This Fargo review contains spoilers.
“Why can the human eye see more shades of green than any other color?” Lorne Malvo quizzes Officer Gus Grimly with this riddle on tonight’s episode of Fargo, promising that his answer will answer why and how Malvo is getting away with all of the chaos that he’s causing in Minnesota.
The answer is that humans are predators; in the jungle, surrounded by tress and plants, the ability to detect different shades of green allows us to avoid threats and identify prey. There are no jungles in the frigid city of Duluth, but there’s plenty of prey for Malvo, and even when a lucky officer in the right place spots him through the trees at the right time, he always has the cunning to slip the trap. Tonight, Malvo is put in handcuffs for the three Bemidji murders, but all it takes to survive is adopting an accent and the “awe shucks” persona of a preacher to walk away a free man. The way Billy Bob Thornton curls his lips into an affable smile, becoming an innocent god-fearing citizen at the drop of a hat, at least visually, speaks to his range as a performer and Malvo’s ability to adapt to any situation, proving just how dangerous and difficult he’ll be for Gus and Molly.
Molly and Gus know they have their man, especially after the motel owner and her son from two episodes back identify Malvo to Molly, also connecting him to the Lucky Penny, Sam Hess’ murder location. Unfortunately, Molly and Gus are stuck in a hierarchy where oblivious saps are running the show and keeping them out of the action. Their fight to bring Malvo to justice is enough for them to connect, but it’s this second struggle against authority that will likely bring them even closer. It’s a smart way to foster a romantic connection, giving them two common enemies to push them towards an “us against the world” relationship.
“Us against the world” is the right way to see it, because from what Stavros asserts, it’s kill or be killed. Too bad he doesn’t realize Malvo is killing him. First, it’s the dog and the blood in the shower, and tonight, it’s a horde of leeches. Turns out Malvo’s preacher disguise isn’t the only thing god-fearing, because Stavros is a deep believer in the big man upstairs. It’s revealed that Stravos found his money after his car broke down and he prayed to God for a break. The break comes in the form of a hidden briefcase, the same briefcase marked in the snow by a window scraper that Carl Showalter left in the original picture, in a creative way to bring the two into the same continuity. Stavros, dumbfounded and shocked, proclaims that God is real, and with these new biblical-tinged threats and a disguised Don putting the idea in his head, he thinks that this could really be God coming back to bite him.
The only things biting anyone in Bemidji are predators, and there are more than just Malvo running around. Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench, the two contract killers from Fargo hired by Max Gold, are hot on the heels of Lester. They believe Lester’s in cahoots with Gina Hess, and the two conspired to murder Sam Hess for the insurance check. The dysfunctional duo kidnap Lester, giving us yet another scene from the inside of a trunk, but Lester uses a taser and escapes their grasp, running to a nearby cop and punching him in order to get arrested. However, Lester can run but can’t hide in jail, when Numbers and Wrench stage a bar fight to end up sharing a cell with him.
Besides the cold open that establishes a connection to Fargo the film, this hour of the series deviates the most from the source material, and it’s also the most interesting. The show still nails the dark comedy and creeping anxiety of the Coen brand without seeming too indebted to their work. Quirky sign language arguments, recognizable soundtrack cues, and elaborate scene staging continues to set Fargo apart from everything else currently on cable. Watch out, television audiences, this predator is aiming to kill the competition.