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'Fargo' recap: Of cattle prods and men

For The Baltimore Sun
"Fargo" amps up the violence -- and Karl Weathers' awesomeness.

Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

We have passed the halfway mark of Season 2 of "Fargo" and the crap has officially hit the fan.

Episode 6, titled “Rhinoceros,” is when the powder keg finally explodes. All truths are exposed, all grudges are set and all that remains is glorious violence.

We begin the episode with Lou, who, as it turns out, is the greatest tactician since Sun Tzu, arresting poor Eddie. Lou explains to Ed that he has no legs to stand on, and Ed demands a lawyer.

Enter the highlight of the episode, Nick Offerman’s idealistic character, Karl Weathers, attorney at law.

“You hear that Sonny? There is a crisis at the highest level so who do they call? The best lawyer in town,” Weathers, the only lawyer in town, announces, quite inebriated.

Meanwhile, Peggy is trying her hardest to sound like the guiltiest crazy person alive.

“Me and Ed, we are just bystanders. Not even. Disconnected. Him with the shop and me just trying to actualize, fully,” Peggy nervously spouts to Hank.

Eventually, it is implied she straight up announces what happened to Hank Larsson.

However, there is brief redemption for Peggy when she puts a cattle prod to Dodd’s chest repeatedly and for an extended period of time.

Speaking of Dodd, the Gerhardts are gearing up for the all out assault on Ed the Butcher. Bear learns that Dodd sent his crippled son, Charlie, to kill Ed and proceeds to pound on Dodd. Side note: I’m real happy with the treatment of Dodd in this episode.

Luckily, Floyd once again steps in exactly when she is needed to set the Gerhardt boys straight.

“You’ll kill us all if you split this family apart,” Floyd wisely says.

Any hope of any Gerhardt staying alive rests in Floyd’s ability to lead and Dodd’s quick, but painful, death.

Dodd, Hanzee and company go to the Blomquist house to find Ed while Bear and crew head to the police station to pick up Charlie.

Hanzee continues to prove himself as the god of the hunt as he quickly breaks into the Blomquist house, checks the rooms and knocks Hank Larsson unconscious upon leaving. Hanzee goes to check the police station for Ed while Dodd and his goons check the house, where Dodd gets his cattle prodded.

Over at the police station Karl is still drunk and delightful. He confuses Ed with a hilarious series of nonsensical demands before vowing to wake the judge and release Ed immediately.

Upon leaving the station, much to his horror, Karl finds Bear, his thugs and their guns staring him down.

“The jackboots are upon us,” Karl announces.

Lou springs into action, because, if you were not already aware, he is history’s most renowned tactician.  My favorite moment is when he tells his clueless fellow officer to smash light bulbs and lay the glass on the ground, as to hear possible intruders.

It just goes to show that, along with all his other good traits, Lou has the ingenuity of Kevin McAllister from "Home Alone."

Fortunately for all parties, Karl adopts Charlie as his client. With Charlie’s criminal record hanging in the balance, Karl convinces Bear to leave without harming anyone. It is a surprisingly happy ending for the show, but it is refreshing after the grim previous episode.

Ed and Lou escape out of a window and through a forest. Naturally, Hanzee knows exactly what they are doing because he is, as I said, the god of hunting.

Ed runs away from Lou when Hank happens upon them. Lou and Hank know he is going to his house, so they don’t bother chasing him. And Hanzee, not far behind, takes off in Ed’s direction.

Finally, we come to the Jabberwock, Mike Milligan. Simone Gerhardt tells Mike that the family is going to Luverne, and Mike promises Simone that he will kill Dodd, her father.

Mike recites the poem “Jabberwocky” to the sole Kitchen brother. The poem, filled with nonsensical words, is the tale of a terrifying dragon, the Jabberwock, and how it is killed.

Instead of going into Luverne, Mike attacks the unfortified Gerhardt house. He brilliantly cuts the head off of the Jabberwock, just like the hero of the poem. Mike’s goons shoot up the household with Floyd and Simone still inside, but their fate is unclear.

This episode shifted a lot of pieces and featured a lot of violence. For many characters, it is unclear where they are or even if they are still alive. Dodd took enough electricity straight to the chest to power a city, but he is probably still kicking.

Simone and Floyd were shot at, but they might still be alive. Hanzee is chasing Ed, so it is pretty safe to assume Ed is a goner. The fate of the Gerhardt clan itself is unclear following the attack.

In today’s television landscape that relies so heavily on shock value, it is always best to assume any character is alive until his or her corpse is shown on camera. That is why I will not rush to any assumptions, except, if I know Hanzee, I am pretty sure Ed is already dead.

Highlights

The sympathy moment: “You say it like these things happen in a vacuum, like it’s a test. A or B.”

Peggy’s surprisingly cogent explanation of why she drove all the way home with Rye in her windshield brings some sympathy to an otherwise frustrating character. Using Rye as a sick method of escaping her suffocating life in Luverne is slightly understandable. As she said it was like a choice made in a dream.

The literary reference: I already talked about the "Jabberwocky" speech. But its meaning stretches beyond Mike’s wry deviousness. The whole show seems to revolve around the futility of life.

The poem features nonsense words that permeate a typical story of a hero killing a dragon. The show itself is a tale of black, in the crime syndicates, versus white, in Lou, hallowed be thy name, and Hank, permeated by constant reminders of how pointless and strange the world is, shown mostly through Ed and Peggy.

The end credits song: The funky cover of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” is a great nod to the Coen brothers’ film "O Brother, Where Art Thou," with an appropriate spin.

The quote of the night: Every single thing Karl Weathers said. I assumed Karl, and his buddy Sonny, were the Rosencrantz and Guildenstern of this tale, but Karl reveals his worth in tonight’s episode. A fighter for the common man is forced into an uncomfortable situation by defending a criminal while looking down the barrel of a gun, all the while piss drunk.

If that is not a recipe for brilliant quotes I don’t know what is. If I were to pick one though:

“But now I must bid you all adieu, admonish you to watch your proverbial butts, for I shall be back with the sledgehammer of justice.”

Worst one liner ever: If Mike Mulligan actually says, “Kiss my grits,” before killing Dodd everything I will have said about him will be wrong. C’mon Simone, show a little originality.

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