Fargo Review: “Buridan’s Ass” (Season 1, Episode 6)



One character far removed from the snowstorm threatening Bemidji and Duluth is Lester Nygaard, tucked away under armed guard at the hospital, recovering from a surgery that finally removed that god-awful shotgun pellet from his hand. Until now, Lester has been trying to fly under the radar, stuttering his way around Molly’s suspicions and attempting to bring some equilibrium back to his life after the fateful events that kicked off this whole mess.

This week, however, with nowhere left to turn, Lester begins to take matters into his own hands. His journey over the course of the show has been incredibly interesting. At the start, it appeared that he was being set up as the anti-hero, or at least, a misunderstood man who simply made the wrong choices. This week, something changed in him, as his survival instincts and determination for self-preservation resulted in an attempt to frame his own brother for the murder of his wife, by temporarily escaping the hospital (in a truly inspired and hilarious fashion), and planting damning evidence in his Chas’ garage.

There’s a lingering shot, once Lester has planted the evidence, where he’s faced with the choice of turning back. He catches a glimpse of a photo, portraying the smiling faces of his brother’s happy family. For a second, I thought Lester might turn around, remove the evidence, and disappear into the storm. But he chooses a different path. He turns around alright, and opens the gun locker back up, but only does so in order to plant an empty revolver in his nephew’s backpack.

In the end, Lester is seen back in his hospital bed as a smile slowly creeps across his face. He has officially gone from being the Walter White of the story to its Heisenberg. Does that mean it’s too late for redemption?

Malvo, on the other hand, is continuing his path of destruction. While he’s shown a bit of a lovable side other the past few weeks, hilariously duping the Duluth PD into thinking he’s nothing more than an innocent and ignorant pastor, he plants his feet firmly on the other side of the line this week. He has gone from being a quirky, dangerous drifter to an all-out mad man (as exemplified in the scenes with poor Don Chumph).

A few weeks ago, Chumph made the ill-advised choice to blackmail Stavros and gain the attention of Malvo. Malvo was hired to investigate before taking the blackmailing scheme into his own hands. Chumph, at this point in the game, was nothing more than a loose end, which got tied up, or rather, duct taped up, in the show’s darkest and hardest to watch sequence.

The filming of the scene where the cops raid Chumph’s house was absolutely stunning. The lighting, pacing, and tension was nearly unbearable, only made worse by Glenn Howerton’s impressive acting ability, portraying Chumph’s desperation to break free with such finesse that I actually felt bad for him. All he wanted was to buy a Turkish bath, for God’s sake.

While some shows may have used Chumph as some one-off joke, Fargo managed to make a completely unlikable moron into a fully realized human being, if only in his final gripping moments.

The way his predicament plays out on screen is gut wrenching, each piece of the puzzle laid at our feet long before things actually get put into motion. This effect would continue with the show’s big storm sequence, with even deadlier results.

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