In this episode of Fargo, “Before the Law,” the Gerhardts make alliances and keep the business going despite a family tragedy, and the crime syndicate from Kansas City makes themselves known up north. Meanwhile, the Blomquists’ cover up their crime, and Lou Solverson continues investigating the Waffle Hut murders, with a little help from his father-in-law.
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As it turns out, Papa Gerhardt didn’t die in the previous episode of Fargo. But he did suffer a massive stroke that left him unable to lead his family and crime operation, so the tasks fall to his wife, Floyd.
But his son, Dodd, isn’t so keen on his mama taking the reins. He believes that, as the oldest, the job should fall to him. After Floyd explains at a family meeting that the Kansas City Syndicate (that’s what I’ll be calling them anyway) is looking to buy them out, leaving the Gerhardts to run the day-to-day operations but reporting to the other group, everyone has an opinion. Except Rye, since no one knows where he is anyway.
Floyd tells Dodd that she needs to navigate them all through their time of crisis, and afterwards she promises to allow him the top dog spot. He doesn’t seem so sure about this, however, and makes moves behind the scenes to secure his leadership. He instructs someone — a lackey or relative or someone — to find Rye so they can get him in his corner. Little does he know that’s not going to happen, that it is, in fact, impossible for that to happen.
Rye, on the other hand, is actually dead and staying that way, it seems. Peggy and Ed decide they have to keep up appearances, so she goes to work the day after Rye is murdered in their garage and Ed stays home to clean up evidence of the attack. Peggy covers for Ed at work and makes small talk at the salon she works at — so far, so good.
Ed cleans up the car and garage, and later burns his clothes in their fireplace for good measure. And later, he brings Rye’s body to the butcher shop where he works while Peggy gets a ride home with her flirty salon boss.
That’s right, Fargo is going there. Ed decides to completely get rid of the body by grinding it up in the butcher shop, and I have to say, even as someone who watched Hannibal through to the last episode, this is pretty unsettling to watch.
Ed has a close call when Officer Lou Solverson comes to the butcher shop late for some bacon to surprise his wife with in the morning, but he manages to get the officer in and out of the meat shop without exposing the fact that he’s grinding up a human body in the back room. Lucky guy.
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Hank on the Case
Elsewhere, the Kansas City Syndicate is running around, confident that when it comes to the Gerhardts, they can either scare Floyd, who I think they are severely underestimating, or cut a deal with one of her sons for the Gerhardt empire. They return to the typewriter store from the previous episode, threaten the owner by shoving his tie into one of the machines and typing on it while he slowly chokes, and manage to get information on the whereabouts of Rye Gerhardt from him. All in a day’s work for an organized crime outfit.
They learn that Rye was going to speak with Judge Mundt and head out to follow his trail. They end up driving past the Waffle Hut when Lou is there following a hunch, and he calls in the car for Hank to track down and investigate.
When Hank does find them, the group includes Mike Milligan and a pair of brothers, both named Kitchen, apparently, if the IDs they show Hank are to be believed. At first, they seem shifty and are reluctant to cooperate, but he asks them to leave the vehicle for questioning and they comply.
When Hank starts asking questions, Mike not-so-subtly throws in a reference to the group looking for waffles, only to find the shuttered Waffle Hut crime scene. Some vague threats are bantered about, etc. etc., but eventually Hank has to let them go. But I think we all know they’ll be back.
Another Piece of the Puzzle
Speaking of Lou’s hunch, he follows up on it while out on a lunchtime drive with Besty and Molly. And while he investigates the crime scene, the mother and daughter pair play in the snow and work together to build a snowman. However, when little Molly goes looking for sticks for the arms, she finds a bit of trash in the ditch, and in the same area, Betsy finds a gun. Just a guess, but I’m thinking that’s not supposed to be there.
Lou is surveying the bloodied dining area of the restaurant when the discovery is made, but he quickly runs over to inspect the weapon when he’s made aware of it. He later tells Hank about it, and they have a heart-to-heart about instinct and life lessons but don’t figure out much else about the case itself. Which is fine; there are plenty of episodes left this season anyway.
Most of this episode seems to be setting the stage for events later in the season, from the growing influence of the Kansas City Syndicate to the Blomquists covering up their crime to fleshing out characters like Peggy’s flirty boss and Betsy with her penchant for police work her husband is trying to do. Two episodes in and there’s already plenty of people dead, and it makes you wonder what other surprises we can expect from this season of Fargo.
Fargo airs Mondays at 10pm on FX.
(Image courtesy of FX)