The Story (continued)
(Day Six - Friday Mid-Afternoon)
In the lobby of the downtown Twin Cities Radisson Hotel, where Marge has made a reservation to stay the night, she phones Detective Siebert and tells him that she will soon be visiting Shep Proudfoot.
Meanwhile, Carl has traveled into the city in preparation for the ransom exchange. He drives into the snowy rooftop, long-term parking lot of the Minneapolis airport, parks next to a car that is covered in newly-fallen snow, and begins to remove its license plate (to avoid being stopped again with suspicious DLR plates). At the lot's exit booth, he has a tantrum when the minimum-wage paid parking attendant (Peter Schmitz) charges him four dollars for the few minutes he was there:
I guess you think you're, uh, ya know, like an authority figure, with that stupid, f--kin' uniform, huh, buddy? King Clip-on Tie there, big f--kin' man, huh? You know, these are the limits of your life, man. Rules of your little f--king gate here. There's your four dollars, you pathetic piece of s--t.
In the service area of Gustafson's Motors, Jerry learns that Shep Proudfoot is speaking to a "policewoman" in the service office. With a sweet, disarming smile, Marge questions whether he remembers receiving a phone call at home, and then reminds him of her knowledge of his past problems "struggling with the narcotics, some other entanglements, currently on parole" and the potential of his return to the Stillwater prison - a violation of his parole - if he is "associating with criminals" by speaking to one of the homicide suspects.
And then Marge pokes her head in Jerry's office (where he is mindlessly doodling on an I LOVE GOLF pad), and after sitting down to take the 'load' off her feet, she explains how she is investigating "some malfeasance." She asks him if he's "had any new vehicles stolen off the lot in the past couple of weeks - specifically a tan Cutlass Ciera?" Jerry is dumbstruck and can't answer (and the savvy policewoman probably senses his profound worry - he rewinds the conversation back to where she lives: "Brainerd?" She reminds him of the town's legendary occupants: "Home of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox." And then he deceitfully tells her that there are no missing vehicles. After she has left, he phones for Shep, but can't reach him.
(Day Six - Friday Evening)
Unaccustomed to being away from her husband's presence, her hometown and her job's responsibilities, Marge has made arrangements to meet her former high-school classmate/boyfriend, Asian-American Mike Yanagita (Steve Park) in the bar of her hotel (as Mike affirms with the familiar Swedish-American accent: "Ya know, it's the Radisson, so it's pretty good"). He is slightly star-struck by her status as a homicide investigator (when he watched her on TV), and envious of her marriage to Norm: "So ya went and married Norm Son-of-a-Gunderson!" When Mike begins to tell her about his troubling life story and marriage to a school acquaintance named Linda Cooksey, he attempts to slide into her side of the booth to re-establish their former intimacy and make a pass (even though she's married and pregnant), but she firmly (and politely) declines:
Why dontcha sit over there, I prefer that...just so I can see ya. Don't have to turn my neck.
He claims to have been working for Honeywell ("you could do a lot worse") for a few years as an engineer, since Linda died due to a battle against leukemia ("she fought real hard"). During his poignant tale, the pathetic man begins to break down after telling Marge the details of Linda's passing, his subsequent loneliness, and his admiration for her ("You were such a super lady"). Gullible to his tale, Marge is perceptive enough to resist the temptation to console her forlorn, desperate, middle-aged friend. She simply responds: "It's OK, Mike."
In another part of town, in the Carlton Celebrity Room, Carl has hired a blonde tart/prostitute from an escort service for a night on the town at a live Jose Feliciano concert in the club. He makes a crude, sexual allusion to his work in town (a clear reference to Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange (1971)):
Just in town on business. Just in and out. Ha. Just a little of the old in-and-out.
He complains that a waiter is deaf when his request for a drink is ignored. Later that evening (in Shep Proudfoot's apartment bedroom), he has sex with the hooker when Shep flings the floozie out of the bed and begins slapping, punching and kicking Carl: "Get the f--k outta here. Put me back in Stillwater, ya little f--kin' s--thead!" After the prostitute runs down the hall screaming: "Animals," Shep starts strangling Carl with his pants belt, and then whips him with it. Afterwards in a restaurant, a visibly bruised and cut Carl phones Jerry (with Wade listening in) to vent his anger on the two-bit schemer and arrange for the immediate exchange of the ransom money ($80,000):
I'm through f--kin' around. You got the f--kin' money?...I want you with this money on the Dayton-Radisson parking ramp, top level, thirty minutes, Jerry, and we'll wrap this thing up...You're there in thirty minutes or I find you, Jerry, and I shoot you, and I shoot your f--kin' wife, and I shoot all your little f--kin' children, and I shoot 'em all in the back of their little f--kin' heads. Ya got it?
Taking charge of the matter, Wade grabs his briefcase (with a million dollars) and gets into his Cadillac to make the delivery. On the way, he rehearses his words with a revolver in his hand: "Where's my damn daughter? You, you god-damn punk." On the top parking level, Carl is shocked to see someone other than Jerry, and orders the stranger: "I am through f--kin' around. Drop that f--kin' briefcase!" Wade responds: "Where's my damn daughter?...No Jean, no money." Carl pulls out his gun and shoots Wade point-blank in the gut, swearing: "F--kin' imbeciles!" [Goose down feathers, rather than blood, gush from the wound.] After stumbling and falling backward to the ground, Wade retaliates and fires his gun at Carl's head, causing a bloody gash across his right jawline. The kidnapper screams words from his bleeding jaw (in a mumble) : "(He) f--ken shop me." With his hand cradling his messy face, Carl empties his gun into Wade's body. He grabs the briefcase, hurls it into the front seat, and hurriedly drives away.
On his way down the ramp, he swerves and narrowly misses Jerry's car on his way to the top. At the exit gate, Carl encounters another friendly lot attendant (Bix Skahill) - with his bloody hand pressed against his wounded jaw, he shouts: "Open the f--kin gate!" Jerry sits in his idling car after seeing his dead father-in-law, without evidence of his wife or the money. As he drives out of the parking lot (with Wade packed in the trunk), he is dismayed - in an understatement of immense proportions - to see the swath of destruction left by Carl at the lot's entrance: an up-ended, dead parking attendant and a splintered wooden gate.
At home, Jerry cannot completely comprehend what has happened to him, and tells his son (who is off-screen and metaphorically distant): "I'm goin' to bed now." The scene turns black. [Soon, Jerry will abandon his one remaining family member, Scotty, and flee for his life.]
(Day Seven - Saturday Morning)
On a cold morning, Officer Olson drives down a rural road to the driveway of a house where a man in a hooded parka, Mr. Mohra (Bain Boehlke), is brushing off snow and ice. Standing there in their many layers of protection from the cold, Mohra relates a long, drawn-out tale that provides more clues to the killers' whereabouts by the lake:
Mohra: So I'm tendin' bar down there at Ecklund and Swedlin's last Tuesday [The internal logic contradicts this - the kidnappers didn't get to the cabin until Thursday] and this little guy's drinkin' and he says, 'So where can a guy find some action? I'm goin' crazy out there at the lake.' And I says, 'What kinda action?' And he says, 'Woman action, what do I look like?' And I says, 'Well, what do I look like, I don't arrange that kinda thing,' and he says, 'But I'm goin' crazy out there at the lake,' and I says, 'Yah, but this ain't that kinda place.'
Gary: Uh, huh.
Mohra: He says, 'Oh, so I get it, so you think I'm some kinda jerk for askin',' only he don't use the word jerk.
Gary: I understand.
Mohra: Then he calls me a jerk and says the last guy who thought he was a jerk is dead now. So I don't say nothin'. He says, 'What do ya think about that?' And I says, 'Well, that don't sound like too good a deal for him, then.'
Gary: You got that right.
Mohra: Yah. He says, 'Yah, that guy's dead and I don't mean of old age.' And then he says, 'Geez, I'm goin' crazy out there at the lake.'
Gary: White Bear Lake?
Mohra: Yah, well, at Ecklund and Swedlin, that's closer to Moose Lake, so I made that assumption.
Gary: Oh, sure.
Mohra: Anyway, he was drinkin' at the bar, so I don't think a whole great deal of it, but then Mrs. Mohra, she heard about the homicides down here and thought I should call it in, so I called it in. End of story.
Gary: Well, what'd this guy look like, anyways?
Mohra: Oh, he was a little guy. Kinda funny-lookin'.
Gary: Uh, huh. In what way?
Mohra: Oh, just in a general kinda way.
In his parked car on the side of a deserted road, Carl presses a white (blood-stained) cloth up to his oozing jaw, while with his other free hand, he opens the briefcase - filled to overflowing with bank-wrapped wads of one-hundred dollar bills. He counts out eight of the wads (equaling $80,000) and tosses them in the back seat, after realizing that there is more money than originally negotiated. His greedy plan is to double-cross his partner Grimsrud, by burying the briefcase with the excess cash in the snow beside the road - in the middle of nowhere. He exits his car, digs in the snow with a red icescraper next to a fence post, and hides the black satchel under the clumps of snow. Then he looks right - and then left - down an endless, identical row of barbed-wire fencing in both directions, trying to distinguish and mark the spot (in his mind), so that he can identify its location when he returns. Ineffectually, he sticks the ice-scraper in the ground as a marker.
Before leaving the hotel, Marge calls Valerie (Rose Stockton) and is told that Mike Yanagita's hard-luck tale was pure fabrication: "They never married. Mike's had psychiatric problems...He's been struggling. He's living with his parents now...Linda's fine." Marge's reaction is the typical: "Oh, geez...Geez, well, geez. That's a surprise." Before starting on her way home, she stops for an early breakfast snack at a drive-thru Hardee's fast-food, where she has to yell at the impersonal intercom panel. On a hunch, she also decides to pay another visit to Jerry's office (where he is methodically entering vehicle serial numbers on a form), to ask him the same question about missing vehicles:
The crime I'm investigating, the perpetrators were driving a car with dealer plates. And they called someone who works here, so it'd be quite a coincidence if they weren't, ya know, connected.
Fearing that she can sense the loud pounding of his heart, Jerry blusters that he is "the Executive Sales Manager" and "we run a pretty tight ship here. Then, he snaps: "Ma'am, I answered your question." She calls him on his impertinence:
Sir, you have no call to get snippy with me. I'm just doin' my job here.
To appear cooperative when she threatens to talk to his boss, Jerry concedes that he will conduct "a damned lot count" of vehicles to prove his point: "Right now, you're darned tootin'!" As he stomps off in his parka toward the lot, she glances around at the interior of his office, where she keenly notices a clipboard (with a GMAC vehicle form) and a framed picture of his wife. She is abruptly startled to see Jerry driving away in his car and reacts: "Oh, for Pete's sake. He's fleeing the interview." Marge phones Detective Siebert to report the flight.
(Day Seven - Saturday Midday)
In the lakeside cabin, Grimsrud is settled in front of the TV set, eating a TV dinner on a TV tray (also holding a juice bottle, Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) drinking glass picturing Esmeralda - an impossibility if the events took place in 1987 - and a long-necked beer bottle). The screen image is ghosted and snowy, due to poor reception, but he is nevertheless engrossed and mesmerized in the daytime soap opera [a Detroit-based show entitled Generations, starring actor Bruce Campbell, famed for appearances in director Sam Raimi's The Evil Dead (1981), Evil Dead II (1987), and Army of Darkness (1993)]. The actress prophetically warns: "Something's come up...Well, it's somethin' kinda small, but it might be a big problem. I'm pregnant." When Carl barges in through the front door, still bleeding profusely from his gunshot wound, the callous Grimsrud is hardly interested in his plight, or the kidnapping-murder drama surrounding him:
Carl: You should see the other guy. (He sees Jean slumped to the floor, still bound to a straight-backed chair. Bloodstreaks run down the front of the stove where he had brutally killed her.) (What) the f--k happened to her?
Grimsrud: (calmly and without remorse) She started shrieking, ya know.
Carl's plan is to quickly split the $80,000 ransom money with his partner, and then drive off in the Ciera, but he doesn't anticipate that Grimsrud also wants to "split that." Greedy beyond belief - and stupid too, Carl begins bickering with the silent, single-minded giant about the Ciera:
Carl: How the f--k do ya splita f--kin' car, ya dummy! Wid a f--kin' chainsaw?
Grimsrud: One of us pays the other for half.
Carl: Hold on. No f--kin' way. You f--kin' notice this? I got f--kin' shot. I got f--kin' shot in the face! I went and got the f--kin' money! I got shot f--kin' pickin' it up! I've been up for thirty-six f--kin' hours! I'm takin' that f--kin' car! That f--ker's mine, ya f--kin' asshole. Ya know, I've been listenin' to your f--kin' bulls--t all week. Are we square? Are we square? (He reveals his gun under his belt. With no response from Grimsrud, Carl begins to leave.) Yeah, ya f--kin' mute. And if you see your friend Shep Proudfoot, tell him I'm gonna nail his f--kin' ass.
As Carl strides out of the cabin toward the car, Grimsrud attacks him from behind, like the proverbial Paul Bunyan, with an axe swung overhead into Carl's neck.
Following up on the tip from Mr. Mohra, Marge is patrolling the area around Moose Lake, when she suddenly spots the tan Ciera parked in front of a cabin. She parks below the cabin on the muddy driveway, adjusts her parka, and then begins waddling and slogging through the deep snow. The loud humming and grinding sound of a power-driven tool emanates from behind the cabin and grows louder as she gets closer. She approaches cautiously, pausing and listening, and shielding herself behind trees. Marge takes out her gun, grasps it with two hands, and comes upon a man with his back to the camera - a red swatch of color is being sprayed onto the slushy white snow next to a power tool that groans and roars.
At a closer distance, she realizes the grotesque fact that the plaid-shirted man wearing a hat with earflaps (Grimsrud) is feeding a man's body parts (Carl's leg with a white sock) into a wood-chipper. Above the sputtering of the machine as he strains to push one leg further in with a log, he hears her call out: "Police!" He turns, stares at her with a grimace, tosses the log at her, and flees toward the lake. She trains her gun at him, fires and misses, and then strikes him in the leg. He falls to the snowy surface, grasping at his wounded leg.
In the next scene, her Prowler retraces part of the same snowy-white road that Jerry traveled at the start of the film, under very opposite circumstances. Her mute and motionless prisoner in the back seat is Gridsum, who displays no reaction to Marge's emotional contemplations about the entire fiasco. Uncomprehending and truly perplexed, she lectures him and scoffs at the kidnappers' senseless and greedy motivations ("for a little bit of money") that would lead to violence and murder:
So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There's more to life than a little money, you know. (She passes the silent Paul Bunyan statue on the outskirts of Brainerd.) Don't you know that? And here ya are, and it's a beautiful day. Well, I just don't understand it.
Outside of Bismarck, North Dakota
At a cheap motel by the side of the road, two Bismarck police officers (Robert Ozasky and John Bandemer) are there to arrest the driver of a burgundy 98 in the parking lot. Behind his room's door, Jerry responds: "Just a sec," but is obviously stalling. The two cops barge into the room and prevent Jerry from climbing out of the bathroom window (a similar escape route attempted by his wife). When he struggles, they drag him to the bed and restrain him, as he sobs hysterically. [Jerry sought an escape back to North Dakota, where he had originally commissioned the dim-witted thugs to commit his doomed-to-fail ransom plan in the opening scene.]
Marge returns to her comfortable and stable home, where Norm is again watching TV from bed. Contented and sighing, she lovingly nuzzles against his shoulder, as he finally reveals the results of the USPS oil painting competition (of a mallard duck) that he entered against Hautman. She is proud, congratulatory and supportive of him, and perceptive of the fact that many folks will be purchasing 3 cents stamps to supplement their left-over 29 cents stamps, when the US Postal Service raised the first-class rate to 32 cents on January 1, 1995. [She doesn't even need reciprocal praise for the solving of multiple homicides.] They are a happy, peaceful, nurturing, optimistic, and hopeful couple ("we're doin' pretty good"), thinking about their new life and future as a family after the birth of their child:
Norm: They announced it...Three-cent stamp.
Marge: Your mallard?
Marge: Why that's terrific.
Norm: It's just the three-cent.
Marge: It's terrific.
Norman: Hautman's blue-winged teal got the twenty-nine cent. People don't much use the three-cent.
Marge: Oh, for Pete's sake, of course they do. Whenever they raise the postage, people need the little stamps.
Marge: When they're stuck with a bunch of the old ones.
Norm: Yah, I guess.
Marge: That's terrific...I'm so proud of ya, Norm. Heck, Norm, you know we're doin' pretty good.
Norm: I love you, Margie.
Marge: I love you, Norm.
Norm: (After touching and leaving his hand on her extended belly.) Two more months.
Marge (She rests her hand on top of his.) Two more months.