioti and Nick Offerman played off of each other.
By the way, the fact that there’s a gun in the Solverson household makes me think that it will be used at some point. That and the symbols Betsy found, I figure, may factor into the UFOs or bright lights we’ve seen.
A bit on Mike, a man who I believe can make almost anything sound interesting. He believes that it’s his destiny to help in conquering the Gerhardt family. Like the women, Milligan is also out to shatter stereotypes that separate him from the rest of the other darkies. Unlike Lou, Mike is more than willing to take on more than he can handle.
Who is The Undertaker? It doesn’t matter. The fact that Mike dispatched of him and his cohorts so easily shows that he’s as dangerous as we knew him to be, but also that he’ll respond to a desperate situation with violence. While he sees Kansas City as the future, he sees himself as the one to make it happen. He might not have started this war, but he’ll make damn sure that he finishes the job while he’s here.
But his help may come from an unlikely source. His story about the man stealing wheelbarrows dealt with hiding in plain sight. An answer is so obvious that you can’t see it because you’re looking too hard. Everyone has spent their time trying to deal with the war between the Gerhardts and Kansas City. We’ve talked about the Blomquists, but only heard of what they and Hanzee are up to in this episode.
So while the Gerhardt family is looking for Dodd, the Kansas City coalition has the answer right in front of them from the very unsuspecting people that want no more to do with this whole mess. Ed and Peggy appear to have Dodd in tow and are looking to get as far away from this as possible. Obviously, with Hanzee on their trail, that isn’t going to last, but I thought this was a good way to close out the episode. Though the question remains how Ed even got Mike Milligan’s phone number
“Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” was a very good episode. We got more escalation, but we also saw attempts to slow the tide, even as the body count rises. It balanced out tense situations like Simone and Bear’s walk in the woods with calmer moments, such as Betsy’s talk with Karl, and even light scenes with Lou calling Ben a shit cop. It showed the steps people take to protect their loved ones to prevent them from having to fix someone else’s mess. Through the betrayal and fractured bonds, protecting the family and legacy is still priority.