Holy Hannah! That’s a term my grandmother used to say when I was growing up and for some reason, right now, it seems quite fitting. How about that “Fargo” finale, folks?! Last night saw the end to the 10 episode series that will hopefully get a second season (but only if it’s justifiably done). If Noah Hawley was a name no one knew 2 months ago, that has very well changed now!
Last night’s episode was titled “Morton’s Fork” and a quick search on the ol’ interwebs found me this brief definition of the term:
A Morton’s Fork is a specious piece of reasoning in which contradictory arguments lead to the same (unpleasant) conclusion.
How apropos! Look, I have many friends who have yet to catch up on the must-watch TV series of our time like “Game of Thrones” and “Breaking Bad,” but seriously, if you ain’t on the “Fargo” bandwagon…get on! Also, stop reading now as there are SPOILERS below!
“Fargo” is definitely one of those series where the sum of its parts are far greater than each individual episode. Looking back over the entire work, it’s very obvious that this piece was meant no more and no less as a play on morality, good vs. evil, right vs. wrong. It’s one of those rare shows that focuses on the real evil that men are capable of, and it can also flip that and highlight the simple joys of having a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop or enjoying an episode of “Deal Or No Deal” with the family. (Remember, this is 2006.)
We picked up in this episode from the moment Lester’s second wife bit the dust at the hand of Malvo. But really, it’s Lester’s fault too. This conniving twerp knew what he was doing sending her into that shop! But as any proven salesman can, he quickly created an alibi by showing up at Lou’s Coffee Shop where he ordered grilled cheese sandwiches for both Linda and himself.
With the alibi all good in his mind, soon the cops come and Lester has to put on that face again. And it’s then that he remembers the tickets to Acapulco were in his jacket pocket which poor dead Linda is bleeding all over. Well, needless to say, Lester is once again back at the station being questioned. But this time, Agents Budge and Pepper join in on the questioning and as soon as the photos of Malvo are thrown on the table, Mr. Nygaard requests a lawyer. If there’s ever a neon sign that says GUILTY in big bold letters, I believe this is what Molly sees where Lester is sitting.
Still with no clear evidence to hold him, Lester is released but under the condition that he be driven home by the FBI agents. Their presence is to also keep guard on his house until backup arrives. But Lorne Malvo is one tricky wolf; after a few phone calls and acquiring a used Ford Crown Victoria, he arrives instead of said backup and Budge and Pepper are quickly put down. Hey, at least we have the new season of “Key and Peele” to look forward to, right?
While this is happening, Molly Solverson is handing out info to the team on Lorne Malvo. They are calling in everyone to work this case and hunt him down. Gus, the worried husband (rightfully so), calls her at the station and requests she sit this one out. She’s very pregnant and the thought of losing another wife would just be too much for him to bear. And as fate would have it, the next scene finds Gus driving down a snowy road only to find a wolf blocking his way. Where he stops is where he finds Malvo’s hideout. Ah fate, you cruel wench!
At this point, Lester knows he’s in trouble and Malvo is on his property. He may be a cowardly little man beneath all the newly formed bravado, but he’s still clever. One of the tricks up his sleeve is that he lures his would-be killer up the stairs towards the bathroom and right into a bear trap. A few episodes ago, Malvo was telling Mr. Wrench a story about a bear biting through the bone to escape a bear trap and now he gets to be the bear. But isn’t crazy enough to bite through his own bone! However, the scene that follows shows him putting together a makeshift splint to keep that bone in his leg and not protruding out of it like we all got to see.
What transpired next took me half by surprise as this is how I would have chosen to write a scene and what I choose is usually way different from what happens on TV. Gus Grimley comes out of the shadows and unprovoked, shoots Lorne Malvo multiple times in the chest and then in the face. Sure, I say unprovoked, but he really did represent a danger Grimley has had a hard time escaping for the entire year, and this may have just been the best redemption for him.
Speaking of redemption, we finally get to see Molly Solverson get her due. Bob Oswalt confesses this job is too much for him and announces he’s quitting. Sheriff Solverson to the rescue! I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved this moment. When she visits Lorne Malvo’s cabin and finds the tape of Lester’s phone conversation the night of his first wife’s murder, it’s the final nail in a coffin that has been open way too long. The look of triumphant relief on her face is quite palpable. Go Molly! (Sidenote, Allison Tolman better be getting lots of work after this!)
We opened the series on Lester Nygaard and the series closes on the end of his story. Escaping the house in a snowmobile – which made me want to play Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 all of a sudden – didn’t fair well for our “Salesman Of The Year.” The cops were there waiting for him which then led to a brief snowmobile chase scene (Call Of Duty!) but as clever as Lester is, it seems he arrived at his wits’ end. From the snowmobile to a foot chase, he gained distance only to realize way too late that he was running on dangerously thin ice. And in a nice bit of foreshadowing from earlier in the series where Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers were going to dump him in a fishing hole, Lester Nygaard went too far out and fell in.
There a few things that didn’t really sit right with me. I wanted more of The Supermarket King but his story ran its course. Agents Budge and Pepper didn’t really seem to fit well into the story. Did Noah Hawley just cast them because he loves Key and Peele? I love Key and Peele and I feel that they may have been the weakest characters in the series! That being said, “Fargo” proved to be a fantastic character piece that explored morality and depravity in its simplest terms while not being “simple.” The animal metaphors helped.
Noah Hawley’s “Fargo” is a series I’ll definitely need to revisit at least one more time. It’s that good. I said early on that Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo is one of the best TV villains of the past decade. I stand by that statement.
What are your thoughts on the finale of one of the best television programs of 2014? Serve them to me in the comments below “like a stack of pancakes with a V8.”
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