Fargo: ‘The Gift Of The Magi’ Review

Happy Hunting

Fargo really moved the story along in The Gift of the Magi and it was yet another great installment of the small town mystery story. There was quite a big body count with the Gerhardt’s officially going to war with Kansas City after they accidentally make the assumption that K.C. was responsible for Rye’s death. And really, how awesome was that little coincidence? According to Dodd, there just so happens to be a man with the title The Butcher of Laverne who happens to be on contract with the K.C. thugs. And away we go.

The other amazing thing Fargo has done in back to back episodes is tell a story within a story and this time they decided to use O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi. In that story, a young couple are living in a modest apartment and have only two prize possessions between them. The wife has beautiful long hair while the husband possesses a shiny gold watch. In the spirit of Christmas, the wife and husband both decide that even though they are lacking funds, they want to do something special for their significant other. The wife ends up selling her hair to a nearby hairdresser, much like Peggy did with her car, and purchases a pocket watch fob chain for her husband’s watch. Meanwhile, the husband had sold his watch in order to buy an assortment of expensive hair accessories for his wife (this is analogous with Ed’s dream going up in smoke although I guess technically this wasn’t a gift). Both gifts are unusable by the couple but they end up realizing how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other. This was essentially what happened to Peggy and Ed with the car and the butcher’s shop with a Fargo twist, of course.

The second season of Fargo has provided for an interesting story and Gift of the Magi may have been the best episode yet. So grab a long bow, it’s hunting season after all, and enjoy the review!

The Butcher of Laverne

Okay then. We have a big problem in Fargo. Hanzee returned to the Gerhardt’s with Rye’s belt buckle and has the unfortunate task of letting Floyd and the family know that Rye is super dead. Now, I’m not sure if Dodd was just making this up so he could say “I told you so”, but apparently there’s someone who goes by The Butcher of Laverne, a contract man out of Kansas City. Floyd wants this individual captured so she can get a confession from him but as we all know, Rye wasn’t killed by no contract killer, he was killed by a bumbling idiot, aka Ed the Assistant Butcher.

Buckle Up

I guess the belt buckle was a metaphor to buckle our seatbelts because shit totally went down after this. Joe Bulo, the Kitchen Brothers and some other K.C. goons are out on a hunting trip in the woods when all of a sudden this happened:

Hunting Humans

I guess the long bow was a poor choice after all. At this point, I’m wondering who is responsible for the attack and things are not looking too good for our Kansas City thugs until the Kitchen Brothers decide to step it up and shoot everything in sight. I guess there is true meaning to the phrase ‘if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen’ because these guys aren’t playing around. There is, however, one man who loves playing in a fiery kitchen and that man is fucking Hanzee who comes out of no where with a hunting knife and proceeds to murder both shotgun-wielding Kitchen bros. Or so we are led to believe. Either way, Hanzee is the fucking man.

woods-are-my-kitchen

And we’re not even done yet because Hanzee finds Bulo in the middle of the forest and it looks like they are the only ones left. Time for a showdown. But not really because, as we find out later, Bulo’s head makes for a nice gift to send to Kansas City. And all of this happened for literally no reason because K.C. was never responsible for killing Rye in the first place.

Meanwhile, Floyd really wants this butcher from Laverne to take a trip to the morgue so she sends Dodd who sends a guy named Virgil to take care of this problem. There’s something about already knowing that Ed was responsible for Rye’s death that makes this story even more unpredictable and suspenseful. Following around the people who are actually responsible for the crimes in the first place is really a theme of this fantastic series and knowing that the Gerhardt’s are coming for a visit at the Blomquist’s is as suspenseful as it gets.

We also check in with Mike Milligan, who decided to skip the hunting expedition, and it looks like one of the Kitchen Brothers did, in fact, survive Hanzee’s winter wonderland attack. Wait, WHAT? How in the fuck did he survive? I was almost positive Hanzee stabbed and shot them both but I guess he let one of the brothers live. Joe Bulo, on the other hand, did not survive and his head ended up in a nice gift box.

Silky Smooth

Whoa, shit is really going down this episode with twelve people already dying. At least Bulo used that Agree shampoo he loves so much before he died. Milligan really should take his advice when it comes to hair hygiene.

And Simone is also an idiot for getting into bed with Milligan because you just knew she’s going to get herself and the Gerhardt’s into trouble now that war has been declared. It’s too bad Dodd has no control over her daughter whatsoever.

Buh Bye

I Come Bearing Gifts

The one thing I didn’t really care for was Lou’s tour with the soon-to-be President Ronald Reagan. I get that it’s 1979 and that Reagan was running for President at the time but this didn’t really work for me and, let’s be honest, nothing much happened with Lou and Ronald. The better question to ask is whether or not Joan Crawford really did have crabs…right Karl?

"Ask him if Joan Crawford had crabs."

Lou stayed in the background for much of this episode but I can’t figure out why they haven’t arrested Peggy and Ed for Rye’s disappearance considering Lou already knows what happened. Instead, he’s busy making small talk with Ronald Reagan while they empty their bladders.

Urinal Etiquette: No Smalltalk at the Urinal

We also had another UFO sighting, this time coming from little Molly Solverson who decided she wanted to draw a spaceship. Kids and their wild imaginations.

Molly's UFO drawing

This is the fifth straight episode that we have been treated to some kind of extraterrestrial reference and it’s clearly no mistake. Did Rye Gerhardt really see a U.F.O. the night he was struck by Peggy’s car? What is the significance of all of this? Honestly, at this point I have no idea where the writers are going with this little story but I am dying to find out. I have to admit that while we only get very brief hints every episode about this, it has become this season’s biggest mystery and I’m really curious as to how this is going to fit into the bigger story. I mean, it has to right?

Back at the Blomquist’s, Ed is in total family mode and tells Peggy that they are starting a family and that’s that! Okay then. Probably not the best time to be worrying about family life when you got thug life on its way to murder you. The scene in the Butcher’s shop with Noreen was classic in every way though and she is easily one of the funniest characters from the second season even if she’s barely said a thing.

I love how she was getting super existential and talking about the fact that we’re all going to die anyways so what’s the point of pursuing anything in life. She even suggests that Ed should kill himself and get it over with.

"You could kill yourself?"

This entire conversation was Fargo at its best. Ed thinks life is worth living, just like his grandpa, at which point he died. Classic Noreen. Ed decides to escape from this conversation and tells Noreen to let him know when Bud returns. She agrees…unless she’s dead before he returns of course. This was all laugh out loud hilarious and Doreen is easily one of the best supporting characters this season has to offer.

The irony in all of this was that she does, in fact, almost die when Charlie Gerhardt arrives at the meat shop. Part of me thinks Charlie and Noreen would make a cute couple considering how awkward they both are. At least we all agree that Halloween is the best holiday. Rye is totally distracted by Noreen’s sense of humor and charm when Ed finally makes his way out of the back. Charlie’s perception of the Butcher’s Assistant of Laverne was everything it should be…

"I handle all sorts of meat."

…and Charlie ends up getting scared so he buys some meat and heads back to the car. At least he’s ready for lunch.

"There was a bacon sale."

Meanwhile, Peggy packs her bags and it turns out she is the worst packer ever. She will obviously not make for a very good Tetris player either, once Tetris is invented. She goes to pick up the car so she can get out of town and tells Sonny to cash the cheque at the end of the month. Gotta love how awesome the ’70s was with the trust levels through the roof.

Before she can get very far, Peggy completely changes her mind about the trip and sells the car to Sonny instead.

The Gift of the Peggy

Make up your mind, Peggy dear! And as I mentioned earlier, this follows the story from The Gift of the Magi as Peggy sacrifices her dreams and her car in order to make her hubby happy.

We were also treated to another awesome jam, this time coming from Three Dog Night so be sure to shambala your way to the play button below:

Finally, we’re ready for the Gerhardt’s to make their much anticipated visit to the Butcher’s shop and I can guarantee you they aren’t going for the meat.

Hell’s Kitchen

Hanzee is still alive, and drinking straight from the hose, and I’m cheering up a storm at this point because he is hands down my favorite character of the season so I was very happy to see he survived the shootout in the woods. Bear Gerhardt thanks him for his service to their family and lets him know that he has a seat at their table whenever he wants.

“I drank water out of a hose...and survived”

The real highlight of the episode, however, came from Bud’s Meats. Charlie finally decides his balls are big enough to take care of the situation and he walks into the meat shop with murder on his mind. But it all ends in disaster when Ed is able to avoid his bullet and the gun conveniently gets stuck. Obviously this leads to Dodd’s henchman coming to the rescue but Ed has a lot of kitchenware at his disposal, including a frying pan:

Hell's Kitchen

Now I’m no professional but why didn’t the black cook who was murdered by Rye do the same thing with his frying pan. I think I much prefer Ed’s method.

Guy With Frying Pan Gets Shot

And thankfully Noreen was around because she also got in on the action. Her weapon of choice was a solid piece of meat:

Noreen attacks with her meat

What’s not to love about Noreen. She was very feisty during the attack and surprisingly, was able to stand her ground. At one point I thought that Ed was going to be killed but obviously it’s much too early for this to happen and he was able to save himself from being choked to death just in the nick of time. This resulted in Dodd’s henchman getting a cleaver in the head.

The Butcher of Laverne

That's Gonna Leave A Mark

Noreen’s reaction sums up the entire scene beautifully considering I was likely making the same face as this all went down.

noreen-screaming

Also, I’m pretty sure the entire street would be smelling mighty fucking good considering all of that meat went up in a blaze of bacon glory. Sounds like it’s time for a good old fashioned BBQ in Laverne, Minnesota! It looks like Ed’s dream literally just went up in smoke which was actually the perfect way for things to come together. Just like in ‘The Gift of the Magi’, Peggy gives up her opportunity to take that course she’s always talking about so that Ed can buy the meat shop but it’s now burnt to a crisp so it looks like her sacrifice was for nothing…except love. Awww. That is ultimately the same result as the Magi story and it was clearly a very appropriate title for this episode.

Peggy and Ed are now both left with gifts that neither one can use. Peggy has lost her chance to attend her course and Ed can no longer use this sacrifice to become the owner of the butcher’s shop. Just like the characters in the Magi story, Ed and Peggy realize how far they are willing to go to show their love for each other and how priceless their love really is. And they may have a lot of time to reflect on this from prison as the cops showed up to the Blomquist house at the end of the episode.

Of course, this doesn’t change the fact that they were responsible for Rye’s death and have the entire Gerhardt family coming after them. Interestingly, Ed and Doreen decided to save Charlie’s life which could have consequences going forward. If I’m the Gerhardt’s, I’m probably wondering why this Butcher killed Rye but spared Charlie. Hopefully they will realize that this so-called Butcher isn’t really who Dodd thinks he is since Ed is really just a bumbling idiot who is trying to become the owner of his own meat shop in Laverne.

As to what is coming next, I literally have no idea. I love the fact that the Gerhardt’s and Kansas City went right to war with plenty of casualties on both sides but with Joe Bulo out of the picture, you have to think that Milligan will be getting the troops ready for an attack of their own. And I am totally ready.

The Verdict

Episode Score: MIKEY LIKES IT

Mikey Likes It
There was a lot going on in this episode and what’s not to like? The war between the Gerhardt’s and Kansas City is finally in the spotlight and I was beyond thrilled to see shit go down in the woods. Also, Hanzee survived which is an instant bonus because what’s not to love about that guy.

The other really cool aspect about this episode was how they used The Gift of the Magi story in a new and unique way, using Peggy and Ed’s relationship and situation as the groundwork for this. Much like in that story, Peggy gives up her vehicle and with it, her trip as well so that Ed can buy the shop. But as we know, the shop ends up burning to the ground after Ed is attacked and therefore Peggy’s gift becomes useless. That’s your typical Fargo twist on a classic story and it really was done to perfection.

I could have gone without all of the Ronald Reagan crap, that was a bit boring and painful to watch, but luckily there wasn’t too much of it. Sure, it was pretty funny watching Lou and Reagan have a conversation at the urinals but it didn’t seem like there was a point to this except to establish the setting.

And how about Molly’s drawing of the UFO? So far every single episode has referenced alien life in some way and this time we get a very cryptic drawing from little Molly Solverson. Are aliens really going to make an appearance on Fargo? No way, right? That can’t happen it, can it? I’m still as clueless as ever when it comes to solving this extraterrestrial mystery so explanations better be a coming!

So what did everyone think of The Gift of the Magi? Did it make you want to sacrifice your life savings for the person you love? Or would you rather take a leg of meat to the head? Let us know in the comments and thanks for reading, fellow Fargoites.