tv review – FX’s Fargo, episode 1.7

‘Who Shaves The Barber?’ refers to Bertrand Russell’s barber paradox: “The barber is the man in town who shaves all those men in town, and only those, who do not shave themselves; who shaves the barber?” This question cannot be answered: the barber can’t shave himself and he can’t go to the barber because that happens to be himself. Now, in the case of multiple barbers there’s also always one barber who can’t be shaven, because of the rules explained above. So, what does this mean for Fargo? Well, let’s say Lorne Malvo is a version of the barber: he goes around influencing people, hurting them or killing them, but he seems to be pretty much invincible himself. He’s however created the beginnings of another barber in Lester Nygaard, which could mean that, not long from now, Malvo may not be as invincible anymore as he is now.

For the moment though, Lorne Malvo is still an invincible force of nature. After last week’s episode and the information he got out of Mr. Numbers before killing him, Malvo went to Fargo to find out who actually put out the hit on him. He started grilling his own handler before single-handedly wiping out the Fargo crime syndicate in a glorious scene. The camera filmed the outside of the building Malvo had entered and tracked Lorne’s movements inside while he was cleaning house. Just by the camera’s movements and exquisite sound design we were told what took place behind the brick walls and the mirror windows, an elegant way to tell us that Malvo fought his way to the top floor before the scene was brilliantly punctuated by Lorne tossing a henchman through the top story window. After zooming in on the body on the sidewalk, it then showed us Malvo exiting the building, getting away once again. It was masterfully done: elegant yet brutal and darkly comical thanks to the two bumbling and clueless FBI agents who were sitting in their car next to the building when everything went down.

Back in Bemidji Lester’s plan came to fruition: the gun he put in his nephew’s backpack led the police to his brother’s house and there the evidence Lester had planted led the cops to arrest Chaz. It was followed up by a stunning scene of Lester telling police chief Bill the made-up story of his wife’s affair with Chaz, an affair that ended when Chaz murdered her, threatened Lester and shot Vern. Both Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk and the writers did a fantastic job with this scene: Freeman’s Lester used his old persona as a cover, acted both scared and full of grief, something that made Bill immediately buy into his story, while Odenkirk delivered a powerful mix of shock, compassion and pity. The scene also served as a nice counterpart to the interrogation scene from ‘Eating The Blame’, in which Malvo pretended to be someone he was not, twisting the situation in his favor. In Lester’s case it led to a sense of power, which immediately led him from the police station to his work to the widow Hess, who he manipulated into having sex with him while he stared at a picture of the deceased bully. It’s abundantly clear that Lester’s fully embraced the new him and, so far, it gets him what he wants: when Molly got out of the hospital after being shot by Gus and found out about the tale Lester has everyone believing, she seemed defeated, shocked; a powerful moment to end the episode on. Other than that Gus and Molly didn’t have very much to do: the episode mainly wrapped up the lingering questions we had after last week’s shoot-out, although it really did reinforce the sweetness, kindness and connection that’s present between these two characters.

‘Who Shaves The Barber?’ was another great Fargo episode, the logical next step in the evolution of Lester Nygaard. 9/10

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One thought on “tv review – FX’s Fargo, episode 1.7

  1. Pingback: tv review – FX’s Fargo, episode 1.8 | POP EYE

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