A Look at Fargo- Season 2 Finale: “Palindrome”

And so it’s come to this: the second season finale of Fargo.  “The Castle” gave us that hotel massacre and added to the large body count that Lou spoke of one season prior, so with all that in mind, where do you go from here?  Ed and Peggy are still on the run with Hanzee on their heels, while Lou Solverson, unaware of his wife’s condition, continues his pursuit.  Who will make it out in the end?  Let’s take a look.

This is “Palindrome.”

Palindrome- Noreen advises Betsy to get more rest

The episode begins with a look over the bodies we’ve seen piled up thus far, including that of the Gerhardt family.  After Patrick Wilson narrates our normal disclaimer, Betsy Solverson awakens with Molly at her side and Noreen still a-reading away in her book.  The doctor said that Betsy had a reaction to the pills.  They were supposed to kill the cancer, but they may kill Betsy first.  Isn’t that a bitch?

Neither Lou nor Hank are back yet and there’s no word yet of their return.  Same with Hank.  Molly refused to sleep in her own bed.  She’s stubborn like that.  Noreen advises Betsy to take it easy so she can regain her strength.

That night, Betsy recounts a dream she had a dream that felt so real, even though she knew it wasn’t yet.  She dreamt of a magical future filled with wondrous devices where everything you could ever want would be available in one amazing place.  As Betsy narrates, we see glimpses of Molly Solverson’s future- a future that Betsy will not live to see.

Palindrome- Betsy's dream of future Molly, Greta, Gus, and Lou

As Betsy dreams about Molly growing up, we’re then treated to a very special and surprise sequence where Betsy has a vision of Molly as an adult with her family, with Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Joey King, and Keith Carradine reprising their Season One roles as Molly Solverson, Gus Grimly, Greta Grimly, and Lou Solverson.  Joining the four is Molly and Gus’ second child, played by Cameron Hamilton.

However, this happy little moment is interrupted by the sight of chaos- the fracture of peace and enlightenment.  It was here that Betsy worried that the future she’d seen may not come to pass.

Palindrome- Hanzee fires and manges to hit Ed

We return to the motel.  Lou leaves while Ed and Peggy continue to flee.  In a moment ripped right out of No Country for Old Men, Ed and Peggy flag down a driver, but before they can hitch a ride, Hanzee picks of the driver from a distance.  As Ed and Peggy flee, Hanzee fires off a shot that manages to hit Ed.

Palindrome- Peggy and Ed take refuge in a convenience store

Ed and Peggy head to a convenience store and tell a janitor to leave because of the bad man coming.  Because Ed’s been hit, he’s leaving a trail of blood that leads Hanzee right to the store.  Hanzee tracks them, but Lou soon spots him and fires a shot that forces Hanzee to put the pursuit aside and deal with the police.

Palindrome- Ben Schmidt joins up with Lou in hunt for Hanzee

Ben Schmidt soon joins Lou and is still livid that Peggy had the nerve to sucker him.  Well, Hanzee is now the target, so Fubar, yeah?

Palindrome- Peggy and Ed hide in the meat locker

Peggy and Ed take refuge in a meat locker and jam it shut with an ice pick.  Nothing about this is a good idea.  A badly bleeding Ed tells Peggy that the two of them are not going to make it.  They’re just too different.  Peggy disagrees, saying that the adversity they’ve faced is what makes their bond stronger, just like how a bone heals.  She had her doubts, but she’s sure now.  Ed weakly tries to get his point across that sometimes nothing is broken.  Peggy responds that she wants to get back to what she and Ed had.

Palindrome- Mike Milligan and Gale Kitchen run into the Gerhardt maid

Mike Milligan and Gale Kitchen return to the Gerhardt home and Mike calls out to the people of Earth.  No one is home but the quiet housekeeper, Wilma.  Gale is ready to kill her, but Mike advises him to be reasonable. He tastes from one of the pot and orders no more German food.  It must be American going forward.  A car soon pulls up, getting their attention.

Palindrome- Mike and Gale confront Ricky

It’s Ricky, who enters and begins ransacking valuables until Mike and Gale corner him.  Ricky tries to make small talk and asks if Mike is the one that Otto had with the housemaid, but he should see that there’s a goddamn shotgun pointed right at him.  He hopes that bygones can be bygones, but Mike talks about sovereignty, but since Ricky isn’t the professor from Gilligan’s Island, he doesn’t know how to define it.

Mike does: sovereignty is absolute power and authority, like a king.  That’s just who Mike is to Ricky.  Ricky tells Mike that this is America, and this nation doesn’t do kings, but Mike disagrees.  America does kings, but they’re called something different.

Today is Mike’s coronation day and a new king should start his reign in an act of kindness and act of cruelty.  That way, your subjects know you’re capable of both- God and monster.  Ricky would prefer the former. The problem is that Wilma works in the kitchen.  She’s already received Mike’s kindness- a brand new car and the money in the cabinet that Ricky wanted.  So Ricky is, to be frank, shit out of luck.

Before Ricky can fire his weapon, Gale blasts him.  However, just as he’s about to deliver the killing blow, Mike stops him.  After all, an act of cruelty.  The two decide to hit the hay before heading home to bathe in that warm champagne that is corporate praise.  Hell, they may even get a parade.  Well, Mike is certainly optimistic.

Palindrome- Peggy and Ed realize that Hanzee has found the meat locker

Hanzee soon reaches the meat locker.  Peggy hears him wrestling with the freezer locker door.  Soon enough, the noise stops, but then Peggy sees smoke filtering into the freezer.  Peggy is reminded of the movie she was watched.  As she describes the plot and similarities to their current situation, she remembers that the Nazi tried to smoke out the couple.  But they were saved!

Palindrome- Peggy expects to find Hanzee, but finds Lou and Ben instead

Ed Blomquist, though, is not, as he soon passes away.  As Peggy shakes her now gone husband, she pulls the pick out of the lock and prepares to face her attacker.  However, when she rushes out of the locker, she runs into not Hanzee, but Lou and Ben instead.  Given that Peggy is holding a weapon, I’m surprised that neither of them opened fire.

There’s no smoke or fire, either.  Turns out that Hanzee got away.  Lou insists that Hanzee was never in the building, despite Peggy’s protests.  She cries out Ed’s name over and over, but he’s dead, Jim.

Palindrome- Ben and Lou discuss the hunt for Hanzee and how to write up the police report on the case

The next day, we learn through conversation between Lou and Ben that there’s a manhunt for Hanzee.  Hank is in the ICU- cautiously optimistic is the word on his condition.  Ben doesn’t even know how to write up a report like this.  Lou just advises him to start and then work his way to the end, just like any story.  Lou, meanwhile, will take Peggy Blomquist back to Minnesota.  If anyone has a problem that, Lou figures that after his week, those people can keep it to themselves.

Palindrome- Noreen and Betsy talk about life and death

We then return to the Solverson household.  Betsy awakens, but still finds no Lou back yet.  Noreen asks if she feels it.  Noreen’s aunt lost her bosom to cancer, like someone took a hot poker and put it through her heart.  No, nothing like that for Betsy.  It’s like getting a peach where one side is ripe and yellow, but the other is black and moldy.  Gross.

But then Noreen once again talks about Camus, who says that knowing we’re going to die makes life absurd.  Betsy isn’t familiar with Camus, and doesn’t care what he thinks since no one with any sense would say something that foolish.  In Betsy’s mind, we’re put on this Earth to do a job and we get time to do it.  When this life is over and you stand in front of the Lord, maybe Noreen can try telling him what some Frenchman said.

Palindrome- Peggy and Lou talk

On the road back to Minnesota, Peggy asks Lou if she can be tried federal.  That way, maybe she can serve her time in California.  There’s a penitentiary north of San Francisco that has a nice view of the bay.  Maybe she can see a pelican, too.  Lou will see what happens.

He then talks about the end of the Vietnam War when Saigon fell.   There were only 24 hours to get everyone out, allies and all.  People packed onto as many boats and possible.  But then a Chinook into view, and you can’t just land one of those things on a ship this size.  The pilot was waved off, but he had his whole family inside and was running low on fuel, so it was now or never.

The pilot hovered over the deck and people, scared or not, started jumping onto the ship.  Hell, the mother even dropped her baby and one of Lou’s men caught him.  But what about the pilot?  He maneuvered off the port bow and hovered long enough to remove his flight suit.  He then somehow rolled the bird on its side and jumped just before it hit the water.  Helicopter parts flew around him, but he somehow made it.  To this day, Lou wonders how.

Peggy asks what Lou means by this.  It’s about Ed, who told Lou that he’d protect his family, no matter what.  Truth be told, Lou understood that it was the rock that men push.  They call it a burden, but it’s really a privilege.  Peggy admits that she never meant for any of this to happen.  Not to Ed or anybody else.  She just wanted to be someone, and she is now.  But she wanted to choose, not be defined by someone else.

But then that stupid guy walked out into the road.  You know, the victim, Lou reminds her.  Peggy doesn’t see that as fair because she was a victim first.  Of what?  Peggy doesn’t think that Lou, as a man, would understand.  It’s a life that women can be a wife, a career woman, and so many other things, as if there’s 37 hours in the day.  And if she can’t, she’s viewed as inferior.  Lou cuts off this rant by reminding Peggy that people are dead.  That’s also true.

Palindrome- Lou calls home to check on Betsy, ends up speaking with Noreen

Lou soon arrives back at the state line and heads to the phone booth to make a call home.  Noreen soon answers and tells Lou that Betsy is fine, but she just had a fall.  Right now, Betsy and Molly are fast asleep.  Betsy will need to come in for some more tests.  Until then, Noreen will remain with her until Lou returns.  He gives Noreen a message to tell Betsy that he’ll be home soon.

Palindrome- The Hand, played by Philip Williams, gives Hanzee his new identity

We then cut to a park, where Hanzee watches two kids- who communicate via sign language- toss a ball.  He’s joined by a man that goes by The Book, played by Philip Williams, who hands him a wallet with a new identity: Moses Tripoli.  Huh.  Hanzee also needs a face man, and the details for that are inside.  He may want something older, but what would Hanzee do then?  Maybe start his own empire.  Book asks whether Hanzee will seek revenge after Kansas City.  But no, not apprehend those responsible, but leave them for dead.

As the kids start roughhousing, Hanzee approaches them, his blade at the ready.

Palindrome- Hamish Broker gives Mike Milligan his less than desirable reward of a desk job

In Kansas City, Mike receives his praise, despite still having a few rungs to climb.  Hamish tells Mike that a team of asset managers will handle the setup in Fargo since that’s day-to-day work.  The real oversight of the Northern territory, Hamish says, will happen in this building, which is where Mike will work.  Hamish sets him up in an office where he’ll work with the accounting department.  Oh, and Mike’s Western look has to go.  Not only that, but he’s gotta cut his hair.  The 1970s are over.

Hamish gives Milligan a tip: when he realizes that the money business is the only one left, the better off he’ll be.  This isn’t about busting heads for collection, but profits and loss.  Infrastructure.  Last year, for example, Donahue in the mail branch saved $1 million a quarter in postage by rejigging the mail room.  Management was impressed and gave him California.  Anyway, it’s time for Mike to settle in and get to work.  Upper management is expecting big things from Mike.

Also, Mike should learn to play golf since that’s where all the big deals are made.  He takes his seat.

Palindrome- Lou, Hank, and Betsy talk

Back at House Solverson, Lou and Hank return to greet Molly, Betsy, and Noreen.  No Sonny or Karl, though.  The adults settle down to talk.  Hank tells Lou to leave out that the gun fight was interrupted by spacecraft.  That can be left as subtext.  Hanzee made the FBI’s most wanted list, but no sign yet.  He must have fled at this point, but Lou is confident that he’ll be back.  And Betsy feels a cramp.  That’s more than anyone needs to know.

Hank reminds the two that they’re sitting here together.  He’s just happy to see them.  Betsy asks her father about her visit to his office.  So what’s the deal with the symbols and such?  After Betsy’s mother died, Hank and everyone else got pretty low.  Hank started thinking about the things he’s seen in the war, at home, on the job- so much senselessness and violence.  He thought about miscommunication- isn’t that the root of conflict?  It comes down to language.  The words we say don’t always mean the same thing.

So what if there was a universal language of symbols?  Pictures are clearer than words, Hank says.  Imagine a box on a roof on it- that means home.  A heart means love, no question.  That’s where Hank started.  The more he worked, the more it became all he could think about.  Betsy takes her father’s hand and tells him that he’s a great man.  Hank doesn’t know about that, but he likes to think he has good intentions.

Palindrome- Lou and Betsy settle in for the night

Later that night, Lou puts Molly to bed and offers her a chance to go fishing tomorrow.  Lou and Betsy then bid each other good night as the second season of Fargo comes to a close.

If “The Castle” delivered on that high body count through the hotel massacre, then “Palindrome,” while nowhere near as deadly as the previous episode, does deliver a resolution to this murder case as light is pitted against darkness once more.  Did this season finale need to be action packed?  And did it need to spell out everything and wrap up just about every story arc we’ve been introduced to in this season?  Well, no.  It was a simple, warm ending about a small group of good people coming together in the end, despite the trials and tribulations they’ve faced.

Palindrome- Betsy tells Lou that he's a good man

I never got the sense that this season finale attempted to force happy moments with the ending of the Solverson family together in their home, which was a nice callback to how the season premiere ended.  These people have been through a heck of a journey and it’s changed their perspective on things, but at their core, they remain the good men and women we’ve known them as while they try to push through the senseless violence and make good of the time they have on Earth.

And so, rather than contrived reasons for a happy ending, Fargo’s second season earns its optimism because we care about the character’s plights.  Sure, we knew some characters had to make it out because of the first season, but we’re still invested in the trip they take along the way, even those who may not make it as far as others.

Palindrome- Betsy awakens

With that said, let’s talk about Betsy’s dream.  Cristin Milioti has been great this season, but the amount of pain Betsy endures is overshadowed by her constant desire to make sure her family is well fed and taken care of, even in her absence.  She had her moment when she told Karl about the possibility of Lou remarrying after she died.

But here, after her fall, after Noreen talking about life being absurd, and after being away from her husband for so long, she still maintained her positive outlook on life.  Since the future isn’t written in stone, we need to use our time wisely and leave a good life behind for those we love.

Palindrome- Allison Tolman and Keith Carradine reprise their roles as Molly and Lou Solverson

Such as Molly and Lou’s future.  Now, let’s talk about that.  This entire sequence was just incredible and put a smile on my face the entire time.  Not only was it an absolute surprise to see Allison Tolman, Keith Carradine, Colin Hanks, and Joey King return to reprise their roles, but the dream showed that even though Betsy won’t live to see her daughter and husband grow older, she still got a glimpse of that happiness.

Plus, it’s not just a nice nod to the first season, but it allows viewers to see what became of Molly, Gus, Greta, and Lou after the first season ended.  I loved this moment.  It was brief, but effective.  And much like Stavros Milos finding the suitcase of money in the first season, it was a nod to the established Fargo universe, but underplayed enough that viewers unfamiliar with the first season could just appreciate this look at the future of the Solverson family.  Side-note, I barely recognized Joey King at first since I’m so used to Greta having red hair.

And again, much like the first season, this second outing didn’t feel the need to hit you over the head with reminders of what came before it.  Or, chronologically, after it, I should say.  For example, Hanzee’s new identity, Moses Tripoli, is a key figure in the first season and has an encounter with Lorne Malvo, and Ben Schmidt would grow up to be Gus Grimly’s boss.

Palindrome- Possibly young versions of Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench

If there was a nod I could have done without, it was Hanzee spotting the two kids communicating via sign language.  Sure, there’s no indication that these kids would grow up to be Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench, but even if they weren’t, that felt too much like a wink and nudge.  And if they weren’t Numbers and Wrench, I feel there’d be no reason to indicate that they sign to each other.

Palindrome- Peggy tells Ed that they're going to continue going forward

“Palindrome” dealt very much with the consequences of wanting more in life and doing any and everything to achieve a higher status.  There’s nothing wrong with wanting more in life, mind you, but in the case of the Blomquists, Peggy specifically, their actions not only added to the impending violence, but showed just how different Ed and Peggy really were, despite being a married couple.

Palindrome- Ed all but breaks it off with Peggy

Ed from the start, wanted nothing more than a simple life.  He had dreamed of owning the butcher shop and using that as a means of financing his wife and future kids.  Even though that may not be the most exciting future, it’s what he wanted and would have been on his terms.  But he knew that his actions wouldn’t make that future easily attainable, so he gave into those wilder instincts not just to keep himself alive, but try and get back to the way things were.

Hell, he even adopted the moniker of the Butcher of Luverne as a badge of honor, but his arc came full circle when he expired in the meat locker, just as he practically told Peggy that their relationship would not have a future.

Palindrome- Peggy tries to comfort Ed

Both Ed and Peggy lacked proper communication in their marriage.  In addition, both had something that the other lacked.  Ed needed a bit more pathos and excitement in his life in order to actualize, while Peggy needed some rigidity and stability.  But Peggy’s desire to be more than just a simple housewife is what left her without a husband and her headed for prison.

Palindrome- Peggy talks to Lou about how life is unfair to a woman that wants more in life

Kirsten Dunst was great not just in Peggy’s breakdown scene after believing that Hanzee tried to smoke her and Ed out, but also her speech to Lou about why she did what she did.  There are some gender politics at play there when she talks about women seeking more in life and being viewed as inferior if they can’t handle a heavy workload and home life.  Floyd had commanding leadership of her family, and Simone used her body to get ahead and on Mike Milligan’s good side.

Palindrome- Lou tells Peggy that Hanzee did not try to smoke her out

But Peggy descended further into madness with every move because she believed that, deep down, she deserved better.  People can grow tired of the same, repetitive routine because they’re just going through the motions without any shakeup.  Peggy wanted that shakeup and she got it because now she is someone, just not for the reasons she wanted.

And she still remains delusional when she wants the best prison situation possible.  It’s madness, but given her situation, coupled with Dunst’s performance, Peggy doesn’t come off as unsympathetic.  It’s a shame that her actualization will soon lead to incarceration.

Palindrome- Mike Milligan gets rewarded with an office job

And poor Mike Milligan.  The man brought chaos to the Gerhardt family, killed off the Undertaker, and was at an all-time high.  It’s not unrealistic to think that he would be handsomely rewarded for his efforts, but a parade is well beyond what life had in store for him: a run-of-the-mill office job with company benefits and golf games in his future.  There was some sadness, as well as unintentional humor and irony to Milligan’s end-game.

Palindrome- Gale and Mike stand over Ricky's body

Here’s a man who started off putting Skip’s tie through a typewriter and typing a letter, and that was just his introduction.  Despite all obstacles, whether from corporate or the Gerhardt family, he and Gale Kitchen fought out of every situation.  They were warriors and hoped to be crowned as kings for their work, but Mike faced the harsh reality that the money business is the future.  Mike may be a king in his own mind, but the world had a brutal way of bringing him back to Earth and turning him into just another cog in a well-oiled machine.

And really, Bokeem Woodbine has been stellar from start to finish.  Everyone was on point this season, but his performance sticks out first in my mind as far as the most memorable.

Palindrome- Hanzee receives his new identity

Hanzee told Ed and Peggy that he was tired of this life, and he was, so he assumes a new identity, but the circle of violence will continue under his empire.  It’s great that he gets to live by his rules, even though we know what will ultimately become of him.  But for the purposes of this season, he finds a way out to start anew.

Palindrome- Solverson family and Noreen

The Solverson family, against all odds, remained optimistic.  The world has changed around them so many times, whether after World War II, Vietnam, or this very massacre.  They’ve seen some of the worst that humankind had to offer, but they maintained their inherent goodness and refused to roll over and let this bleak life get the better of them.  Rather, they worked within a corrupt world, even siding with the Gerhardt family at one point, to ensure that those who committed evils, whether intentional or by accident, would face justice.

Palindrome- Hank and Lou toast

Sure, knowing we’re going to die may make life seem as absurd as Noreen believes, but does that mean accept life for what it is and believe that the future is set for us?  Or do we fight against that notion and claim responsibility for our futures?  For folks like Lou, Hank, and Betsy, the response is to fight.  Just like the man in Vietnam, better to give it your all in a seemingly hopeless situation instead of becoming a victim of circumstance.  Though Hank’s hope of a universal language may be a bit too idealistic, at least he’s willing to try and make the world a better place.

Palindrome- Lou tells Peggy that it's a privilege for men to help their families

And I appreciate how Lou managed to tie his tale back into what his and Ed’s desire to keep their families safe.  It can be challenging to maintain a steady job, look after your kids, spouse, friends, and still have some semblance of an easy life, but is it a burden or a privilege?

Palindrome- Hank talks about his idea of a universal language

For Ed and Lou, it’s a privilege to work hard for their families.  Life holds many uncertainties, but if there’s one thing these characters will do, even the Gerhardts, it’s giving it everything they have and more to protect the ones they love.  Even though Bear, Floyd, and even Simone were killed during this escalation, they each did what they thought in their hearts was right for the good of the family.

The Gift of the Magi- Charlie talks with Noreen while waiting for Ed

But speaking of the Gerhardt family, the one lingering thread is Charlie, who we haven’t seen for quite some time.  We can assume that he’ll still face jail time, but we don’t know what ultimately happens to him.  In the grand scheme of things, Charlie wasn’t the most vital character, but given how much Bear cared for him, and his role in the attack on Ed and Noreen, it’s just one small thing glossed over in the finale.  But again, we didn’t need to have everything spelled out for us.  What we got was a solid finale on a stellar season.

Morton's Fork- The end with Greta, Molly and Gus

When Fargo’s first season ended, we weren’t completely sure at the time whether it would get renewed, if it even needed to be.  There were rumors of renewal, but nothing concrete.  With this season, before its premiere, I was unsure, given the outstanding job of the previous season, whether this season would match or surpass the previous one.

Palindrome- Betsy gets a cramp

And this second season met and greatly exceeded my expectations for what I deem quality television.  The second season of Fargo succeeds as a great crime drama with plenty of black humor, shows respect to the material that came before it, and delivered quality performances from the entire cast.

Omega Station- Ray and Ani smoke and hold hands

Fargo’s sophomore run succeeds in ways that True Detective’s second season faltered in that the storyline, acting, and direction hooked you from the start and continued to deliver top-notch episodes as the season progressed.  Now don’t get me wrong.  There’s a lot I enjoy about the second season of True Detective, but as a whole, I don’t think it matches the quality of the first one, but that’s another story.  For fall 2015, though, I think I’d say this may have been my favorite show to watch for fall 2015, right alongside The Leftovers.

This was an amazing season of television and I am very pleased to know that Fargo will be returning for a third season.  Noah Hawley once again delivered a great season of television that, I believe, deserves to be recognized for its performances, direction, and writing.  If you’ve yet to watch Fargo, please give it a shot.  I’d say start with the film or first season, then watch this.  It’s dark, but filled with optimism and hope in the face of a pessimistic world.  And this season was a satisfying watch from start to finish.

So, in summation, was good television?  Well, yeah, I’d say it was a good one.

A Look at The Walking Dead #149: “The Devil On Your Shoulder”

The Walking Dead #149- Cover

Let’s take a second to talk about the cover for issue #149: “The Devil on Your Shoulder.”  This is a great cover.  It really embodies the relationship between Rick and Negan, as our protagonist finds himself in a tough situation on dealing with the residents.  This is Rick going to a place he thought he’d never have to visit, and Negan is more than ready to welcome him with open arms.

The Walking Dead #149- Laura and Dwight talk about Diane

But we’ll get to this later.  Let’s go to the Sanctuary first, as we learn more about Dwight grappling with the decision to remain leader of the Saviors or step down.  More than that, this all goes back to Diane.  He’s still pining for her, even though she’s gone, and I loved the point Laura made about why Diane even went to Negan in the first place: he offered what she wanted.  Remember, the women that Negan takes as his wives don’t have to work for a damn thing.

So of course many would be willing to drop their past relationships and love lives if it means being one notch up above everyone else.  It’s all about survival.  Even though the people in the Sanctuary may not like Negan, the women at least have a better way of living under him than any other way.

It’s also interesting to learn that Dwight appears to be the only thing that’s keeping the Saviors from instigating another attack on the Alexandria Safe Zone.  When it comes to the Saviors, we’re mostly dealing with Dwight and his inner circle.  We don’t deal with the community as a whole.  I say this because I figured that tensions simmered between the Saviors and the people of Alexandria during the time skip.

I don’t have a way to back that up, but given how Rick and Dwight have gotten along so well, and how the Saviors did follow Dwight after Negan’s fall, I figured all was well.  To learn that the Saviors may just be biding their time puts them back in play as a potential antagonist.  They may not have a walker army like the Whisperers do, but we’ve seen that they are brutal.  What the Saviors need is a strong leader.  Dwight doesn’t consider himself as such, but after hearing Laura’s words, coupled with him taking out Lucille at the end of the issue, I’m very curious to see what the story does next with the Saviors.

We get some snippets of what other characters are up to, but don’t spend too much time on it, which is fine.  We see Eugene working on his radio, Maggie still in Alexandria, but we also see Andrea safely return Carl and Lydia to the Hilltop.  However, they still need to keep this under wraps, given the tension in the communities.

The Walking Dead #149- Carl tells Lydia that he's who he is because of his father

Carl and Lydia’s talk helped build the trust between them.  Lydia has seen some shit and it’s so hard for her to believe that someone like Carl can be so honest and trusting.  In a way, she reminds me of Rick.  Someone so trusting has to have an angle, right?  Hell, just look at how Rick first reacted to Aaron and Jesus, but they both ended up becoming trustworthy friends.  The same is true for Carl, who must be past the issues he had with his father, as he says that it’s because of Rick that he’s a good person.

The Walking Dead #149- Joshn's parents met by Tammy's family

It’s worth noting that Josh’s parents are now coming face to face with Olivia’s family.  They’ve both lost someone close to them at the hands of the Whisperers.  All that anger and hate towards Rick has to come out eventually and now both groups have a common enemy.

The Walking Dead #149- Negan thinks that he's getting out

And that brings me to the conversation between Rick and Negan.  First off, I loved the glimmer of hope Negan had at actual escape.  There was a lot of speculation regarding Rick’s decision, but nope.  Rick explained right off the bat that he’d never be let out of his cage.

The Walking Dead #149- Negan gives Rick advice

As foul mouthed of a motherfucker as Negan is, he’s making a lot of damn sense here in the way that only Negan can: this conflict with the Whisperers can be broken down to us versus them.  It’s almost like Negan is giving Rick tips on how to deliver a stump speech.  Right now, the trust in Rick is at an all-time low, based on recent polling by CNN.

The Walking Dead #149- Negan tells Rick that people want security, not action

Negan is cruel, but he knows what Rick is going through right now and what it takes not just to be a qualified leader, but trusted one.  What’s striking is Negan’s reveal that, yeah, many people at the Sanctuary probably didn’t care for him at all, but you know what?  He kept them safe regardless.  At the end of the day, in this walker filled world, people want security.  Sure, they’ll want to go to action to avenge their loved ones, but they also want to sleep at night with ease.  If Rick can make the people feel safe, then maybe he’ll get them back on his side.

It’s such a smart idea that of course Negan would know this.  He ruled with an iron fist.  And Lucille.  So even though he’s being held in this prison, he gets Rick’s dilemma.  And despite not getting any sort of recognition for it, that little smirk on Negan’s face at the end of the conversation, I think, is his way of figuring that he did something good for a man he hates.

The Walking Dead #149- Rick tells Eugene that it's time to form a military

So going forward, Rick seems to take Negan’s advice into consideration with his plan to mobilize a military.  After all, Eugene has been manufacturing bullets this entire time, so this is a chance for him to play an active role since the radio doesn’t seem to be helping right now.

But remember, betrayal is right around the corner…

A Look at Fargo- Season 2, Episode 9: “The Castle”

Between a hotel massacre, all the fallen we’ve seen up until this point, the bloodshed, escalation of war, we’ve been in for an impressive run for Fargo’s second season and we’re not even done yet.  However, when you’re not impressed with the presence of a UFO, then you must have seen some strange stuff in your life.  The penultimate episode of Season Two, this is “The Castle.”

The Castle- Story of the Massacre

The episode begins with a narrator, a very familiar voice, describing The History of True Crime in the Midwest.  These murders began with a few people being gunned down at the Waffle Hut and are described as a Minnesota event, despite taking place in North and South Dakota.

The Castle- Hanzee enters the store after killing the owner

We rejoin the convenience store owner as he notices Hanzee emerge from the woods.  He frantically makes a call, but doesn’t get to finish before Hanzee puts a bullet in his head with some damn good aim.  He enters, grabs some hydrogen peroxide, and heads for the washroom to patch up his left shoulder.  There’s no birth certificate or history of Hanzee Dent, the narrator says.  He had been the Gerhardt’s men, until that changed.

After stitching himself up, Hanzee grabs a set of keys and hitches himself a ride in a red El Dorado.

The Castle- Police speak with Ed and Peggy

Back in the cabin, Ed and Peggy meet with a handful of officers who don’t think much of the Blomquists and tell them as such.  But Peggy is realized, or realized something.  Ed tells the officers of the plan to trade Dodd for protection.  Lou reminds everyone that Hanzee is still out there, so it’s best to help the Blomquists to safety.  It’s also worth mentioning that Ed’s plan worked, as he made a deal for Dodd with Mike Milligan.  The meeting is still set for eight in the morning in Sioux Falls at the Motor Motel.

The Castle- Officers discuss a possible sting operating, using Ed and Peggy as bait

So Lou wants the Blomquists in custody.  The South Dakota Captain, Jeb Cheney, played by Homer Stokes himself, Wayne Duvall, wants to wire Ed and bust this conspiracy, but Lou disagrees.  Ed and Peggy have done well through blind luck, but they aren’t the smartest folks.  Lou is concerned that Milligan will see right through the ruse.

Right now, though, Lou is outnumbered, so it’s time to get to the program, against his best judgment.  He tries to tell Ed and Peggy what they’re up against and advises them to lawyer up, but he’s silenced and told to leave.  Hank decides to stay, though.  Lou wants to call his boss to see if this can be stopped on a bureaucratic level since this is officially out of control.

So Cheney talks to Ed and Peggy about the amount of shit they’re in.  He has a rope in his hand and offers it, but he’ll be wiring the two of them for this meeting with Mike Milligan.  If the Kansas City folks can implicate themselves on tape, maybe Ed and Peggy will face lesser charges.  At the very least, Ed wants this in writing.

The Castle- Mike Milligan tells his superior about The Undertaker not showing up

Meanwhile, Mike Milligan speaks with a Kansas City superior about his journey to pick up Dodd Gerhardt.  As far as The Undertaker goes, he just never showed up.

The Castle- Molly finds her mother on the floor

At House Solverson, Molly shows off her great artwork to Noreen.

The Castle- Betsy on the floor

As she goes downstairs to show her mom, Molly finds Betsy collapsed on the floor.

The Castle- Lou investigates the convenience store

At the same time, Lou stops at the gas station to make a call home.  The phone rings and rings, but Lou’s attention is distracted by the bullet hole in the store window.  He heads in to investigate and finds blood spattered on the wall, followed by the clerk’s body.  He checks in the back, but only finds a rag and some hydrogen peroxide.

The Castle- Lou's escort arrives to follow him to the state line

After then spotting a photo of a red El Dorado and some missing keys, he pieces a few details together when a ranger approaches.  This man is meant to escort Lou out of state.

The Castle- Officers receive transmission from Lou

The police entourage receives a transmission from Lou, who reports that the Indian will be in a red El Dorado.  Hank responds that they’re headed for the Motor Motel to prep Ed for the sting.  Lou has a bad feeling and advises Hank to be careful.  Cheney retorts that these Kansas City people will find out what Dakota officers are all about.

The Castle- Jeb Cheney, played by Wayne Duvall, tells Hank that Lou is out of line

At the Motor Motel, Cheney tells Hank that Lou is acting out of line.  Hank agrees, but defends Lou by saying that he likes to think things through.  However, Cheney says, it’s the generals that do the thinking during a war.  Hank won’t debate top-down decision thinking.  He had a lieutenant that told Eisenhower to go to hell on account of his orders.  Hank sends him a card every Christmas because he can.  Whether Hank stays or goes is up to him, but for now, Cheney is taking the fight to the enemy.

The Castle- Ricky tells Floyd and Bear that Hanzee has found Dodd

Back at the Gerhardt farm, Ricky tells Bear and Floyd that Hanzee is on the phone with word that he found Dodd.  Hanzee tells the family that Dodd is alive, but captured.  So who has him?  And that’s where Hanzee has to come up with those two fateful words in a spontaneous moment that could have been building up for years: Kansas City.  Dodd was ambushed when leaving the state, but Hanzee tracked him to Sioux Falls.

Hanzee tells Floyd to send Bear and a dozen men,as he can’t vouch for Floyd’s safety.  Floyd doesn’t like being given orders, and the past three times she’s sent men to do a job, the jobs went unfinished.  She’ll handle this herself.

The Castle- Ben rooms with Ed and Peggy

The officers set up and prepare to go undercover for this sting operation.  Ed asks Ben Schmidt if they’re doing the right thing, but Schmidt is far too preoccupied with his food and television.  Peggy tells Ed that she wants to make a break for it when Ben falls asleep, but when Ben notices, he threatens to, and get this, separate the two of them.  Harsh punishment, I’m sure.

Peggy gets sweet with Ben, who explains that he’s from Fargo and works for Chief Gibson.  Doesn’t matter a ton, but he offers Peggy a chip, so it’s a start.

The Castle- Lou learns that Constance Heck was found strangled in her hotel room

On the road, while Gale Kitchen and Mike Milligan head towards their target, Lou arrives at the state line.  His escort drives off, not even making sure that Lou will comply.  He receives a call and word that Constance Heck was found strangled in her hotel room.  When does this madness end?  Lou Solverson has no idea.  Screw the rules.  Lou Solverson hightails it back to South Dakota and makes a brief stop at Constance’s hotel room.

The Castle- Officers prepare for radio silence

That night at the Motor Motel, Hank checks in on Ben, Ed, and Peggy to go over details.  Ben would prefer he stay in the room without Lou being there.  The other officers go over the mission and it’s worth noting that the ice machine is busted.  Good to know.  If this goes well, there will be commendations all around.  Going forward, Cheney decides on radio silence.

As Lou leaves a hotel, he spots a caravan of Gerhardt vehicles pass.  Sensing danger, he speeds back to his car.  He tries to radio ahead, but because of radio silence, the officers are unaware of the danger headed their way.  On the way, Floyd tells Bear that she misses them all.  No worries.  They’ll be together again on high.

The Castle- Officers play card and talk about pissing in strange places

The officers have an odd conversation about pissing in strange spots- the pool is apparently going too far- while Hanzee brings the Gerhardt family to the hotel.  Hanzee is to remain with Floyd while Bear and the others head towards the hotel.

The Castle- Bear readies the Gerhardt clan to prepare for the assault

As the officers somehow keep talking about pissing, the Gerhardts make quick work of a man resting outside before they head for various hotel rooms.  They burst in and kill some of the officers, though Hank and Ben are able to hold off their attackers.  Just as Ben worries that this is Rapid City all over again, Peggy knocks him out with the butt of a gun.

The Castle- Hanzee kills Floyd

And right outside, just as Floyd overhears that the family is going up against cops, Hanzee sticks the blade deep in Floyd and leaves her to die.  Just as Bear rushes to his mother, he’s shot by Lou Solverson.

Despite being shot, Bear charges for the man and somehow manages to take him down.  He smashes Lou against the concrete over and over again while Hanzee goes on the offensive and takes out any Gerhardt man he can find.  Killing friend and foe alike, he then shoots Hank.  However, he still needs to silence Ed and Peggy Blomquist because he’d shown his true self in a moment of vulnerability.

The Castle- Peggy is not impressed by a flying saucer

And then a bright light from, I actually cannot believe it, a goddamn UFO, gives Lou enough time to grab his gun and put a bullet through Bear’s skull.  Ed and Peggy, meanwhile, escape and manage to knock out Hanzee for a bit.  Turns out Peggy isn’t all that impressed with just a flying saucer.  Who knew?

The Castle- Gale Kitchen and Mike Milligan arrive after the massacre

Gale Kitchen and Mike Milligan arrive just as the battle has already ended.  Okay, then.

The Castle- Lou finds a wounded Hank

Hanzee manages to escape, still hot on Ed and Peggy’s trail, while Lou finds Hank.  He tells Lou to go after them, since he can make it on his own just fine.  Lou heads off to finish the job just as the authorities arrive.

Holy hell, another great episode of Fargo as we head into the season finale.  While I don’t think that “The Castle” offered a lot as far as themes and messages that we haven’t already seen covered this season, it did meet our expectations of delivering a body count that adds to the tally of the Sioux Falls massacre.

It’s all been incremental, these murders.  From Rye killing the judge and the employees in the Waffle Hut, to Peggy and Ed disposing of his body, all of these murders, while still connected, are all stacked onto a growing pile.  And it doesn’t feel like Fargo is obligated to kill off so many people as a way to pay off Lou’s line from Season One about a high stack of bodies from the Sioux City case he worked.

The Castle- Lou is told to get with the program

Right now, Lou is in a bind.  He’s concerned about the safety of Ed and Peggy, despite what they’ve done, and wants to make sure things are done not just by the law, but with proper precaution.  But with each time he makes a proper and ideal suggestion, he’s silenced and told to butt out where he has no jurisdiction.

The Castle- Lou checks Constance's hotel room

Lou’s story this season, I feel, is one of frustration.  He wants to hold out hope for his wife, but things look increasingly bleak, even more so because of her fall this week.  He offered Ed and Peggy a chance to come clean, but Peggy turned down his offer.  He and the other officers allied with the Gerhardt family, even though that meant taking sides in a crime war.

And now, after warning that Ed and Peggy aren’t ready to be moles for the police, these officers have been dealt a huge blow that I can’t say they didn’t deserve.  Radio silence is fine when you want to keep quiet, but you’re in the middle of an ongoing war between two sides that have both amassed losses through violent shootouts and confrontations.  Keep the flow of communication open to make sure everyone is abreast of the situation.

The Castle- Officers still talking about pissing in weird places

That being said, Fargo again manages to inject some of that black humor we’re accustomed to in works by the Coen Brothers.  The whole conversation about pissing in certain places during a stakeout while the Gerhardt family stood outside, ready to attack, actually managed to make me laugh, but also shake my head at the idiocy of these officers.  Even Ben Schmidt isn’t the brightest man around, despite getting a promotion.  Granted, he’s still on his guard and given how we know he’ll survive this attack because he appeared in the first season, it was guaranteed he wouldn’t meet his end here.

The Castle- Hank defends Lou

I’ve said next to nothing about Ted Danson’s performance, but he’s been superb all season.  This episode no exception, with the standout being the conversation with between Hank and Lou near the end.  Like Keith Carradine in the first season, Danson brings depth to the performance of a character that has seen some hellish things and what horrible atrocities man can produce.  At the same time, despite what he’s endured, he’s not giving in because he sees the good in people, despite their flaws or willingness to disobey orders, like the man who stood up to Eisenhower.

The Castle- Hanzee sets up the Gerhardt family to be massacred

Hanzee’s betrayal of the Gerhardt family hammers home just how tired he is of this life.  What started with executing Dodd led to him stabbing Floyd and luring the Gerhardt clan into a trap.  I love how there are no words exchanged between Hanzee and Floyd when he stabbed her, and there didn’t need to be.  He was in control of the situation and was willing to lead the family to their doom.

The Castle- Ed and Peggy get the drop on Hanzee

But yet, he still ran into an obstacle with wild cards like Peggy and Ed.  Like Lester managing to somehow pull a fast one on Malvo last season, the Blomquists took advantage of the situation and struck while the iron was hot, giving her and Ed a chance to escape justice yet again, but I’m curious how long they’ll remain on the run.  And to what end?  Constance is dead because Peggy didn’t come to meet her, so that’s another body that’s on the Blomquist’s hands.

The Castle- Hanzee goes on the offensive

The shootout as a whole was great.  It was well-executed, directed, and even had a pretty brutal fight with Lou and Bear.  Of the Gerhardt family, I’m upset that Bear and Floyd are gone because I feel they could have had more to their story arcs and they weren’t as gung-ho as Dodd about escalating a tense situation.  But Bear charging for Lou after being shot was great.

The Castle- Random UFO

Now let’s address the big UFO in the room: the…well, UFO.  Why?  How is it here?  There is literally no explanation for it and even Peggy isn’t fazed by it in the slightest is as odd as it is funny to see.  I doubt we’ll get any sort of explanation for the UFO suddenly appearing, if it indeed did.

Buridan's Ass- Fish rain from the sky

After all, we got fish falling from the sky last season with no reason given, so all bets are off on this random close encounter of the Fargo kind.

Oh, and having Martin Freeman as the narrator?  That was a nice, unexpected surprise.

“The Castle” gave us a massacre that’s been building since the season premiere and delivered.  Hanzee turning on the Gerhardt family sent them to their doom and freed him of working under their boot.  While I’m upset that Floyd and Bear are gone, at least they’re hopefully reunited with their family.  With Ed and Peggy still on the run from Hanzee and Lou, Betsy’s fate up in the air, Kansas City still lurking about, and more bodies piled up, we’re headed for a great finale.  See you then.

A Look at Fargo- Season 2, Episode 8: “Loplop”

Time to see what Ed and Peggy were up to while Karl showed Betsy why he’s known as the Breakfast King of Loyola.

Loplop- Peggy talks with Albert, played by Mackenzie Gray

The episode begins back in the Blomquist basement.  Ed rushes in and calls out to Peggy, who is sitting in the basement and visualizing a man, Albert, played by Mackenzie Gray, who she talks to about understanding the difference between thinking and being.  Peggy doesn’t understand.  To be is simply to exist, Albert, before telling her to try simply being.  Peggy wonders how sitting is gonna help her be the best person she can be.

Ah, so she wants an explanation.  The human mind seeks and finds nothing but contradiction and nonsense, Albert says.  Peggy knows that she’s not living up to her full potential.  Albert tells her to either think or be, but she can’t do both.  So she should just be that person, not think about it.

Loplop- Ed punches Dodd

Ed soon joins Peggy, who reveals that she was talking to her friend, who turns out to be Dodd.  Ed recognizes the man as a Gerhardt and punches him across the face.  Ed tells Peggy that the cops are coming, so they need to pack up and get out.  Peggy figures Dodd for the leader, so he’ll be coming with them.  Ed fits Dodd in the trunk of the car as he and Peggy get in and drive off.

Loplop- Hank and Lou arrive later at the Blomquist household

Not too long after the two leave, Lou and Hank arrive and enter the household.  They search the premises and find some bodies downstairs in the basement.  No sign of Ed or Peggy, though.  Lou decides to call a medic.  He’ll put out an APB for the Gerhardts.  Hank asks Ed to not tell Betsy that he’s indisposed.  However, as Lou leaves, Hanzee emerges from the darkness.

Loplop- Hanzee investigates the Blomquist household

He also checks the Blomquist basement but with a bit more meticulous searching.  He finds a note next to the phone, followed by a letter about a booking at the Southnik Hotel.

Loplop- Ed and Peggy on the road

On the road, Peggy tells Ed that they’ve been going about things all wrong.  It’s like waiting for a teacher to call on you to go to the washroom- you just go.  Ed is more concerned with avoiding detection.  Peggy is just glad that they’re not trapped anymore, but they still left their family home.  Plus, they still have to figure out how to deal with the cops.  As for now, Ed and Peggy are actualized.  Actualized, I tell ya!

Loplop- Peggy tases Dodd again

So Ed and Peggy soon arrive at Uncle Grady’s cabin, which they’ve never been to since Uncle Grady apparently smells like Athlete’s Foot.  Ed ops the trunk, just as Dodd kicks him away, but Peggy strikes back with the cattle prod.

Loplop- Ed and Peggy talk about what to do with Dodd

Inside, Ed ties Dodd down and goes through his wallet.  Dodd, despite his situation, makes threats to tear Peggy apart, but Ed is not concerned right now.  Ed spotted a convenience store near the road to make a call instead of using the one in the cabin so it can’t be traced.  He wants the two of them to be left alone if they turn over Dodd.

Loplop- Ed makes his first call

While Hanzee heads towards Sioux Falls, we then cut to the very gas station we previously saw as Ed makes a call.  He explains that he has Dodd, but then closes the phone booth when a police cruiser pulls up.  Not understanding what’s meant by a message, Ed hangs up.  He exits the phone booth, gets in the cruiser, and drives off.

Loplop- Peggy stabs Dodd

Peggy cooks while Dodd remains plain rude and tries to wriggle free.  He tries the sympathy card with his four daughters, but then promises to show Peggy the back of his hand.  Sure, that’s how it should go, Dodd.  Peggy would prefer that Dodd remain civil, but when that doesn’t work, she goddamn stabs him once!  And then again!  She then offers Dodd some beans, but when he just responds with no, Peggy shows him the knife, forcing him to correct it to ‘No, thank you.’

Peggy’s trying to stay positive through this whole mess.  Positive Peggy is what they call her, but this thing has been hard on Ed since he’s more delicate.  And Peggy figures that this is all her fault.  After all, she’s the one who hit Rye, and she’s very sorry about that, but the guy was stepping out into the road and didn’t look where he was going.  All Ed did was clean up the mess.  Now they’re both hoping that they can smooth this all over and their lives can go back to normal.

Loplop- Peggy feeds Dodd some beans

As Peggy feeds Dodd beans, she realizes then that Dodd said he didn’t want any.  After everything that’s happened, Peggy is still trying to actualize, and that’s no easy feat.  She doesn’t want to keep repeating past mistakes.

Loplop- Ed advises Peggy to stop stabbing Dodd

Ed soon enters and notices that Dodd is looking a bit bloodier than before, but Peggy figures it’s water under the bridge.  Peggy says that she just had to teach this man some manners.  Dodd begs for Ed to keep Peggy away from him.  Ed tells Peggy they won’t want him back.  He ended up having to leave a message with a flunky he’ll call back later.  No worry.  Peggy assures Ed that they’ll be fine, but Ed does at least need Peggy to stop stabbing Dodd.  Sounds like a fair compromise.

Loplop- Hanzee disrespected in a bar while drinking Tequila

Elsewhere, Hanzee arrives at a less than friendly looking bar and gets a less than appealing glass of water that the bartender spit in, so he asks for tequila instead, and wants it poured in front of him.  The bartender does indeed do just that.  He asks about a white couple, but the bartender talks about Indians having guns in their country.  The bartender isn’t sure he want to serve to a man who doesn’t want to be an American, never mind that Hanzee did three tours in Vietnam, has a Purple Heart, and a Bronze Star.

Loplop- Hanzee shoots two men outside the bar

He finishes his drink, leaves his cash, and heads off, but men from the bar taunt him.  Hanzee turns and faces the men, pulls out his gun and shoots two of the men in their legs.  The third runs off.  He then reenters the bar to kill the bartender.

Loplop- Hanzee uses an assault rifle to kill two cops

As Hanzee calmly exits, a police cruiser pulls up, but Hanzee is ready with an assault rifle that he uses to blow away the two officers.

Loplop- Ed helps Dodd take a leak

That evening, back at the cabin, Dodd needs the john, but Ed doesn’t want to risk untying him.  For clarification’s sake, Ed asks if Dodd has to go number one or two.  It’s one, and Dodd won’t piss his pants like some kind of half-wit.  He has rights, according to the Geneva Convention.  Ed goes to undo Dodd’s pants and holds a tea kettle in front of Dodd, who doesn’t want Peggy to look at him.  Ed prepares to make the call.

Loplop- Constance receives an unexpected visit from Hanzee

We then cut to Constance, who gets an unexpected visit from Hanzee.

Loplop- Ed buys some items from the convenience store

Ed returns to the convenience store to make another phone call.  Again, the phone rings and rings, but no response.  He picks up a few things in the store and makes small talk with the owner.  He saw Ed earlier on the phone, and Ed says that he’s out on holiday, despite this being the wrong time for such a holiday.  It’s just Ed and the moose, apparently.  The owner throws in a deck of cards on the house for him and the missus.  Ed then learns that the store opens around seven in the morning.

Loplop- Peggy calls Constance

Peggy, meanwhile, hits the television over and over and messes with the ears in order to get it to turn on.  Those gosh-darned old televisions, you know.  Then, against her best judgment, she picks up the phone and actually makes a call to the Southnik Hotel in Sioux Falls to speak with a Constance Heck.

Loplop- Constance speaks to Peggy, but with Hanzee at her side

Constance does indeed answer, with Hanzee at her side.  Peggy explains that she’s in trouble, but doesn’t go into detail on her situation.  Constance tells Peggy to come while there’s still time.  Peggy had a breakthrough, though: she can see things a whole lot more clear now and maybe she doesn’t need it as much anymore.  So she just wanted to call and say thanks.

Then Constance asks for Peggy’s location so the two can meet for a drink and talk visions, but Peggy decides against that since they’re in some trouble in the woods.  It hasn’t been easy for the two, but they’re coming together.  Constance tells Peggy that she’s got some workbooks to send with some real eye opening stuff, but Peggy isn’t sure how long she’ll be in this cabin.  She tells Contance to hold onto the material, which should be easy since Peggy is close.  Constance can just hop in the car and pay a visit.

But then Peggy doesn’t even know exactly where she is.  She’ll just call Constance as soon as this ordeal ends.  Hanzee hangs up the phone.  Well, gotta give Constance credit.  She did try.

Loplop- Dodd sleeps with a pillow case over his head

Later that night, Peggy can’t sleep due to Dodd looking at her and Ed.  Dodd isn’t tired enough to sleep, so Dodd sticks the pillowcase over his head.

Loplop- Peggy so into Desperate Journey that she doesn't notice Dodd slipped out of his ropes

The next morning, Ed is ready to make one more call and he won’t take no for an answer.  Peggy watches the film Desperate Journey and is so entranced by this film that she doesn’t even notice that Dodd has slipped out of his ropes.

Loplop- Ed makes one last call

Ed tries to tell the man on the other side of the phone that he has Dodd Gerhart. He reads an article about a Gang War and a certain Mike Milligan.  And wouldn’t you know it? The story actually matches the headline.  He makes another call to the Pearl Hotel to speak with Milligan, who is apparently with a party of fellas.  The cover story is that Milligan left his wallet in Ed’s store with $100 inside.

Loplop- Ed makes a deal with Mike Milligan

We then cut back to the ending of “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!” as Mike Milligan receives an unexpected phone call from Ed Blomquist.  Today is Mike’s lucky day, as Ed has Dodd in the trunk of his car.  It’s been a hell of a day for Mike.  In exchange, Ed needs the entire Gerhardt family to stop coming after him.  The two will meet in Sioux Falls tomorrow at 8 am at the Motor Motel.  And no funny business, because Ed has killed before and isn’t afraid to do it again.  Mike is familiar with the Butcher of Luverne, and brother, he likes your style.

Loplop- Hanzee asks the store owner about Ed and Peggy

As Ed leaves, he steps over a paper with a newspaper, which includes an article about the word out for a Native.  Not long after Ed leaves, Hanzee pulls up to the convenience store.  He tells the owner that he’s looking for a heavyset redhead.  The owner points him to a bar not too far from the road.  So Hanzee says that he’s looking for a heavyset man.

The owner tells Hanzee that this is a family store that gets tourists.  The man Hanzee wants is driving a blue Lincoln.  The owner tells Hanzee to leave if he’s not going to buy anything, which indicates that the man knows who Hanzee wants.  All he knows that a fella came in two or three times to use the phone.  He talked of going crazy at the lake, but he wasn’t agitated.  Satisfied, Hanzee leaves.

After Hanzee leaves, the man picks up the paper and, after recognizing Hanzee’s face, makes a call.

Loplop- Dodd hangs Ed

As Ed returns to the cabin, he’s stunned to find it in disarray.  As he heads in, Dodd slips a noose around his neck and hangs Ed high.  He tells Ed that he has women problems, what with their lack of rational thinking and mood swings.  He says that men have the potential for greatness.  Look at your kings of old- all men made of muscle and steel.  But women, especially in Bible movies, not so much.  Dodd’s honest belief is that Satan is a woman.

Loplop- Dodd notices Peggy coming for him

Not the dumbest doorknob, Dodd does notice Peggy crawl towards him, but he’s not fast enough to stop her from planting a knife so damn deep in his foot that the handle comes off.  When Dodd eventually pulls his foot off of the knife, Peggy knocks him out.  She then cuts Ed down.

Loplop- Hanzee corners Ed and Peggy

Hanzee, meanwhile, drives through the woods and passes cabin after cabin until he finds one with a blue Lincoln parked outside.  He enters just as Ed and Peggy are securing Dodd, who can’t feel his legs.  He tells Peggy that he’s thinking of getting a haircut, something professional-like.  Shorter, like on the sides and back.  Well, Peggy figures that Dodd has the bone structure.

Loplop- Hanzee shoots Dodd in the head

Dodd goads Hanzee on to shoot, calling a half-breed and a mongrel, so Hanzee does shoot…Dodd, in the goddamn head.  He then asks Peggy again for a haircut.  Peggy sits him down for his trim and is grateful to this man for saving their lives.  Ed asks if there’s anything the two can do to repay Hanzee.  He’s ready for his cut and tired of this life.

Loplop- Lou and Hank corner Ed and Peggy

However, as Peggy gets to work, Ed spots Lou and Hank approaching outside.  Hanzee, also spotting them, opens fire and misses.  He leaves just as Lou and Hank enter the cabin and corner our ever unlucky Blomquists.

You know how this season uses the occasional split-screen?  What if this episode employed that throughout so we could watch this one play out as the same time as the previous one?

Loplop- Phone call split screen

No, I’m not being serious, but it’s interesting to think about, given the timeframe here.  “Loplop” is another great episode.  It doesn’t completely advance the overall storyline, so much as fill in the blanks.  As an audience, we heard from the previous episode what happened with Ed and Peggy, Dodd, and Hanzee as the stage is slowly set for a confrontation in Sioux Falls.  However, as we didn’t see those events take place, “Loplop” serves to show us what occurred around the same time that the police are trying to get the Gerhardts to cooperate.

It doesn’t try to force the fact that this episode takes place at the same time as the previous one, which I like.  We don’t need to cut back to scenes like Hank saying he should have checked on Peggy.  The episode is allowed to stand on its own and build on what was revealed to us previously.  And we got a hell of a lot from just these four characters.  This may be the most light-hearted episode of the season far because of the absurdity of it all, but it didn’t feel unnecessary or out of character.

Loplop- Ed and Peggy cornered

Ed and Peggy are one unlucky couple.  By hitting Rye, they kicked off a chain of events that’s led them to go on the run.  As they’ve moved, they try to be more careful, but whether through fate, lack of solid planning, or a failure to communicate, their situations go from bad to worse.

Loplop- Ed meets up with Peggy at home

And it’s not like they want this to happen.  Ed and Peggy, but more so Peggy, want a serious change of pace in their lives.  They’re trying to actualize and do instead of think.  It’s like shooting first and asking questions later.  Rather than waiver on indecision, they act on impulse, as if shedding the skin of the mild-mannered, unassuming couple.

What I appreciate is that this doesn’t come out of nowhere, like them hitting Rye was a one-time thing and they kept trying to go back to normal.  With their lives now turned upside down and topsy-turvy, Ed and Peggy have more conversations about making a change.  Ed aspired to have a family and run the butcher shop, while Peggy just needed more in her life.

Loplop- Peggy tells Dodd to be civil

She needs to actualize and goddamn, did she do it.  Let’s just talk about Peggy right here for a moment.  Kirsten Dunst has been very great thus far, but from the start when Peggy cooked while leaving Rye in the garage, you got the sense that something was just off with this woman.  This was Dunst’s moment to shine and she delivered.  Through her facial expressions and flashes of anger, coupled with her calm, conversational tone, Dunst shows how warped Peggy is right now.

Loplop- Peggy about to stab Dodd again

I mean, she stabbed Dodd!  Twice!  With no kind of warning and she tried to still carry on this casual conversation while warning him to be civil.  Yes, Dodd is an ass and had it coming, but this woman is a psycho who just happens to make some presumably killer beans.  It’s the slightest change in Peggy’s facial expressions that show when a switch has been turned off in her mind.  She doesn’t even give stabbing Dodd so much as a thought- she just does it on impulse.

Loplop- Peggy needs a knife

She starts off by having an imaginary conversation, which is already enough of a sign to show that Peggy is acting and thinking like a sociopath.  The whole season has been about her gaining more confidence and being the best her that she can be.  It’s the whole reason Constance wants her to attend this Lifesprings seminar.  Well, Constance probably wanted a little something else from Peggy, but that’s neither here nor there.  But now, Peggy is at that point where she can be assertive and have some excitement in her life.

With each knife thrust into Dodd’s body, it’s like Peggy became more alive.  She’s actualizing, you know?  She’s thinking in the now, which means that she isn’t thinking long term right now.  Peggy is tired of her dull life and won’t have anyone disrespecting what she feels she deserves, but she doesn’t consider the consequences that would come with injuring Dodd, whether what that means for his life or her own and Ed’s.

And it’s that momentary distraction when she’s engrossed by the film that her guard drops after being so careful.  But even when Dodd gets the upper hand, Peggy still managed to regain the advantage when she stabbed him yet again.  Peggy is thinking outside the box, despite the fact that she and Ed are literally boxed in at this cabin.

They don’t have a lot of wiggle room because they’re not too careful about avoiding detection or drawing attention.  Both lack subtlety in their approach because, let’s face it, they’re not that clever.

Loplop- Ed returns to find that Peggy stabbed Dodd

Ed is trying to be a bit more careful.  With Dodd in possession, he’s taking steps to make sure he and Peggy are no longer targets, but his repeated appearances at the convenience store, Peggy making a phone call on the cabin phone, and even still using that vehicle draw attention to them.

Loplop- Ed realizes that Peggy stabbed Dodd

And by the way, I love the look that Ed gives Peggy when he returns and realizes that she stabbed Dodd.  As if Ed is slowly realizing that his wife is a loose cannon.

Side-note, I assume that when Ed fled from Hank and Lou, he went right back home to pick up Peggy.  If I had any confusion about the time frame, it’s how he managed to get home on foot both with Hanzee on his tail and still beat Hank and Lou in their cruiser.  He just seemed to get back there much faster than he probably should have, given the circumstances.

Loplop- Ed accepts the title of Butcher of Luverne

But back to the episode at hand, Ed may not be as into actualizing as Peggy, but he’s embracing the wilder side of things when he wear the title of the Butcher of Luverne with pride, as if he’d coined the term himself.  Ed has proven that, when in a desperate situation, he’ll fight to keep himself alive.

And while I think Peggy is a tad more assertive, Ed is willing to do dangerous things in a tight spot.  This, I feel, makes them both unpredictable because it feels like they come up with solutions on the fly.  Like an uncontrollable brushfire, you can’t predict what they’ll do next, so it makes me wonder whether this mentality will carry them through season’s end.

Loplop- Hanzee finds a coat in the basement

Hanzee is also a careful character and a damn good detective on top of that.  He doesn’t skip or miss key details that others would miss, such as the note on the refrigerator that led him to Constance.  He’s an outsider to the Gerhardt family and world around him, but he takes his job seriously despite never really having a sense of belonging.

Loplop- Hanzee pays for his drink, despite the insults

He endures insults and taunts not just against his own heritage, but also having his war service disgraced, as he’s only defined by his skin color.  Kind of like Malvo and even Anton Chigur, Hanzee can convey so much with little words.  Hell, his lack of words shows how much patience he has when men try to get under his skin and are met with bullets.  It just takes a push to move someone over the edge.  I wouldn’t go as far as calling Hanzee a psychopath because unlike Peggy, he remains in control of his situations and keeps himself in check.

Loplop- Hanzee is tired of this life

So when he finally kills Dodd and says that he’s tired of this life, he really meant it.  He’s tired of being a disrespected gun for hire.  Even though people like Bear respected him, Hanzee is now set to carve out his own path.

Loplop- Dodd believes that Satan is a woman

Dodd just never learned.  You’d think that after being tased, he would be more careful around people, especially someone like Peggy, but we’ve seen how he treats Simone, so not like his view of women would change.  Much of the dark humor came just from his interactions with Ed and Peggy.  It’s interesting that he chose to keep her alive after escaping, but perhaps he just wanted to screw with Ed.

Loplop- Dodd can't believe that Peggy just stabbed him

Jeffrey Donovan has been great in this role.  He plays up the asshole part very well.  Even when bound, Dodd still acts like he has the upper hand.  That said, I absolutely loved the look of shock on his face after Peggy stabbed him twice, as if his face just screamed ‘Did you just stab me?’

So “Loplop” was not a detour, but a way to fill in the gaps from “Did You Do This, No, You Did It!” and show us how Ed and Peggy ended up where they are with Dodd.  It put them right back in Hank and Lou’s crosshairs by episode’s end, but with Hanzee now back out there, the other Gerhardts still in play, and Mike Milligan headed to Sioux City to collect Dodd, not to mention just two episodes left, the pieces are slowly coming together as head towards the end of the season.

A Look at Gotham- Season 2, Episode 11: “Rise of the Villains: Worse Than a Crime”

What’s Worse Than a Crime? The writing quality of this episode?  Probably, but we’re at the halfway point of Gotham’s second season as we get some resolution to this Order of St. Dumas.  After seeing what they’re capable of, surely they should make a big impact with young Bruce Wayne, right?  Let’s jump right in.

Worse Than a Crime- Alfred flees from Tabitha

The episode begins at the dump.  Alfred stumbles through the trash yard- I’m guessing no one is bothered by a live man emerging from a garbage truck- and flees with Tabitha and some goons on his heels.

Worse Than a Crime- Lucius exits the cave

Lucius Fox emerges from the secret cave to report that he’s fixed the hard drive, but finds no sign of Bruce or Alfred.  Just a room in disarray.  Has Lucius been down there this entire time?

Worse Than a Crime- Theo talks with Bruce about his destiny

Bruce is brought into Theo’s penthouse.  He won’t sign over the papers, so Theo will have to acquire Wayne Enterprises by other means.  He introduces his true self as Dumas and speaks of his degraded family history at the hands of the Wayne family.  For centuries, they lived in squalid obscurity, but also hope because a patron saint spoke of a glorious day to come once nine men and the last son of Gotham were slain by righteous hands.  Such a son is Bruce.

Father Creel enters and anoints Bruce in the name of the Dark Knight, the Cowl, and the Holy Rusted Metal, Batman.  Tonight, at midnight, the sins of the Wayne family shall wash away in Bruce’s blood.

Back at the dump, Alfred takes refuge in what looks like an old freezer or refrigerator while Tabitha and her men walk by.  It’s at this point that a vehicle drops garbage all over Alfred’s hiding spot.  I guess that’s what you call comic relief.

Worse Than a Crime- Jim awakens to Ed and Oswald singing

After a nightmare about Barbara, Jim awakens to find Jim and Nygma singing a ballad.  Jim prepares to head out, but Penguin suggests that he sit.  They share a bond over their hatred of Theo Galavan.  If there was a time for a team-up, now is that time.

Worse Than a Crime- Theo and Tabitha talk with Silver about her role with Bruce

Over at Galavan’s, Tabitha returns with no sign of Alfred.  She’s not concerned.  After all, what can one butler do?  That’s not the point, Theo says.  They’re building an empire and Theo is not a fan of Tabitha’s childishness, but Tabitha isn’t fooled by this bravado.  Without all the wealth and power, what is Theo?  And then Silver enters with news that she’s fighting off a cold and needs to go to bed early, meaning she’ll miss the ceremony.

Theo wonders whether Silver is really cut out for the task ahead.  Silver maintains that Bruce is nothing to her, but she can’t see him die.  Theo says that she has compassion, and Silver shoots that down, but now there’s a chance to prove it through a test: make Bruce Wayne fall in love with her all over again.  Problem is he knows what she is now, but that’s what makes it a test.  If she’s cruel enough to smile at his killing, Theo will know that Silver is worthy of carrying the family name.

But Silver asks if there’s some other way, but there isn’t.  And there are other girls with the Dumas blood that can carry out this task.  Tabitha warns Silver that she can be thrown out if she fails, if Theo is kind enough to not kill her, so Theo advises her to be ruthless.

Worse Than a Crime- Silver meets Bruce in his holding cell

So Silver enters Bruce’s holding cell to tell him that she’s sorry for what’s happened and for deceiving him.  Even still, she believes Bruce is a good person and she would help if she could, but she can’t.  She just hoped that Bruce would want some company.  Bruce doesn’t, as he has no feelings whatsoever for Silver.  She feels different.  Right now, she’s just sorry.  And that’s when Bruce says that Silver can stay after all.  Has this girl learned nothing from the previous episode?

Worse Than a Crime- Alfred throws a guy from his car

Alfred’s hand emerges from beneath the trash.  He escapes the dump and tries to flag down a ride.  He ends up tossing a man from his car, but luckily, Gotham’s finest suddenly materialize, so he’s tased in no time.  Again, is Alfred just good for comic relief in this episode?

Worse Than a Crime- Leslie clashes with Barnes over Gordon

At GCPD, Leslie can’t believe that Barnes has put out an APB for Gordon for assaulting the mayor and escaped GCP custody with Penguin.  Though Galavan could have a mean streak, Barnes believes that he is innocent until proven guilty.  He asks Leslie how long Penguin has been working with Jim, but she says that he isn’t.  If she knows anything about his location, she can be fingered.  As an accomplice, mind you.  He asks whether Leslie knows Jim as well as she thinks she does.

Worse Than a Crime- Nygma tells Leslie to go to Grundy 805

Nygma tells Leslie to go to Grundy 805.

Worse Than a Crime- Leslie learns of Jim's plan

Leslie shows up at the intended location and finds Jim, who needs her to get out of town for some time.  He, Penguin, and many others will take out Theo Galavan.  Leslie wonders whether she got Jim all wrong and warns him to not do this.  She doesn’t care about what he’s done, but Jim can’t let Galavan away.  But then Leslie throws out the pregnancy card.  Why does she pick now to reveal this?  Other than the fact that Morena Baccarin actually is pregnant at this time?

Worse Than a Crime- Silver tries to get Bruce to talk

Back in the holding cell, Silver tries to get Bruce to talk about damn near anything, like top 10 lists or favorite animals.  Bruce’s favorite is an owl.  Oh, okay.  The two talk about dolphins and how they can apparently read your minds.  Their form of sonar can detect tumors, Bruce says, but not read minds.  Well, the one Silver met can read her mind.  That’s great, Silver.

Silver shares her favorite memory: her ninth birthday.  Bruce asks whether Silver’s parents are actually dead, but Silver maintains that she wasn’t lying about that.  That’s how show business works.

Bruce talks of the time went camping with his family in the woods, where they ate oranges.  Martha Wayne sang to herself as she worked on the fire- that was a good day.  Silver eventually says that she can’t let Bruce die.  She knows a back stairwell that isn’t watched.  As a Dumas, she has some pull around here.  She orders a guard to open the gate and hand over his gun, which she then uses to shoot the man in the leg.

Worse Than a Crime- Bruce and Silver run right into Theo

The two make their way down, but run straight into Theo.  The two are then put in a cell together.

Worse Than a Crime- Lucius tells Barnes about Alfred and Bruce Wayne's disappearance

At GCPD, Lucius Fox wonders whether Alfred and Bruce have been abducted, but missing persons can’t be reported until 24 hours have passed.  Even still, Barnes puts in a call out of respect for Wayne Enterprises.  The obvious suspect is Theo Galavan, but Fox has no proof that he abducted anyone.  It’s just obvious, but to get a warrant, GCPD need proof.  Barnes then gets a phone call.

Worse Than a Crime- Alfred's rude awakening

The three talk to Alfred, who was trespassing on Galavan’s property.  Barnes acknowledges that GCPD already jumped the gun once and doesn’t need to get wrung out again.  Maybe they can get a backdoor warrant tomorrow morning, and that’s the best they can do for now.

Worse Than a Crime- Nygma knows where Gordon is

Nygma overhears Alfred tell Lucius and Bullock that he needs some guns and a car.  Two men aren’t enough for this, but they need Jim Gordon.  Luckily, Nygma may have an answer, but first, a riddle: a diamond plate, a glowing grate, a place you never leave. Where am I?  Home.

Worse Than a Crime- Penguin bids Leslie farewell

That evening, Penguin and Jim bid farewell to Leslie when a car pulls up.  Alfred, Lucius, and Bullock exit.  Gordon learns that Galavan has Bruce.  Leslie wants Jim to promise something, but she doubles back and tells him to do what he thinks is best.  And with that, Morena Baccarin drives off, presumably to a better series, but that’s just wishful thinking on my part.

Worse Than a Crime- Bruce pities Silver

Back to Bruce and Silver, who admires how calm Bruce is.  He’s not afraid, weird as that sounds, but Silver still loves him.  She asks if Bruce loves her, and he flat out tells her no.  He knows that she’s playing with him, and he’s saying this because if he dies, she may feel bad about what happened.  Instead, Bruce pities her.  He asks what the point is of her doing this.

Uncle Theo made her.  He threatened to kick her out of the family if she fails.  She calls herself an evil, pathetic loser, but Bruce says that she’s just under the control of bad people.  He tells her that she can change.  There’s hope, but Silver disagrees.  She’s lost everything, including her family.

Worse Than a Crime- Gordon goes over the plan

Jim and company lock and load.  Penguin wants to kill Galavan, but Jim wants him to stand trial for what he’s done.  Remember Jim said that.  As there’s no way to get into the building, Selina Kyle offers to help.  For whatever reason and despite their last conversation, Jim trusts Selina.  No seriously, why?

Worse Than a Crime- Theo comes for Bruce

Silver tells Bruce to stop acting like he’s scared.  He just feels alive right now, happy even, as he’s going to see his parents.  Theo enters: it’s show time.  Before leaving, Bruce tells Silver that he both loves and forgives her- and then kisses her.

Worse Than a Crime- Selina takes out a lone guard

Selina figures a way in and takes out the one henchman that was dumb enough to not pay attention.  There’s always that one henchman.  She leads the others up, as there appear to be no henchmen posted at the stairs.

Worse Than a Crime- Father Creel prepares to kill Bruce

Bruce is set to be sacrificed as Theo hands the blade over to Father Creel.  He silences the followers and approaches young Wayne, telling him to prepare himself.  Bruce, in response, calls him a deluded old fool.  Before he can strike, Silver yells for this to stop.  And this distraction is enough to give Jim and his men an opportunity to enter and start a firefight.

Worse Than a Crime- Lucius tells Barnes about Jim Gordon's location

Lucius, meanwhile, gives Barnes the current location of Jim Gordon.

Worse Than a Crime- Theo, Tabitha, and Silver about to escape

The Order of St. Dumas don’t put up much, if any, of a fight, as they’re dispatched of with no trouble.  Bullock puts down Father Creel after finally ascending all of the stairs.  However, Theo, Tabitha, and Silver mange to escape to the penthouse.  There are only two parachutes, though.  He takes a moment to express his disappointment in Silver- all while keeping his back turned to Tabitha- who uses this opportunity to knock him out.  Okay, who else saw that coming?  And what happened to all of Theo’s fighting prowess we saw the previous week?

Worse Than a Crime- Theo tempts fate

Theo awakens to find Tabitha and Silver preparing to make their escape.  She pushes Silver out the window and then jumps out after her.  Then Jim enters and gives Theo the cuffs to cuff himself.  He does, but then thanks Jim for his principle.  However, Jim turns his gun on Theo when he bets that he’ll escape again.

Then Barnes enters with a warrant to search the premises.  He orders Jim to put his hands on his head, as he’s still a fugitive.  This can still be handle the right way.  Jim gets down, but tells Barnes that he’s making a mistake.

Worse Than a Crime- Penguin tries to convince Jim to kill Galavan

Penguin then enters and knocks out Barnes, as he’s still ready to kill Galavan.  Forget that he nearly killed the Leslie, think of the greater good.  Galavan has Gotham in his pocket.  Is Jim sure that he won’t do escape again?  Right now, Jim needs to think fast.

Downstairs, Bruce tells Selina and Alfred that he had a perfectly feasible escape.  Because of course.

Worse Than a Crime- Jim allows Penguin to beat Galavan

Jim and Penguin bring the still cuffed Theo to the docks and bring him to his knees.  Ready to get revenge for his mother, Penguin bashes Galavan over and over again until Jim intervenes.  And then Jim raises his gun and finishes him off.  So, essentially, Jim hasn’t learned anything?

Worse Than a Crime- Jim asks Leslie if she'll marry him

Sometime later, Jim meets up with Leslie to tell her that it’s all over.  Well, good.  Jim then asks Leslie if she’ll marry him.

Worse Than a Crime- Galavan with Penguin's umbrella in his mouth

Over at Indian Hill, Galavan’s body is brought into the morgue.  Looks like Penguin managed to make good use of his umbrella and Galavan’s mouth.  If it’s any consolation, Professor Strange has high hopes for Galavan.

Worse Than a Crime- Victor Fries

Oh, but how about a stinger?  A man runs through a dark alley and is soon cornered by Captain Cold.  I mean, Victor Fries.

You know, let’s start with this episode’s title: “Worse Than a Crime.”  You can take that in so many directions.  It could be a comment on this episode, this season, this very show’s existence, the writing- all of which could be correct, but I digress.  We’re at the halfway point of this “Rise of the Villains” season and with all of that buildup, from freeing the Maniax to the Order of St. Dumas, we’re left with an anticlimactic mid-season finale that feels underwhelming prepared to what came before this episode.

Worse Than a Crime- Theo speaks with Silver

Theo’s plan has been to turn Gotham to ashes before giving us permission to die, or something to that effect.  He let some of Arkham’s criminals loose, ran a successful campaign for mayor, and almost killed Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne.  I say almost because not only did he fail, but he didn’t seize the opportunities when he had the chance.  Once we first met Father Creel and learned of the Order of St. Dumas, we learned about Theo’s grander vision for the city, so this goes well beyond turning Gotham upside down.  He had a personal feud to settle with the Waynes.

His motivation is to clear his family’s name through the blood of Gotham’s son and with most of the city on his side, Galavan proved a challenge for Jim Gordon.  I’m making this sound more compelling than it is because while Gotham can have good ideas for what it wants to do with its characters, the problem with the show is in execution.

Worse Than a Crime- Jim shoots Theo Galavan

It wants to give us a complex Jim Gordon that struggles with his morality and whether to cross certain lines, so we get an even straighter arrow in the form of Captain Barnes, who knows all about crossing the line and that desire to cross it.  As Bruce Wayne would say later on in his life as a crime fighter, if he allowed himself that liberty, he would never be able to come back.

Gotham is neither that smart, nor clever, so instead of doing something interesting or complex with Jim’s philosophy on crime, it takes us down the same path we’ve been down before.  Jim Gordon has always struggled with doing the right thing versus what he feels is necessary.  The series began with him faking that he killed Penguin so he wouldn’t cross that line.  And this very season started off with him killing Ogden Barker.  That wasn’t on purpose, but it showed that, if put into that situation, Jim is more than capable of crossing that line and he’s not immune to the aftereffects of committing murder.

With Parks’ death, he again contemplated whether he made the right call by letting someone live, so by the time we end the episode here, his answer to his own question is no, as he shoots and kills Galavan in cold blood.  And he once again finds himself working alongside Penguin to prevent more chaos.  This will stick with him, but again, Gotham has been down this path already.  The stakes don’t suddenly become bigger because it’s Theo Galavan.

Worse Than a Crime- Jim orders Father Creel to drop his knife

In fact, Galavan’s plan seemed to fall apart all around him.  The Order of St. Dumas were about as useful as Stormtroopers, Tabitha turned on him, and all those fighting moves we saw showcased in the previous episode seemed to vanish with no explanation here.  Plus, his plan for Silver to try and fool Bruce was pointless when he just outfoxed her in the previous episode.  He’s a child, but he’s not that stupid.

The Order of St. Dumas feels like a waste because, for all of the buildup we got, they were no more dangerous than any other goons you’d find in Gotham City.  And this is where I’ll gripe about the plan of attack.  If Theo knows that Gordon will be after him, wouldn’t it be smart to have the Order better protected or armed?  They went down like nothing and even Selina was able to go toe-to-toe with them, no problem at all.  The shootout literally ended in seconds, so I’m left wondering why the Order of St. Dumas was built up as this big threat to the city.

Worse Than a Crime- Jim and Barnes have a standoff with Galavan in between

I can understand Penguin’s motivation to wanting Galavan dead to avenge his mother, but Gordon?  Wouldn’t he still want to try and prove that the law works, given what Barnes told him about the line?  Or does he hope that this one murder will make things right?  There’s no escaping this- he shot and killed the man, not left him alive to see justice.  Right now, Jim is listening to Penguin’s advice about justice for a greater good.  Given how Jim has seem some of Gotham’s worst, what makes this time any different?  Otherwise, what kept him from killing Parks?

Worse Than a Crime- Selina offers to help Jim

Also, why the hell would Jim listen to and trust Selina, and why would Selina even offer to help in the first place?  Didn’t she say that she’d never trust or talk to a cop again because of what happened to Bridgit?  You can say that this is out of concern for Bruce, but if that’s the case, why even enlist Tommy Flanagan to get information out of Silver St. Cloud when she could have just gone to Gordon or Bullock?  It just felt like a flimsy way to get Selina involved.

Worse Than a Crime- Lucius Fox just because

Same goes with Lucius Fox, who doesn’t do much outside of emerge from the cave right after Theo escapes with Bruce.  Was he there the entire time?

Worse Than a Crime- Alfred gets drenched

For a man who was put into the hospital because of one stab wound, Alfred looks to have made a quick recovery after being stabbed twice by Tabitha, tased, and being thrown into a holding cell with no medical attention.  Despite that, he made it through the battle just fine.  Maybe it’s his rush to save Master Bruce.

Worse Than a Crime- Silver and Tabitha prepare to escape

And again, Theo’s plan to have Silver trick Bruce was ridiculous, given how he’s already seen through her.  With Silver on the run with Tabitha, I’m curious how the two will factor into the second half of the season

Worse Than a Crime- Not Captain Cold

That also extends to Indian Hill, with Galavan’s body brought to the same facility where Bridgit rests.  And I’ll be damned if that wasn’t Fish Mooney’s body I saw in one of those tubes.  We got a mention of Dr. Hugo Strange and a quick look at Victor Fries.  Whether he’s been through his tragic backstory- if Gotham is smart, they’d adopt or pull elements from Heart of Ice from the Animated Series- is another thing.

Captain Cold

However, because of The Flash, I can’t help but think of Captain Cold when I see this show’s version of Mr. Freeze.

In the end, “Worse Than a Crime” is a so-so mid-season finale for Gotham’s second outing.  While the buildup to Theo’s plan had strong elements to it, the resolution was disappointing and the show once again goes through familiar themes and messages while dealing with Gordon’s morality.  I appreciate the serialized approach to this season, so I’m hoping that Gotham continues this into the next season, just with stronger writing, messages, and characterization.  Pretty much stronger everything.