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‘The Myth of Sisyphus’

This week’s episode of Fargo takes its name from a philosophical essay by Albert Camus. In the essay he discusses the concept of the absurd; the futile search by humankind to find meaning in a world devoid of purpose, values or eternal truths. It makes reference to the story of Sisyphus, a Greek mythological figure who would repeatedly push a boulder up a mountain, only to see it inevitably fall down again.

Camus tells us that we must ‘imagine Sisyphus happy’, that we should appreciate life for all its absurdities, regardless of what it means or amounts to in the end. This is a good analogy for Fargo, a TV show that boasts little political, symbolic or philosophical meaning outside of its own world, but one that we enjoy for all its quirks and incongruity nonetheless.

Has Sisyphus been completely happy this season, though? Perhaps not. When a show that expects us to revel in its meaninglessness struggles to deliver on other fronts, as Fargo has done this season, its audience finds itself asking ‘what’s the point?’fargo-season-2-episode-3-2Episode three did have a little more drive to it than the previous two, with the plot feeling like it’s actually going somewhere and a few characters finally coming out of their shells after performing merely as basic Fargo character stereotypes prior to now. Mike Milligan, who shone last week as a suave Pulp Fiction Samuel L Jackson figure, is once again the show’s most interesting figure. His calmness and the nuances of his language are as close to a proper Fargo character as this season has offered thus far, and his exchange with Lou Solverson, who also came into his own last night, was a great little war of words.

‘Well now, to be fair, I’m the one that found the gun so I think you’re dancing with the wrong girl’ quipped Solverson as he stood up to the gun toting Gerhardt clan with pretty much no backup. The lad’s got balls of brass, a welcome change from the cowardly folk that make up the rest of his force. One suspects his fearless approach to policing may just be his undoing, especially if he spends the rest of the series without much reinforcement. No doubt we will soon witness the cause of that dodgy leg he had and his initial lack of enthusiasm about his daughter’s field work in season one.fargo-season-2-episode-3-3More interesting editing and production characterised this episode, as the show continues to experiment with its aural and visual output. A particular highlight was the dialogue on the bus between Peggy and her husband. Unspoken yet heard by the audience, it was the most resonant symbol of their growing mental separation yet. She is descending into a subtly manipulative criminal, whilst he struggles to choose between honesty and the comfortable domestic life they are still desperately trying to maintain.

A definite improvement on previous episodes, but still not quite the Fargo we know and love, The Myth of Sisyphus was a potentially corner-turning instalment of a season that has got off to a rocky start. As ever it delivered visually, and finally the plot looks like its entering a more interesting phase. Where exactly will this race to find a dead, chopped up, ground up man end?

★★★★

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