Fargo "A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage" Review: Once Prey, Always Prey

By Tim Surette

Jun 11, 2014

Fargo S01E09: "A Fox, a Rabbit, and Cabbage"

After last episode's one-year time jumpFargo built up Lester Nygaard into a booty-slaying, insurance-selling macho machine. And his transformation from shoulder-slouching, speech-stuttering pushover to widow-banging, forehead-stapling office king to all-around alpha dog instantly became the most fascinating part of the series. 

In the final moments of "The Heap," Lester's manhood was put to the test when he randomly encountered the man who made him—Billy Bob Thorton's Lorne Malvo—in a Vegas hotel bar, and for one infinitesimally long moment, we hung in a beautiful state of pondering Lester's next move. Would he cower before the killer who inspired him to stand up for himself, or was he so bloated with conceit that he'd try to steamroll the guy? Or as a third option, would he engage Malvo as a proud student, eager to show how far he'd come?

After some in-your-face-mouth dentistry and an update on Malvo (he's "aces," thank you much), we got the answer to that question in "A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage." Lester sauntered over to Malvo with a smooth "Wassssup?" clearly wanting to show his mentor how much progress he'd made since his nose bled all over the place that one fateful day in the emergency room. After Malvo played coy and pretended that he didn't recognize Lester (I still kind of wish that the gent Lester confronted had turned out to be the real Billy Bob Thornton), Lester reasserted himself, ultimately starting his nightmare all over again. When Malvo asked him, "Is this what you want?" and Lester answered in the affirmative, Malvo shot his three compadres—including his new fiancée and his dentist co-worker played by Stephen Root—in the head. 

It was at this point that Lester understandably changed his tune from the ferocious bark of a big dog to the whimper of a scaredy cat. I mean, Malvo just capped three people in a Vegas hotel elevator because Lester blew his cover. And Lester's evolution hadn't reached a level where he could stay cool in the face of a triple homicide. Obviously Lester didn't have much choice but to run.


But Fargo had a choice, and I'm not sure it took the most interesting path. After their little skirmish in Vegas, the rest of "A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage" focused mostly on Lester scampering away from the mere thought of Malvo, and ultimately from Malvo himself. Lester was reduced to the wimp we met at the start of the series, and with only one episode left, it looks like he might remain that way. I don't know about you, but I was preparing myself for more of a showdown between Lester 2.0 and Malvo as the two fought for the spot at the top of the food chain. But Lester backtracked quite a bit as he realized that he'll never be the same caliber of psycho as Malvo; rather than continuing his Walter White trajectory by going from being a nobody to being the danger, he retreated like a puppy with its tail between its legs. It's too bad, because I was getting into that. I wanted to see Lester go from prey to predator.  

Lester still has time to turn this around and show off his newfound guts, though. Given that he sent his wife into his insurance shop as a decoy and watched Malvo blow her brains out, it seems he's still willing to go to some really messed-up places for his own gain. However, knowing how he craftily framed his brother for Pearl's murder makes his decision to send Linda in on a suicide mission seem more like cowardice than cunning. Was the Lester 2.0 we saw in the previous two episodes a sham? Or does he just know that Malvo is the one man he'll never be able to top? We'll find out next week.



NOTES

– Wondering how to solve Agent Budge's riddle about the fox, the rabbit, and the cabbage? The man takes the rabbit across the river in the boat and drops it off. Then he goes back and gets the fox, and takes it across the river. Before he leaves to get the cabbage, he grabs the rabbit and takes it back with him, and then he exchanges it for the cabbage. That means he's in the boat with the cabbage while the fox is on one side of the river and the rabbit is on the other. He leaves the cabbage with the fox, then goes back one last time for the rabbit and brings it across. Voila! Now he still has to worry about the fox eating the rabbit and the rabbit eating the cabbage, but at least he's on the other side of the river. 

– "Aces."

– Malvo is now pulling six-month-long cons? Hmm... 

– It's always great to see Stephen Root in anything, but seeing him play a sleazy dentist was amazing. 

– I still laugh every time I see Key & Peele on this show, and I'm excited to see them in the fold with Molly. Hopefully they'll play a big role in the finale. 

– How alpha is Malvo? He ordered sparkling water from the waitress and then walked out before it came. 


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  • Loooooooooooost Jun 30, 2014

    Guys, you are missing the bigger picture here: Lester hasn't changed. He just thought he has to a successful degree. He can't handle this shit.

  • JustifiedCEO Jun 14, 2014

    Morton's Fork - Last Episode Title

    I haven’t slept in seven nights and I’m not tired
    who protects the ones I love when I’m asleep?
    and though there’s little I can do, I say a prayer

    that when the wolves come for their share
    they’ll come for me

    Sleep Deprivation - Malvo foreshadows sleep deprivation in the dental chair.

    Wolves -
    Malvo

    Who Pray's The Wolf Will Come After Me? - Who thinks their job is to be a father? Who couldn't sleep at his apartment's window? Who is awake looking at Molly's crime scene sketch and remembering Malvo driving by him on his mail route? Who was alone and is now blessed with a caring wife, father-in-law and a daughter; who now has a surrogate family for the first time. Gus. Who does he love? Molly and his daughter. Perhaps his father-in-law. Though there’s little I can do; is exactly a Gus-like comment.

    Prediction/Protagonist Hiding In Plain Sight - Malvo is the antagonist. Lester and Molly have been the most noted protagonists. But I think the protagonist has always been Gus from the jump. He started out as a single parent to his lovely daughter. He is scarred for being an incompetent policeman. He is now clearly - see below - (including Molly saying Gus helped her with the crime scene sketch) - more legally engaged. My prediction is that Gus - whatever his ultimate fate - will be front and center on the show's finale.

    The Emotional Repercussions - Gus is the hero. Rightfully so, he will be noted as such at the end; by Molly, by his daughter, by his father-in-law, by the FBI agents, by the police. Lester will get his due. Malvo as the wolf will have his due- whether he is killed or kills. The emotional repercussions will be a standard - but a slightly different spin - on the nature of the Coen brothers. The simple and good are heroes. They befriend the simple and the good. The cowards (Lester) and the devil (Malvo) are simply a backdrop in the nature of contrast.

    Yes, I Am A Fargo-freak. I have a tremendous amount of respect for the show, its writers and its level of detail throughout the ten-episode format. This compels me to be on the look-out for every piece of dialog and visual clues. I can be rightfully be accused of over-analyzing. And most certainly guilty of being wrong. But I do so due to the respect I have for the show. The show's idea was risky. IMHO that risk has turned a show into something great. Depending on the last episode; I believe we are seeing (a) one of the best shows ever and (b) an entire new canvas of storytelling. Moving from hero, to anti-hero, to a multi-faceted layering of characters that tell a moral story.

  • JustifiedCEO Jun 14, 2014

    Breaking Down The Tape - Snippets
    Lester's Insurance Building Is Right Across The Street From Lou's Coffee Shop. Malvo sees it driving by before he gets to Lou's Coffee shop. Making Malvo's questioning and Lou's answers as to Lester's whereabouts more concerning/interesting?

    Malvo Is Playing A Song At His Party That Was Before 1979. Hinting he was of age in the Sioux Falls Massacre.

    Gus Recognizes Malvo In The Red BMW. He later is seen staring at Molly's evidence board and focusing on Malvo's picture while he pictures Malvo driving by his bus route. Leading me to believe that Gus will be involved with Malvo - for good or for bad - in the last episode.

  • JustifiedCEO Jun 14, 2014

    Breaking Down The Tape - Snippets

    Lester's Insurance Building Is Right Across The Street From Lou's Coffee Shop. Malvo sees it driving by before he gets to Lou's Coffee shop. Making Malvo's questioning and Lou's answers as to Lester's whereabouts more concerning/interesting?

    Malvo Is Playing A Song At His Party That Was Before 1979. Hinting he was of age in the Sioux Falls Massacre.

    fargo He later is seen staring at Molly's evidence board and focusing on Malvo's picture while he pictures Malvo driving by his bus route. Leading me to believe that Gus will be involved with Malvo - for good or for bad - in the last episode.

  • danharr Jun 14, 2014

    Just when we were rooting for tv's newest anti-hero bam full scumbag sending his wife to die. Good job Fargo can't wait till the season finale.

  • geoffmaze Jun 13, 2014

    This has been a good show. Props for that. Bit disappointed Lester turned into such a scumbag weasel. He sent his own wife to her death and quivered in the dark all the while. Weak stuff.
    One thing I don't think the show did a good job of was give a good reason why Malvo would come after Lester full force. He just shot 3 people in the elevator and then when he was done casually asked Lester to help him. Lester winds up whacking him in the head, to little effect, and Malvo's reaction is surprise more than anything.
    I'd think Malvo would go find him to have a chat and get him back under his wing. Honestly it had to be much more gratifying for Malvo to see Lester grow a set than to have him revert to a weasel and scamper away.

  • JenMo73 Jun 14, 2014

    Anything that Malvo has done has never been explained, which I have had a little frustration with as well. I really want to know why he does what he does. I am constantly guessing about the why. So in this situation I think Malvo was about to bring Lester "under his wing" and then decided well if that is how your going to react then forget it. So he might as well dispose of him because what if Lester decides to say something. About the Vegas crimes and the murder of Hess and Verne.

  • Whedonrules Jun 13, 2014

    Lester sucks. He is the suckiest of all characters that have done bad things to others on television this year. He sent his wife, who was so enamored with him during this big highlight in his career by his side and proud of him, directly into the hornet's nest and assured she wouldn't be coming out alive by feigning concern that she would get sick without her hood on. Dickhead. Thank you very much writers!!!! These characters don't exist on network television because of the ancient trolls running those sinking ships into the ground - thank god for cable. Lester cannot die quick enough next week so he probably won't.

  • JenMo73 Jun 13, 2014

    I don't you just love to hate characters like him? It's like how much lower can he go?

  • Whedonrules Jun 14, 2014

    Just when your finished feeling bad for 'everyman' - he proves he is only out for himself. You hate characters like that but he's playing the part so well - like 'Lester' believes he is blameless in all of this and its so fun to watch. His wife was presented as such a sweetheart and died Malvo's victim, never knowing she'd been Lester's victim for the past year of her life. I just hope Molly gets to arrest the twerp or blow the back of his head out standing next to Bob Odenkirk's clueless character (another great character created by this show.)

  • klotensen Jun 13, 2014

    This scene at the beginning, highly disturbing and it speaks volumes as to what Malvo really is...


    ... and here you go, the elevator scene was memorable:

    And Lester's shame:

  • Vicky8675309 Jun 13, 2014

    Malvo recording the calls has always been super disturbing…so premeditated

  • klotensen Jun 14, 2014

    Maybe it's not that bad - maybe it just serves all a scientific purpose, lol

  • left4dead Jun 13, 2014

    Yeh, one season will do it. Last two episodes have been a bit strained and
    contrived...

  • RTDToo Jun 13, 2014

    "Haven't had a piece of pie like that since the Garden of Eden". Supports what I've thought all along. Malvo is the Devil incarnate and Lester is his unwitting tool whom he's just toying with. Furthermore, Lester would never be able to kill Malvo, because he's invulnerable.

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