On the Duluth end of the investigation, Grimly is still trying to figure out Malvo’s game. He asks his daughter Greta for help in looking up this so-called “pastor Frank Peterson” on the Internet. She gets a few hits, including one site that shows a picture of Malvo-as-Peterson. He asks her to look up Lorne Malvo. Nothing.
Grimly is trying to piece together the facts: Why did Malvo stay in Duluth? And why was he on that street – Milos’ street – on foot?
Meanwhile, Malvo pays another visit to that well-organized drug dealer, who has an even more high-tech setup when he opens his van’s side door. The interior shot this time includes videos of wolves in the snow. (Predators, we get it.)
Malvo is looking for a police scanner. The guy’s got a special on remote control helicopters, but you know, you can’t monitor police activity on those. Malvo declines the pink model and sticks with black. He also wants a walkie-talkie, but they come in pairs so you can chat with friends, he is informed. Malvo says he doesn’t have any friends, but maybe he’ll give the spare to the dealer: “I’ll call you up late at night. You can listen to me s--t on people,” he says. That doesn’t go over well, but point taken.
Malvo is continuing his blackmailing plan. He arrives at Don’s; he wants to make a phone call. Don, unsurprisingly, is confused. “Are you supposed to be here?”
Malvo walks in and heads to the kitchen to use the phone. He opens his briefcase and plugs his recorder into the phone. Malvo calls Milos, which Don finds highly exciting.
On the other end of the line, Milos is pale and sweaty and staring off into space. “Let me talk to him,” Malvo says in his own voice. He’s back to playing Milos’ confidante.
Milos is feeling abandoned by Malvo. Malvo says he was hunting; does Milos need help with that bug situation? But Malvo is too late: Milos says he’s going to pay the blackmailers. “I broke a promise. So I gotta pay,” he says.
Milos can’t even sleep anymore. He’s been thinking. God brought 10 plagues upon the house of Pharaoh: “blood and locusts, flies and boils, and the last is the death of the firstborn son.”
“What exactly do you think is happening?” Malvo wants to know. He is an expert at dissecting and breaking people.
“The firstborn son!” Milos repeats. “The book of Exodus. God is watching and he knows.” Milos is making sure his son is taken to a safe place. He asks Malvo if he thinks he’s crazy.
“We’re only as good as the promises we keep,” Malvo says. He may not know what exactly Milos is hiding, but he has his weaknesses figured out.
Milos instructs Malvo to pick him up in an hour. “We’ll get the money,” he says. But the money should be the least of his worries when dealing with a guy like Malvo.
Don can’t believe Milos is going to pay 1. Million. Dollars. Malvo isnt’ celebrating quite as much as Don. He wants to know if Don has a closet that locks. Don suggests the pantry, which Malvo inspects. Don is wondering what a million dollars looks like. Can he lay in it? That part in the movies is his favorite, he says. Malvo wants a drill. He needs screws.
Don continues dreaming about granite tile and French lotions that smell like sunflowers. Malvo instructs him to step into the pantry. Oh Don, you are so dumb.
He walks into the pantry, still blathering on and on about how he’s going to spend the money and wondering what Malvo’s going to do with his share when Malvo locks him in. He drills screws in to fully secure it. But what if Don has to go to the bathroom?
“You’re a smart guy, you’ll figure it out,” Malvo says.
“Poop,” Don responds.
Back in Bemidji, someone’s having eerie, awful flashes back to Pearl’s murder. It must be Lester, right? Yes, he’s delirious in the holding cell… he’s mumbling… “You bought me the tie!” Molly and Bill wonder what the hell is wrong with him.
Well, it turns out he’s in septic shock. Lester’s in an ambulance, accompanied by Molly. She wonders if it’s a cut; the EMT thinks it might be a puncture, but it’s hard to tell “with all the gore.”
“Towel sounds, she’s washing towels… socks… for $55 he threw in the shotgun,” Lester says, fading in and out.
“Mr. Nygaard: Did you pay Lorne Malvo to kill Sam Hess?” Molly asks. He’s delirious, but maybe in this moment he will finally tell the truth.
For a moment, Lester looks aware. “I never paid him.”
Molly tries her theories: Offered to pay? Made a deal, but it went south?
Lester insists he never paid. “I didn’t pay,” he repeats, which isn’t dissuading Molly’s theory that some sort of arrangement had been made, but fell through… even though she’s wrong. Before she gets a better answer, they arrive at the hospital and Lester is wheeled in.
Meanwhile, a man walks out of a black sedan and over to the old boat of a car Number and Wrench are driving. He knocks on the window; Wrench rolls it down and receives an envelope. We don’t see the man’s face… but he’s wearing a badge. Bemidji's finest, eh?
Cut to Grimly, who's unable to sleep. He looks up and sees his neighbor across the way in the same situation. Grimly's got a troubled mind. His neighbor's got two kids and a wife "who thinks out loud." The neighbor says he's coming over.
He's one of those deep-thinking, prophetic Coen characters – the opposite of Grimly, there to act as a guide. The neighbor says he can't complain about the cold, his holey socks, the kids needing braces. And apparently that is enough for Grimly to spill his guts. He knows a guy is guilty of a crime. He has everyone else fooled, but Grimly knows he did it.
So find the proof, the neighbor says matter-of-factly.
I’m no detective, Grimly says, brushing off the notion. Molly is amazing, he adds, which seems like confirmation that she's been on his mind more than for her fact-finding. "And then there's Greta," he says, giving excuse after excuse. "Am I supposed to put myself in danger or just let it go?"
The man launches into a parable, which makes Grimly nervous, 'cause he’s bad at this stuff. Again, it's very Coen-esque, as we see the man in a dream-like reenactment of the tale:
"A rich man opens the paper one day; he sees the world is full of misery. He says, 'I have money. I can help.' So he gives away all of his money. But it’s not enough. The people are still suffering. One day the man sees another article. 'Dozens die daily due to lack of donor organs for transplants.'
"He decides he was foolish to think just giving money was enough. So he goes to the doctor and says, 'Doctor, I want to donate a kidney.' The doctors do the surgery; it’s a complete success. After, he knows he should feel good but he doesn’t, for people are still suffering.
"So he goes back to the doctor, he says, 'Doctor: This time I want to give it all.' The doctor says, 'What does that mean, give it all?' He says, 'This time I want to donate my liver. But not just my heart. I want to donate my corneas, but not just my corneas. I want to give it all away. Everything I am, all that I have.' The doctor says, 'A kidney is one thing but you can’t give away your whole body piece by piece; that’s suicide.' And he sends the man home. But the man cannot live knowing that the people are suffering and he can help. So he gives the one thing he has left. His life."
The man, sitting in a bathtub, had written "organ donor" on the tiles before cutting himself, blood splattering across the wall. Cut to a headstone: 'Here lies Jeremy Hoffstead who gave everything."
"And does it work? Does it stop the suffering?" Grimly asks. He really needs to be walked through this one.
"You live in the world, what do you think?"
"So he killed himself for nothing?"
"You’re saying… What are you saying?"
"Only a fool thinks he can solve the world’s problems," the man says.
"Yeah, but you gotta try, don’t ya?" Grimly responds.
Grimly still can’t sleep after his pep talk. He’s in his bed, still suffering. "Nope," he says, gets in his car, and drives.