Television: Fargo, "Buridan's Ass"

The only reason to show a man in bandages is because you'll somehow be using that man and/or his bandages. Which is what Lester does in order to escape the hospital after he realizes a deputy is sitting outside his door and his brother comes and disowns him. Chaz tells Lester that, if he really didn't kill anyone, he'd better give the police someone—a name, anything. With no love lost between the brothers, Lester goes to Chaz's place and frames him by putting the hammer that killed Pearl, a photo of Pearl, and some of Pearl's underwear in the gun cabinet. He also puts an unloaded revolver in his nephew's backpack. The nephew sees Les coming down the stairs but doesn't say anything, despite the fact that Uncle Lester is still in a hospital gown. ::shrug::

Meanwhile, Malvo double-crosses Don (is anyone surprised? except Don himself that is?) and sets it up so that the police come in shooting while Don is duct taped to an exercise machine. He never stood a chance.

Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench go after Malvo in a snowstorm . . . Worst possible time to be able to aim at and shoot somebody, don't you think? Malvo cuts Mr. Numbers' throat, and when Grimly and Solverson respond to the call, it seems Solverson is also killed. Poor Grimly. He was really starting to rely on her superior intellect in sorting out all this.

And Milos' son does indeed die. In a car accident. After it rains fish.

If you're wondering about the episode title, Buridan's Ass (or Donkey, if you prefer) is a philosophical paradox. Supposedly a donkey that is equally hungry and thirsty is put equidistant between a bale of hay and some water. Nature would suggest the donkey will go for whatever is closer. Since neither is closer, the donkey is unable to decide and dies of hunger and thirst. (Thirst first, one supposes, since living creatures can go longer without food than water.) From a real-world perspective, it's rather silly. I'm not sure it's possible to be equally hungry and thirsty; one will always take precedence. Probably thirst, since that's the body's greater need. And even if one were equally hungry and thirsty, if set between two options, survival dictates one choose regardless of being equidistant. Would you really dither? No. But whatever.

Perhaps this works better when survival is not, in fact, on the line. You're at the grocery store standing between to check-out lanes of equal length (that is, with an equal number of people in each line). Which do you choose? You might dither then. You might try to determine whether one group has more items than another, you might wait to see if anyone else comes along and joins the queue so as to force your hand.

Or if you're given the option between two jobs, each with equal pay and the same commute . . .

Or even if you're entertaining two ideas—for me, it might be that I have two story ideas, and because I like them equally, neither of them gets written because I can't decide where to start or which to work on.

There it is. That's Buridan's Ass at work.

Of course in Fargo survival is always on the line. It is the great motivator. Malvo, you notice, doesn't dither either. Which is why he keeps coming out on top.

No comments: