The biggest surprise of the year, FX’s Fargo, comes to a bloody, climatic close.
Let’s bitch it out…
I initially wanted to review Fargo on a weekly basis, but my sanity prevailed and I ended up saying no (too.many.shows.to.cover). I’ll confess that at the time I didn’t think that the series would be all that good so I figured I would lose nothing by simply watching, but not reviewing, it. In hindsight, I definitely wish that I had.
It’s unlikely now – having watched the entire series of ten episodes – that Fargo won’t find a place on my ‘Best Of’ list for the Bitch Awards this year. This show has been an amazing delight to watch – it’s probably the highlight of my television watching week in a season that has found me getting increasingly grumpy with many of the shows I watch/cover. And now that it’s come to an end, I can reflect on Fargo and see how far it has come.
‘Morton’s Fork’ isn’t the best episode the series, but as a finale it does what it needs to do, which is bring everything together. We’ve been waiting ten weeks to see this story reach its climax, and while I would have much preferred Molly (Allison Tolman) getting to kill Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton), there is something poetic about Gus (Colin Hanks) pulling the trigger (five times). Admittedly I’m just kind of glad that Gus didn’t die, considering it seemed that things were headed in that direction when Gus ignored his own advice to leave the case alone. I may have been shouting and cursing at the TV when Gus entered Malvo’s shack without back-up or reporting in – I mean, let’s be honest, there’s a reason Gus is now a mail man instead of a cop (ie: because he wasn’t a very good cop). In the end it’s the failed policeman who couldn’t bring Malvo to justice the first time around who redeems himself on his second attempt. In the process Gus’ story comes full circle in the unlikeliest of ways.
Still, I did feel like Molly got short changed as a result (and I kinda think she felt the same way in that final scene on the couch, no matter how happy she was for her husband). Shortly after the time jump in 1×08 ‘The Heap’, it’s clear that Molly, despite her seemingly perfect domestic life with Gus and Greta (Joey King), is unsatisfied because the Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) / Lorne Malvo case was never resolved. Our expectations for the finale naturally led us to believe that she would be the one to face Malvo, not Lester and his surprise bear trap (subtly foreshadowed last week) and certainly not Gus. In this way Fargo manages to once again subvert our expectations, something it’s made a bit of a game of throughout its ten episodes. Much like the Coen brothers film from which it takes its name, Fargo has been bloody, it has been farcical, but it has never been predictable. Hell, even when it ventures into familiar territory, the show is so well executed that it’s forgivable.
And so the finale does offer a few expected payoffs: Bill (Bob Odenkirk) finally realizes that he has no business being Chief and relinquishes the role to Molly. Lester gets his comeuppance for his many varied crimes (including the unforgivable sacrifice of his wife in last week’s episode), dying a pathetically comical death in the same fashion he barely escaped back in 1×04 ‘Eating The Blame’. And Molly, Gus, Greta and (I’m assuming) Lou (Keith Carradine) live happily ever watching Deal or No Deal (Side Note: I loved this ironic juxtaposition considering the role that briefcases full of money have played in Fargo the film and the series).
Fargo wasn’t a perfect show, but it was far better than it needed to be. Along with some brilliant episodes and scenes (see below for my favourites), the series gave us a host of stunningly executed performances (Tolman really is the star all of those early reviews suggested she was!). Here’s hoping that FX takes notes of the critical acclaim and likely awards noms and orders up another limited series with a new cast of lovable/hateable characters. I know I’d watch it.
Best episodes / scenes:
- The whole of 1×06 ‘Buridan’s Ass‘ (particularly the SWAT scene and white-out)
- the long take of Malvo taking out the syndicate in 1×07 ‘Who Shaves The Barber?’
- the time jump in ‘The Heap’
- Lou and Malvo’s uber-tense conversation in the diner in 1×09 ‘A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage’
What’s your take on Fargo? Were you satisfied that Gus, not Molly, finally took Malvo out? Did Lester get what he deserved? Are you happy that Lou never had to use his shotgun? Disappointed how easily Key and Peele’s G-men were dispatched? Hoping to see the widow Hess or Stavros Milos again? Sound off below
Fargo has now finished airing its 10 episode limited run. FX has not announced if a second limited series will be ordered.