Fargo episode 4, “Eating the Blame,” is all about capture and release – or in the case of most of these characters, escape.
First there is Milos, whom we learn packed up his wife and kid from someplace warm and ran away to Minnesota in 1987 to evade “screaming phone calls and bill collectors at the door.” His situation turns even bleaker when he runs out of gas, stranded on the side of a snowy road. When a big rig refuses to pull over and help him out, Milos falls to the ground and prays: “Lord, let me get through this. Let us find gas and a warm bed. Let us prosper even in the smallest of ways. I’ll be your humble servant for the rest of my days.” Liar.
But he spies something in the distance, at a fence. It’s an ice scraper, and now we know why he has an image of one hanging in his home. He starts digging in the snow and uncovers a large briefcase… containing a ton of money. Who says prayers go unanswered? He looks left, right. “Oh God, my God,” he says. “Thank you, God.”
Milos returns to the car, where his wife thinks they’re going to freeze to death. But the future Supermarket King knows better. “God is real,” he says, awed by what just happened. “God is real.”
Flash-forward to 2006, where the only god Milos seems to worship is money and/or himself. He’s paranoid. He has a plumber investigating why/how buckets of blood could pour out of his faucet while showering. The plumber sees no signs of tampering. But the plumber turns out to be Don Chumph in disguise, working for Malvo, who was behind the Carrie-like scene. Malvo sent Don there on a mission: Really screw with Milos’ head.
Don brings up the Bible and how the blood got him thinking about Moses (alluding to Malvo’s voiceover at the end of episode 3). “And God sent a plague of blood upon the land,” Don says. “Better get right with the Lord.” Can he keep up this charade?
“What did you say?” asks Milos, infuriated. He grabs Don by the collar; his bulldog security guard actually steps up and tells Milos to let him go: “He’s just a plumber.” (Any chance Malvo has gotten to him, too?)
“You’re crazy!” Don says, complaining the whole way out. Milos wonders if he’s right.
Don goes out to his truck and sees a man in black watching him from a distance…
Elsewhere in Duluth, Gus Grimly is in full-on screw-up mode, knocking his soda off the top of his cop car while trying to answer a call from dispatch. He’s being asked to fill in for Animal Control again and respond to the “murder of a canine.” It’s Milos’ dog.
“Jeez, that guy is always sick,” Grimly moans. “What’s he got, the cancer?”
“Yeah, leukemia,” says dispatch. Grimly rightfully feels awful and says he’ll take the call.
As he’s looking for the right house, Don pulls away in the plumbing truck to reveal… Malvo standing at the side of the road.
“Aw jeez,” Grimly says, turning white. “It’s him.” It’s the guy he let get away, the guy suspected in three murders and one kidnapping.
Malvo looks like he’s been waiting for this moment.
“Freeze! Put your hands where I can see them!” Grimly is trying to right a wrong. You know it’s not going to go right.
“I’m just on a call,” says Malvo. Grimly is pointing his gun at him, stepping closer. “Drop it,” Grimly says. He’s referencing Malvo’s phone, not a weapon.
“Yeah, just as soon as I finish,” says Malvo, calm as ever. “This is Duluth. Package requested. Frank Peterson.” He’s obviously making a call to his home hit-man office. For support?
“OK, all good, see?” Malvo says, closing his flip phone. “Put it down,” Grimly insists. “It’s a new phone.”
“Now!” Malvo turns his hand over and drops it in the snow.
“OK, um, turn around and put your hands on your head,” Grimly says, stuttering. Malvo complies. “What’s this all about, officer?”
“You know what this is about,” Grimly says in a brief moment of certainty. “OK, um, put your, uh, left hand around the back of your… OK now the other one, slowly…”
Malvo acts dumbfounded – why would he be under arrest? Grimly says they’ll figure out the charge at the station. He escorts his cuffed suspect to his car, which is locked. Grimly finally feels like he’s done something right.
“You’re making a mistake,” Malvo says, twice, on their way to the station. “That’s what you’re gonna say a couple hours from now. You’re making a mistake,” he tells Grimly. This guy really knows how to unsettle someone.
At the station, Grimly can finally act like a hero. He triumphantly announces “got one!” and drops off Malvo for fingerprints. But Malvo has obviously done this before. He immediately puts on a heavy Minnesotan accent and begins his Oscar-worthy act: “It’s like I told this young fella. This is a boondoggle, plain and simple.” Malvo even has the gall to steal the booking officer’s glasses and put them on to complete his new identity: He’s Frank Peterson, a minister from Baudette (“Go Bears!”), and everyone in that station is going to believe him.
Grimly makes a call to Bemidji to tell Molly the good news: He has her suspect. Molly’s uncovered a promising clue of her own: With the help of the NSA she’s received the call log from the Nygaard house, and that call to Leroy’s Motor Inn looks a little suspicious. (An email from the NSA seems out of place next to the other messages in Molly’s inbox, which include subject lines about the coffee machine and cheese soup.)
Molly gets ready to head to Duluth, interrupting the chief’s briefing on “Stormwatch 2006” to fill him in on the news. They caught the guy driving Lester’s stolen car, she says, and Bill’s ticked off that Duluth didn’t call him. Oops. Her previous conversations with Grimly didn’t exactly happen officially, did they? Nope, it’s Bill’s case, and he’s going up to Duluth to question the guy. Molly is defeated.
Speaking of Lester, he stops by his house with Chazz to pick up a few things. Chazz is rightfully freaked out by the giant bloodstain still marring Lester’s living room floor while Lester heads upstairs to grab a suitcase. It falls off the shelf and bumps his injured hand; he’s really in pain now. He pulls off the bandage, slowly, moaning the whole time. We’re spared a close-up of the injury, but from what we can see, it doesn’t look good. The pain of touching it makes him double over. He blows on it, trying to dry the pus perhaps?
The phone rings, and Lester’s voice cracks hello. “Was it worth it?” a voice asks.
It’s Numbers: “The widow Hess? Her husband nice and cozy in the ground. Insurance money on the way. Guy like you, Lester: Small town, small time. Might think you won the lottery. But I think that you need to ask yourself: Was it worth it?”
“Worth what?” Lester asks.
“Your life.” Click.
Numbers and Wrench are apparently stalking Lester in Bemidji. Numbers walks in Lou’s Diner and sits at a table where Wrench is already eating (or not eating, actually). Wrench wants to know what Lester had to say. “What do they ever say?” Numbers signs back.
That’s not a good enough answer for Wrench, who stares at him. Numbers just wants to eat. Wrench might not be convinced Lester is their guy. “Let’s just do this and go home,” Numbers signs.
“Gotta be sure,” Wrench insists. “You don’t respect me.” Their silent argument causes a scene in the diner. Wrench wants a confession. Numbers just wants to go home. They devise a plan to grab and interrogate Lester.
Back in Duluth, Malvo is really playing up his innocent schmuck schtick. Was he always wearing that homely-looking cardigan? He has two minutes to make a call, and phones… Don Chumph at a pet store? Don is just as confused.
“Do they have ‘em?” Malvo wants to know. (Crickets, perhaps, to continue the plague theme?) He’s not making a call for aid. He’s making a call to make sure his other scheme is still in motion.
Meanwhile in the bathroom – where everything of importance seems to go down at the Duluth police station – the lieutenant introduces Bill to Grimly. Grimly wonders why Molly didn’t come for the interrogation. (“Lock that s–t down,” Lieutenant Schmidt tells him. “This is a murder case.”)
Bill asks about Malvo/Peterson’s ID, evidence. There are no fingerprints, no photos from the traffic stop. The one picture they do have, from the office in St. Paul where Malvo kidnapped the accountant, is grainy.
Lt. Schmidt and Bill enter the interrogation room, and Malvo is giving a rousing performance as a good ole minister who loves his hometown. “Having a firearm in your face,” he says. “That’s a heart-stopper!”
“Cut the s–t,” Schmidt says. But does he believe it? “You were pulled over Tuesday night, driving a stolen car.”
Malvo says that’s incorrect – it was bingo night at the church. He gives Florence and Jim as alibis. He says he can’t blame Deputy Grimly for being jumpy over those murders in Bemidji and bringing him in as a precaution. Malvo assures the cops no one in Bemidji would recognize him (“only a cousin who used to live there, back in the ’90s”), and that he wasn’t pulled over by Grimly in a traffic stop.
“Forgiveness, that’s the heart of the good book,” he says. “Turn the other cheek. Second chances. Amen. No I don’t hold a grudge against the deputy.” Oh, but how you do, Malvo.
The lieutenant is floored. He and Bill walk out. Malvo, knowing Grimly must be watching, grins after the two men exit.
Back in Bemidji, Molly isn’t giving up. She brings in the woman from the motel and that kid she likes to push around (her son?). They positively ID Malvo from Molly’s picture. The woman brought her guest ledger… and whoa, Lorne Malvo actually signed his real name. Molly wants to know if they found anything when they cleaned his room. Yes: He had some tokens from the Lucky Penny, says the boy. How could Malvo be so sloppy, signing his real name and leaving clues that lead to the scene of the Hess murder? This doesn’t seem to be his MO at all.
Meanwhile in Duluth, Frank Peterson’s story checks out. (That must be some organization Malvo works for.) Schmidt and Bill are going to let Malvo go.
Grimly gets a call from Molly. She gives him the latest clue: The guy used the name Lorne Malvo to check into a motel. Grimly feels the clock ticking… he’s going to get away, again.
“You’re making a mistake!” Grimly says, protesting the release. And bingo: Malvo was right. He said it. Grimly’s eyes meet Malvo’s; the expert con smiles. Grimly argues with his boss, to no avail. He follows after Malvo.
“How can you do that?” Grimly asks him. “Just lie like that?”
Malvo remains in character. “I sure hope you catch that fella killed all those people. I’ll be praying on it.”
Grimly decides to go for it: “Lorne Malvo,” he says. Malvo stops. He smiles, turns around, smiles again.
“Did you know a human eye can see more shades of green than any other color?” Malvo responds. Grimly comes closer. “What?”
Malvo repeats himself. “My question for you is, ‘Why?’ When you figure out the answer to my question, then you’ll have the answer to yours.” In other words, Malvo is certain this guy is never going to catch him.
Malvo exits, takes off his glasses, loosens his shirt, and steps up to a parked vehicle – Don’s vehicle. “Where are they?” Malvo asks.
“In the back,” Don answers. “Can’t you hear them?” Yep: It’s crickets.
In Bemidji, there’s another game of cat and mouse going down. Lester gets a phone call while exiting a store; it’s the Duluth impound, saying they can’t release his car yet because forensics is taking a look. This, naturally, unsettles Lester, which proves opportune for Numbers and Wrench, who had been waiting for him around the corner. They shove the off-guard Lester into the open trunk of their car and take him for a ride.
In the trunk, Lester tries to make a call to Chazz, who’s in his garage looking at porn. Chazz, of course, screens the call, then finally picks up. He’s “in a meeting.”
Lester says he may be in a bit of trouble. Chazz wants to know when he’s not in trouble. Lester tries to explain his situation, his voice raising. He’s in the trunk of a car. Not his car, these two fella’s car. “I think I may have been kidnapped, is the thing…” he says.
Chazz says he’ll call the cops; Lester knows that’s not a good idea. Lucky for him he remembers that Taser in his pocket. He tries it. It works.
“Oh, I was just pranking ya,” Lester says. “You’re it.” Chazz calls him an asshole and goes back to “business.”
The car hits a rough road and Lester loses the Taser. He retrieves it just in time for the ride to end, with Numbers pulling Lester out of the car and toward the center of the lake. Wrench has his trusty ice auger in tow. That percussion-heavy Numbers/Wrench theme song plays over a beautiful wide shot of the lake as they slowly marches across it.
“Say it,” Numbers instructs when they reach a spot far enough out. “I, Lester Nygaard, killed….” Lester refuses. He says he knows who did it… “the man… the man…” and then he tases Numbers, who falls over. The auger is running, but Wrench wouldn’t have heard the commotion anyway. Lester runs through the woods. Aw jeez. He keeps running. Will he meet the same fate as the naked fella?
The snow is deep; he’s leaving tracks. He runs, comes to a road… but Numbers and Wrench have a car. This doesn’t look good. He looks back into the woods. Is anyone following? He runs farther, and as luck would have it, runs into a cop, who is looking into an abandoned car. (Whose car is it?) Lester pleads for a ride back to town, but the cop says he’s not a taxi service.
Lester is getting desperate. “Please! Just give me a damn ride!” The cop won’t budge, so Lester pops him in the nose. Just a tap, but that’s enough for an arrest. “Well good, let’s go!” Lester says. The cuffs hurt his injured hand but he’s still alive. “Thanks,” Lester says, but that washing machine sound comes back to haunt him. Numbers and Wrench see him from the woods. Lester sees them. This will not end well.
Lester may be trapped, but Malvo isn’t. Now that the hit man is free, he’s able to get back to business. And his plan to mess with Milos is right on schedule.
The effects of the Adderall seem to be taking hold. Milos is losing it. Everything – sounds, sights – are heightened. His son knocks on the door, wanting to talk about his mother. “Dad, you’re not being nice,” Dimitri says.
“Nice? It’s kill or be killed, son,” Milos retorts.
Dimitri starts to cry. A cricket lands on the paperwork Milos was working on. It starts chirping. He kills it with a book. “Kill or be killed,” he says.
But there are others, everywhere. On the windows. On the walls. In the lights. They’re even all over his fresh fruit.
The store erupts in chaos. A woman crashes to the ground. A window shatters. (By the way, that is a hell of a lot of crickets to come from just three local pet stores if the first one only had 100).
Milos’ phone rings: “We demand $1 million in unmarked bills,” says a man’s voice. “We’ll call tomorrow at 10 a.m. with the drop instructions. Do you understand?”
“Yeah,” says Milos, paling.
“Remember: God is watching,” says the voice.
“God is real,” Milos says.
Malvo stands outside, on the roof of the store, taking in all of the pandemonium he has created.
Back in Bemidji, Wrench sits down at a table with a beer. Numbers walks in. “Hey, bartender. I tend to have a beer, and then a little tequila guy,” he slurs.
Numbers turns around and takes in Wrench. “What are you looking at?” he asks Wrench without signing. “You know, I’ll tell you something: I will put your eye out,” he says, slamming his glass on the floor and lunging at his partner. They fight dirty as the University of Minnesota hockey team scores on the TV in the background.
Over at Lou’s Diner, Molly is in her civilian clothes. She’s sitting at the counter, alone, coffee mug in her hands. Grimly walks in.
“I was about to send a search party,” she says.
Grimly says Malvo was let go. His alibi checked out, but Grimly knows it’s him. “How do you know?” Molly asks.
“ ‘Cause I said the name Lorne Malvo and he stopped and he looked at me real funny,” Grimly says. “Then he said a riddle: How come the human eye can see more shades of green than any other color?”
“ ‘Cause of predators,” Molly says matter-of-factly. She tries to explain evolution, and how monkeys needed to distinguish panthers and bears through grass and trees.
“Predators.” Grimly says. “So what do we do now?”
“Lester,” Molly answers.
How is Lester holding up anyway? Well, he’s in jail, looking pretty out of place in that holding cell. He hears someone coming; it’s two other criminals being escorted in by a cop. It’s Numbers and Wrench! “Sleep it off, rummies,” says the cop.
Numbers can’t believe his luck.
That washing machine goes off in Lester’s head again. He stands up, breathes heavily, sits down.
Numbers just smiles.
“Have you ever mistreated anybody in order to advance yourself?” the closing song asks.