[Review] - Fargo, Season 1 Episode 4, "Eating the Blame"

Courtesy of MGM
I continue to struggle with Fargo. It has moments of clear brilliance, but these are broken up between long periods of becalmed story extension. The story is being stretched to it's furthest possible extent, and I'm beginning to suspect that when it's all said and done, we'll realize that the story would have been best served told over five or six episodes rather than ten. Because four episodes in, it simultaneously feels like too much and not enough has happened.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that, when they figure out the answer, will have their answer.

This episode established a direct connection between the film and the series, creating a shared universe of events rather than the series being a "reworking" of the film. The money, hidden by Steve Buscemi's character, is discovered not long after by Oliver Platt's. It's an effective bit of connective tissue, obvious but not overbearing. It doesn't do much to reduce the still palpable feeling that the series is little more than approved fanfic of the film, but at least they went with something a little more reasonable than having Scotty Lundegaard be Lester's uncle, or some such thing.

The lesson taught by this episode was, those characters who aren't incompetent, are assholes. It really hurts the audience's ability to sympathize with any of the characters, even Gus, when they are constantly being assaulted by the belligerently dumb or the incessantly mean. Even Molly, who last week was all flirty eyes, is really only motivated by ego at this point. Her quest to pin the murders of Mrs. Nygaard and the former Chief on Lester has transcended wanting to solve the crime, and become more about defeating her obstructive boss. she was promised the position of Chief, and she didn't get it. Her analysis is being shot down. She's not interested in preserving justice at this point, she just wants to prove that she's better than everyone else. Even last week, she wasn't all flirty with Gus until she realized he had information she could use to her advantage. This week, she barely remembers him until, again, he proves himself worthy.

Gus has emerged as the show's true protagonist, the only one still motivated by pure intention: he genuinely wants to catch the bad guy, even if his impetus is to make up for his initial error. He's the only person involved in all aspects of the plot, and he's the only character that has any redeeming qualities. Which is a damned shame, because it was meant to be Molly that the audience was cheering for. But at least Gus is taking action, attempting to put right what once went wrong. Molly seems content to have her brakes applied, then wait until something new falls in her lap. And now that Gus as a "personal" relationship with Malvo, it means he'll potentially be participating in aspects of the narrative that Molly simply won't ever have access to, through her own lack of initiative.

Malvo's continued torture of Platt's Milos just isn't hooking me. The entire storyline is so obviously been included for bulk, and Milos is lacking in anything resembling sympathy that I just can't appreciate the lengths Malvo is going to drive him insane (I can't even gloss over the lingering issue of why he's driving him insane). Milos is a clear scumbag but he's hardly a villain, and Malvo is the reverse. So watching Malvo torture a man more deserving of our affection lacks emotional resonance. It would be different if Malvo were attempting to undo a monster, but Milos is just an asshole. And the story remains divorced from the rest of the plot, so I struggle to see it's overall relevance.

I will say this, the episode featured my favourite moment of the series thus far, and that was the closing scene as Number and Wrench are lead into the prison cell, containing Lester. In fact, Wrench and Numbers have firmly established themselves as my favourite characters. They are as terrible at their jobs as everyone else on the show, but they do it with such flourish and relish, you can't help but enjoy their increasingly argumentative relationship. My hope is that Lester puts them on the trail of Malvo, bringing much needed life and humour to his isolated storyline. However, now that Gus knows who Malvo is, now that Wrench and Numbers know that Lester was involved, now that everyone is pretty much aware of who did what and to whom, I can't begin to think how the next six episodes will feel any less over-extended than the first four.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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