Who will weep for poor Lester Nygaard?
Presumbably no one, especially if authorities ever discover his body somewhere in the depths of that frozen lake at the conclusion of “Morton’s Fork,” Fargo’s finale. Lester was clever, to be sure, easily solving the riddle Budge and Pepper argued over, laying traps for Malvo, and otherwise consistently able to squirm his way away from justice for his evil acts.
Naoh Hawley pulled off the unthinkable, crafting a fantastic homage to the Coen Brothers’ masterpiece, Fargo, by maintaining the spirit of the film without trying to recreate it. Rather than explore the background of the movie’s characters or retell the plot, Hawley introduces us to the familiar world on Bemidji, populated with friendly locals that will never be the same after a visit from a sinister force. Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) winds up in town after crashing his car and losing the man trapped in his trunk. His chance meeting with Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) sets of a chain of events that snowballs into treachery and violence.
“Morton’s Fork” brings credibility to Deputy Molly’s work chasing Malvo ever since his arrival, although she was often the object of scorn or ridicule, in the form of FBI agents Budge and Pepper. Malvo returns to Bemidji, looking to put the Lester problem to bed after their clash in last week’s episode, ending with Lester’s most evil act to date, sending his second wife Linda out as bait for Malvo. Well, now Lester’s on the hook, used to lure out Malvo, but not without putting up a fight.
Despite enjoying the bloody conclusion of FX’s Fargo, does anybody else think we kind of got shorted in the Molly dept? As the season progressed and the narrative began to zero in on the hunt for Malvo and the quest to expose Lester, I became very invested in the character of Deputy Molly Solverson, played wonderfully by Allison Tolman. In fact both her and her father endeared me to Gus (Colin Hanks) and his daughter Greta (Joey King). But when things got really pumping in “Morton’s Fork,” a very pregnant Molly was relegated to the station, leaving her to coordinate the hunt for which he receives a commendation. It doesn’t undercut her value as a character for me, but it just feels a but frustrating, mainly because I expected her to get both her validation and the opportunity to really face off against the major evil force of the season.
Looking back, as a whole, Fargo played out extremely well. There were a few storylines that feel a bit extemporaneous, like Oliver Platt’s Stavros Milos and his blackmail or the widow Hess. We spent time chasing these rather than fleshing out the criminal networks in Fargo that suffer malvo’s wrath. There’s not really an imbalance of questions to answers, just a few places where I feel like the story could’ve been a touch stronger.
I’m actually quite taken with how much I’ve enjoyed Fargo given how long it took me to become invested in the pilot. Once the show got its hooks in me, I was done and I think that was basically due to the strength of the writing and acting for these characters. For instance, once Molly was shot in the whiteout, I was angry until I knew she was going to be safe. Tolman and Freeman particularly deserve special mention for their work here.
So, let’s hope the success of Fargo brings us another season soon!
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