TV Review: ‘Fargo’ Is A Worthy Follow Up Series

Review By Nathan Ligon

It would be unfair to announce myself as anything less than a raving fan of Joel and Ethan Coen’s 1996 masterpiece, ‘Fargo’. The movie was like a little slice of film heaven. Everything about it seemed perfect. Even the tiniest little things that seemed to have little baring to the actual plot (like Marge’s date with Mike Yanagita) where absolutely indispensable. There was this unique mixture of truly disturbing violence and downright silly light humor that has hardly been replicated since. That’s why ‘Fargo’ is one of my 10 favorite films of all time.

That mix of the light and dark is one of the things that the new television show (based loosely on that film) does really well. As a matter of fact, other than geographical location, that combination is the only thing that truly connects this series to the previous film. There are no characters from the movie that reprise their roles or anything here. Still, don’t let that dissuade you from this show. What made ‘Fargo’ great is mostly here and a brand new batch of characters that you will find difficult to resist (even the despicable ones).

I watched the first 4 episodes before doing this review, but I’m only going to talk about the first half of the first episode as to not ruin the crazy surprises that are in store for you. The story revolves around a hand full of people in a small city called Bimidji, Minnesota. The main characters here are Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton). Two guys who would seem to be as different as they come, but are they really so different? Well, part of the fun of the very dark first episode is figuring out just how similar they are.

You see, Lester is actually a bit of a loser. He sells life insurance at a local agency, but always has to hear from his wife about how much better everyone else in the office is. She is constantly giving him advice about things that could make him less of a loser. To make matters worse, he runs into a classmate from way back in high school and finds out that this bully had actually had some sexual relations with his wife at one point while they were together. This assholes name is Sam Hess and his bullying ways actually land Lester in the hospital.

It is in this hospital where Lester meets Malvo. Lester doesn’t intend to meet Malvo, but Malvo just can’t help noticing that Lester is complaining about being beaten up by a bully nearly 20 years after high school. So, Malvo tells him that he should just kill Sam Hess. Of course, Lester doesn’t take this seriously, but Malvo is not joking. His code finds Sam Hess to be a piece of trash that needs to be taken out and all he needs is the word for him to execute.

Does Lester say “yes”? Wouldn’t you like to know. Let’s just say that all kinda of crazy shit goes down and a number of police officers are left investigating. The main police officer is Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) of the Bimidji PD. She is a very smart young woman who reminded me a little bit of the Marge character from the movie. The next officer is Deputy Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk). He is a bit of an idiot, but has seniority due to his amount of time on the job. The last important officer is Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) and his daughter Greta (Joey King). Gus witnesses something important (that I can’t reveal) and this leads his family into the crazy road trip of sorts.

I wish I could mention more, but it would be giving way too much away and that’s not okay with this particular show. I can deal with spoilers a lot of the time, but not with this show. There are just too many shocking things that will either make you laugh or be utterly disgusted. Either way, you don’t want anything ruined by me.

So, I’ll just make it clear that you need to be sure to catch ‘Fargo’, Tuesday nights on FX, and I’m sure you will be hooked.

Nathan Ligon
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