Fargo "Who Shaves the Barber?" Review: The Bad Get Badder as the Show Gets Better

By Tim Surette

May 28, 2014

Fargo S01E07: "Who Shaves the Barber?"

It's amazing, the things that can give a person a new outlook on life. A smile from a cute barista. A compliment from your boss. Successfully framing your brother Chazz for the murder of your wife and destroying his family because they're so perfect and your wife always wondered why you couldn't be more like Chazz, because Chazz got a promotion at work and bought a new home theater system, and also he wears nicer ties.

Lester Nygaard is no longer the punching bag we met in Fargo's series premiere, nor is he the slippery weasel we saw growing bolder and more confident in the lead-up to his great hospital escape in last week's "Buridan's Ass." Lester is a man who's in control of his life for what seems like the first time in forever, and he's enjoying it. We saw it in his episode-ending smile in "Buridan's Ass," and we saw it again this week in the smirk that crept onto his face when his imprisoned brother called his name in "Who Shaves the Barber?" Lester now thinks he can get away with just about anything—including revenge-banging Sam Hess's widow by pretending to be the key to her getting her life-insurance settlement. The similarities between Fargo/Lester and Breaking Bad/Walter White are still going strong; it appears that Lester has arrived at the "I won" stage that Walt reached in Breaking Bad's Season 4 finale, with Fargo following a similar arc over the course one season rather than five. (Perhaps he should have told Gina Hess, "Say my name!")

Of course, that's exactly when a criminal mastermind is at his most vulnerable. Molly—our Hank Schraeder, if we stick with the Breaking Bad comparisons—is fresh out of the hospital and still hot on Lester's trail. She is literally the only worthwhile cop in Bemidji, and if Bill's chat with Lester is any indication, she's also the only cop in Bemidji who's capable of understanding the concept of lying. Plus, she's incredibly nice. When Gus presented her with a bouquet of flowers, she seemed pretty willing to brush off that accidental shooting as if it wasn't a big deal (though she was quite firm about wanting a replacement spleen).

Elsewhere, Lorne Malvo was much less forgiving. He took Fargo's assassination attempt pretty personally, and he made sure to let them know as much during a beautifully shot scene that panned across the exterior of a building that Malvo was blasting to all heck. As only one window blew open to reveal the violence taking place inside, it was like unwrapping a disturbingly delightful advent calendar of murder. 

Malvo is a man who does what he wants without fear of retribution, and he was able to knock Lester out of his sad stagnation and into Malvo's own orbit. Their two lives are now running a parallel and occasionally intertwining path of destruction. But Malvo will soon learn that Lester gave him up to Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers, and then he'll have to teach Lester a new lesson: There can only be one predator on top of the food chain. 

"Who Shaves the Barber?" was a strong follow-up to the season's highlight thus far, with the aftermath of the blizzard spinning many of Fargo's characters off in new directions. Lester's on top of the world, but for how long? 


– Lester's "confession" to Bill about Pearl's affair with Chazz and the murder was gripping. Lester has gotten so much better at lying since the beginning of the season, and Martin Freeman has been incredible in showcasing Lester's transformation. His scene with Bill in the interrogation room was as good as it gets. 

– Our first introduction to Key & Peele as FBI agents Pepper and Budge was a good one. These guys are about as competent as anyone in the Bemidji PD who's not named Molly, and they have strong opinions on Subway sandwiches, to boot.

– Gus: "They'll probably take my badge, but with all that's happened that's probably best." Yep, have to agree with you there, Gus. 

– In the flashback, why did Molly fire two shots at Mr. Wrench if she didn't take any at Malvo? So one blurry figure was worth shooting, but the other wasn't?

– Molly said they were trained to take two shots at perps, which is exactly why Gus only took one shot.

– Wow, Molly's visit with Mr. Wrench was sad. Poor Mr. Wrench! Am I supposed to feel bad for a crazy hitman? His hound-dog eyes when he learned that Mr. Numbers had died left me wanting to give the guy a big old hug.

– Kate Walsh is doing great work as Sam Hess's widow Gina. It almost makes me want to watch her new NBC sitcom Bad Judge

What'd you think of "Who Shaves the Barber"?

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  • brianreilly Jun 03, 2014

    martin freeman (lester) is such a diverse actor, i completely forgot he was in the office and sherlock, both very different roles not to mention bilbo.

  • bothcats Jun 03, 2014

    The cold opening with Martin Freeman and Bob Odenkirk was OUTSTANDING.

  • BobbyBlack Jun 02, 2014

    The Key and Peele appearance was awesome.

  • Ankh49 Jun 01, 2014

    He'll probably revenge bang Kitty next.

  • Vinnie99 May 31, 2014

    "The bark beetle carries the wood to the nest" loved it. Just like in the movie.

  • binor May 29, 2014

    I feel bad for Molly. That last scene! Seeing her realize that she's out on a limb again with her case must feel like being the only person left on earth who's willing to find truth. So discouraging! I'd like to see her getting really angry now!

  • JohnDoe984 May 29, 2014

    Brilliant episode, as every single one was.
    Am I the only one who thinks Malvo is actually the main character?

  • DesertWolf May 29, 2014

    I can't believe a man from small town who looks from outside kind and kind of stupid can do something like that Lester is a monster, Lorne Malvo is really a bad a** he manged to turn everyone at that town against each other, i loved this episode, i can wait to see what Lester going to do to save him self....

  • CherokeeRose4 May 29, 2014

    And yea, I wanted to give Mr. Numbers a hug too.

  • Left4Ed May 29, 2014

    I honestly cannot remember ever having loathed a character so very much, while at the same time, hoping they come out the other side scot-free... Lester is such an awesome fucking scumbag and Freeman plays him to a T. Him giving the widow Hess a good ol' fashioned anger-bang was hilariously disturbing.

    Meanwhile, the camera work on that shootout scene was amazing! That calm, meandering pan up all the floors of Malvo's rampage - while Key and Peele beautifully argue about yoga mat-esque submarine sandwiches - was genius.

  • moon33 Jun 10, 2014

    I agree the shootout scene was awsome

  • Misao_83 May 29, 2014

    It was sooooo hilariosly disturbing
    It is difficult to me not to see Martin as Watson, I´m more into him as Lester...but then a smile, or the way he stands in a room... and then that, boom!

  • taaaaylortay Jun 06, 2014

    Come now, we all know John rough anger-bangs Sherlock all the time ;)

  • Misao_83 Jun 12, 2014

    Hahaha, I almost die of lauhter with this comment!

  • JenMo73 May 29, 2014

    Totally agree!

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