After a penultimate episode in which just about everyone in the Dakotas was either shot or killed in the so-called "Sioux Falls Massacre," it was refreshing just how many people did not die in the Season 2 finale of FX's "Fargo." Despite all the bloodshed, Noah Hawley managed to bring his series' sophomore run to a quiet, but powerful conclusion in episode 10, "Palindrome."
Yes, the Solversons were spared ... for now. While fans may know what the future holds for Betsy (Cristin Milioti) and her father, Hank (Ted Danson), the pair were still breathing when the final credits rolled. After being shot in Sioux Falls in episode 9, Hank is alive and well in the finale and able to explain those wild drawings Betsy found in his study. No, it has nothing to do with UFOs. The aging cop is simply hoping to create a universal, picture-based language to solve the human problem of miscommunication, a problem unquestionably responsible for so much of the season's violence.
The episode begins with Betsy's dream of a "magical future" -- a future that included some familiar faces from Season 1 -- threatened by violence. Then, later, Betsy justifies her inevitably abbreviated life by refuting Noreen's (Emily Haine) Camus-inspired nihilism.
"We're put on this Earth to do a job. And each of us gets the time we get to do it. When this life is over and we stand in front of the Lord, you try telling him it was all some Frenchman's joke," says Betsy.
Elsewhere, closure comes for Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) in the back of Lou's (Patrick Wilson) car. See, Ed (Jesse Plemmons) does not make it through the finale. He dies in a grocery store freezer while the couple is hiding from Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) post the Sioux Falls shootout. While waiting to be rescued, Ed explains to Peggy that even if they survive this ordeal, they are too different for their relationship to work. Despite Peggy's optimistic perspective that all this chaos has helped them "actualize," he confesses that all he is ever going to want is to "get back to what [they] had." Peggy does not hear him. They remain partners on different pages to the end.
By the time Ed takes his last breath, Peggy has lost all touch with reality and is imagining that Hanzee is smoking them out of the freezer like the Ronald Reagan war movie she was watching in the cabin. When Lou opens the door, reality sets in and Peggy breaks down in the episode's most gut-wrenching scene. Later, in the car, Peggy deflects blame for the whole mess by (rightly) describing the boxed-in position women hold in 1970s America that led to her desperation for change. Lou, however, cuts her off short of letting her claim to be the victim -- "People died, Peggy."
As for the show's two most formidable killers, Hanzee escapes his Gerhardt past and buys himself a new life, while Mike (Bokeem Woodbine) gets the job he always wanted, but finds out that leadership in the modernized Kansas City mob is not as glamorous as he imagined. Mike does get one last sinisterly fun scene in which he explains to an unlucky Gerhardt associate that a new King's reign must be marked by an "act of kindness" and and "act of cruelty" and that he has already used up his kindness on the house cook -- cold!
The episode ends, though, in the Solversons' bed.
"Goodnight, Mr. Solverson," says Betsy
"Goodnight, Mrs. Solverson, and all the ships at sea," Lou replies, haunted, but unchanged by the season's bloody events, just as was likely the case after Vietnam.
Lou lives to fight another day, but then fans already knew that would be the case. On to Season 3!