Fargo's Typewriter Salesman Learns The Hard Way Why You Don't Get Out Of The Shadows
Also, he has a name. It's Skip Sprang. You probably won't wear it out.
Until "The Myth Of Sisyphus," there was a lot about the owner of Fargo's Carriage Typewriters that we didn't know. We didn't know specifically what kind of trouble he'd gotten into that would require Rye Gerhardt to try to influence Judge Mundt, who was apparently presiding over his case. We didn't know how much he knew about Rye and the family he'd entangled himself in. I'm pretty sure we didn't actually know his name. Those were better days for good old Skip Sprang.
In his best days, Skip Sprang had a solid, possibly even well-respected business to run -- one that had served Fargo for well over thirty years.
It was also a business Skip may have been starting to sense would require a significant expansion of its customer base in order to remain viable on the cusp of the 1980s. He was going to need to contemporize the business by stocking up on the newest-model electric typewriters, and making them sexy to a vertical he'd never tried to sell to before. "They're not just for women anymore!" probably sounded like a great sales pitch Skip could direct at potential male customers. But he was never going to be able to make any of those dreams come true if he couldn't get his tax fraud troubles taken care of, and without the capital sufficient to settle his debts with the IRS, pay the contractors fixing up his store, and order his stock, something had to give, which is how, it seems, he came to approach Rye Gerhardt about talking to Judge Mundt on his behalf. And while Skip might be an ace typewriter retailer, as a judge of character he is not quite all he could be, since what he needed was a heavy who could stay calm with the judge and intimidate her verbally, but leave her alive to rule in his favour, and what he got was the insecure youngest son of a crime family who'd prepare for his conversation by snorting cocaine. (...Also, given the evidence, Skip probably stinks as a typewriter salesman, too.)
The first two episodes give Skip a pretty good idea that he's chosen the wrong champion in Rye, but it's not until "The Myth Of Sisyphus" that he really starts to appreciate how bad all his decisions have been. When he learns that Judge Mundt has been killed and that Rye is suspected, he knows it means he's only going to have to wait longer for his affairs to be settled, as he must start fresh with a new judge on his case. And when Lou Solverson and his brother officer Ben Schmidt follow Skip out to his car to watch him react to this news in a very Jerry Lundegaardian manner...
...Skip might be starting to get the sense that at least one of them is going to be hard to outsmart. (Back in Lou's hometown of Luverne, another person who crossed paths with the late Rye -- and who, in fact, made him "late" -- is learning that crime-solving runs in the family: Hank pops by the salon while Betsy's there getting her hair done, and her deduction that Rye's shoe in the tree suggests that he was struck on the road, and that "rather than looking for a man, [Hank] should be looking for a car" moves Peggy to collect Ed, drive out to an icy road in the middle of nowhere, and stage an accident to explain the Rye-shaped hole in her windshield.) Ben is right that the judge must have had defendants in dozens of case who had motive to want her dead, but, as the viewer knows, Lou is right that Skip is especially squirrelly and worth looking into. The rightness of Lou's instinct is only borne out when, after basically fleeing a tense visit to the Gerhardt compound, Ben drops Lou at Skip's store, and Lou gingerly makes his way through the door that has had its lock carefully removed and into what is possibly an active crime scene. Mike and the Kitchen brothers are already there looking for clues as to where Rye might have disappeared to and have no compunction drawing on a uniformed officer.
Meanwhile, Skip is also desperate to reconnect with his co-conspirator, though when he gets to Rye's apartment he probably wishes he had stayed away, as Rye's niece Simone and Gerhardt family henchman Hanzee bring Skip to meet with Simone's father Dodd. By now, after Lou and Ben's visit, Floyd and Dodd know Rye was involved in something he knew better than to tell the family about, and that if cops are looking for him it went badly wrong; with Kansas City's offer still on the table, Floyd can't afford surprises that make her operation look sloppy -- plus, you know, she probably wants to know where her son is and whether he's alive or dead. Skip having made himself known to the Gerhardts by showing up at Rye's, Dodd obviously has to question him about Rye's fate, since none of Rye's other last known associates have come forward. Skip plays dumb about Rye's identity for as long as he can remain alive with Dodd's hand choking the life out of him; then he confirms that he didn't tell the cops anything; and then Hanzee tells him to "get in the hole." Mentioning Milligan buys him a few extra seconds as Dodd recognizes the name and waits to hear what more Skip's going to say about him -- but when it's just empty promises about making a deal of some kind, Dodd correctly declares, "You don't know anything," and ends the conversation.
Goodbye, Skip. We hardly knew you, and it would have really been better for you if we'd known even less.