Fargo Episode 3 “A Muddy Road” Recap
This week’s episode of FX’s series Fargo starts to fill in a couple blanks for us. The episode starts out with a nervous man in an office, clearly waiting for someone to show up for him. Sure enough, Lorne Malvo storms in, grabs the man by his tie and very publicly drags him out of the office. They then make their way to the parking garage where Malvo cuts the man’s business suit off, which is not code for anything at all. He puts the man in the trunk of the car. This is we realize that it’s preceding moments that took place before the start of the first episode. This guy Malvo is dragging is the same man in the trunk and later runs off into the woods in only his boxers and socks, resulting in death.
The whole ordeal from the office is caught on a security cameras.
After we see what happens to the business man (Phil), we go back to the office after the fact where Deputy Molly Solverson is on the case, talking to Phil’s co-workers. They’ve all heard different things about why this happened to him, the most likely one being that Phil was a gambler that owed bad people some money. Molly takes notes and visits the security room to review the footage of Phil being dragged through the building. There’s not a lot for Molly to work with but she’s able to get a still frame of the kidnapper and prints it out for her files.
Aside from the flash forward to Phil’s demise, we haven’t seen much of Malvo yet. However, the next scene focuses on him as he gets to the bottom of Stavros Milos’ blackmail case. After being bullied by Milos’ muscle, it seems that Malvo has decided he doesn’t want to play nice anymore. The blackmailer has left some self-tanner residue on the blackmail letter. Thanks to that, it doesn’t take very long for Malvo to put two and two together and find out who’s behind this. Malvo pays Milos’ ex-wife’s personal trainer, Don, a visit where he confronts him about the letter. It’s clear that the man isn’t very smart, so Malvo uses that to his advantage and after “two questions and a comment” he informs Don that he will be taking over the blackmail.
Meanwhile, Gus Grimly has been suffering the good man’s guilty conscious after letting Malvo drive away in the first episode. He looks up the license plate from the car and discovers that it was a stolen vehicle from one of the victims in Bemidji. The car belongs to Lester Nygaard. This information prompts Gus to go above his supervising officer and go straight to the lieutenant to tell him what he’s learned. Gus’s punishment involves finding the man that was driving the car and informing Bemidji of his mistake.
Lester decides to head back to work after a few days at home with his wife’s voice playing over and over in his head. He sees her death and Chief Thurman’s death and needs to be away from the house. Upon coming back to the office, he’s asked to visit Sam Hess’ widow to talk to her about her insurance policy.
Cue the collective facepalm when Lester agrees to this task.
Lester heads over to the house where Sam’s children are outside shooting crossbow bolts into the “For Sale” sign in front of their house. When they see Lester, they pick up where their father left off with the bullying. When Lester gets to the door he’s met by Sam’s widow Gina. She looks less than thrilled to see him, that is, until Lester explains he’s from the insurance company. Gina tells Lester how she and Sam met — when she was working in Vegas as a stripper. She begrudgingly accounts that Sam lured in a naïve, 19-year old girl by promising to take her away from it all, throwing around a lot of cash. While she’s telling Lester all of this, she’s showing off just how she got Sam on the hook. Lester is flattered and flustered by Gina’s attention. It goes on like this for a bit until the Hess boys spot their mom hitting on Lester and one accidentally shoots the other in the butt cheek with an arrow.
Here’s where the show goes a little off-topic: Molly has a dinner date with an old high school friend. They catch up despite clearly having nothing much in common and cheerfully banter back and forth. Despite taking us out of what’s going on, it’s a fun and charming scene that paints a picture of a picturesque mid-western town filled with simple folk that mostly try to see the good parts of their world.
As Malvo has taken over the blackmail that Don initiated, the next scene shows just how capable Malvo is in getting his way. He swaps out Milos’ medication with high doses of Adderall and leaves another blackmail note beside Milos’ dead dog, upping the asking price for silence to $1 million.
After the other employees leave the insurance office, Lester then gets a visit from Sam Hess’ associates from Fargo. Adding in a deaf thug that threatens people in sign language very much seems like a quirky touch of black humour that you would indeed see in a Coen Brothers film. The men see Lester with Gina Hess and want to know if they murdered Sam to run away together with the insurance money. The conversation stops short by a knock at the door (that was conveniently locked by the thugs). Deputy Solverson comes by to talk to Lester about insurance. We know she’s not satisfied with Lester’s answers to her follow-up questions but she starts out innocently enough and just talks insurance until her folder with all her papers falls off the desk. To top of it all off, a photo of Malvo falls out as well. Lester freezes upon seeing the picture and from there he hurries Deputy Solverson out of the office to close up for the day.
This scene also reveals to us that Lester’s hand is getting very infected from a piece of shotgun shrapnel that lodged there during the shooting of Chief Thurman.
Stavros Milos asks Malvo over so that they can discuss the new blackmail amount and Milos’ dead dog. Milos is clearly hiding something, and it seems like that intrigues Malvo more than the money itself. Milos hints that no one could possibly know about what he’s hiding because, I suspect, he’s left no one alive to tell the tale. Malvo informs Milos that he’d like to move onto his property until the suspect is caught and Milos agrees.
Gus Grimly, unable to find Malvo in the perp books, begins to dread having to call Bemidji about his mistake without anything to help compensate for it. After speaking with his daughter, he decides to drive from Duluth to Bemidji to talk to someone about what happened in person. Meanwhile, Deputy Solverson is trying to convince the new Chief that Lester is involved in the killings, but to no avail. She is shut down again and leaves the office to file paperwork. When Grimly arrives, Solverson is nearby and hears why he’s driven down from Duluth to talk about and jumps at the opportunity to discuss the case with him. They agree that the man Grimly let go is the same man on the photo she obtained from the security footage earlier.
Gus, Molly, and Greta (Gus’ daughter) go out for burgers and milkshakes, prompting another scene that shows us the small-town charm that Bemidji is known for when townsfolk aren’t getting murdered.
The episode ends for Gus, Molly and Greta at the diner. For Lester, it ends with him and his brother outside letting off steam by shooting big guns. Stavros literally showers in blood, albeit not willingly and Malvo hides away empty containers that were once filled with said [pig] blood.
Another great addition to FX’s Fargo series. The deaths have seemingly come to a halt for a couple of episodes but I suspect that more of that is on the way if this is going to stay in true Coen Brothers fashion.