[Review] - Fargo, Season 1 Episode 5, "The Six Ungraspables"

Courtesy of MGM Television
In the press build up to Fargo's premiere, FX and writer Noah Hawley described it as a ten hour movie. If this series were a movie, it would be a boring one. Five hours in, half the total run time, and I can barely get through an episode. I just got finished saying how sex is a distraction, and that it's presence in modern "mature" television series has become a crutch. Well, let me tell you, this series needs that crutch. It needs a couple.

Fargo has, as I thought it might, fallen part due to the sheer absence of room to expand. The pilot was a self contained story that felt too little room to grow, and not nearly enough material to get ten episodes of equal quality out of. The past few weeks, and this episode especially, have been prove of the series over reaching, and spilling the diet Mr. Pibb into the coleslaw.

Hit the jump for the brief review, which contains spoilers that are mixed in with ladies spoilers, and you can’t tell which.

A lot of the storylines that Fargo has been over extending should have come to an absolute and complete halt here. Molly put together the entire scenario of what went down between Malvo and Lester (only avoiding Lester doing any killing himself). And she finally manged to convince her new Chief (which, as an aside, I can often judge how much a show or movie has captured my attention by how many of the character's names I can recall - on Fargo, it isn't many) that Lester is a person of interest. Lester was taken to hospital, where the bullet that has been festering in his hand was removed, providing clear forensic evidence of his involvement with the former Chief's murder. The former's Chief's wife had her baby. Aside from arresting Malvo, which Gus was able to figure out there was a reason Malvo was standing where he was standing when he was arrested, a lot of what happened here felt like series finale material. But we're only half way through.

And I'm sorry, but Lester being nervous and narrowly avoiding a complete break down during questioning every episode is not enough to base an entire series on. At this point, I want him caught just so that something will have happened. Every episode, the characters inch closer to a goal that should, at best, be a brief sprint. As much as I'm enjoying the characters of Wrench and Numbers (and at this point, they are pretty much the only ones who remain interesting), they are bad at their job, as is everyone else in Bemidji.

Take Molly and Gus, who have eye witness testimony and photographic evidence to arrest Malvo and take him to Bemidji. Of course his arrest in Duluth didn't stick, even with the fake identity - the best he could have been charged with there was speeding, at the word of a police officer. And Lester is clearly a weak enough individual to flip on Malvo. Molly could have her crime solved in no time at all. Instead, every episode sees the character spin their wheels, make a minor bit of progress, and get distracted by other stuff that should be adding to characterization, but just comes off as filler. Like the parable told to Gus by his neighbour, whose intended purpose I understand, but was overly long and used to kill five minutes.

At this point, the show bares little relation to the Coens style that it was trying to emulate. The Coens wouldn't tolerate this level of wheel spin. At least when they have characters in conversations that don't go anywhere, there is a level of amusement that it provides. When they have a story that doesn't go anywhere, it is at least interesting to see how things unfold. At this point in the series, I just don't care about any of these characters any more. The show has wasted my earlier good will. Occasionally, it'll find the opportunity to say something clever (usually with Malvo as the mouth piece, like this week's discussion on wolves), but mostly it's just putting in time between those ridiculously over-used opening credits and the maudlin closers.

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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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