Raise your hand if you didn’t see that one coming, Fargo fans.
A flash-forward, huh? With most of our major players now living relatively comfortable lives? Knowing two episodes remain just ups the ante on the one-year-later game – we know these characters’ lives will collide once again, but how?
For such an explosive reveal, this was probably the season’s quietest episode. There were no especially violent confrontations, but lots of conversation about change and meditations on how different people all attempt to move on from the same life-changing event. Let’s look at the main characters and the transformations they made from the start of episode 8, "The Heap," to its closing credits.
With updates on Grimly, Greta, Ida, and FBI agents Pepper and Budge
We’ll start with Molly, because her flash-forward was the most surprising – and arguably the most satisfying.
Molly circa 2006 is feeling desperate to solve the case. She’s back to work after the shooting incident and about to make her case to Bill: He’s got the wrong suspect in the double-homicide at the Nygaard house. It’s not Chazz, and she has an impressive graph connecting the real culprits to prove it.
She stops by her dad’s restaurant for a quick pep talk – now that she’s not an invalid minus a spleen in a hospital bed, their conversation comes easy once again. Grimly sent more flowers in his continued apology for shooting Molly. Her dad’s not sure confronting the chief directly is the best idea, but she doesn’t buy it and heads to the station.
Bill is almost too busy to see her – he’s digesting an omelet, after all – but agrees to hear her out, reluctantly. “Thought I had another day,” he says, exasperated by her tenacity. He would have been much happier staying behind his desk.
In the staff room, Molly presents – or tries to present – her chart connecting all of the suspects in the murders. “Nice collage; you take up basket-weaving too in your downtime?” Bill asks. Her investigative work never ceases to upset him, though he does try to apologize for his misguided idea that the Nygaard crimes were the work of a drifter. “But, you know, some good police work and we caught the guy, so…” he says, and begins to walk out.
Molly uses this as her opportunity: “That’s the problem, actually,” she says, stopping him. “You’re still,” she stutters, “wrong -- no disrespect,” she quickly adds, then launches into her reasoning. It makes no sense that the brother did it. With all the things they know to be true – or she knows to be true – how does that add up? What about Lester making that call to Malvo at the motel?
Once again, Bill becomes livid at her logic. He actually yells at her, saying she’s gotta “let it go.”
“We did our job,” he says. “The brother Nygaard killed the wife and he cornered and shot the chief. And Lester was covering for him on account of the brother thing, which explains… we had drinks to celebrate,” he adds exasperated. He can't even remember how the supposed logic in his theory is supposed to add up -- maybe because he dreamed up most of it?
“What about the Hess case?” Molly asks. “Still open, yeah?”
“Yeah. No,” Bill corrects himself. “We’re checking to see if the hooker had a boyfriend, jealous type.” Bill watches too many movies. He’s making up facts to solve his cases with neat little Hollywood storylines. Terry’s covering the case, Bill says, which pisses off Molly because even Bill admits “he’s not the brightest bulb.”
Molly wants the case. Bill once again scolds her for having the gall to even ask. He refuses to give her the case because he doesn’t want to deal with her and the evidence she digs up that contradicts whatever he’s imagining to be true.
Molly can’t hold it in anymore: She’s shouting as she connects Lester and Malvo and the Hess killing, laying it all out for him. Bill, unbelievably, chalks up that evidence to “life.” Sometimes, you just go to bed unsatisfied, he reasons. He compares her disappointment to someone matching a few lottery numbers but not actually winning. “It’s just not meant to be,” he says.
Molly’s lip quivers. She’s angry and frustrated more than anything. But, you know, they’re all glad to have her back, Bill says. The guys are even going to have cake for her later, one with an assault rifle made of frosting.
The direct approach, obviously, did not work.
To add insult to injury, the welcome back celebration is held at Lou’s Coffee Shop. But Molly, ever the trooper, has a knack for dusting off her knees and getting back up, undeterred. She’s more comfortable hanging with Ida than the borderline incompetent officers she works with. Ida’s heard Molly has a suitor. “He’s up in Duluth, my gentleman,” Molly says. “Has a daughter. I call him Sergio. He’s a pirate, I think.” Ida gets the joke. She seems to be one of the few people who gets Molly in general.
Bill walks over and hands them cake, pointing out the parts of the frosting gun on each of their slices. He insensitively comments on how nice it is to have everyone together again. It’s like one big happy… Ida cringes. Molly gives him a look – of course they’re not all there. This celebration is an indirect result of the chief’s murder, and when Bill realizes his mistake, he wisely walks away.
Ida thanks Molly for catching Vern’s killer; Bill made the arrest, but she knows who did the work. But Molly is reluctant to take any credit. She comes close to admitting she thinks Bill has the wrong guy, but decides to let it go. “Glad that’s behind us,” Molly says, but she’s feeling guilt.
She heads out to her car, opens the trunk, and sees her chart of suspects. She decides to take a walk, and winds up in front of Bo Munk’s insurance office. There’s Lester, who looks at ease chatting with his co-workers. He spots Molly looking in and waves at her, like it’s no big deal. His plan worked perfectly; what does he have to worry about anymore? But she knows, one way or another, he is going down.