Spoiler warning: The following Q&A contains major plot details from “Fargo” Season 2, Episode 9, titled “The Castle.”
There’s just one episode left to go in season two of “Fargo,” and tonight’s penultimate installment turned out to be a bloodbath for the Gerhardt clan. (R.I.P. Floyd and Bear.) We also might have seen the last of stand-up sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson), while his terminally ill daughter, Betsy Solverson (Cristin Milioti), took a turn for the worse back at home.
State trooper Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) — Hank’s son-in-law and Betsy’s husband — was at the center of all the action, and at the episode’s close he was in hot pursuit of former Gerhardt henchman Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) and crime spree couple Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) and Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons).
Variety spoke with Wilson about Lou’s eventful episode, which included a touching exchange with Hank, a brutal face off with Bear, and the return of that mysterious UFO.
We don’t know if Hank pulls through or not, but it doesn’t look good. What was it like playing that moment with Ted Danson after Hank was shot, and Lou tells him he’ll see him “at Sunday dinner”?
PATRICK WILSON: The thing about these guys is there’s just an understanding — you see it from the first episode, that’s their way of communicating. That’s about what Lou’s gonna give you and that’s about what Hank’s gonna give you. It’s beautifully understated because the situation is so visceral and apparent. As an actor I love playing the opposite — if you need to stay somewhere, act like you’re leaving — and that’s kind of what that scene is. You want to say all these things and you end up talking about Sunday dinner. I think that’s probably the reality of a lot of people, but certainly the people we’ve created. We were almost done at that point, so it was hard. It’s hard to let go of these guys. I love Lou, I miss Lou. And I miss Hank.
Lou has an epic brawl with Bear Gerhardt. Did that take extra time to plan out?
I love that stuff. We talked over what we were doing, had a good stunt coordinator. I thought it was a great ending there too. I got to work more with Angus [Sampson] on this show than I did in two movies [“Insidious” and “Insidious: Chapter Two”]. He’s such a great guy and it was lovely to see him get a really meaty part, and meet his demise. I remember looking at these speedloaders — it’s what you have in your belt that holds your whole cylinder. They just have a revolver, and it’s “How quick can you get it out, punch it in and lock and load?” It’s such old school, very practical, weaponry. It hasn’t changed much from the six-shooter. I remember very specifically thinking, “I just need to get the speedloader right for all the old school cops who had this gun.” Those are the things you think about, “Am I loading my gun correctly?”
And in the midst of that fight with Bear, the UFO comes back. What does Lou make of that?
Lou’s a very practical guy. He seizes the moment and shoots Bear — he’s taking the task at hand. I don’t think he gives [the UFO] too much credence, until the next episode. At that moment he doesn’t have time to question it.
What about after Bear is shot and Lou lies back and stares at the UFO?
I remember thinking, “Am I dead?” There are those fleeting moments. “Do I walk to the light?” I think we’re more in that land. It’s the closest he’s gotten to death. I don’t think he’s too caught up in people from outer space at that point. We’ll address it in the way you can imagine Lou would address something.
Kirsten Dunst has that great line, “It’s just a flying saucer.”
That’s the kind of thing with this show. “Sure man, there’s a UFO. Why not?” They’ve seen everything else.
Did you embrace that feeling when you first read about the UFOs or did you ask (showrunner) Noah Hawley for an explanation?
In typical Noah fashion, you ask him about it and he’s like, “I don’t know, what do you think?” He’s not like, “Well, what it represents is…” I think that, yes, there’s this obsession with a phenomenon that seemed to be happening, and it was also the rise of “Close Encounters.” There was definitely a social awareness. But I remember when I read in episode one when it appears, I thought it was fantastic because it’s just so strange. There are just no answers to so much of this. And you’re not gonna get an answer. I think people like Peggy would go, “What? It’s a flying saucer.” Then again, she’s “touched” — which is my favorite line.
Speaking of Peggy, Lou made it clear in this episode he feels it’s his responsibility to protect her and Ed. Why do you think that is?
To me, it’s a mirror image of his family life and watching what Betsy’s going through. I think deep down he knows he’s not going to win that battle, and dammit if he’s not going to win this one. I feel like he’s got to save someone. It’s heartbreaking if you think about it. He’s desperate to save his wife and family and he knows he may not. He very strongly believes in the moral code. And yes he feels horrible for these people and he knows that they’ve lied to him repeatedly. But he also knows that Ed stood up for his wife when many lesser men would’ve ducked and dodged and ran. For all of Ed’s faults, that is a guy who deeply loves that woman and did everything he could to keep that relationship. I think Lou really admires that in a strange way. He can’t stand it, it’s making his life miserable, and obviously they’re in way over their head. But there’s an effort, and it may be a subconscious effort, of “I’m going to help someone.”
“Fargo” airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on FX.