Fargo recap: Time Flies When You're Having Fun

Molly, Lester, Malvo, and those around them attempt to move on from the murders in surprising ways.
Ep. 08 | Aired Jun 3, 2014

Chris Large/FX

It’s a day or a few later, and Molly gets a call from Grimly, just checking in while he’s on patrol. They make small talk; she thanks him for clearing out the florist with all of the bouquets he sent. He’s worried about the hearing on the shooting, but she tells him it’ll be OK if he tells the truth. Their conversation is awkward, but sweet. Molly’s gentleman wonders if he and Greta might see her at the logging festival happening soon up her way.

“A certainty if we go together,” Molly says, taking charge and once again, hopefully, setting up another cop date.

“You’re right about that,” says Grimly. “And when you’re right, you’re right.”

The innocent chatter continues: Friday at the festival is chainsaw carving and all you can eat, Saturday they roast a pig underground. Grimly says he likes going for the food. Greta likes all the contests.

The camera pans away, and that haunting Fargo theme begins to play. There’s a sense of dread – what is going to happen?! – because we’ve now been trained to expect bad things on this series. The camera continues its long shot down the wooded road until there’s a Jeep. It’s a mail truck, to be exact. And it’s Grimly driving; he became a post man after all.

We’ve now made a time-jump, one year in the future.

Greta is paging him on the walkie-talkie, wondering what’s for dinner. He pulls up not to his apartment, but in front of a nice suburban home. He walks in, says, “I’m home.” Greta bugs him about forgetting the red sauce; he asks if mom’s home.

Mom, happily, is Molly. And wow, is she pregnant. It’s an excellent ode to Frances McDormand’s seven-months-pregnant Marge Gunderson from the Fargo film, but is this one nod too many? The Coen Easter eggs have been fun to spot throughout the season, but at what point does it distract from Fargo the TV series as a separate entity? If someone gets shoved into a wood chipper in the next two episodes, it's officially gone too far.

The new family sits around the dinner table chatting about the game on Sunday, pasta salad, stopping by Ida’s for the anniversary – yes, the one-year anniversary of Vern’s death. Life seems easy, nice. But later, Molly tries to convince herself of that. “We’re doing good,” she tells a half-asleep Gus when she goes to bed. (Now that he's not Officer Grimly anymore, let's go with Gus moving forward.) “I was just saying we’re doing good, you know? Got everything we need.”

Maybe, but she never got closure on those murders, and they still haunt her. She’s got a new version of her suspect chart pinned up on her wall – almost the entire wall. (Love the Marge-esque maternity uniform she’s wearing.) She fixates on a newspaper clipping of the mob massacre in Fargo, the ATM picture of Malvo front and center. She walks over to the desk, pulls out a scrap of paper, and makes a call to the FBI.

Unfortunately, she gets brushed off by the agent who answers. So she had a suspect for the Fargo killing connected to one of her investigations -- big deal, the agent seems to think. We learn they put someone away for the crime – we’ve got to assume that was Chazz. Molly's suspicions about nabbing the wrong guy were investigated and dismissed, and she doesn’t have any new information, so she shouldn’t expect any more cooperation from the FBI, she's told. “We’re pretty busy these days with the Patriot Act and all,” the agent says, and hangs up.

If only Agents Pepper and Budge were still in the field and not stuck in a filing room, their punishment assignment for the Fargo crime syndicate debacle – turns out, 22 people total were murdered while they sat outside in their car. They’ve been foundering there for a year; when we see them circa 2007, they’re killing time, throwing a tennis ball against the wall, wondering if it’s pizza day in the cafeteria. If they removed files, one at a time, until they were all taken out of the room, would it still be a file room? Budge ponders. He throws the ball again and it hits a bulletin board, knocking it down. Behind it, still taped to the wall, is the ATM picture of Malvo that Pepper put up there one year ago. They stare at the image. They’re still haunted, too.

Speaking of botched investigations, how’s Bill doing one year later? He seems to have had no problem putting the Nygaard case behind him. He and his wife have taken in a foster kid from Sudan, but not without complications. The boy, Tahir – who looks more like a grown man – was robbed at the airport and for three months forced to steal food from the local Phoenix Farms just to survive, Bill explains to Molly. On a trip into the city to see the ballet with his wife (Molly is quite amused by the idea of Bill sitting through a ballet), the chief just so happens to stop by the exact same grocery store. He runs into Tahir, and incredibly, his new family is united.

“Sally says it’s a miracle, and it might be,” Bill tells Molly. “Don’t question the universe, that’s my motto. Sometimes things just work out,” he adds, delivering the antithesis of the “It’s just not meant to be speech” he gave her one year earlier. Bill and Tahir hug. (Side note: Why am I so cynical to think this guy is somehow scamming the naïve chief?)

“I like to think that’s true,” Molly says, smiling.

With updates on Kitty, Gina, and Linda

After successfully framing his brother for the murder of his wife and the chief, 2006 Lester is moving on with his life. He even buys a fancy new washing machine, and the best part: It’s nearly silent in the wash cycle. (The washing machine assembly line sequence that opens this episode, by the way: beautifully done, and classic Coens).

Even Kitty marvels at the new appliance, though she came to offer downer updates on Chazz (“I don’t care what that man gets, not after what he did”), and Gordo (“His lawyer thinks we can plea it down to probation, time served”). She still can’t get over the idea that Chazz cheated on her – a former Miss Hubbard County! – and now she has to sell everything to pay the legal fees. Lester, of course, views this as sweet justice -- all the things his wife was jealous about, everything they couldn’t afford but his brother could, it’s all gone. Chazz is in jail, his kid is in juvie, and his wife may go bankrupt – all thanks to Lester’s evil scheme.

Kitty offers Lester all of Chazz’s hunting gear. They run out of things to talk about, and Lester ushers her out. She fixates on that washer: “You deserve it Lester,” she says. “All good things.”

She kisses him on the cheek, and he believes her. He tears through the house throwing away all of Pearl’s inspirational signs, her clothes, her tchotchkes, her sewing machine. Her closet is empty, sans a few sad-looking hangers. He gets his fresh start.

He carries that feeling to the insurance office, where the receptionist, Linda, admires his new tie and jacket (he bought them online). She’s flirting with him, tells him she was going to make chili on Saturday night if maybe he wanted to…

But Gina Hess storms into the office, demanding Lester’s attention. “You son of a bitch!” she shouts. “I am gonna bust your balls.” Her sons ask if she wants them to do the dirty work. No, she’ll handle this.

“I was picking your pubes out of my teeth 12 hours ago,” she seethes, “and then I get this.” She throws papers at him, the paperwork explaining why she won’t be receiving life insurance benefits.

Lester plays dumb. “That is highly irregular says Lester. I’ll make some calls.”

She slams the desk and calls him a liar. Lester tries to talk his way out of it, but she’s on a rampage.

“I let you cum inside of me!” she shouts. Her sons object (“that’s really gross”). Lester agrees with the boys for once.

“You are going to get me my money, you little s--t,” Gina says, finger in Lester’s chest, pushing him down into his seat. She demands $2 million by the end of the day. This is a complete echo of the bullying scene between Sam and Lester in the very first episode. But Lester isn’t afraid of bullies anymore. Is she going to wind up dead, too? He isn’t afraid to commit murder, either.

“Show him what we’ll do, she says, siccing her boys on Lester. One pushes him against a desk and says, “sorry, loser.”

“Me too,” Lester says, grabbing a stapler and shoving a staple into each teen’s face. “Yeah,” he says. “So are we calm? Are we calm?” Gina is speechless.

“Now here’s what’s gonna happen,” says Lester, taking control of the situation. “I’m gonna make some calls, like I said. But if Sam did miss some payments, they’re within their rights to… I think we might have a problem here.”

Gina tries to decide what to say. She wrinkles up her face and chooses to say nothing, storming out, her wounded kids behind her.

Linda is impressed. “You’re amazing,” she says, breathless. It’s doubtful anyone has ever said that to Lester in his entire life.

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