‘Fargo’ Season 2 Episode 9 Recap and Review: The Castle

Fargo Season 2 Episode 9 Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson
Ted Danson and Patrick Wilson in ‘Fargo’ (Photo by Chris Large / FX)

If someone asks you for your definition of perfection, simply reply, “Fargo, season 2,” and then drop the mic. Boom! Nailed it. Just when you think FX’s Fargo can’t possibly get any better, up pops episode nine to prove just how very, very wrong you are. Fargo season two is one of the most intelligently written shows on TV and episode nine was shocking, violent, and gloriously brilliant. After the dust settled and the body count was tallied, many of the season’s key players uttered their last lines in what was easily one of the best episodes of television in recent history.

Recap of Fargo Season 2 Episode 9:

So, episode nine starts off completely different than episodes one through eight, with a narrator reading from a history book on Luverne, focusing on the Massacre at Sioux Falls. In order to understand the events of 1979, the narrator tells us it’s necessary to understand Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) and Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons) who were just 29 at the time…

The Rushmore Grocery Store clerk spots Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) in the woods with a gun and immediately starts dialing the police but he’s a few seconds too late. Hanzee shoots him through the head before he finishes dialing. Grabbing some glue and Hydrogen Peroxide, Hanzee seals the knife-wound inflicted by Peggy. Oh, and here he is again; the narrator isn’t through with us yet as he tells the audience we don’t know much about Hanzee other than that he was a Gerhardt man until Dodd pushed him too far. Hanzee steals the store clerk’s car and peels out.

Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), Hank Larsson (Ted Danson), Chief Gibson (Terry Kinney), Captain Jeb Cheney (Wayne Duvall), Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell), and assorted officers don’t think either Peggy or Ed look like they’re worth all the fuss, and Ed tries to explain why Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffrey Donovan) is dead on the floor of the cabin. He says he was going to trade Dodd back to the Gerhardts, and Lou reminds everyone that Hanzee is out there and could be calling in the Gerhardt men to take out Peggy and Ed. Just then Peggy reveals she stabbed Hanzee in the back with the scissors. And then Ed discloses that his plan worked: he made a deal for Dodd with the Kansas City mob. Ed lets the officers know he’s supposed to have a meeting with Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) at 8am in Sioux Falls to give him Dodd. Lou wants them in custody now, but Cheney wants the officers to step outside to chat about that. Apparently their station is corrupt and the Kansas City people are paying off the local cops. So, one option is to wire Ed and get Milligan on tape, and Hank agrees Peggy and Ed are actually doing a better job of bringing down the Gerhardts and KC mob than the cops.


The cops head back inside and Lou tells Ed and Peggy to demand they are taken into custody because he feels responsible for them. That doesn’t sit well with the local cops who kick Lou out but not before he warns Ed and Peggy they’ve been lucky but that can’t continue. Hank opts to stick around and Lou leaves, telling Hank he thinks the whole thing is out of control.

Captain Cheney lays out the plan and Ed and Peggy agree to the wire in exchange for pleading out on lessor charges. Ed agrees, if they can get it in writing.

And now we’re back to the faithful narrator with the intriguing voice telling us a different sort of betrayal is happening at the South Dakota/Minnesota crossroads. Mike, who should be dead after his boss sent people to kill him, is on the phone with that same boss working out a new plan.

At the Solversons house, Betsy doesn’t seem to be feeling well and has a hard time even using a can opener. Her color is awful and she moves slowly around the kitchen. Molly heads downstairs to show her mom her drawing and finds her sprawled on the floor next to a broken glass. Lou calls home from the grocery store parking lot and the phone just rings and rings. As he hangs up the pay phone, he sees the bullet hole in the store’s window and finds the clerk Hanzee shot, dead behind the counter. Lou checks out the bathroom but Hanzee’s already taken off, and only his wound cleaning supplies remain. Outside, Lou knows Hanzee took a car and he passes that info on to the local cop who pulls up. The cop doesn’t really care about the whereabouts of Hanzee or the dead clerk, he’s there to escort Lou out of town.

Hank’s in the back of Schmidt’s car when Lou radios them that Hanzee is in a red El Dorado. Hank lets Lou know they’re headed to the Motor Motel for the meetup and Lou warns him to watch himself because he feels this isn’t over. The local cops don’t give any weight to Lou’s warning.

The cops ditch their squad cars behind the Motor Motel and bring Ed and Peggy into a motel room, all while Hanzee watches from his perch across the street with his gun aimed at the group. Captain Cheney doesn’t really want Hank’s help either, but he can’t kick him off the case.

Meanwhile back at the Gerhardt house, Bear tells his mom Simone left and hasn’t returned. Ricky from Buffalo says Hanzee’s on the phone and has found Dodd. Hanzee tells Floyd Dodd is still alive and as he’s about to say who has him the faithful narrator cuts in to say that Hanzee’s next words are a matter of debate among historians. No one knows when he decided to betray the Gerhardts. Sure it’s known he executed Dodd, but when did he decide to finish the job? Was it at the redneck bar or back at the Gerhardt house? It could have even been inside of him since he was a kid. Anyway…Hanzee tells Floyd Mike Milligan and the Kansas City mob have Dodd and that they’re all holding up at a motel in Sioux Falls. Floyd says she’ll be there in a few hours, but he tells her to send Bear and a dozen men and they’ll bring Dodd home. But, Floyd wants to handle this herself.

The local cops settle in and prepare for undercover work that night. Ben’s in the same hotel room as Ed and Peggy, and Ed wants to know if they’re really doing the right thing. Ben doesn’t answer. While Ben’s busy eating chips and watching TV, Peggy whispers to Ed that maybe they can just slip out later while Ben’s sleeping. Ben notices them huddled together and threatens to separate them. Peggy makes small talk and flirts.

Lou’s successfully escorted out of town and pulls over to a phone booth make a call. He’s distracted by a radio call alerting him they found Constance, Peggy’s boss, dead in a hotel room. Instead of heading into Minnesota, Lou turns around and heads back into South Dakota.

Lou examines the hotel room where Constance was found dead, but doesn’t seem to pick up any clues.

At the Motor Motel, Hank steps out to get some air and to check on Ed, Peggy, and Ben. They’re doing fine but Hank wants to explain their rights one more time, however Ben stops him. He’s in charge, Hank’s not, and that’s that. The rest of the cops sit around in white T-shirts (they’re all supposed to be undercover and white T-shirts is their uniform of choice) discussing the plan for Ed’s meeting with Mike Milligan. The captain tells them to go radio silent. (And you know that will come back to bite them in the butt.)

Late at night, the Gerhardts roll into town and Lou spies them driving by. Floyd sees him, and Lou races to his squad car. Back at the Motor Motel, some of the cops are sound asleep but Peggy’s awake. The radios are off so no one hears Lou’s warning that the Gerhardts are coming. (Where is the narrator with his reassuring voice when you need him?)

Lou races to the motel. Bear instructs his mom to stay in the truck when they reach the motel. Floyd says she misses them all and Bear says they’ll be together again.

Fargo Jean Smart Angus Sampson Zahn McClarnon
Jean Smart, Angus Sampson, and Zahn McClarnon in ‘Fargo’ season 2 (Photo by Chris Large / FX)

Four officers are playing poker and drinking beer in one of the rooms while one lone cop sits outside on guard duty. Hanzee, Bear, and the Gerhardt gang pull up in five vehicles. Well armed, Hanzee tells them which room is Dodd’s knowing full well Dodd isn’t there. He says Milligan is on the second floor and points out which rooms the Kansas City mob are also in. Of course we know it’s all a lie and there are officers in each of those rooms.

Bear wants Hanzee to stay at the truck with Floyd while the rest of the men walk up to the motel. The men approach the motel, guns drawn, and see the one cop sound asleep outside. He’s not wearing a uniform so they think he’s with the KC mob. They kill him quickly without using a gun. Hank wakes up at just that moment as the whole Gerhardt crew arrive at the motel room doors. They stage outside each room and Peggy sees their shadow on the curtains. Bear gives the signal and they crash through the doors, killing cops in room after room – all except for Hank who was awake and armed himself. Bear looks for Dodd but doesn’t find him in the room Hanzee pointed out. Ben takes out two of the men while Ed and Peggy hide in the bathroom. Peggy knocks Ben out when the shooting in the room is over. Hank kills a few of the Gerhardt men and one of the men yells, “They’re cops!”

Back at the vehicles, Floyd turns to Hanzee, realizing they’ve been double-crossed. Hanzee stabs her and she sinks to the ground as Bear and the men continue their shootout. Bear glances over where their cars are parked and sees his mom dead on the ground with Hanzee approaching the motel. Bear screams and Lou, who just arrived, shoots him in the head behind the ear. Bear looks at Lou and then comes charging. Lou keeps shooting but Bear keeps coming. He’s banging Lou’s head on the ground when Hanzee just opens fire on the remaining Gerhardt men and the cops. Bear is strangling Lou when Hanzee makes it up the motel stairs to the second floor and exchanges gunfire with Hank, shooting him in the stomach.

As the gun battle is dying down the narrator finally returns to say, “Then as he killed both friend and foe alike, it became clear that Hanzee was on a mission to find the beautician and her butcher’s assistant husband and silence them once and for all.” Why Hanzee was determined to do this has puzzled historians. A bullet comes through the door as Hanzee approaches the room where Peggy and Ed are holed up.

Meanwhile, Bear is getting close to killing Lou when an alien spaceship appears overhead and its lights light up the parking lot and motel. The spaceship lowers itself and puts spotlights on Bear and Lou as well as dead bodies in the parking lot. Bear is so distracted by the light that Lou is able to reach his gun and shoot him straight up through the head. After killing Bear, Lou continues to look up into the alien spaceship’s lights.

On the second floor, Hanzee has moved toward the railing and is also fascinated/distracted by the spaceship. Peggy and Ed emerge from the room, and Peggy throws hot liquid in his face. Ed follows that with a punch to the face, knocking Hanzee down. Ed stops to stare at the spaceship as they’re fleeing and Peggy says, “It’s just a flying saucer. We’ve got to go.”

Lou gets up but is disoriented. Hanzee comes to and fires at Peggy and Ed as they escape. The ship flies off and now it’s Hanzee and Lou who are locked in a gun battle. Hanzee runs after Ed and Peggy and Lou’s about to chase after him when he hears Hank yell, “Officer down.” He lets Hanzee leave and helps Hank who isn’t doing well at all. His wound looks horrible.

Just then, the remaining Kitchen brother and Mike Milligan show up at the motel, only to see Floyd and other dead Gerhardt men everywhere. A siren is coming closer so they get back in their car and drive off.

Hank wants to know where Ed and Peggy are and Lou tells him they’re on the run with Hanzee after them. Hank tells him to go and Lou reluctantly does as more squad cars pull into the parking lot.

GRADE: A

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