Fargo: “Morton’s Fork” Review
“This is a dream.”
Note: The following review goes into detail about the episode. SPOILER ALERT!
I wasn’t sure about Fargo before it began. The beloved film had been released a long time ago and fans would hate to see it trampled on by a lowly TV show hitching itself to one of the Coen Brothers’ most memorable films. Thankfully there was absolutely nothing to worry about in the end, as Fargo not only managed to build upon its very sturdy foundation with small links to the film, it also managed to stand firmly on its own to deliver a fascinating story that twisted and turned until it reached a very satisfying conclusion with “Morton’s Fork.”
After a brief shot of a hole in the ice that one of our characters would end up in by the end of the episode, we picked up where we left off last week with Malvo casually walking away from the scene of his latest crime. Lester has evolved into this horrid little creature who only cares about self-preservation, and after sending his wife to the slaughter last week, we got to see him shift automatically to saving his own skin again. Watching him decide against fleeing and immediately go to Lou’s Diner to establish an alibi for himself showed the height of his cunning, even though in his haste he had left behind the plane tickets which clued Molly in on the fact that he was about to run.
It was perhaps Molly’s words to him in the interrogation room that led to Lester deciding to take a stand against Malvo in the end, as there was no way that Malvo was going to stop coming after him. That scene with Molly was fantastic, with her story about the man giving up his gloves going completely over Lester’s head. Hardly surprising considering he only thinks about himself. The showdown with Malvo was great, with Malvo leaving a trail of bodies in his wake and Lester again proving to be a formidable foe. Luring Malvo into a room full of bear traps covered by laundry was a stroke of genius, although Lester’s shooting skills weren’t quite up to scratch. I was really pumped to see a Lester and Malvo showdown, and while it was quite short, it was pretty much perfect, with Lester essentially beating Malvo by driving him off with a mangled leg.
Of course a simple mashed up leg wasn’t going to kill Malvo. As he limped back into his cabin and set his own broken leg, it was hard to imagine what could possibly put an end to this demon of a man. That was of course until we were introduced to Gus Grimly’s revolver. We had earlier seen Gus approaching the cabin before Malvo left to go kill Lester, so it was a safe bet that he was still there. There was still a whole lot of tension in that scene however, as we know how capable Malvo is, and how green Gus has been. Over the course of the season we’ve watched as Malvo has brought out the side of people that they didn’t quite know was there. Lester was his greatest creation in terms of pure darkness, but he also brought forth a side of Gus we hadn’t seen, the side that was capable of killing to protect his family. The sudden blasts of gunfire were startling with even Gus being shaken. After initially appearing dead for a brief moment, Malvo gasped into life like something out of a horror movie only for two more blasts of gunfire to ring out and put an end to Lorne Malvo once and for all.
Lester’s fate was still up in the air of course, and he may have believed he had gotten away with it once again. However the death of Malvo gave Molly all the evidence she needed against Lester in the shape of those audio tapes Malvo had collected. We catch up with Lester two weeks later, on the run from the police on a snowmobile that we then knew would take him to that hole in the ice from the start of the episode. Absolutely defiant until the very end, Lester wouldn’t even consider taking responsibility for his actions and instead just kept running and running until finally, the surface cracked up around him and he fell. His foundation of lies had crumbled underneath him just like the ice on that lake and he ended up succumbing to a fate he had succeeded in escaping from earlier this season.
So our two main monsters both met their makers in the end, in incredibly fitting ways. Malvo was a predator, an animal who got put down by a man who he had bitten. Lester got dragged down into the abyss by his own guilt. Molly and Gus ended up coming out of this one whole, and can now live out their lives together as a family. At a very basic level you could say that good did triumph over evil but that over simplifies everything we’ve seen over the course of 10 spellbinding episodes. There were plenty of casualties along the way, with the latest two here being FBI agents Pepper and Budge. Their death’s was a particularly striking scene, as Malvo silently approached from behind. Another casualty was the career of Sheriff Oswalt, who realized he simply didn’t have the stomach for this kind of work. It led to Molly getting promoted to chief, though, which was a fitting achievement for her considering she often appeared to be the only competent law enforcement officer in the state.
So I reiterate, Fargo originally had me worried going into it, but it very quickly won me over thanks in no small part to the wonderful acting on display. The whole cast was great with Alison Tolman and Colin Hanks having plenty of moments to shine and Bob Odenkirk nearly stealing every damn scene he was in. The show belonged to two men in the end though, Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton. Freeman did such a fantastic job in transforming Lester from the sympathetic coward to the absolute horrid creature he was in the end, and Billy Bob Thornton just tore up the screen with his Satin-like Malvo performance at every occasion. Hopefully there’ll be plenty of awards nominations to commend such excellent work.
We came into Fargo knowing that this could just be a “one and done” deal and there wouldn’t be another season. Surely though we’ll have to get another story from this universe from this talented team of people. If we do get a second season it’ll be a whole new story with different actors and characters, much in the same vein as how HBO’s True Detective will be structured. But much like I was when I finished up Season 1 of True Detective, I’m left wondering how they could possibly top what we’ve just watched. A prequel set around the “Sioux Falls incident?” The Adventures of Mr. Wrench? I really have no idea, but I do know that I really want it to happen. Let’s just follow the advice of those signs in Lester’s house and think positively. Because if there’s one thing that Fargo taught us, it’s that good things come to those who wait!
Were you satisfied with the ending of ‘Fargo?’ Where do you rank ‘Fargo’ on your list of shows? Don’t be a shy fella and not leave a comment.
The Night Of: “The Call of the Wild” Review
Vice Principals: “The Foundation of Learning” Review
The Night Of: “Ordinary Death” Review
Joe Hill’s ‘The Fireman’ Review
How Speedrunning Changed My Perception of Games
Vice Principals: “Circles” Review
The Night Of: “Samson and Delilah” Review
‘Batman: The Killing Joke’ Review
Vice Principals: “Run for the Money” Review
The Night Of: “The Season of the Witch” Review
This show is so overrated that it makes me wonder about the critical faculties of the masses of viewers heaping praise upon it.
It’s a dumb show trying hard to appear clever and quirky. It’s the kind of show that forces the characters to selectively display extreme low intelligence for the sake of the plot (eg., Lester’s decision in Vegas, or Linda’s utter lack of perceptivity regarding Lester’s lies).
It’s a show in which it a jarringly and pointlessly comedic character can ask the old ‘farmer with a boat’ riddle that everyone has heard before as if it’s something fresh and – incredibly – no one he asks is familiar with it. Not to mention Lorne’s rather obvious question (I wouldn’t even call it a riddle) to Gus regarding our ability to perceive more shades of green than other colours — this mundane observation being clumsily elevated as a closure device in the final episode.
It’s a show in which characters spontaneously respond to questions with longwinded parables of dubious relevance in what appears to be a hamfisted attempt a profundity that completely eschews any semblance of realistic dialogue in the process.
Oh and by the way, does anyone really buy the idea that Malvo, who has a very personal reason for pursuing Lester, would attempt to dispatch Lester from behind without a word… without any final “Your choice” speech? Without any desire to show Lester where his choices had led him? I sure don’t, but y’know, I guess good old Malvo just wanted to help the plot move along.
And the beartrap thing was painfully obvious. In an earlier episode Malvo waffles on about seeing a bear chew off its leg to escape a trap. Later we see a closeup of the beartrap in the box of hunting gear. I WONDER WHAT THAT BEARTRAP MIGHT BE USED FOR LATER, OH LOOK, LESTER IS SCATTERING CLOTHES ALL OVER THE FLOOR, WHAT IS HE UP TO NOW, IT IS A MYSTERY.
Also jarring is the fact that almost every supporting character is completely one dimensional.
Keith Carradine as “A Good Man”.
Bob Oedenkirk as “Bumbling Incompetent”
Key and Peele as “Poor Man’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern” (or should that be “dumb man’s” The “Is this a dream?” thread was a total eye-roller.)
Susan Park as “Nice But Dim Submissive Asian Woman” (Who shares childhood memory and pathetically humble dream moments before you know what happens.)
Joey King as “Perfect Sassy Tomboy Granddaughter for Perfect Good Man Grandpa.”
Joshua Close and Rachel Blanchard as “Mr and Mrs Unlikeable.”
Adam Goldberg and Russell Harvard as “The Quirky Boys.”
Glen Howerton as “Captain Stupid McBabblemouth.”
I don’t know. Maybe Breaking Bad, which was flawed but gripping and intelligent, has ruined me for other shows. Just try comparing Walter White to Lester Nygaard, or Hank Schrader to Molly Solverson. The actors in all cases did a fine job, but the actual characters…? They can’t compare.
Rambling unstructured rant ends here. 😉