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The second season of the excellent FX series Fargo aired its season finale last night. In a series packed with great characterizations and plot twists, there was one I was disappointed with.

In the final episode, we see one of the indisputable heroes of the season, Lou Solverson, driving Peggy Blumquist back to their hometown, she in the back seat of the prowler while Lou delivers a monologue similar to that of Marge Gunderson's (Francis McDormand) in the movie Fargo, where she lays out the utter senselessness of killing for money. (Lou's monologue is about the lengths men will go to protect their families and the meaning of this in life.)

In the movie, the most purely evil person in that film rides in the back of the prowler silently. Lou and Peggy clearly mirror this scene, though Peggy was not silent.

Peggy answers with her own, shorter monologue that she never meant for any of this to happen, speaking of the trap women in 1979 found themselves in, that women were victims of society too.

Lou abruptly cuts her off with obvious disdain for her ideas:

People are dead, Peggy.

Clearly she committed a crime (an almost unspeakably evil hit and run that ended up costing that victim his life), but the fact that people are dead was otherwise not her fault (the Kansas City mob planned to kidnap one of the Gerhardts anyway, and war would've ensued; the Indian Hanzee Dent is responsible for most of the deaths.)

But the framing of it - Peggy in the back of the prowler on her way to jail, and Lou, the hero, cutting her off implying her blame ("You mean the victim?" and his final remark) seems to place all the carnage at Peggy's feet, which I think was short-sighted.

Was this the message the writers were intending to send? Or was it a crafty example of how men really didn't understand the limits placed on women that could drive someone like Peggy to the lunacy she displayed? Or is it something entirely different?

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    Peggy mirrors Jerry, not Grimsrud. Hanzee somewhat mirrors Grimsrud but evolved via Malvo. I think both these facts are pretty obvious and not at all hidden. Anyway Peggy's faults are exactly those of Jerry: faced with adversity or disappointment, she only feels pity for herself and bitterness that she is a "victim". The diametric opposite of Marge is not Grimsrud, it's Jerry. The contrast between her/Lou's heroism and Jerry/Peggy's failure is that Marge and Lou do face real adversity, but in the face of it they find purpose in others. Their self-actualization is outward, not inward. – Marcel Besixdouze Dec 17 '15 at 3:55
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+250

Lou and Peggy's conversation certainly carries a lot of thematic weight, and there's a lot of out-of-universe analysis to make out of it, but in the absence of an interview where a writer says "Well, what I meant was this" an answer to that analytical question would be opinion-based at best and speculative at worst.

Lou's retort is well-motivated in-universe, though, because Peggy is responsible for more than just the hit-and-run in the first episode:

Peggy and Ed refused to cooperate when Lou offered to help after the butcher's shop burned down. We can't say what would have happened if they did accept police intervention, but I think it's safe to say that the Gerhardt assault on the Blumquist residence would not have gone the way it did—and it led to a lot of carnage.

More damningly, though:

Peggy and Ed kidnapped Dodd Gerhardt. That kidnapping led directly to Ed's deal with Mike Milligan, which led directly to the Motor Motel sting, which led directly to Hanzee's setup of the Gerhardts. If the Blumquists had taken Dodd to the police, there would be no Massacre at Sioux Falls.

Peggy's decisions are consistently selfish and frequently put others in harm's way. She views herself as a protagonist and ultimately as a victim, but considered in a larger context, many people who lost their lives are clearly the victims of her quest to become actualized. When Lou says "people died," he's not necessarily laying the blame on Peggy, but he is pointing out that her personal struggle doesn't excuse her actions or negate their consequences.

(I know I said I wanted to rest more on in-universe facts than analysis, but there's one scene in the finale that I really think can only be interpreted one way:)

While holed up in the meat locker, Peggy sees smoke coming through the vents. As quickly as she realizes Hanzee's intent, she realizes that this is just like the movie she was watching earlier: The Nazi tried to smoke out the lovers, but they were rescued by a roguish American and escaped. She repeatedly points this parallel out to Ed as evidence that they'll be rescued, too. When she opens the freezer door, though, not only is she incorrect in her interpretation, but the smoke itself was a product of her imagination. She could not believe in anything but a narrative in which she was the heroine, and everything had to work out okay for her, but in the end this was revealed as a delusion.

  • +1 - You make a lot of good points. Still - and maybe I'm the one who's missing the obvious - she did hurt Ed, but did not cause the carnage; Dodd made up the butcher story himself! Dodd kills his own man, Peggy kills one in self defense, and also captures and controls Dodd (he was trying to kill her, after all - and he was a real pig through the whole show, much worse than her - something no one else could do, not even the mother.) But, you've made a lot of really good points and I think the disconnect with reality (was it only selfish or was it stress-induced?) is probably the key. – anongoodnurse Dec 16 '15 at 3:14
  • On re-reading your answer, I think you're answer is correct. Can't see how Peggy was the direct cause of anyone but maybe Ed's death, but maybe I need to think about that. I'll give it a bit to see if anyone else has a fuller picture. – anongoodnurse Dec 16 '15 at 3:21

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