‘Fargo’ Season 2 Episode 2 Recap and Review: Before the Law

Fargo Season 2 Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst
Jesse Plemons as Ed and Kirsten Dunst as Peggy in ‘Fargo’ (Photo by Chris Large / FX)

FX’s Fargo season two’s second episode was an extended one at 90 minutes and much slower paced than the season’s premiere. But that doesn’t mean it was any less engaging than the season opener as episode two, titled “Before the Law,” simply took its time with each character now that the basics have been supplied in episode one. Fargo viewers learned a little about each of the main characters in the first episode, but it was episode two that really established the personal relationships between key players. We learned Ed will do anything for Peggy because of how much he loves her and the Gerhardt boys are divided on the issue of the leadership of the family business. “Before the Law,” which aired on October 19, 2015, also set up upcoming episodes by having pivotal players – including Hank Larsson and the Kansas City gang – interact for the first time.


Recap of “Before the Law:”

Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) and his Kansas City goons arrive at the Gerhardt house for a face-to-face meeting.

Get well wishes pour in for Otto (Michael Hogan) from assorted associates, as Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart) counts money and prepares payouts. Floyd assembles her boys, but Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) is slightly delayed because he’s busy torturing someone in the barn. Oops, the kidnapped dude has actually died after having his ears cut off. Dodd leaves him there and the dog makes a snack out of his ears, resting in a bucket. Gross.

Dodd and Bear (Angus Sampson) pass the Kansas City mobsters on their way in to see their mother. She tells her boys the KC mob wants to buy out the Gerhardt operation. Floyd says the KC group believes there isn’t any room for family businesses anymore, but they’ll buy the Gerhardts and let them keep running it. The only change is they’ll report to the KC people. Dodd thinks he’s boss now that his dad had a stroke, because his mom can’t – she’s a woman! Bear thinks it should be their mom, but Dodd insists he’s in charge. Floyd also tells them she’s worried about Rye (Kieran Culkin) who no one has seen in a day.

After clearing the room, Floyd sits Dodd down and tells him how things go in the upcoming weeks will decide the future of their family. Their empire is bigger than any son or daughter, and it’s not his time to run things. But, she promises after the crisis is over she’ll hand the operation over to him. With that, she sends Dodd out to find Rye.

As the KC goons drive away, Joe is sitting in the backseat discussing the meeting. He doesn’t think they’ll surrender their territory. The way to go is to cut a deal with the sons because the mom won’t scare easily. The first Gerhardt to come on board will be the lucky one. The rest…not so much.

Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) sits at his desk pondering the shoe from the tree. He then drives out to visit his daughter and granddaughter where he finds out one of the Waffle Hut victims was a judge. In comes Lou (Patrick Wilson) wondering if the fact she was a judge changes things. Hank says they have to figure out if it was a wrong place at the wrong time thing or if it was all about her.

Ed Blomquist (Jesse Plemons) sits outside his garage looking through Rye’s wallet. His damaged car is still parked inside, and Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) comes out and warns him he’ll be late for work. She has a bruise by her eye, but needs to go to work. Ed’s worried about cleaning the car, the floors, and anything else that might be evidence of Rye’s death (remember, they stored his body in the freezer) so he decides to skip work.

Back at the Gerhardt house, no one has located Rye and Dodd needs him so they can stand against his mom.

A Rock County United bus pulls up in front of Bud’s Meats and Peggy goes in to tell Ed’s boss that he’s sick – probably from bad clams.

At the beauty shop, the talk is all about the Waffle Hut murders. Peggy’s female boss tries to convince her she needs to go to that seminar while eyeing her rear end, but Peggy’s not sure anymore. And, somebody took a case of toilet paper.

The KC goons pop into the typewriter shop which isn’t really open, which is okay because they’re not really customers. Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) asks for Rye Gerhardt and the shop owner stumbles over his answer. Mike wants to know where he is, but he won’t give it up. After a bit of typewriter torture though he’s willing to talk. He tells them he sent Rye off to talk to the judge. “Talk to her? That’s what you said?” asks Mike. They leave without telling him she’s dead.

Ed considers how best to clean up his car. The hood cleaning comes first, followed by a vacuuming of the floor, with bleaching the floor the next step. It’s a bloody mess as he scrubs the floor on his hands and knees. He looks in on Rye resting in peace, sort of, in the freezer. Next, he stands in front of a fire stripped down to his underwear and burning the evidence and his clothes. The camera pans down to a belt buckle amid the flames.

Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti) sits in the hospital undergoing dialysis and afterwards the family – including Molly – head home. Betsy jokes they feel special riding in the squad car. They pull up to the Waffle Hut which is closed, but Lou says he’s there because something doesn’t add up. Molly and her mom build a snowman in the parking lot while Lou goes inside to have a look around. He pauses at the bloody table where the judge died and sees the bug spray, which clearly doesn’t belong on the table. He collects it as evidence while outside Molly looks for sticks for the snowman and finds a deflated mylar balloon that has a rip in it. (So is that the spaceship from episode one? A ripped mylar balloon that was lit up by Peggy’s headlights?) Then Betsy spots something else in the snow. It’s Rye’s gun. Lou rushes over and tells Molly her mom is doing her dad’s job again. They stand up as the KC mob drive by slowly.

Fargo Ted Danson, Bokeem Woodbine
Ted Danson as Hank Larsson, Todd Mann as Wayne Kitchen, Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan, Brad Mann as Gale Kitchen in ‘Fargo’ (Photo by Chris Large / FX)

Hank stops the KC gang’s car. Mike jokes that Rock County is like the town in the Flintstones, but because the driver won’t roll down his window, Hank tells them all to get out. They finally do, but they’re still acting weird. He wants their IDs and Mike hands his over. Then the two other goons slowly do the same. The other two are the Kitchen brothers, and they want to know what this is all about. They’re just passing through town and were disappointed to find the Waffle Hut closed. Hank asks them about their shoe size. Mike’s a 10, and the boys are 11s. Mike wants to leave, unless a law has been broken, and Hank allows them to go because he has their names. “This has been a minor miracle. With the state of the world today and the level of conflict and misunderstanding that two men could stand on a lonely road in winter and talk calmly and rationally while all around them people are losing their mind,” says Mike before getting back in the back seat and leaving the scene.

Ed pulls up in his truck down the street from Bud’s Meats which is just closing up for the night. The street is nearly deserted and Ed watches as Peggy gets a ride from her boss. Ed moves his truck directly in front of Bud’s and wouldn’t you know it but he’s got Rye’s body under a tarp in back. He drags him into the store, quickly locking the door behind them.

Peggy lets her boss into her house to use the toilet, not knowing Ed is out. Her boss can’t find a towel in the bathroom, but she does spot all of the toilet paper in cabinets under the sink. Peggy’s looking for Ed and peeks in the garage which is now clean, with only the windshield broken. Her boss wants to know what happened and Peggy makes up a story about Ed hitting a tree. Peggy gets caught in a lie because of the bruise on her face, and calls her a bad girl…maybe she likes breaking the rules. Peggy ushers her out before her boss can put any more moves on her.

Lou sits outside the Waffle Hut and Hank pulls up. It’s now night and he tells his father in law Betsy found the murder weapon in the bushes. Hank couldn’t find anything about the KC guys, and Lou says there’s just something about the scene he can’t get out of his head; it’s the cook’s expression that’s stuck in his head. He then relays a story about being on a boat in his younger years when one of his fellow sailors was shot through the face after lighting up a cigar. Hank tells his own war story, and then talks about how they went six years without a murder after WWII but not these days. “Sometimes I wonder if you boys didn’t bring that war home with you,” says Hank.

Ed is chopping up Rye at the butcher shop, making ground round out of him. Lou’s cruising the streets and spots Ed’s truck and the lights on in the butcher shop. Lou approaches the shop where Ed is hard at work, Ryes’s arms still visible on the table. As he chops off Rye’s fingers, Lou knocks on the door. Ed goes to answer it, taking time to take off his apron. Lou says he’s on a double shift too and asks Ed if he heard about the Waffle Hut. The killer’s still at large. Lou wants to pick up some bacon if possible because Molly loves it for breakfast, lean if he’s got it, 1/3 of a pound. Ed prepares it as they chitchat about Peggy and work. Then a coin rolls under a cabinet and Ed spots one of Rye’s fingers on the floor. He blocks it from Lou’s sight as the phone rings. It’s Peggy, and Lou finally leaves while Ed’s on the phone.

What’s that? As Ed gets back to work grinding the rest of Rye, a voice-over describes aliens watching over earth and a light from a space ship seems to pass over the butcher shop.

Review of Fargo Season Two Episode Two:

Seriously now, what is up with the aliens? Will we eventually see little green men walking the streets of Fargo? The first part of the episode teased that the mylar balloon could have possibly been mistaken for an alien spaceship by a very high Rye, but that doesn’t explain the lights or the voice over at the episode’s end. That was series creator/writer Noah Hawley’s way of telling those of us who assumed the balloon was the answer that we were dead wrong.

“Before the Law” did an excellent job of making Ed, played by Jesse Plemons, into one of season two’s most intriguing characters. He’ll go to any length necessary to protect his wife, obviously, so how will he react when he learns her boss (or was she simply a coworker?) has the hots for Peggy? Lou, played by Patrick Wilson, also displayed more layers than in the first episode and it’ll be heartbreaking to watch as his wife’s health further disintegrates.

GRADE: B+

More on Fargo Season 2: Episode 1 Recap / Episode 3 Recap / Episode 4 Recap / Episode 5 Recap / Episode 6 Recap / Episode 7 Recap / Episode 8 Recap / Episode 9 Recap