While “Rhinoceros” didn’t bring out the tip of the horn, so to speak, the tense episode did introduce a number of wanted dynamics. First and foremost, how exciting was it to see Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) and Hank (Ted Danson) engage in a discussion on decisions in crises? Peggy, the progressive-minded woman who doesn’t know exactly what she wants to progress to — “These are modern times. A woman just doesn’t have to be a wife and a mother no more. She can be– There’s nothing she can’t be.” — was finally asked directly about her peculiar choices, and it was a classic, old school American man who asked them. I could’ve gone for another 20 minutes or more of those two, but then Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) and his boys had to intervene. (But hey, at least Ted Danson didn’t die. He could’ve done far worse than the butt of Ohanzee’s gun.)
The same goes for Karl (Nick Offerman) and virtually everyone he spoke to in his “slightly inebriated” state, but we’ll dig into him shortly. Instead, it should be mentioned that Bear (Angus Sampson) is finally coming into his own as a character. Given a bit more time as each week progresses, “Rhinoceros” marked the first episode where he was forced into action. He took it when first offered, tackling Dodd for sending his son as an assassin before accepting his punishment in the form of a belt. His speech prior to his father regarding their lineage hinted at a twinge of jealousy that Dodd was the first-born son, but his loyalty to his brother as de facto leader of the family was evident in his willingness to take a belt for delivering a deserved punch. Later, he had to choose between fight or flight; a picture masterfully painted by Karl leading to a choice Dodd would never have made. I half-expected Bear to blow our dearest small town lawyer away, both out of rage for his son’s capture and a need to prove himself Dodd’s wartime equal, but instead he left. He chose his son’s well-being over his brother’s tactics, and it will be interesting to see if that decision haunts him or reinforces itself later on.
Yet the balance between action and inaction for the series overall remains slightly off balance. The smaller moments meant to establish intimacy and intelligence — namely whenever Lou ponders the state of the world or the Blomquists passive aggressively battle over their future — have been a mixed bag. Comparisons of the current situation to war have become slightly redundant and the metaphor established early on of big business taking over the U.S. hasn’t expanded beyond the fact that it will. Series creator Noah Hawley was the sole author credited for this week’s entry, and his voice was a welcome one when it came to dialogue (seriously — just give Nick Offerman the guest actor Emmy now), but the show remains wanting for more, even as it so desperately tries to make the story bigger than its small town setting.
LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Fargo’ Season 2 Episode 5 ‘The Gift of the Magi’ Watches the American Dream Go Up in Flames
Could it be anyone else? If the content of the episode itself weren’t enough to highlight the talents of one Nick Offerman, than the post-credits extras made sure you took note of his loquacious nature. But Offerman was more than all talk. Sure, his speech to Bear (Angus Sampson) saved a lot of lives, but it was the courage and conviction with which he delivered them that sold the offer. Karl Weathers has been a riot, through and through, perhaps the standout character in a season packed with close contenders. Yet Offerman should be given credit for bringing so much of his eccentricity to a realistic light, and never was that more apparent than during his drunken stumbling, his confusing clarification with Ed and his final, fearful yet commanding speech to Bear. For all this and more, both Karl and Mr. Offerman will be taking home the awards for MVC and MVP, tonight. Noah Hawley, it seems, wouldn’t want it any other way.
(This section highlights the unexpected trouble “Fargo” regularly showcases, usually to tragic or comedic ends.)
So we all saw the attack on the Gerhardt compound coming, correct? As soon as Mike Milligan heard the two family patriarchs had been left unguarded, it was like his eyes lit up with glee; the same glee that spread across his face when lighting up the kitchen with bullets. Simone (Rachel Keller) obviously doesn’t understand how wars are won, arguing for and believing would take his depleted troops to attack a well-stocked army of Gerhardts just because his little lady friend told him to do just that. It would have been a huge tactical error, but it didn’t feel like the switcheroo was sold as that much of a twist. Whether you knew they were coming or not, the scene between Floyd (Jean Smart) and Simone still worked. We’ll find out which of them — if any (plus Otto) — are spared next week.
(This section highlights the unexpected glee “Fargo” regularly showcases, teased by tragedy or humorous beginnings.)
It’s tough to choose just one moment to highlight from Offerman’s stellar appearance in “Rhinoceros,” but his introduction — paired with some jovial folk music and treated as a classic star turn — is a personal favorite. Because of his eloquent and enthusiastic manner of speaking, it’s unclear right away that Karl is, in fact, hammered. But a well-timed stumble, as well as his request for Sonny’s valet service, made as much clear. While we’ll be discussing another quote shortly, was there a better line of the night than, “Did you hear that Sonny? There’s a crisis at the highest level, so who do they call? The best lawyer in town.” (And yes, the follow-up — “Aren’t you the only lawyer in town?” — added almost as much as Karl’s cut-short retort that he “scared” the rest off.)
Peggy continues to be the most fascinating — and lucky — character of “Fargo.” It’s becoming decidedly clear just how important her choices are to the result of this story, rather than just how her initial decision — referenced above — got it all started. How she lies to Ed via omission regarding her want for a new house, a new life and not just to “be her best self,” may have just led him to his doom. A loyal husband is fleeing home to “protect what’s mine” with one stealthy assassin hot on his tail. Moreover, she’s been the driving force to keep the police at arm’s length, and her commitment to the seminar — to herself — is overriding common sense. When Hank asked if she was a bit “touched,” it was the understatement of the season (underlined by her misunderstanding of what he meant). She’s so far removed from reality, it’s a miracle she’s still alive. And really, it’s wholly illogical she’s still around. Hawley and the writers have stretched reason in keeping her breathing, from when she was first interviewed by Lou to when Hank failed to protect her at home. Ohanzee had a shot at her both times, and he didn’t take it. It was good to see her let out some aggression on Dodd, showing her steel, but in all likelihood she’d be long gone by now. She must have something big coming up for all this work to be worth it.
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