I can’t say enough how big of a pleasant surprise Fargo has been. I thought FX would offer up a passable reprint of a classic movie, not a tightly wound, self-contained ten-episode season that would be as funny, dark, and tantalizing as its source material. The current push on television has been for more of two things – antiheroes and self-contained stories – and creator Noah Hawley nailed them both. When Fargo ends next week, I’ll be sad to see it go, but the fact that this show has been created in a similar vein as True Detective, with new stars and stories every year, has me thrilled. The world could use more anthology series if they look like this.
In its penultimate episode, Fargo feels sort of like the second act of the movie Jaws. We see the fin in the water, we hear the strings pulsating and growing, signaling the coming terror. We see hopeless legs treading water, kicking harder away as they see the incredible beast coming straight for them. And just like that swimmer in the water, just like the audience members that cringed in their seats watching Spielberg’s classic thriller, we are helpless. We know Malvo is going to swallow Lester whole, we just don’t know if the Great White is going to get what he deserves as well.
There’s so much tension in this episode, right from the moment that Lester approaches Malvo’s table in Vegas. Like some sort of delusional dumbass with a death wish, Lester starts poking the bear, even when the bear tells him to get lost, even when the bear asks him twice if this is what he really wants. Apparently marrying a simpleton, buying some new clothes, selling some primo insurance, and, oh yeah, murdering your wife and sabotaging your blood relative will give you some insane sort of confidence.
Lester is like a completely new man in a year’s time. Keep all the questions like, “Is Bemidji really big enough for a person to become the national insurance salesman of the year?” to yourself and just marvel at the complete douche Lester has become. I mean, the guy basically sends his new wife into Malvo’s sights like a sheep to the slaughter in the episode’s final moments. I don’t care how mean his wife was, or how insulting his brother could be; I hope Malvo gets Lester. No, actually, I hope Molly does.
Molly finally gets in touch with Pepper and Budge and they immediately praise her for her police work, while quietly judging Bill for his apparent lack of. I’m still not sold on the way Molly threw this all together. She would have had to make a lot inferences to get the full picture like she does, but I’m glad she finally has two more people in her corner backing her. I also loved Molly and Lester crossing paths again, and the way Allison Tolman’s face rests in this slightly patronizing way whenever the two interact.
Tonight’s episode was meant to build dread and anticipation, and it succeeded. In this case, the calm before the storm was a four person body count and tense scenes like Malvo and Lou sniffing each other out. For a while, I thought we’d see Malvo in dentist mode for most of the episode, I even started to think that maybe this was Malvo when he wasn’t working, but then BOOM! Three people are dead, and the prince of mischief is eating the best slice of pie he’s had since the Garden of Eden. You can never get too comfortable with Fargo, and that’s how I like it.