Season Two, Episode Eight — “Loplop”
By Jarrod Jones. For most, change occurs slowly, if it occurs at all. For Peggy Blomquist, change will only come once the entire world, up to and including her worrywort husband, finally gets the darned heck off her back. Who knew that the road that lead away from Rye Gerhardt’s death would run right into the actualization she’s always wanted (for the last coupla weeks)? Definitely not Peggy, but she’s sure as sugar happy it did.
Back on the plane of reality, something’s gotta be done about that Dodd Gerhardt. He seethes with black hate any time consciousness has him, and it’s only a matter of time before his equally sinister family finds poor, put-upon Ed and the (quickly unraveling) apple of his eye holed up in a cabin that’s only impossible to find if you never bother to try. Ed’s making most of this up as he’s going along, and his wife? The fog of her mind has become as disorienting and confusing as their labyrinthine basement. And yet, if you were to ask her, Peggy Blomquist has never thought more clearly. Meanwhile, Dodd is just praying she doesn’t get too bored.
WHAT WORKED: Peggy’s continued descent into gladness is punctuated by her hamfisted attempts at criminality. While it could be said she’s a trifle out of her depth, Peggy’s alone time with Dodd gave me creepy flashes of Kathy Bates putting James Caan through a literal hell in Misery. The way she pierces his flesh with a wide-eyed stare — the first time to get his attention, the second time just to do it — is enough to give even the most hardened TV viewer a case of the willies.
If this war between the Gerhardts and Kansas City has taken a full toll from anybody, it’s most certainly Hanzee. For an untold amount of years, the man has done the dirtiest of work under the boot of Dodd Gerhardt (who himself, it’s been whispered, has been in charge of seeing some very unforgivable things through). After four tours in Vietnam, receiving a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, Hanzee’s come home to a country that isn’t particularly interested in having him, especially not under the wide open skies of North Dakota. And after days of searching for his boss, Hanzee’s had his full of taking lip service from the white man. What follows in this episode is a catharsis that’s been interweaving throughout this whole season since Ronald Reagan took a stand at “Massacre at Sioux Falls”.
WHAT DIDN’T: I loved how the episode conveyed Peggy’s total immersion into yet another B&W Reagan stinker — especially when the shock of being pulled out of it was so severe — but the sequence went on long enough that it escaped light camp and entered the realm of sheer nonsense. (The kid pinch-hitting for Bruce Campbell’s Gipper didn’t help matters, either.)
Peggy: “Foot’s on the other shoe, now.” Dodd: “Shut up.”
“Hon, you gotta stop stabbin’ him.” – Ed.
Ed: “Stop lookin’ at us!” Dodd: “Where’m I supposeta look?”
“Sir… if I kiss you when we meet, would that be inappropriate?” – Mike.
“Maybe you heard of me? ‘The Butcher of Luverne’?” – Ed.
“Son, you got yerself a wimmen problem.” – Dodd.
BEST MOMENT: Dodd’s moved on. Plenty has been said about what makes a Gerhardt man. And it probably went without saying that on top of determination, stubbornness, and indefatigability there was probably more than a little malice stirred into the mix. But when Ed stares into Dodd’s dark-as-pitch eyes, just seconds before the lights go out, we finally know what made Dodd Gerhardt: pure evil. So when Hanzee puts a round through his head moments later, there comes a feeling of relief and lingering unease. What hath evil wrought? That’s something the citizens of both Luverne and Fargo are going to ponder for years to come.
EPISODE’S MVP: Peggy Blomquist. Sure, she’s loopier than a roller coaster seen through a kaleidoscope, but Kirsten Dunst’s button-nosed charm is what made the carnival of horrors that was “Loplop” such an enjoyable ride.
OK THEN, YOU BETCHA:
– Hanzee’s standoff with the Rushmore register jockie evokes memories of the Coen’s No Country For Old Men, and that’s totally on purpose.
– Peggy’s smacking away at that ratty TV like she was Steve Buscemi or somethin’.
– I wonder if Mike Milligan is aware that The Clay County Post is broadcasting his address on the front page.