[Review] - Fargo, Season 1 Finale, Episode 10 "Morton's Fork"

Courtesy of MGM
There is a moment in the finale of Fargo, where Molly is telling a parable, something like the thirtieth this series has told. She tells it, and Lester listens, and responds with a scrunched up face, having no idea what Molly is going on about. I understand the point of the story, and I understand that the point of the scene was that Lester didn't understand the point of the story. But, at that moment, I was 100% on Lester's side. For far too much of this series, I've sat listening to character drone on, most of the time about nothing in particular, and wondered, "what is the point of all this?" And now we know: quite a lot, and very very little.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that are not prepared for urban warfare.

This week was better paced then many of the episodes have been, probably down to the fact that it was all building towards an ending. Malvo shifted into defencive positions as everything started coming down around him. I don't buy that he'd let himself be cornered so easily, that he'd allow his obsession over one man so completely destroy him. But the show had to end, and it apparently needed to end on a note of optimism that it hadn't shown at all until this point. Good had to triumph over evil, despite every fibre of the show to this point telling us that evil corrupts from the bottom up, and the best good can hope for is being so incompetent that it gets a free pass from the mayhem surrounding it.

The character arcs were all over the place throughout the run, and here they all had to come to a screeching halt. Lester's arc peaked too late, so his fall seems abrupt and harsh. I mentioned last week that bringing Malvo back was an artificial and forced way to easily bring Lester down, and that holds up. It gave us a couple good scenes, with Lester and Malvo in the bedroom probably being the best of the night. But self destruction is so much more interesting than getting knocked over by the storm. Malvo never had an arc, he was the force of nature, but storms pass, and I can't help but feel that the series would have been better off leaving him in the pilot, and having the rest of the series deal with the destruction he left in his wake. So much time was devoted to watching Lester grow into the real villain of the piece, but he never had a chance to shine while under the shadow of Malvo.

The heroes didn't get served any better. Molly, like Malvo, didn't really have an arc to finish. She was fully formed. She became slightly more assertive as the series went on, but the former Chief saw that potential in her in the pilot, it was only Bill's idiocy that kept her from succeeding. Bill himself comes to a magical conclusion here that he isn't suited for this line of work, not because he's actually witnessed anything (he's less in shock that he is disappointed), so his stepping aside is basically just a manufactured way of giving Molly a happy ending.

Gus' arc went hard the other way. He gets a happy ending, but the cost of his identity. He looses his job, is undervalued for his contributions, strikes out on his own and manages to kill Malvo. But again, it is so heavily manufactured that things will end that way. He basically guilts Molly into not taking part in the investigation to catch the guy she's been hunting for months, then in the next minute willingly walks into the hideout of a man he knows full well kills mercilessly. That isn't duty, or self preservation motivating that action, it is selfishness. There was no guarantee it wouldn't have went the other way on him. How would his funeral have been any different for Greta than Molly's?

 Fargo never landed for me. And it seems to have split the viewership right down the middle, between those that have thought it was genius and those that thought it failed to live up to it's own aspirations. There were times when the show really moved. Usually these were character moments. Usually they involved Lester. Occasionally, they involved Lou. But most of the series was plodding, packed with filler, and never as poignant as it thought it was being when making metaphoric references to the human condition. If I had to boil things down, I'd say it was too long by half. If it had been five episodes with a tighter focus, it could have been something. If all it had been was the pilot episode, aired as made-for-cable movie, I've have thought it was brilliant.

If less time had been spent trying to make it seem like the Coen Brothers, and trying to pack in as many references to the original film, and tried being it's own thing, with it's own voice, and own motivations, maybe it would have stood a better chance. If it didn't rely on gimmicks. And maybe if a couple characters had actually been engaging and sympathetic (plenty were interesting, but I never liked any of them. Or if I did, like Gus, the show managed to drain them of that pretty quickly). As it stands, I've put in my time for this season. and while I understand a second season would be about new characters, in a new setting, with a new story, I just don't have the investment in me to devote to this creative team. So this is where I get off.
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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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