Four episodes in, and Fargo is proving that it’s not only one of the best shows of 2014, but one of the best in recent memory. While it may be easy for a series like this to unravel or collapse under its own weight and ambition, it instead gets stronger every episode by deepening the show’s mythology, paying homage to the cinematic masterpiece that shares its name, and ultimately paving its own path that allows it to act as a companion piece and pseudo-sequel of the beloved Coen brothers classic.
This week, the seeds planted over the last few weeks begin to grow into something tangible. The story shifts focus and sheds some light on some of the darker corners of the narrative, all while viciously, humorously, and excitingly moving the plot forward. Now, with that said, “Eating the Blame” doesn’t quite stack up to last week’s excellent hour, and falls more in line with how I felt about “The Rooster Prince,” in that I like what it’s setting us up for, but am more anxious to get there than I am to see its genesis.
There are a lot of intertwining and co-dependent stories happening at any given time, and this week special attention was given not to our main contenders (Lester, Malvo, and Molly), but to some of the supporting players, most notably Milos Stavros, Gus Grimley, and Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers.
The episode actually opens in a flashback, to 1987. A young Stavros is travelling with his family, on the run from debt collectors and hoping to start a new life. While he seems hopeful, his wife looks and acts absolutely horrified by the seemingly endless fields of snow that surround them. She only gets more upset when it turns out that the car’s run out of gas (which Stavros used up their last five bucks on) in the middle of nowhere. Unable to flag down a semi truck, Stavros collapses on the road and begins to pray. It’s then that we’re treated to the greatest Easter egg and movie tie-in ever conceived on television: A red snow scraper sticking out of the snow near a fence just off the side of the highway.
For those unfamiliar or for those who may have forgotten, that’s a direct reference to the 1996 film. In it, Steve Buscemi’s character, Carl Showalter, buries a briefcase full of money in the snow, only to realize that he’ll have no way of finding it again. In an act of equal parts desperation and stupidity, he places the red scraper in the ground as a marker.
Well, as it turns out, Stavros is the one who comes across the cash, which not only helps him become the Supermarket King, but instills a strong belief that God is real, something that will come back to haunt him when Lorne Malvo begins sending him plagues.
Last week, the episode ended with the creepy and hilarious shot of Stavros’ shower turning to blood, courtesy of Malvo, who had taken over the blackmailing plot that began with the idiotic Don Chump. After the flashback scene we’re treated to Chump working as a repair man, investigating Stavros’ shower for signs of tampering. He lies and brings up the Bible, telling Stavros that the blood reminds him of Moses and “the big book.” Much to Stavros’ dismay, Chump tells him that he better “get right with the lord!” in order to avoid the deadly plagues (the second of which involves a host of Locusts in a grocery store. As someone who works in a grocery store full time, I’ve gotta say… that would be horrifying).
Meanwhile, Officer Grimly is driving around Duluth when he sees Malvo on the side of the road. He immediately recognizes him, pulls over and arrests him at gunpoint. Billy Bob Thornton and Colin Hanks are excellent in this scene, both playing their parts well. Thornton acts confused and bewildered as Malvo, while Hanks’ Grimly is scared out of his mind, but also shocked by how lucky the encounter is.