This episode starts with shots of a wheat field with country music reminiscent of the Coen brother’s film O Brother Where Art Thou? This is a totally different seasonal setting than each other episode of Fargo so far, and it turns out this is a flashback to when Lester (Martin Freeman) bought the shotgun used in the murder of the sheriff back in the first episode. We see Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) shoot the sheriff once again from a different angle this time, and a CSI-style slow-motion shot tracking the path of the bullets shows a bit of buckshot pass through the lawman and finish in Lester’s hand. We see it fester over time in extreme close-up, and then Lester’s profusely-sweating pale face shows how serious the injury is. We return to the jail cell from the previous episode, and Lester is now being questioned by the two heavies from Fargo (including Adam Goldberg). When they place pressure on Lester’s wound he gives up the name of Lorne Malvo. The two men are released from jail, and set on the trail of Malvo to answer for the murder of their boss, Sam Hess (in episode one).
Molly (Allison Tollman) decides to confront her boss again about her suspicions about Lester. This has been tricky because Bill (Bob Odenkirk) officially removed her from the case several episodes ago, and took over himself, yet Molly has been still been following leads on her own. Yet again Bill is dealing with a mundane job when Molly arrives – organising snow ploughs to help clear roads for the town. At first Bill is preoccupied helping another female cop order the ploughs, and doesn’t pay Molly a lot of attention. Molly has learnt that Lester called Malvo’s hotel room on the night of the murders. When she explains that a stripper claimed trucking magnate Sam Hess was boasting about breaking a guy’s nose on the night of his murder, Bill realises that this must have been a reference to Lester. Bill went to the same high school as both men and knew that Hess had bullied Lester for years. ‘Sonovabitch.’ Suddenly Bill is on the same page as Molly, and they both go to the holding cell to interrogate Lester.
An amusing moment happens when Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks), inept with computers, has his daughter look up Pastor Frank Peterson – Lorne Malvo’s disguise from the previous episode – and we see a photo of Malvo posing as the benevolent priest inside a church. Grimly begins to seriously question why Malvo was alone on foot in the street when he arrested him in the last episode.
We are reminded why Malvo was in that street – he was watching the house of Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt), who he is blackmailing for a million dollars. Devoted Christian Milos has decided to pay his blackmailers because he thinks that God is punishing him for his sins. He fears that the next step will be the murder of his only son. Malvo agrees to help Milos collect the cash needed for the dropoff, and then promptly nails his stupid accomplice in a cupboard. Malvo will be keeping the full million for himself, one imagines.
When Molly and Bill go to talk to Lester in the police-station holding cell, he is in a bad way from his infected hand wound. We see him having a nightmare about Malvo and also about murdering his wife. Molly rides in the ambulance with Lester, and there she questions him while he is clearly out of his mind due to his septic state. Molly asks Lester if he paid for Malvo to kill Sam Hess, and Lester says that he ‘never paid him’. This is basically a confession that Molly knows won’t stand up in court, but nevertheless her suspicions have been confirmed.
A strange scene between Grimly and his neighbour next takes place. They are both awake in the middle of the night and share a glass of milk together. The enigmatic neighbour listens to Grimly’s problems with the Lester case. Grimly seems to be drowning in self-doubt about his actions in the case. A blackly-humorous parable ensues told by the neighbour about a rich man who decided to give everything away, including his own life. The neighbour summarises the tale as meaning that ‘only a fool thinks he can solve the world’s problems.’ Grimly thinks about this and reasons that ‘you gotta try, don’t you?’ He is then seen driving the streets at night searching for clues about the case.
Molly has a chat to the doctor who worked on Lester, and learns that it was a shotgun pallet lodged in his hand. The doctor talks in the famous Fargo-style; a slow regional drawl with a ‘darn-tootin’ kind of optimism. For example, about the hand the doctor says: ‘a real mess there, super-infected, nasty stuff!’ Would anyone really feel safe in this man’s hands, you have to wonder? In the next scene, Molly searches Lester’s house for further clues. In the basement she seems to discover the hammer Lester used to kill his wife in the back of the washing machine. However, we only see her reaction and don’t get visual confirmation that she has actually found the murder weapon. The net seems to be closing in on poor old Lester in this episode.
When driving Milos to get the money for the blackmail drop-off, Malvo tells some dark stories about the nature of animals, and how wolves and dogs especially will not stop until they get what they want. This seems to allude to his own nature somehow. Next we realise that Grimly is being stalked by Malvo, and in Grmily’s street the strange neighbour from the earlier scene confronts Malvo in his car. The man is from the local neighbourhood watch, and is looking out for Grimly. ‘You have black eyes; you’re trouble’ he tells Malvo. Malvo mentions that the man is Jewish, and the neighbour takes this as anti-Semitic. Malvo appears to enjoy threatening the man and the lives of his children, but does drive away.
Molly visits the widow of the sheriff, who has just given birth. She promises the woman that she is still on the hunt for her husband’s killer and won’t give up. On the way out Molly stops by Lester’s room, and sees him asleep in bed. We can see that he is pretending, however. The episode ends with Molly’s intense and pained stare at Lester’s back, before she walks away. This is another solid episode, though it doesn’t reach the standard set by the previous one. It is also probably the least comedic episode so far, for what its worth, particularly with Malvo’s scenes being much more menacing than humorous.