Join The Forum’s Heidi Shaffer and John Lamb as they recap the finale of FX’s ‘Fargo.’
By John Lamb
FARGO – The finale of FX’s “Fargo” tied up the
10-episode run in a Minnesota-nice kinda way. Then again, as the dark comedy showed time and again, Minnesota nice isn’t always pretty.
While the finale delivered some satisfying conclusions, there were some questions left unanswered and some resolutions that left fans wanting more.
This was somewhat predictable as the previous two episodes were so tense, contained such great writing, character development, memorable lines and camera work. It would’ve been hard to top that, and Noah Hawley’s script wasn’t up to the challenge.
Sure, in the big picture, Lorne Malvo, the calm hit man so fond of predator stories, got taken out in a bit of vindication for failed dog catcher/bad cop Gus Grimly, who walked away from a menacing Lorne in the premiere.
And of course Lester Nygaard, whose frustrating passivity started off this 30-some body count, was finally brought down, but not in a way anyone saw coming. We see Lester’s dumbfounded and desperate look a split second before he crashes through the ice on a lake in Glacier National Park, apparently running for the Canadian border.
But the biggest sinking feeling for viewers was watching Bemidji Police Officer Molly Solverson’s wings get clipped. Since the first episode, we’ve watched her grow professionally and personally and throughout she’s been the moral compass and only admirable main character, so much so that her chief Bill tells her he’s stepping down and wants her to take over.
So it was frustrating to watch her take control of the Malvo manhunt, only to have Gus make his very pregnant wife promise to stay in the office and out of harm’s way.
“It’s my job,” she peevishly reminds him.
“Sometimes you get urges you can’t control,” he says. (I’ve never been married, but telling this to any woman in their third trimester seems like a bad idea.)
“Bad luck,” he says for emphasis. Yes, like the bad luck when he shot at someone he couldn’t see in a whiteout and vented Molly’s spleen. My point being, why would a good cop listen to a bad former cop who always really wanted to be a mailman?
The real strength of the movie was that Sherriff Marge Gunderson was a strong female character who even while pregnant, could apprehend a killer. After nine episodes of Molly getting smarter and stronger, it’s frustrating to see her relegated to working the phones.
Male protectiveness was a theme in the episode as Molly’s ex-cop dad, Lou, sat on the front porch with a shotgun protecting Gus’ daughter Greta from Lorne – or the first boy to ask her out. Even the frazzled police receptionist needs guarding with all of the cops out looking for Lorne, so she locks the doors to the police department in the middle of the day.
Molly does cut free to go check on Lester, who after being questioned regarding the death of his second wife in as many years, is used by Molly to lure Lorne.
Which is exactly what happens after the cold-blooded killer takes the used car salesman (the same librarian Lester tried to scare into buying life insurance in case he got hurt on the job in episode one) for a ride – literally and figuratively.
Unfortunately, the only line of defense between Lorne and Lester are the hapless FBI agents Budge and Pepper who share riddles, talk about dreams and argue more like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Why would you assign the two guys who missed the Fargo Crime Syndicate Massacre while parked right outside to watch over a witness from the driveway?) and can’t see Lorne sneak up behind them.
After they and possibly the used car salesman are disposed of, Lorne goes hunting for Lester, but the conniving prey plays scared and draws the predator in. Lorne steps in a bear trap Lester hid under clothes on the bedroom floor, but gets his lick in by clocking Lester with his Insurance Salesman of the Year Award.
Lorne limps away like a wounded animal, though just how wounded we don’t see until he is doctoring himself back to health in his cabin. In a series that has been as bloody as Carrie’s prom night, the scene of Lorne re-setting his mangled leg was the most gruesome yet.
After Lorne completes a makeshift splint (he must’ve started off as a Cub Scout), he has a moment of calmness and spots a wolf outside his window. All through the show, Lorne has been a relentless hunter, sharing stories about wild wolves and bears. Does this wolf outside his door suggest that Lorne is trapped? Because he is.
It’s the same wolf that tipped off Gus to Lorne’s location. Now the former dog catcher emerges from the shadows, tells Lorne he knows the trivia question Lorne sprung on him in episode four about why the human eye can see more colors of green than any other colors; to spot predators. He then pumps the already-wounded killer with three rounds to the chest, which is not enough. Lorne leans forward, blood dripping from his big, toothy grin, so Gus shoots him multiple times in the face.
The way Lorne met his match was fitting, but Lester’s demise left us unfulfilled. Yes, he was undone by his own actions, breaking through the ice after not cracking during questioning at the beginning of the episode despite being on thin ice throughout the show. Still, you wanted Molly to get her man. Lorne was always a ghostly figure, but Lester was the one she tried repeatedly to nab.
While his fleeing to the west may have been more in line with the ending of the movie, it would’ve been more fulfilling had Molly brought him in.
Molly and Gus get their just rewards and a happy family together. Lone wolf Lorne and squirrely Lester get what they had coming. But viewers were left wanting more.
Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533