In “The Castle,” “Fargo”’s Season 2’s penultimate episode, Hank (Ted Danson) tells a local cop, who has legal jurisdiction but poor strategy, an anecdote. The story centers on a feisty lieutenant who, during the war, criticized their commanding officer, General Eisenhower, for his Very Bad Plan. Hank does not succeed at making this same point with the cop, thereby proving the adage that most people hate change and can’t see beyond what’s top of mind.
Sioux Falls, then, especially as the massive cops-Gerhardt massacre is about to go down, is hardly the place for people to welcome a massive upheaval of their belief system. But, along with the warring factions, the invasion indeed comes, in the form of a flying saucer, whose blinding lights manage to distract Bear (Angus Sampson) sufficiently enough for Hank to blow Bear’s brains out.
In the end, when the Blomquists manage to elude Hanzee, Ed (Jesse Plemons) is mesmerized by the UFO, prompting Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) to brush it off, saying, “It’s just a flying saucer, Ed!”
Peggy acknowledges the ship in a matter-of-fact way. For others, though, the object hovering in the sky represents an unknown factor, with no definitive origin other than being from outer space, and no clear designation as friend or foe. On the surface, it’s simply “other.” But Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung would be the first to say it’s not so simple.
Season 2 of “Fargo” is set in 1979, a little more than two decades after Jung wrote Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky. In his essay, Jung was responding to the fact that spaceships were already part of human consciousness, as people had already reported having dreams about them, as well as having communicated with the aliens on board.
Jung saw the UFO as an archetype – an ancient image whose meaning we all somehow collectively grasp – of self-wholeness and the divine. If we stick to that meaning, the ship’s hovering over Sioux Falls adds great depth to this season’s episodes.
Life typically is seen as a bunch of dualities – hot and cold, love and hate, life and death. During Season 2, we’ve seen the duality of Betsy’s (Cristin Milioti) cancer deplete her of vitality, and the drug-placebo clinical trial. Was the strange writing she witnessed at her home – perhaps a hallucination – an invitation to a new experience where life and death are conjoined and not separate?
We’ve also seen the Gerhardt clan’s win-lose battle with Kansas City, as well as the gap between maturity and youth.
The one figure who’s most aligned with the UFO’s symbolic depth is, no surprise, Peggy, whose ambitious plan for herself, through Lifespring, has always focused on improvement and self-development. The hallmark of spaceships is expansion, higher mind and benign optimism, Jupiterian traits well represented by the huge mother ship in the classic Close Encounters of the Third Kind. It’s as though Peggy, who proudly proclaims that she has become “realized” as a person, looks at the ship not as an strange object, but as a dynamic, known entity whose energies she has absorbed and identifies with.
Will “Fargo”’s show creator and main writer Noah Hawley further identify the fate of Peggy – or other characters – with the galactic vessel in the series’ season finale? With any luck, yes, because sometimes a flying saucer is more than just a flying saucer.
Archetypes: Growth. Expansion. Higher Mind.
Astrology Archetype: Jupiter.