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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 top men of the Fargo Crime Syndicate share a meal at a restaurant. Their leader, Moses Tripoli, demands an update on Sam Hess' murder. Handler Jergen tells him that Wes Wrench and Grady Numbers are headed to Duluth to apprehend Lorne Malvo. Tripoli orders Malvo killed on the spot.

Don Chumph is released from his pantry to find Malvo having boarded up all the windows of his house. Malvo makes him read a message to Stavros Milos from a script, starting with the story of an impoverished, homeless boy taken in by a pack of wolves, and ending with him giving Milos the location of a parking garage and a time. When he finishes, Malvo beats him unconscious with the base of a blender.

Molly Solverson visits Gus Grimly at his home. He relays Ari Ziskind's encounter with Malvo to her, and tells her he ran the license plates of the van Malvo was driving, identifying it as a company car belonging to Milos. Lester Nygaard tells his nurse he is ready to leave the hospital, but learns he cannot leave until given approval from the police officer guarding him. He is stopped from an escape attempt by the arrival of Chazz, who is increasingly suspicious of Lester because of the phone call he received and the police's increased interest in him. He tells Lester that he is done with him and says that there is something missing inside his brother, and that he is wrong in the world. When Chazz leaves, Lester thinks to himself for a minute before switching beds with the man next to him, a heavily bandaged and barely verbal patient about to be taken to radiology. Lester bandages his face and lets the nurse wheel him out, stealing a staff member's car keys when she leaves and escaping the hospital.

Molly and Gus go to the store the van was taken from and Molly leaves her card, as Milos is out. As Milos waits in the parking garage to make the payoff, he gets a call from Wally Semenchko asking if he finished the job yet, both he and Milos' son expressing confusion at his behavior. Milos comes to the sudden realization that God does not want him to give his money away, but to return it to the spot where he found it. He leaves the garage.

As Gus laments Malvo's ability to lie fluidly and how it reflects on the state of the world, Chumph awakens gagged and taped to a treadmill. Malvo tapes a shotgun to his hands and explains that Chumph will distract the police on the off chance Milos calls them. Chumph tries to shoot Malvo when he stands in front of the barrel, but the gun is, of course, unloaded. Listening to his police scanner, Malvo fires shots from the boarded up window until the police are called to the scene, and leaves out the back. Lester hurries to his house and removes the poster of the fish he ran into, revealing the hammer he used to kill his wife behind it. He wraps it up in plastic, grabs a picture of Pearl and a pair of her underwear, and leaves. He sneaks into Chazz's house and places the hammer, underwear and photo in his gun locker after taking a revolver from it. He slips the revolver into his nephew's backpack just as Gordo and Kitty return home, and despite being spotted by an unconcerned Gordo, manages to get out of the house.

Over a meal, Gus tells Molly that he dislikes being a cop and always wanted to be a mailman, enjoying the job's simplicity and the appreciation that comes with it. When he tried to apply to be one, they were not hiring, and he decided to become a cop to support his daughter after his wife's death. Police sirens going by interrupt the moment, and Gus wonders aloud what they are doing.

Multiple police cars pull up in front of Chumph's house as a blizzard starts. Malvo listens to the action on his police scanner as he drives. As a SWAT team advances on the house, they set off a tripwire that causes a rigged gun to fire, and they return shots into the house. Just as Chumph gets his tape gag free, the team kicks in the door and mows him down. Malvo switches off his scanner when they confirm Chumph's death, and is suddenly attacked by Wrench and Numbers right outside the diner Molly and Gus were eating at. When they split up, Malvo cuts himself and leaves a trail of blood, luring Numbers into an ambush. Malvo stabs and tortures him into telling them they were sent by the Fargo Crime Syndicate, and Malvo slits his throat.

Gus and Molly finds Numbers' body as Malvo disappears into the storm. They split up, and a panicked Gus, hearing footsteps and a gunshot and unable to see, shoots into the wind, accidentally hitting Molly. Milos buries the million dollars in the place where he found it, marking it with the same ice scraper. As the blizzard subsides, fish begin falling from the sky, causing Semenchko's car to crash. Milos finds the crash site as he drives back, finding Semenchko and Dmitri dead. He tearfully insists to the sky that he "gave it back."

Lester reenters the hospital and again disguises himself as his roommate to get back into his room undetected. He switches them back and sits up in his bed, looking around the room before calmly smiling.


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"