Chris Large / FX

Who's Most To Blame For Fargo's 'Massacre At Sioux Falls'?

And other not-quite-burning questions about the season's penultimate episode.

...Did you hear Martin Freeman?

The episode opens with dry British narration of the "Massacre At Sioux Falls" chapter of The History Of True Crime In The Mid West, mostly telling us things we already know. (Exception: Ed and Peggy are twenty-nine?! That's really old enough to have made smarter decisions than...basically all the decisions they've made thus far.) Did you clock that this narrator's voice belongs to Season 1's Lester Nygaard, Martin Freeman?! It's kind of hilarious how, in this context, Freeman's real accent sounds totally fake to me.

How can Lou be so incurious about what's happening at home?

"Focus pulled by surprise crime scene" is a pretty good excuse for Lou to call home to his dying wife and, receiving no answer, hang up and get back to being a cop. And I realize this is all taking place in the era when sometimes you could try to reach someone by phone, totally not reach her, have no way of letting her know you attempted to reach her until you saw her or tried again a few hours or days later -- and, most of the time, not reaching her was no indicator of trouble. But Lou has been very attentive about Betsy all season. I know Noreen is there to help look after Molly and that -- legally, at least -- Noreen is an adult. (Which may be why that detail was revealed a couple of episodes ago?) But it seems odd that the guy who, not that long ago, sent a couple of friends over to stay with Betsy would get no answer on the home phone and shrug it off. Lou's eventually going to be coming home to bad news about Betsy; even if she "only" passed out, she's still not doing well. I just hope for his sake and his long-term mental health that she firmly refused Karl's continuing help at the house, and not that Lou told him he could stand down.

Chris Large / FX

Chris Large / FX

When did Hanzee decide to betray the Gerhardts?

Our British narrator tells us that historians still don't know exactly when Hanzee decided he was going to lead the Gerhardts into a firefight with cops from multiple jurisdictions, but offers several possibilities: when he saw a plaque, outside the bar he shot up, bragging of the Sioux who were hanged there in the 19th century; when Bear suggested that Hanzee wasn't being honest about the supposed Butcher Of Luverne; when he was conscripted into the Gerhardt family by Otto in the first place. The montage also features the moment I personally think was Hanzee's turning point: when he returned from the Blumquist house with Rye's belt buckle, which he'd found in the fireplace, and Dodd came up with his Butcher Of Luverne story on the spot.

We don't know that much about the power dynamics within the Gerhardt family, but we do know that, as the eldest son, Dodd enjoyed special privileges and considerations. It doesn't seem likely that Hanzee would have felt comfortable contradicting Dodd's story in front of Floyd; I also wonder whether this was the moment he decided that he couldn't be part of an organization headed by someone as credulous and/or blinded by maternal loyalty as Floyd.

Furthermore, based on what we've seen, I think it's possible Hanzee's been tracking Ed and Peggy to keep Dodd from doing them harm. When he ended up in the cabin with the three of them, he almost immediately killed Dodd, and invited Peggy to cut his hair. Even in this episode, Hanzee advances on the room where Peggy and Ed are staying, but she throws boiling water in his face before we can find out what his attentions may have been. Maybe he was coming to retrieve them from the motel before Mike and Gale showed up. The narrator suggests that Hanzee came after Peggy and Ed because he'd made himself vulnerable with them. But this story still isn't over, and I'm not sure the narrator actually knows as much as he thinks.

Did Hanzee intend to spare Floyd?

When Hanzee calls in with the false story about Dodd being held, alive, by Kansas City, he tries to tell Floyd to send Bear and some henchmen and stay home herself; he's missed a lot at the compound and doesn't realize she's not trying to hear any plan in which she isn't directly involved. When she gets there and the shootout begins, she understands that he's misled the family into this battle (though I guess she does die not knowing that Dodd was the one who misled them into the war), and he stabs her to death. But was his intention to destroy all the Gerhardts absolutely? Or had he imagined there could be a version of this story that ended with him and Floyd rebuilding once all of the shifty Gerhardt boys were out of the picture?

Who's most to blame for the Massacre At Sioux Falls?

Hanzee's deception aside, the main idiot responsible for the sheer number of bodies left in and around the motel is South Dakota Police Captain Cheney (which...like, yes, as I said above, the story of this season is about starting a war on false pretenses; naming a key character Cheney feels like A BIT MUCH). This guy's a dumb blowhard more interested in being a hero by his own dubious standards than he is about (a) protecting Ed against a dangerous figure from the world of organized crime, or (b) listening to advice from other law-enforcement officials who've been involved in this case a lot longer than he has himself.

Chris Large / FX

Chris Large / FX

Given how dumb Cheney is about moving all the officers in the hotel, moving their marked cars away from the area (but probably not so far that they can't walk to them, these not seeming like they're particularly industrious guys and one lady), and having them all go undercover in identical t-shirts and jeans, he's probably lucky that only one guy is there watching three states' cops array themselves for his assault. He's just also...unlucky that one guy is the uncommonly capable Hanzee.

WHAT'S WITH THE FUCKING FLYING SAUCER?!

The UFO theme has been running through this season since Rye got mesmerized by that craft in the season premiere; since then, we've had War Of The Worlds radio play narration, Hank's secret study of alien research, and multiple signs and totems around the Rushmore grocery.

FX

FX

In the season premiere, I wasn't sure whether the spacecraft Rye seemed to be seeing was actually there.

FX

FX

ABOUT THIS ONE, THERE CAN BE NO DOUBT. Lou, Bear, Hanzee, Ed, and Peggy all see it (even if the last of these is kind of unimpressed). So now this is the kind of show where extraterrestrials can insert themselves into the action? Where visitors from other worlds are a fact of life? We already know the world of the show is one in which Ronald Reagan made several movies that don't actually exist in our reality (but where, presumably, there is also no such Oscar-nominated movie as Fargo): are we to extrapolate that the world of the show is not merely fictional but is a parallel universe where magic is real and anything can happen?! This show gives itself a lot of dramatic and formal leeway, and mostly I admire its ambition. But this feels like an awfully late date for it to decide to start evolving from a realistic crime drama into Fringe, and I really hope next week's finale writes its way back into the world we've gotten to know and love.

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