Tagged Keith Carradine

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 10: “Morton’s Fork”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 10: “Morton’s Fork”
Directed by Matt Shakman
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the penultimate Season 1 episode, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage” – click here
* For reviews of Fargo Season 2 starting with “Waiting for Dutch” – click here
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The finale of Fargo‘s amazing first season has come. Aw, geez.
“Morton’s Fork” commences where we last left Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), whose wide eyes and open mouth gape at Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) having just killed his new wife Linda (Susan Park) at the insurance office.
Now, we start to glimpse into the newly criminal mind of Lester. He’s become a ruthless, terrible man. Especially when compared to the meek and mild person he was at the beginning in “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”. Beginning to piece together an alibi in his head, Lester crafts things out of nothing. First, he places the car keys in Linda’s dead hand. Secondly, he goes over to the diner where Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine) receives him with a warm smile. He orders, for both himself and Linda, then rushes out to the bathroom, supposedly, making a call from a phone booth to report the shots fired. Slick? We’ll see.
Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is relaxing at home with her stepdaughter Greta (Joey King) and husband Gus (Colin Hanks). Then she gets a call about the murder: “The other one now?” asks Molly.
Meeting Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) at the crime scene, Molly goes over things as he keeps back, for fear of vomiting at the sight of more blood. Then Lester shows up, his grief coming through in “aw geez” over and over. Putting on a show for the officers, he pretends to start crying, wobbling and almost falling over. But sneaking one last moment with his wife’s body, Lester attempts to grab the airline tickets in her pocket. No such luck, buddy boy.


Gus: “Whats that now?”
Molly: “Someone killed the second Mrs. Nygaard.”


At a cabin in the woods, listening to his police scanner, Malvo cooks up a little food on the stove, as well as grabs hold of a few key materials: gun, jimmy stick to steal cars.
Meanwhile, FBI Agents Pepper and Budge (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele) are waiting at the Bemidji Police Department. They’re getting ready to question Lester. However, Lou appears so he can tell Molly about the strange man he’d met at the diner – though he can’t be sure, the security footage picture she shows him looks like it could be Lorne. When Molly asks her father to check up on the family at home, he replies: “Screw that. Goinhome and gettinmy gun is what Im doing. Sit on the front porch. Make sure my granddaughters safe.” Love, love, love Keith Carradine as Lou Solverson. Amazing.
Outside the P.D., Malvo shows up and takes a little black notebook from the car which Pepper and Budge drive. Off he goes, as Lester is being questioned by Molly, Bill, and the two agents. Budge and Pepper want to know more about the wandering evil that is Lorne Malvo. Trying to gain more favour from Bill, Lester gets shut down; no more help from the bumbling chief. Once Nygaard lawyers up things shut down, but Molly warns him: “Hes not gonna stop. Yknow that right? A man like thatmaybe not even a man.”


Bill (to Molly): “I used to have positive opinions about the world, you know, about people. Used to think the best. Now Im looking over my shoulder. An unquiet mind, thats what the wife calls it. The job has got me staring into the fireplace, drinking. I never wanted to be the type to think big thoughts about the nature of things andall I ever wanted was a stack of pancakes and a V8.”
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Out on his own, Gus is determined to try and do right. Or at least prevent Molly from having to wade into the river of blood which Malvo always brings with him. Gus heads over to the cabin in the woods where he’d seen the red car parked – the one in which he was sure he’d seen Malvo. Then, from out the door comes the man himself. Lorne drives away with Gus sneaking around quietly.
Malvo is starting to put another plan into motion. He’s calling into the Bemidji P.D. to get the names of the FBI Agents Budge and Pepper. Then to the FBI Operations, cancelling any back-up and claiming things there are a “dead end“. What’s about to happen next? Well, Lorne goes to a car dealership and finds the exact same Ford model as the undercover FBI vehicles. He asks to test drive it, taking the owner with him.
When Agents Pepper and Budge pull out of the station, Lester in tow (being released though still watched), Malvo isn’t far behind in his identical car. Back at his place, Lester is sweating it out in nervousness, awaiting his own next move.


Lou: “What are you planninon doinwith that?”
Greta: “If he comes, Ill put his eye out. You can finish him off.”
Lou: “Thats my girl


At the Nygaard place, Agents Pepper and Budge sit waiting, watching. Out of nowhere, up pulls another car just like the one in which they’re sat. They’re not sure whether it’s backup or not. Guns drawn, they ask the driver to exit their vehicle. To no response. Coming up next to the window, realizing the man inside – the car dealer – is duct taped to the wheel, Budge and Pepper are both shot to death by Malvo, emerging from the snowy forest behind them.
Rifling through his suitcase and tossing things everywhere, Lester is trying to determine the next step. Just out the front door he spies trails of blood, an open empty FBI car. Panic sets in.
Malvo pushes his way into the house. In the bathroom upstairs he can hear a frantic Lester calling for help on the phone. A few more steps and – BAM – Lorne steps right into the bear trap Lester set on the floor, covered with all those clothes he tossed out of his luggage. What I love most? Lorne throws the Salesman of the Year award and breaks Lester’s nose; giving him an injury to match the one he had in the first episode, bringing things full circle. Except when the dust settles, Lorne is gone, having escaped from the trap in a bloody mess. The car outside is nowhere to be found. As Lester closes his front door, a look crosses his face, an almost grin, as if believing he’s finally run the wolf off his trail.


The episode’s final 15 minutes see Lorne heading back to the cabin in the woods. His leg is brutal, bleeding everywhere. He manages to pop some drugs via needle into his system, then sets the bone very craftily with a small length of rope. But when he begins to start tending to his wound, Lorne finds himself surprised by none other than Gus Grimly pointing a gun his way. Gus says he’s figured out the “shades of green” riddle. Then, when an angry Malvo insists on hearing what the answer is, Gus only fires on him, blowing a few holes through his chest. A couple more shots and then the wandering evil of Malvo has come to an end. A fitting finish for Lorne, but even more so Gus, whose earlier mistakes are finally cauterized by the shooting. He’s proved himself and made right what once went wrong. You betcha.
A great finish to the season includes Lester being finally caught, chased out onto the ice where he falls through into the dead cold waters, as well as the Solverson-Grimly family sitting together, watching television and letting their lives go back to normal.


This, along with Season 2, is some of the best television ever made. Some of my favourite, up there with The ShieldThe Knick, and a handful of others.
Please, if you haven’t, check out my reviews for Season 2 and let me know your thoughts on all the episodes. And until 2017 brings us Season 3 of Noah Hawley’s intense, funny, and consistently fascinating series – enjoy.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 9: “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 9: “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”
Directed by Matt Shakman
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Heap” – click here
* For a review of the Season 1 finale, “Morton’s Fork” – click here
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After jumping a year down the line, Noah Hawley brings us into the penultimate Season 1 episode “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”.
We begin on the new identity of Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) as a dentist. He talks a patient through things while checking his teeth and finishing off a procedure. This new blonde-haired Malvo, obviously under a new pseudonym, is a slick one. Did he really go to dental school? Or what’s going on here? Either way, I love it. He and Burt Canton (Stephen Root) are friendly, so no matter what’s going on Lorne has carved out a nice little niche for himself in which to lounge.
For now.
Lorne still has his recordings, listening to them over and over. The evil in Malvo sits right below the surface. He relives his past transgressions, as if basking in them.
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Lorne: “Aces!”

 


Now, we end up back where we last saw Lorne, a woman next to him and across the table are Burt and his lady. Across the room sits Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) in the blurry periphery of the frame, as Lorne jokes and makes things light. While Burt talks about their upcoming excitement, Lester shows up to talk with Lorne who pretends they’ve never met before. An awkward moment ensues, but before Lorne leaves he tells Lester in a serious tone: “Walk away.”
Not satisfied with this slight, Lester heads into the elevator to confront Malvo. “The old Lester woulda let that slidenot this guy,” he tells Lorne and the others. But then an old Western style situation emerges: “Lester, is this what you want?” asks Lorne. Everyone seems confused. Once Lester replies yes, things change. Drastically. Out comes a silenced, silver pistol, and Lorne kills everyone in the elevator; except for Lester. “Thats on you,” says Lorne.
Turns out Malvo was looking for $100,000 bounty, working for a whole six months on Burt. Lorne tries to get Lester in on helping to hide the bodies, but Nygaard cracks him one in the back of the head with his Salesman of the Year award, running off into the dark basement of the hotel. Upstairs, he starts to pack things. Time to head back home, you betcha.

 


FBI Agents Pepper and Budge (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele) are still wasting away in the file room. All of a sudden, someone comes looking for the Syndicate file regarding the Fargo mob. Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) in Bemidji says, naturally, she knows who did the deed.
In Bemidji, Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine) has his daughter, husband Gus (Colin Hanks) and new granddaughter Greta (Joey King) at the diner for a hearty breakfast. Nice to see this big family together: “Youre the granddaughter I always wanted but was afraid to buy online,” Lou tells Greta after she kisses him on the forehead.
Finishing her meal, Molly gets a call about the elevator murders, and then she asks what the witness’ name is – I’m sure the name must be Mr. Lester Nygaard.
Meanwhile, Lester’s rushing to get home, head on a swivel looking behind him for a car or any vehicle following him. The new Lester doesn’t seem present anymore. We’re back to the jittery, nervous Lester Nygaard, not the Insurance Salesman of the Year. He wants to go on a big vacation to make it up to Linda (Susan Park): immediately. Yet he can’t seem to move a step without looking every which way first. At home getting ready, Lester looks through some of his brother’s things, hunting gear and the like. The box also contains a gun. He picks up his old orange-red winter jacket from off a nearby rack. Molly shows up at the door to throw him off even further.

 


While out on his mail route, Gus sees a car drive by and the driver inside looks terribly familiar. Though, he shakes it off. In the car was, in fact, Lorne Malvo. He arrives at Lester’s old place where someone new is now living. Getting the new information on his old buddy Nygaard, the evil Lorne drops the history of the house on the new owners, his children. What a rough dude. At the same time, darkly hilarious.
There’s no rest for the wicked, and this certainly applies to Malvo. He is always doing something. Even if it’s making little kids scared, or killing people, there is constantly, consistently a malicious presence in him.
Deputy Molly talks over the night in question with Lester, about his supposed witnessing the elevator murders. Without being prompted, Linda helps Lester out with part of his alibi and their sudden switched flight.

 


A scene at the diner sees Lorne sit down across from Lou for coffee and a bit of pie. Although, Malvo tells him: “No good ever came from a piece of cherry pie.” They get into a talk about Lou’s history as a State Trooper for a couple decades. Malvo also asks about Lester, but Lou isn’t exactly keen on giving out another man’s home address and so on. The ever vigilant Lorne spies the Gus-Molly wedding picture, asking about them, making more observations as he so often does. There’s a bit of an ominous feel to the scene as it goes on, cutting occasionally to Molly, then back to Lorne across from Lou in a very stand-off-type way. Lou talks about a case “back in ’79” most likely the infamous Sioux Falls Massacre: “Id call it animal except animals only kill for food. This wasSioux Fallsever been?” Right as Deputy Molly comes into the diner, Lorne is leaving after making a wonderfully snaky comment. Perfect scene.
Molly meets Agents Pepper and Budge, who are more than excited to see her and hear about what she’s got to say re: the Syndicate shooting. She shows them the big whiteboard full of connections, faces, events and so on. Late to the meeting, Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) arrives and tries to apologize for Molly, as if there’s something for which to be sorry. Clearly there’s no sense in Bill, whose intelligence doesn’t exactly rival that of her own deputy. Nevertheless, Pepper and Budge want to stay in town, they’re impressed with Molly’s “tremendous work” and plan on moving ahead with questioning Lester some more.
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Lorne: “I havent had pie like that since the Garden of Eden
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At their home, Gus stares into the board of connections Molly made concerning the Nygaard case. We cut to the red car coming down the road, the BMW driven by Lorne, as Gus sees him from the mail truck. Poor Grimly is just constantly driven nuts by the entire situation, starting from his first mistake right to the present.
In other news, Lester is getting things ready to fly off and leave his problems behind. The tickets are ready, Acapulco apparently, and Lester is rushing Linda off into the car, whisking her towards the airport. Only there’s more trouble ahead.
Stopping in at Nygaard Insurance, inside the office Lester looks long and hard, wondering if Malvo might be lurking. He further gives Linda his distinctive winter jacket to put on. Is Lester sending her in there to die, possibly? Seems so, don’t ya think? He even asks her to put the hood up.
And when Linda goes inside, after a moment appears Lorne to make the kill with one silenced shot to her head. Lester watches on in semi-horror, semi-relief. Obviously, Lorne checks to see who it is and looks out the window, almost as if right at Lester.

 


Has everything come to bear finally on Lester Nygaard? The murder coming full circle? You can be sure.
Excited to review the final episode of Season 1, “Morton’s Fork”. Stay tuned and I’ll have another review/recap finished soon enough. Cheers.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 8: “The Heap”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 8: “The Heap”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “Who Shaves the Barber?” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage” – click here
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This episode starts with Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) receiving a new improved washing machine. Might as well get rid of that old reminder, yah? The look on Lester’s face begins to make me wonder what sort of person he is truly. While he watches the machine wash away, the look just lingers.
Then he goes to see his sister-in-law Kitty (Rachel Blanchard). She’s ready to leave Chaz (Joshua Close) behind now, believing him to be a horrible man, an adulterer and a murderer. Poor little Gordo is having night terrors. Even some information that normally wouldn’t be suspicious about Chaz starts to slip out, such as his purchase of a timeshare and a boat – likely things his family would’ve used – and it makes the entire situation look all the worse for it.
At home, Lester begins to take down all his wife’s nonsense motivational posters, her commemorative spoon collection, her sewing station and clothes and everything possible. All the while, a steel drum version of “Ode to Joy” plays. Sort of oddly fitting.
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Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) heads to see her father Lou (Keith Carradine) at the diner. She gets a coffee fill-up, as well as flowers sent from Duluth; obviously care of Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks). “A smarter man would say youre beinwooed,” Lou says on the sly.
Meanwhile, Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) just ate an omelette and doesn’t want to be disturbed before it digests. Only Deputy Knudsen (Gary Valentine) calls on him, saying Molly requests his presence in the boardroom. There, she has a whiteboard littered with different connections in the Nygaard case. Still, rightfully so, she’s convinced Bill and everyone else is wrong on pinning the thing on Chaz. But Oswalt is only concerned with cluing things up, moving on.

 


Bill: “Thats just how it is sometimes. LifeYa go to bed unsatisfied.”

 


At work, Lester is having troubles with Gina Hess (Kate Walsh). Finally, she’s discovered her insurance claim is denied; there will be no money. “Ill make some calls,” says Lester. Except she suspects he knew the entire time, which of course… he did. She says at the end of the day he’s got to have $2-million. Or else. Then in a confrontation, he staples the two young Hess boys in their foreheads, telling Gina how things are going to go.
In Fargo, FBI Agents Pepper and Budge (Keegan Michael Key & Jordan Peele) are awaiting what will no doubt be a serious talking to, after the debacle which happened right under their noses. They don’t get yelled at. They’re escorted down floors and floors into a room full of files, as their boss closes the door on them explaining: “This is where you work now.” A punishment. Dull, but a punishment nonetheless. On the wall, though, Budge tapes a picture off the security camera of Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) from side-on.
When a police officer takes his break for a leak at the hospital, Malvo shows up and strangles the man over his back. Cut to Lorne sitting next to Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) who wakes up soon enough. They have a casual, no nonsense sort of chat. The type Lorne traffics in regularly. Part of why I love Lorne as a character is because of his non-chalant nature, he talks to everyone in the same way. He isn’t indestructible, either. Just lucky. And regardless of how you feel about him, Billy Bob Thornton plays Malvo wonderfully, with an understated, subtle performance. Even better – Lorne leaves Wrench with a key to his handcuffs before walking out.

 


Lorne (to Mr. Wrench): “I watched a bear once. His leg was in a steel trap. It chewed through bloody bone to get free. It was in Alaska. Died about an hour later facedown in a stream. But it was on his own terms, you know? You got close. Closer than anybody else. I dont know if it was you or your partner, but look – if you still feel raw about things when you heal up, come see me.”

 


Molly won’t ever be able to let the Nygaard case and everything wrapped up in it go. Never. Not until things are settled and the whole case is laid to rest. If not, she’ll only circle around it until something breaks; either her job, her mind, or who knows. On the way home from their office party, Molly stops and sees Lester with his co-workers at Munk Insurance. The look on her face, watching him act normal as if nothing had ever happened – she knows something wrong went on, she just can’t connect all the dots quite yet. Soon.
Back to Gus Grimly, who can never seem to keep a drink from spilling. In his squad car having a cup of coffee, he checks the speeds of cars coming down the road; few and far between. So, he calls Deputy Molly for a chat. They both really like each other, it’s easy to tell. Even her eyes perk up a little when he talks, and Gus often rambles or stumbles over words worse than usual when they’re talking together. Furthermore, a date is setup, again awkwardly. But it’s cute, the two of them.
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A time jump: one year later.
Gus has obviously given up his job as a cop. Now doing what he always wanted to do – deliver mail. An interesting change of pace, but I dig it. With his new job it’s clearly better for him and daughter Greta (Joey King), so he can walkie talkie with her whenever and not worry about missing criminals, or anything similar. More than just that. At home, a new place, Gus and Molly have a beautiful place, and a beautiful family with a bun in the oven. How things have progressed! I love to see this, though, as it also shows how Molly has slowed down and fell off the Nygaard incident. If only for the fact she hasn’t slowed down one bit. She keeps a room full of clippings, pictures, red string connecting points of interest and so on. There is never any giving up; not when you’re a Solverson.
So, let’s see where everyone else has ended up in 12 months. The time jump is also fun because it’s a year, and with that comes emotions/situations pertaining to the anniversary of all the big incidents in Bemidji, Duluth, and even Fargo.
Agents Budge and Pepper are now long broken down by the file room. Their relentlessly nonsensical banter is actually a great crack-up. I love Key and Peele anyways. Here with Noah Hawley’s writing, they’re so perfect for their parts. As Pepper tosses a ball over and over at the wall, eventually a bulletin board falls revealing the picture of Malvo, which Budge had taped there a long year before. Will this re-whet their appetite?
Then there’s Bill Oswalt. He’s taken in a young African refugee, bless his heart. Just such a strange place to find him. Yet shows that he’s a good man. A stupid, figuratively blind man, but good in his soul. The whole scene with Bill, Molly and the young man is a whole lot of fun, as well as a little intriguing, sussing out the message of why this has been included; the right under your nose aspect of everything comes forward quickly.

 


Best of all is Lester Nygaard. He’s living it up in new found freedom. He and Linda Park (Susan Park) are together now. No longer does Lester have a terrible wife, but a woman who actually respects him. Moreover, he’s won a big award as Insurance Salesman of the Year. As Lester and Linda party it up in a hotel for the evening, a familiar face pushes out of the crowd. While Lester heads to the bar, and Linda goes upstairs, there comes the old memory of a man. And though he doesn’t look the same, use the same name, and he’s sporting a different style of dress entirely, different hair colour and all that, you can tell: it’s Lorne Malvo.
From out of his new attitude and new life Lester is rattled. Just seeing Malvo there across the room, it shakes him to his core. Perhaps Lester imagined never seeing him again. Though, that’d be too perfect. No, a story like that of Season 1 on Fargo wouldn’t be enough without old wounds coming to bear on the present.

 


Excited to get into the last two episodes of the first season. Amazing show and I could watch every episode once a week, honestly. Next up is the penultimate finisher, “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”. Stay tuned for more, my fellow fans and friends.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 7: “Who Shaves the Barber?”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 7: “Who Shaves the Barber?”
Directed by Scott Winant
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “Buridan’s Ass” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “The Heap” – click here
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As the plot thickens around Bemidji and Duluth, poor Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) is sitting in the hospital, where Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is being treated after he accidentally shot her.
At the same time we hear Chaz Nygaard (Joshua Close) talk with his family in the morning, breakfast all done and the kitchen cleaned. On the news, the story of fish falling out of the sky fascinating everyone in Minnesota. “The darndest thing,” says Kitty (Rachel Blanchard). Then off goes little Gordo with his backpack, unknowingly toting a gun to school. “No funny stuff today,” the bus driver tells him on the way in; if only he knew. Love how the shot lingers on his bookbag constantly right to the school. Eventually, as everything does, the truth comes out – the gun slides out across the floor for everyone to see.
At home, Kitty finds Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) and others at her door. They have a warrant. Things are about to get pretty turbulent for Chaz, who’s got no idea of what is about to come down on him. He gets a call at work from Kitty, and then it all ramps up. When he gets home, Chaz finds the police searching through the gun locker, and not only do they find an illegal automatic weapon, they further discover the evidence: ball peen hammer, underwear, cheesecake photographs of Pearl Nygaard his now dead sister-in-law. All the while, the look on Chaz’s face spells absolute fear, uncertainty, and incredible awe. To anyone else it would appear he was in love with Pearl and couldn’t have her, so whack, whack, whack, and the rest is history.

 


Over at the station, Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) sits nervously in the interrogation room waiting for information. Oswalt is hilarious, played to perfection by Bob Odenkirk; the way he starts going over things with Lester is absolutely god damn riotous. He goes through the entire situation with Lester, explaining about Gordo and so on. The idea is, in the police mind, Pearl was having an affair with Chaz, as was the intention by Lester surely. For once, his pathetic nature is coming in handy here with Bill, and everyone else, essentially pitying him. The new story comes out of Lester, telling Bill what supposedly happened involving Chaz and such. For an awkward man, he does a good job coming up with lies. Yer darn tootin’. But the real joy of this scene is watching Odenkirk react as Bill Oswalt. I mean, christ on a whole wheat cracker, I couldn’t stop grinning even with the macabre lie Lester spins during the whole thing. They couldn’t have cast the part of Oswalt better, not in my mind.
With all these new developments, Lester walks out the door of the interrogation room, smiling, and then out of the police station, past Chaz in his cell.
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We rewind to the finale of last episode. Molly is in the blizzard alone, tracking down Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton). Turning for a moment she sees another person, firing. Turning back, Malvo has disappeared. Then she gets shot by the unknowing Grimly from a distance.
Cut to Molly waking up to Greta (Joey King) above her, Gus at the bedside, too. He has to sadly admit to being the one who shot her, though, she says “that dont make sense“. An inquiry into the shooting is coming, and Gus is upset at himself. He’s continually making mistakes, but at the same time he is a good man. Maybe not the most perfect cop. A good man, though. He pushes off for a while when Molly’s father Lou (Keith Carradine) arrives to keep her company.
In Bemidji, at home, Lester starts to get on the task of cleaning his house. Like any of us would at this point he calls a cleaning service. The conversation on the phone he has is hilarious, with that outright Minnesotan charm leading to Lester’s final line before a hangup on the other end: “Lets just say theres alotta blood.”
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Briefly, we go to Rundle Realty in Reno, Nevada. In his office, the boss finds Lorne Malvo with his feet up on the desk like he owns the place. “Can I sit? Or did you wanna kill me standing?” he asks Lorne. They sit and talk a little of things about the Fargo mob and the like. Such as the onslaught which came his way via Numbers/Wrench in the previous episode. Lorne gives two choices: ambulance or hearse. By the sound of the screams once he leaves, it’s possible the latter might be needed. As is the case when Lorne comes around.
Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) is still alive. He’s cuffed to a bed and has trouble doing sign language when Deputy Molly comes asking questions. Wrench is able to write on a whiteboard for her, asking about Numbers; she confirms he’s dead. Molly sits with him and asks about the insurance office, where they last ran into one another. Then about Malvo. But most of all, you see the humanity in her as a person. She levels with Mr. Wrench about the lives they live, on opposite sides of the law, and questions why he lives the life he does on that other side. She leaves him with a bit of a teary eye, turned away and lost in his own head.

 


Chaz is having a tough time down at the lockup, being transferred to county jail until the trial and everything begins. But Lester is back to work and looking chipper, or acting chipper. His boss tells him Gina Hess (Kate Walsh) has her claim denied. With a look in his eye, Lester agrees to go over and talk to her about it. Does he have something in mind?
Over at the hospital, Gus brings Molly some flowers. She’s busy drawing on the window, mapping out thoughts on the Nygaard-Malvo case. Molly has things pretty well figured out in terms of the connections to everything happened now between Bemidji and Duluth, how the Fargo mob probably sent Numbers and Wrench down to see what happened with Hess. Then everything wrapping Lester and Malvo into it, clearly.
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Molly: “You keep your chin up, Gus Grimly. Were winninthis thing.”
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Now we get two great additions to the cast – FBI Agents Budge and Pepper (Jordan Peele/Keegan Michael Key). Their relentless banter keeps attention away from Lorne Malvo, who walks into a building where Moses Tripoli and other members of the Fargo mob just went inside, wielding an assault rifle. Shots are fired, people die. Floor to floor. Malvo asks where the “top dog” is, trying to find Tripoli. Up he goes until Lorne finds what he wants. This sequence is so well done because they could’ve gone full-on action, yet instead it’s an understated continuous shot up the building ending with a guy tossed from a window, bleeding out on the pavement. And somehow, once again, the snaky Malvo slips out between the cracks into the unknown while Agents Budge and Pepper are left with their dicks in their hands.
Back in Bemidji, we find Lester over at the Hess house. He and Gina have a little drink. He makes himself pretty comfortable. Instead of telling Gina there’ll be no money coming, he plays a game with her. Trying to get a little action out of it Lester succeeds, banging the widow Hess while angrily staring at the family picture on her wall.

 


Gina: “I know a little something about greasy palms

 


Molly finds out about the supposed catch of the killer, Chaz Nygaard. Of course, she doesn’t see it that way at all. Everyone’s off celebrating. But Molly will not stop until Lester is brought to justice for his part in all the madness. It almost eats her up right there on the spot. She can see Lester getting away with it, right there in front of her eyes.
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More excitement on the way after another excellent episode. Tune in again here and I’ll have a review for the next episode, “The Heap”, as soon as I get around to watching it through another time. Keep checkin’ back now, okay? And I’ll have it soon enough, you betcha.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 3: “A Muddy Road”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 3: “A Muddy Road”
Directed by Randall Einhorn
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the previous episode, “The Rooster Prince” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “Eating the Blame” – click here


Back to Minnesota. You betcha!
“A Muddy Road” begins in an office building, cubicles on every which side. People work quietly, like any other day. One man looks troubled. Then suddenly, he spies Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) down at the end of the hall. The worried man obviously owes money. So Lorne drags him by the tie down through the hall while others watch. A security camera records all of this, right through the building, down into the parking garage.
Malvo strips the man down with a knife, then throws him in the trunk. Ah, so this is where the beginning comes from. From inside the trunk we watch the man get thrown around, Malvo flying out off the road and into the snow. Out in those woods, the man dies, as we already saw. But I dig how Noah Hawley takes us back through that beginning moment, to show us a little behind those opening moments of the series premiere and gives us a bit of context, instead of it being a one-off moment.


Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is out at the office building where the frozen man was dragged from by Malvo. The employees are hilarious, each giving their opinion on the guy. Mostly, Molly is looking for connections to what happened in Bemidji with Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and his wife, the Chief, all that.
At the same time, Lorne is over sweating Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton): “You got bronzer on your blackmail note.” Poor Don has got himself into a rough situation. Howerton is an awesome addiction to the cast, he is a funny guy and able to be subtle, unlike his excellent portrayal of Dennis Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. But more than that, I love the entire scene between Don and Lorne. Eventually Lorne discovers Don knows nothing, only that Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) supposedly “lies about where he got his money“. Now there’s more of the wandering evil in Lorne coming out, making people do as he bids. He’s getting Don to make a new blackmail letter.


Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) is still haunted by letting Malvo go. He looks up the plate number of the car; it was Lester’s car. Heading into the bathroom to talk with his lieutenant, Ben Schmidt (Peter Breitmayer) hilariously as the man is trying to take a shit, Gus tells him about the car belonging to one of the – supposed – victims. “Its god damn Sioux Falls all over again,” Lt. Schmidt says to himself. He is not impressed with Gus, but how could he have done anything? Lorne basically threatened his life. Was it worth pushing? At the same time, the lieutenant has every right to be pissed.
Lester is also haunted. He can’t stop thinking, obviously, about what happened at his house; his wife, Chief Thurman, everything. Weighing heavy on him. And why wouldn’t it? Well, now Lester is trying to get back to work at the insurance office for his foolish boss Bo Munk (Tom Musgrace). He actually ends up bringing documents over to Sam Hess’ widow, Gina (Kate Walsh). Interesting.
The Hess boys are still as dumb and dickish as ever, taunting Lester as a “loser” and wondering if he wants to “do” their mom. All the insurance mess starts to get worked out eventually once Gina invites Lester inside. “When do I get my money?” she asks quickly. He tries being a bit graceful, but she’s really only concerned with cold hard cash; not her cold dead husband. Then they start bonding a little over their dead spouses, as Gina sips what is most likely wine from a water bottle. Slowly, Gina starts trying to seduce Lester, whose awkwardness as usual knows no bounds.
And out in the trees, Lester eventually eyes Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) and Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg) watching on.


Lester: “Youve got your kids
Gina: “Ive taken shits I wanna live with more than them


A perfect scene between Molly and an old friend having dinner is highly reminiscent, without copying, of the original Fargo film where Marge Gunderson meets her friend from school Mike Yanagita. Of course, this scene with Molly and her friend is not at all the same situation. But the whole thing is very good homage. One of those awkward encounters we have with people after years of not seeing them. I thought it was a great inclusion. Plus, it just shows how sensible and intelligent minded Molly is compared to so many other clueless people around her.
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Lorne: “Its already dogeatdog, friend. Not sure what worse a bunch of zombies could do.”
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At the Milos residence, Lorne shows up with his nasty knife. He meets a big burly dog eye to eye, and you get the sense the dog recognizes Malvo as another animal. Inside, Malvo switches Stavros’ medication out with amphetamines. Well, that’s going to be quite the shock, isn’t it? Just as Stavros almost catches the culprit at work, out slips Lorne from the front door. Then, through the window, Stavros sees what the animal did to his dog, who lies dead with a cut neck and a new blackmail note to his corpse. Tragic to see an animal die, but did we expect anything better from a guy like Lorne? Not I. Milos is clearly intimidated, and also pretty angry.
Something I love about this series is there are little easily read bits of symbolism throughout the episodes. Such as the buckshot left in Lester’s hand: it stays around, it won’t leave, he can’t get it out and the wound just won’t heal, similar to how his guilt and those other feelings remain right below the surface threatening to expose him. Coming out of the bathroom in his office, Lester finds Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers waiting silently at his desk. The phone rings and he sits down to answer it as usual; it’s actually the impound in Duluth letting him know they have his vehicle. From there, a tense conversation between Mrs. Wrench and Numbers and Lester begins. First with a little sign language, until Numbers tells him exactly what they’re here about: “Sam Hess“.
Then, inconveniently, Molly appears to talk insurance with Lester. She wants to start thinking about life insurance, possibly. On account of her father Lou (Keith Carradine), worrying what might happen to him if she were to die in the line of duty. When some files fall on the floor from Molly’s folder, a security camera picture comes out: Lorne. This rattles Mr. Nygaard pretty bad, fast, and Molly can see how much it does. Little by little, the facade slips. Lester can only try his hardest not to be swept away in the tide of guilty lies.


At the home of Milos, a windshield scraper, a small one, is framed on the wall. Everything there is very grand, except the scraper. Strange, no? We’ll find out its significance soon enough. Milos wants to get things handled now, after the death of his dog; he and Wally (Barry Flatman) berate Lorne a little for him not knowing who exactly did the deed. Then we get into a little mention of Milos and his fortune, only Milos won’t budge on giving up any further information. Then he chews up one of the amphetamine tablets Lorne slipped into the bottle earlier that day. Lift off.
Gus Grimly and his daughter Greta (Joey King) sit at his desk. He’s looking through mugshot book after mugshot book, to try and find the man he pulled over that night. You can see how it all chews him up inside, the poor fella. But I suppose living on the thin blue line is never easy, no matter how much we wish it would be; it just is not.
Continually, Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) does not appreciate Molly’s theories about what happened in their town. She realizes Lester knows more than he lets on, yet Bill is so blind to the people in his quaint little town he is just completely unable to see what’s really going on. Molly isn’t giving up, though. Onward and upward.
Finally a break – Molly meets Gus, who came to tell her about his mistake. He talks about what happened, letting Lorne go and so on, the car he was in belonging to Lester Nygaard. Now, things are starting to come together, and an interesting relationship between Gus/Molly begins as she now has someone on her side.
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But the best of all comes in the finale of “A Muddy Road”.
Lester goes to see his brother Chaz (Joshua Close) looking for the gun that “makes the biggest hole“. They have a brother-brother bonding session. And we can see, Lester is getting more bold. Slowly, but it is happening.
Then, the finale concludes with Lorne reading from the Bible – the part about the plagues in Egypt – which also sees Stavros still sweating it out, hopped up unknowingly on amphetamines, then hopping in a shower. Except the shower starts to pour red, much like the red water in Egypt during the plagues, and when Milos notices he goes berserk. As one would. A smile on his face, and a couple buckets of pig’s blood in the back, Lorne gets in his vehicle to drive off.


Loved this episode. Can’t wait to review the next episode, “Eating the Blame”. More Minnesota chaos and mayhem coming again. Stay tuned for another review.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 2: “The Rooster Prince”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 2: “The Rooster Prince”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the Season 1 premiere, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma” – click here
* For a review of the next episode, “A Muddy Road” – click here
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After the raucous events of the premiere, “The Rooster Prince” takes us into the aftermath of a lethal, albeit unintended, union between Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and the wandering evil that is Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton).
An original piece from Jeff Russo introduces us to Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) and Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg). At a garage, they meet with a man about “what happened to Hess“. Numbers and Wrench speak together through sign language, as Mr. Wrench is obviously deaf. But don’t let that fool you, he is a pretty big man, physically intimidating. Mr. Numbers isn’t so much intimidating as he is ominous. Either way, they’re in town on word from the Fargo mob. The guy Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers talk with gives them a description of none other than Malvo.
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Meanwhile, Lester is recovering from the incident that took his wife Pearl. Or well, the supposed incident. His brother Chaz (Joshua Close) says Lester should move in with them, until the house is cleaned and maybe even ready to be sold. You can see the heaviness of what’s happened in Lester, right in his eyes. Though, nobody else would ever suspect a guy like him to have done what he did to his wife. Perhaps it’d be the setup for a perfect crime. If only Lester weren’t so nebbish and unwilling to take life by the horns. You just know because of his attitude already, who he is, Lester won’t be able to take this to the best conclusion for himself.
Over at the grave of Chief Thurman, killed by Malvo in the same incident, Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) is also heavy with thought. Cut to Thurman’s place, where his pregnant wife Ida (Julie Ann Emery) is entertaining all the guests. The two of them each cared for Vern, although clearly in different ways. But there is a bond, for sure. Molly talks about when her father Lou (Keith Carradine) was shot years ago, and then Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) strolls in to break the mood. Molly wants to talk with Lester, obviously. Oswalt sees him as we all do, nebbish, even bringing up a couple times where Lester fainted in high school: from a frog dissection to a girl’s “monthlies“. The blindness of Oswalt is clear, as he passes everything off as coincidence, whereas Molly can so easily see there’s something more there other than just time and place.


At home, Lester weeps into the closet, crying on his wife’s clothes. Then Chief Bill Oswalt and Deputy Solverson show up at his place. To anyone outside of the small town in Minnesota, Lester is guilty. Of something. He’s such a jittery, skittish man. But then again, Bill is more interested in figuring out the name of some grape gum from when they were kids. Such darkly hilarious conversation at points. Then awkwardness on Lester’s part trying to describe the events of his wife’s death. Molly keeps on pushing about the guy he talked to in the hospital, clearly making Lester more and more nervous. Bill brings up Sam picking on Lester in high school, making Molly suspicious. Yet she keeps getting squashed, by both Bill and Lester respectively.


Finally, though… more Malvo. We find him at a mail pick-up. He and the attendant have an awkward Coen-esque conversation about receiving mail. Lorne won’t give his name, saying the package is addressed to Duluth. The attendant, of course, is troubled because they’re in Duluth, so naturally we understand his confusion. After awhile, the darkness in Malvo – including a quip about finding a “foot in a toaster oven” – soon gets him the package, without any further fuss. Inside is a book called American Phoenix by Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt), as well as a new I.D. making him “a minister apparently“. Great little odd scene, adding intrigue and suspense in equal measures.
At a supermarket, up in an office, Stavros is telling Lorne all about his incredible grocery stores; “Ive got mangoes in god damn January,” he says. The head of security for Stavros, Wally Semenchko (Barry Flatman), is a former Oilers farm league goon. But to the point: Stavros is being blackmailed via letter for a bunch of money. Again there’s more excellent dialogue from Noah Hawley, who does draw off the Coens, yet creates his own quirky brand of Minnesota life for the series. The quirk isn’t there for quirk’s sake. Simply put, the characters are all interesting in their very own way.
On top of that, Jeff Russo’s score is consistently perfect. I can’t say any more, and certainly couldn’t say any less.


Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) discovers there’s more to the man he pulled over at the end of the first episode. He looks at the ticket he’d begun writing up, listening to the Captain give out orders, and remembering Malvo’s face, the license plate. I can already see how his guilty conscience will somehow or another come into play later on down the road. For now, he and his daughter Greta (Joey King) have nuggets and get along together by themselves as best they can. Gus is a bit of an awkward man himself, spying a neighbour in her window taking her clothes off, then heading back out to have dinner with his daughter. While the woman across the way does the same. Gus has a talk with Greta about how sometimes “theres more than one right thing“, trying to impart the grey line between right and wrong. Now his guilt is clear, though, it isn’t eating him up. Yet.
Along the dark highway, Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers are still out looking for answers on Hess. They meet with the stripper who was having sex with Sam at the time of his murder, as well as the club manager. Only they end up giving Wrench and Numbers the wrong guy. Funny enough, he looks slightly like Lorne, even with a bandage on his forehead. They talk a little with the man before he brandishes a knife in his jacket, a big one.
Cut to the highway out around Bemidji. The wrong man’s brought back to the Hess truck garage in the trunk of a car by Numbers and Wrench. But the Hess associate confirms it’s not the right man. And so the hunt is still on.
Lorne is in another part of town, calling himself Frank Robertson. He claims to be looking through Stavros’ assets, to get his now ex-wife the best divorce settlement possible. Or more likely, Malvo is playing both sides. He finds out more on Stavros and the source of his fortune.
In other news, Lorne tapes everything, his phone calls specifically. At a motel he continually listens to the tape of Lester calling for help. Simultaneously, he discovers the source of the Stavros blackmail note: the ex-wife’s new fling, Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton). From nowhere, Wally shows up to threaten Lorne, saying he ought to leave because of his “big city connections“. Instead of saying anything or fighting, Malvo goes into the bathroom, drops his pants, then starts taking a shit. Right in front of Wally, as he reads Stavros’ book. Amazing.
Chief Oswalt keeps trying to pound away at his own theories on the Nygaard murder, and the Thurman’s death. He wants Molly to keep digging on the angle of a robbery, possibly drug related. She finds it hard watching Vern’s name being erased off the door, Oswalt moving in. Especially seeing as how Bill isn’t half the cop Vern was, for all Vern’s dope-ish nature he was perceptive.


Back at his place, Lester finds the hammer he killed Pearl with right where he stashed it: in back of the washing machine. Then we cut to him moving in temporarily at brother Chaz’s place. If he weren’t already infantilized by his younger brother, now he’s even staying in Gordo’s room, equipped with Mason jars full of pee in the closet. The Nygaard brothers, along with son Gordo, sit in front of the television and eat like normal folk. Lester even admits he may sell his house, “get a fresh start“.
Things get tense for Lester while he’s at the pharmacist. He runs into Deputy Molly Solverson, she has more questions. Instead of waiting to get his medication Lester leaves the store, telling Molly he feels “harassed“. She knows there’s something more behind what went on, all the victims piling up so fast in a tiny town that never sees much excitement. The nervousness of Lester is evident, but Molly can’t stop pushing; she is a good soul.
More of Lou and Molly here, which I love. Keith Carradine is a classic; plus, it’s fun to watch him again after seeing Season 2 and Patrick Wilson as the younger version. They connect well. Here, Allison Tolman and Carradine work great as father and daughter, two police, one active and the other retired. It’s an excellent pairing for the cast. Lou tells his daughter about “savagery” and all the awfulness of police work, which he has seen clearly but manages to stave off in his mind.


The finale sees Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers drag their wrong man out to a frozen lake, auger in tow. They drill a nice hole in the ice, tying the man’s hands and feet, before dropping him head first into the icy waters. Brutal, yet effective, I suppose.
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Love this season so much. Stay tuned soon for another review of the next episode, “A Muddy Road”.

Fargo – Season 1, Episode 1: “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”

FX’s Fargo
Season 1, Episode 1: “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”
Directed by Adam Bernstein
Written by Noah Hawley

* For a review of the next episode, “The Rooster Prince” – click here
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Riffing wonderfully off the Coen Brothers classic Fargo, Noah Hawley and his team of directors have given us a worthy tribute, and sort of follow-up, to the movie. Blending homage to the Coens with new situations of mayhem in Minnesota, Hawley has impressed me through two full seasons of this show. Starting now, I’m reviewing the first season.
“The Crocodile’s Dilemma” starts off with Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) driving in the dark on a snowy highway near Bemidji, Minnesota, mostly only his eyes are visible in the night. He swerves when a deer runs across the road and flies into the snow. From his trunk escapes a man in his underwear. He runs into the wilderness, as Malvo walks over and watches the deer die instead of run after him.
Fade in on Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and his wife Pearl (Kelly Holden Bashar) are eating together. He is an emasculated man. Pearl even says she “married the wrong Nygaard“, as his brother is a much more successful man it seems. Immediately we get the sense their marriage is rocky, but under the covers sort of rocky. The kind nobody talks about in the open, especially not the couple in question.
Above all else, Lester has a very dull life. Or rather it’s quaint. But already there’s a sense Lester finds things dull. Maybe he prefers them that way, or perhaps it’s just what he’s used to, not sure. We’ll see, though. At work nothing is much different from home. He deals in insurance of various kinds. He isn’t particularly a great salesman, but he is an honest one. Too honest, at times. Hawley writes Nygaard as an almost hopeless man. On the street he runs into Sam Hess (Kevin O’Grady) and his two sons, Mickey and Moe. Sam is a bully from a high school who picked on Lester for years, and not much has changed; he even told his sons about stories of bullying Lester back then. Now he corners Lester, who doesn’t like confrontation obviously.
Becomes pretty clear when Hess pretends to throw a punch and Lester ducks it, right into a pane of glass behind him.
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Cut to the hospital.
Lester is sitting with a broken nose waiting to be seen. Lorne Malvo watches on as Lester painfully tries to drink a can of soda. He ends up handing the whole thing over to Lorne, in fact. They talk a little. Lester tells him about the “misunderstanding” which lead to the nose, but Lorne wonders: “Who misunderstood whom?” Though we already know Lorne is less than an upstanding citizen, he makes a few good points. Then Lester tells him all about what happened. Even telling Lorne about Sam Hess: “He was a bully in high school and hes a bully now.” Eventually, Malvo says he would’ve killed Hess. If it were him. This makes Lester pretty uncomfortable, yet still he continues talking with Lorne.
But then Lester makes a joke, saying Lorne ought to just “kill him for me“. Nygaard gets called in to be looked after while his new friend takes the request as real, repeating Hess’ name. Should Lester be worried?
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Out on the side of the highway, where Lorne’s car is sitting, Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) meets her Chief, Vern Thurman (Shawn Doyle). They start having a look at the car and what may be going on. Molly has a few ideas, though, her superior seems a little dopey. Even if he is fairly perceptive. They head into the woods, chatting about their daily lives and having a look for more evidence, clues to what could’ve happened. Then, the man with the underwear is found: frozen to death behind a tree stump.
At home, Vern’s wife Ida (Julia Ann Emery) is cooking, and eating. And she appears happily pregnant. Their new baby’s room is ready, almost. They’ve got themselves a nice, happy little Mid-Western life. Side note: Shawn Doyle is awesome, he’s from Newfoundland and Labrador, Wabush specifically with is in Labrador; he has been in lots of stuff, notably this and NBC’s Hannibal which I love. Nice to see him on this series.
Meanwhile, Lorne Malvo shows up to Mickey and Moe Hess wrestling. He gives them fighting tips. He’s looking for Sam Hess, giving lip already. He says the younger son is a bit “dim“. They have a funny confrontation, which is great because of Lorne’s dry demeanour. He walks out leaving the Hess gang and their friends confused.

Lester and Pearl go over to his brother Chazz’ (Joshua Close) place with his wife Kitty (Rachel Blanchard) and their family. Their son, Gordo (Spencer Drever), is a bit of a loner. His father thinks he may have “the autism“. The two brothers Chazz and Lester head into the garage, where the obviously more outgoing brother shows off some big assault rifle he bought, along with a ton of other guns in a huge rack. Completely unnecessary amount of firepower. Chazz hands the big rifle over to Lester, who drops it and the thing smashes on the floor. Afterwards, it comes out Pearl has “had it“. She says Lester has been strange lately, and so on. Clearly, though, Lester is just sick of his wife and their unhappy marriage. Sadly, Chazz says: “Sometimes I tell people youre dead.” He doesn’t respect his older brother, nor does he look up to him.
Things in the world of Lester become more complicated, after Lorne goes to a strip club where Sam Hess is having sex with a woman out back. Malvo puts a knife in his head. Let’s hope for Lester’s sake nobody remembers him talking with Malvo at the hospital. Yeah, like that’ll happen, eh?
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Chief Thurman, Molly and Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) are at the scene of Sam’s death. Poor Bill is having a tough time, wanting not to puke up his wife’s nice dinner. For all the small town-ness of Fargo and its atmosphere, the police aren’t dummies; not all of them. Thurman is dopey yet smart. Molly is on the nose, almost always, or at least ready to learn and to go from there.
Under the radar, Malvo is getting a room in a motel. He makes the mistake of being memorable, asking strange questions of the lady at the front desk. However, I’m not so sure Lorne cares about anything, let alone people remembering him enough to talk to anyone about it later. He’s like the wandering demon, infecting everyone around him to do their worst instead of standing idly by to be abused. While some of his advice is less of an evil nature than other bits, he’s still always causing mischief. At the motel he pits the owner versus a young man working their against one another, just for the hell of it.

Molly is over at the diner, owned by her father Lou (Keith Carradine; played as a younger version in Season 2 by Patrick Wilson). Chief Thurman meets Molly and they have a little talk over the evidence so far in the murder of Hess. He claims she’ll “make a good Chief one day“, which of course makes her happy.
Later, the police talk with Gina (Kate Walsh), Sam’s wife. She is not at all happy about the situation in which her husband was found. Obviously. Even better is the fact Mickey gets a call, from Lorne claiming to be an attorney, also claiming the other brother received everything in the inheritance; this prompts Mickey to nearly beat his brother Moe to death with a hockey stick. Already, Malvo is proving to be such an instigator and an outright antagonist off the bat in this first episode.
Lester, fixed up nose and all, is back at work and being asked to pull information on Sam Hess. He receives the news of Sam’s death, and the wheels in his brain begin to turn. He ends up at a diner where Lorne is eating quietly by himself. Darkly comedic, Malvo is smart about what he chooses to say in conversation, out in the open. At the same time, he makes clear Lester did say the words; even if it was a joke.

And it finally comes out – Molly tracks down info that “the fella with the head injury“, Lorne, was talking to “another fella“: Lester Nygaard, apparently. I knew it, even the first time I watched the series on its premiere. Lester’s world is about to drastically change. Chief Thurman says he knows Nygaard and will go to see him about the possible conversation with Malvo at the hospital.
Back at his place, he tries to fix the washing machine in a desperate attempt to make his wife Pearl happy, to impress her with his manliness or anything. When the machine all but explodes, she insists on abusing him further and further with more psychological torture within the shackles of their rough marriage. Fed up to the point of no return, Lester grabs the ball-peen hammer and cracks Pearl over the head quickly. A thick trickle of blood runs down her face, then he gives her another whack, then another, and another, and more. Until there’s not much left to her face. What has he done? I mean, yeah, she treated him poorly. But I suppose everyone has their breaking point. Lester, unfortunately, chose murder. He immediately begins to take his clothes off, bag them up, to try and start hiding the evidence. Where will he go from here?
Call Lorne.
In a frantic fit of panic, Lester asks him for help in order to clean things up. “Lester, have you been a bad boy?” he asks in that dry tone Billy Bob Thornton affects so well in the character. Only problem with Lorne wanting to help: Thurman is on the way to see Lester, in regards to Lorne. Uh oh. At the same time, it appears Lester wants to frame Lorne for the death of his wife, practicing “You killed her” and drawing a gun at the door while waiting for him to show. Then, at the door is Thurman. An awkward, tense conversation begins, with Pearl’s blood still drying on the wall downstairs. After a bit of talk, Thurman sees blood on the floor as Lester spies it, disappointed in himself; he starts rambling while Thurman finds Pearl dead down the stairs. Behind the poor Chief appears Malvo, blasting him away to his death. Things have changed even more now, for the worse. And sadly, Thurman bleeds out on the floor quickly right there and then.
With Molly showing up, lights flashing, Lorne vanishes into thin air. Downstairs, Lester continues to panic but makes it look as if he and his wife were both attacked after running himself head first into the wall. Molly finds them on the floor next to one another, Bob Oswalt arrives as back-up with a much needed “Ah geez“. Nobody is the wiser. Not yet, anyways. On top of it all, Lester ends up with a piece of buckshot embedded in his hand. As if things weren’t stacked against him high enough in a pile of shit as it is.
Sad scene when Molly brings home paint for the baby’s room at Thurman’s place, the wife immediately knowing why Molly is there. Tragically emotional moment.
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In Duluth, Minnesota, Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) talks over the radio to his daughter Greta (Joey King). They have a pretty sweet relationship, as he works and takes care of his daughter as much as possible at the same time. When a car speeds by, Grimly takes a sip of his coffee then reluctantly takes off after the culprit. Pulling him over, the man turns out to be Lorne Malvo. The criminal offers Gus an ultimatum: drive away, or face bitter consequences. Whatever insidious darkness Malvo has in him comes out here, threatening Grimly: walk or die, even plainer this time. Leaving in the night, Gus is left with barely any breath in his chest. But what are the consequences of Malvo leaving? What further destruction will he cause?

Stay tuned with me for another review of the next episode, “The Rooster Prince”. I love this show and going back over it a second time is lots of fun, picking up on things I missed and generally enjoying all the wonderful bits over again.