Tuesday, June 17, 2014

REVIEW: 'Fargo' - Lester Sets a Trap, Gus Has a Major Discovery & Molly Gets What She Wants in 'Morton's Fork'

FX's Fargo - Episode 1.10 "Morton's Fork"

Molly takes the lead, Gus pursues a hunch, Lester manipulates a situation, and Malvo finds a new target.

After the nine previous weeks, I trusted that Noah Hawley would be able to produce a satisfying conclusion to this Fargo miniseries. Not only is it a finite ending. It's pretty damn terrific. Sure, I have a handful of quibbles but overall I found it as a fantastic finale for an amazing miniseries.

Now, it's very difficult to produce an ending where a handful of things are expected to happen. No one went into this episode thinking that Lester and Malvo would end up continuing to live their lives the way that they had been. That's simply not what this series was ever about. It was about a man who is literally the devil ultimately being caught because of killing a guy for Lester just to see what his reaction would be like. It's been a complex and twisty narrative. Lester turned into an equally despicable man. That too was apparent since the very beginning when he murdered his wife. That same tense energy propels this finale forward. Because it's the ending, Fargo could really kill any character. The stakes are incredibly high as Molly and the police force know that Malvo is in Bemidji again and try to catch him this time.

And Malvo continues to be a crafty character - getting the FBI backup not to come at all as well as killing Pepper and Budge through a case of misdirection. But it's incredibly satisfying seeing two characters get the best of Malvo as well. First, it's Lester who draws him into a bear trap before getting a bullet into him. And then, more importantly, Gus finds Malvo's cabin hideout and calmly waits until the man comes home again and waiting until after Malvo breathes a sigh of relief from setting that bone back into place.

Now, there's a small part of me that is a little disappointed that it's not ultimately Molly who is able to take down Malvo and Lester. She's been our hero all along. She's definitely had the most uphill and tragic battle all season long. But Gus is the one who gets to shoot and kill Malvo and border patrol get to chase Lester out onto the ice before he just falls through. Gus gets the recognition of bravery. But Molly gets to be police chief. In the end, I'm not that bothered by it because Molly is what forces Gus to confront Malvo and Lester to end up on that ice. She's the one who made the connections when everyone else was just fine with the stories being fed to them by Lester and Malvo. She put in all the work and it's because of her that these two horrible men where stopped. Plus, she gets her happy ending. She has a family and a great job. She survived this whole ordeal. It was definitely hard on her. She got shot and faced a ton of resistance from Bill. But she won in the end. That is the most satisfying ending that Fargo could ever have given us. The fact that the rest of the finale - and the season as a whole - was just as amazing to watch was even more fantastic to behold.

Some more thoughts:
  • "Morton's Fork" was written by Noah Hawley and directed by Matt Shakman.
  • Molly's reaction to Linda being murdered: "Wait, what? The other one now? Jeez."
  • I love that Molly, Gus and Greta are just watching Deal or No Deal all the time. And that Gus always wants to just take the money and run.
  • Bill has never had the stomach for the job. That initially played as comic relief but got more and more important the more he resisted Molly's ideas. The fact that he is able to recognize how bad the world and the people in it actually are is both devastating but a great character moment of self-realization.
  • The second Malvo showed up at the car lot you just know the former insurance guy wasn't long for this world.
  • If this was all just a dream, Budge can at least now wake up and learn who was dreaming in the first place. Plus, Lester gave him the answer to the fox, rabbit, cabbage riddle he always wanted. But his death was also pretty brutal.
  • Malvo spent a lot of this season giving great monologues about life and odd people. It seems only fitting that Molly gets that same kind of moment in the finale.
  • The Lou-Greta relationship has only been a part of these last two episodes and yet it is so sweet seeing how much the two care about one another.
  • A dysfunctional family unit is what started this journey for Lester and the series. It only seems fitting that it would end with a family unit that is finally happy together.
  • Theoretically, Fargo could return for a second season. It would include new characters, new actors and a new plot. But it's definitely something to consider especially with how well received this season has been - if not a smash ratings hit. If this is it, that's fine by mine too. Hawley has built up enough good will for me to watch whatever it is he creates next.