Buridan's Ass
Season 1, Episode 6
Episode Information
Air Date:

May 20, 2014

Written by:

Noah Hawley

Directed by:

Colin Bucksey

Episode Chronology
Previous Episode:

The Six Ungraspables

Next Episode:

Who Shaves the Barber?


Buridan's Ass is the sixth episode of Season 1 of Fargo. The episode premiered on May 20, 2014.


Malvo executes his master plan, while Lester attempts to craft one of his own. Gus and Molly team up in Duluth.


The episode opens with a group of men eating in a restaurant. One of the men, Mr. Jergen, is telling a story to the others and is interrupted by his boss Moses Tripoli, regarding what is being done about the person who murdered Sam Hess. His accountant, Mr. Carlyle informs him that Wes Wrench and Grady Numbers are out looking for the suspect. When Jergen explains the current information and that it could be related to Hess's extramarital affairs, Tripoli interrupts again, saying that he doesn't care and that he wants the suspect dead. "Head in a bag," he says.

Don Chumph is lying in his pantry, having spent the night locked in. Lorne Malvo unlocks the door and opens it, telling him it is time to make the call to Stavros Milos. Don feels that the trust is broken between the two of them, and suggests 60 percent of the one million dollars. Malvo hands him a piece of paper and tells him to read it to Stavros during the call "word for word." The call is made, and Don tells Stavros to make the drop at the Gustafson parking garage, and Stavros agrees. Malvo tells Don to grab the duffel bag a few feet away from him. When Don asks about the heavy amount of duct tape inside of it, Malvo knocks him unconscious with a blender.

Meanwhile, Molly Solverson heads to Duluth, Minnesota, and meets up with Gus Grimly at his apartment building. He informs her that his neighbor told him he had been followed by Malvo and says that the neighbor gave him the license plate of the car he was driving. Gus ran the plates and found out it was a company car for Phoenix Farms. The two decide to head on over there to investigate, but the manager is not in, so Molly leaves her card and tells them to call her when he arrives.

Lester Nygaard sits in his hospital bed ready to go home, but is informed by a nurse that it is up to the officer outside the door. Once she leaves, he tries to escape out the window, but it is locked. He hears his brother Chaz Nygaard outside the door and pretends to be asleep. His brother comes inside and asks what Lester had done, telling him that Molly says he's a suspect in the murder of Pearl Nygaard. Lester denies everything, saying the police department is just placing blame because they have no good leads. Chaz belittles his older brother and says that he is done with him before leaving in a huff. Lester then takes advantage of his fellow roommate, whose face is bandaged and is headed to radiology, by moving him to Lester's bed and covering him entirely with a blanket, then bandaging his own face and taking the roommate's place. The nurse wheels him out to the hallway, thinking Lester to be the other patient, and leaves him for a doctor. Lester realizes he is all alone and makes his escape, stealing the keys to a car from the staff locker room.

Stavros goes to the parking garage to make the drop, and gets a call from Wally, who tells him that his son Dmitri Milos is getting restless over at the cabin, and that they both are baffled by Stavros' sudden change of heart. At that same moment, Stavros suddenly realizes that God doesn't want him to pay up, but to put the money back where it was. He exits the parking garage with a new destination in mind.

Lester heads back to his house in the stolen car, where he removes the fish poster and grabs the hammer he murdered Pearl with from a hole in the wall. He also grabs a picture of Pearl and a pair of her panties. He heads over to his brother's house, entering through the garage. He checks if anyone is home and when the coast is clear, he plants the hammer, the picture and the panties inside Chaz's gun locker, taking a revolver out as well. He goes upstairs and plants the revolver in his nephew Gordo's backpack and tries to leave, but Kitty Nygaard and Gordo return home. When Kitty is in the garage and Gordo's back is turned, Lester tries sneaking out the front door and Gordo spots him, but looks unconcerned, so Lester walks out.

Don wakes up to find himself duct taped to his workout equipment and his mouth gagged. Malvo tells him that just in case Stavros calls the cops, he wants them too busy to respond. He duct tapes an unloaded shotgun in Don's hands. Malvo has also rigged a rifle at the front window, and begins shooting at cars. He hears the call on his police scanner, collects his things and exits the house. Police arrive as the blizzard begins to hit. They order Don to come out with his hands up or he will be fired upon. Don can only mumble through the duct tape over his mouth and he tries desperately to break loose. When the cops advance on the house, one steps over a tripwire that makes the rifle in the window fire at them. The cops begin firing hundreds of bullets at the house. Don can only cower as the bullets tear through his house. After a cease fire, the cops decide to breach the house. Don manages to get his mouth free of the duct tape and screams out, but a smoke bomb crashes through the window. The cops breach the house and immediately open fire on Don, only seeing the silhouette of him holding a gun through all the smoke. After being shot numerous times, Don slumps over dead.

As Malvo makes his way to the drop point in a blizzard, two cars surround him, and Malvo slams into the one in front of him, causing his gun to fall off the front seat, out of reach. Wrench and Numbers step out of the cars and begin firing at him. Malvo manages to escape his car and hide in the whiteout of the blizzard. As Wrench and Numbers split up to look for him, Malvo cuts his hand to leave a trail of blood in the snow. Numbers notices the trail of blood and is soon ambushed by Malvo, who stabs him in the back and who sent them. He stabs Numbers again and twists the knife. Numbers screams out that it was Fargo who sent them. Malvo removes the knife from his back and slices his throat, leaving him to bleed out in the snow. 

Molly and Gus, nearby, hear all the gunfire and find Numbers lying dead in the snow. Molly goes in pursuit of suspects and Gus tries to go find her through the blizzard. He hears Molly fire at someone and blindly fires his gun at what he thinks to be an oncoming suspect. As he moves forward, he finds Molly on the ground.

Meanwhile, Stavros buries his money in the snow in a similar location, leaving the ice scraper as a marker just like he found it. 

As Wally and Dmitri are close to home, they notice that the blizzard begins to subside. But suddenly, fish begin falling from the sky, alarming the both of them. The car ends up fishtailing and crashing. Not long after, Stavros runs over several fish and he stops his car. He notices the car wreck not too far from him and finds Wally dead in the snow. He looks for his son Dmitri inside the car and finds him dead as well. Stavros breaks down in tears. "I gave it back!" he cries out.

Lester disguises himself as his roommate once again and is able to sneak back into his hospital room. As he sits quietly, a satisfied smile begins to form on his face.


Main cast

Recurring cast




  • First appearance of Moses Tripoli.
  • First appearance of Mr. Carlyle.
  • First appearance of Mr. Jergen.
  • Last appearance of Don Chumph.
  • Last appearance of Grady Numbers.
  • Last appearance of Wally Semenchko.
  • Last appearance of Dmitri Milos.
  • The appearance of Gustavson parking where Carl kills Mr. Gustavson and the men of the security of the parking is similar when Stavros goes but with a different ending.
  • The title refers to a "paradox" in philosophy. Buridan's ass is a hypothetical donkey who is equally hungry and thirsty. Placed equidistant between a bale of hay and a pail of water, the ass cannot make a rational decision about which to choose and dies of hunger and thirst. The "paradox" is a satire of Jean Buridan's moral determinism which states that humans are compelled to choose the greater good and cannot break the deadlock between two equally good choices.
Season 1 episodes

01. "The Crocodile's Dilemma"
02. "The Rooster Prince"
03. "A Muddy Road"
04. "Eating the Blame"
05. "The Six Ungraspables"

06. "Buridan's Ass"
07. "Who Shaves the Barber?"
08. "The Heap"
09. "A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage"
10. "Morton's Fork"

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