Category Archives: Fargo

Fargo – The Heap (S1, Ep8)

Fargo, over the last few episodes, has picked up its pace in every department. The action, the character arcs, the relationships, the suspense, the pain, the gore, and the everything. This show is getting better as it goes along, both separating itself from the movie, while fargo-the-heap_article_story_largebeautifully moving right beside it. All now that all of my earlier issues have disappeared, I now my viewing is purely enjoyable. When’s the last time anybody said that about a TV show? I am both surprised and gleeful.

Just as everything was both falling apart or coming together for people (Molly’s case was crumbling as her connection to Gus was on the up and up; Lester wronged his brother as he finally began to change his life around, etc), we get the great Battlestar Galactica trick—The Time Jump. We’ve seen this employed for better or for worse before, but it seems that the Fargo writers have a true handle on how they will creatively use this reset.

It’s something I did not expect at all (like most of us), but looking at what they’ve done makes a great deal of sense. If the 2006 story were to continue day by day, we all probably could have predicted what was going to happen more or less. The psychological drama would have been fit for140604-0003-649x360 the TV medium and Lester either would be caught or not, Molly and Gus would be together or not, so on and so forth. Some death there, gore here, semi happy ending—maybe. But jumping a year into the future, some of these questions still have yet to be answered, but I’ll be damned—it’s so much more interesting.

These character’s experiences in 2006 have informed so much of their e0c1e1e4024b4397c3c4618c60fdc5ddpain/success/outlook that we can get back to the same investigation, but with an immense amount of depth–way more than keeping this in the shorter time frame. It’s a deeper cat and mouse than we’ve seen before with Lester vs Molly (who is more Marge than ever here). Will Malvo be Lester’s undoing again? Will Molly get the break she needs from the Fargo agent/file clerks? Will we see Stavros again? This is one of the Fargo - Episode 1_08 - The Heap - Promotional Photos (7)_595_slogomany reasons why TV storytelling is great and unique. They both made their story stronger and trimmed the fat in one foul swoop. (The episode also sets the stage for what is to come perfectly after the jump.)

Like Bill’s story of randomly finding his foster child years later in a Phoenix Farms, the past will always sneak up on you in the future/present. Now, with only two episodes left, I can’t wait to see what happens!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Fargo – The Six Ungraspables (S1, Ep5)

As the plot continues to move forward, just as the brewing storm is pushing toward our favorite small town peoples, Fargo has reached a point that has made me feel better about where it all stands. While the acting is top notch, as it has been the entire run to this point, and the story narratives have become more and more interesting, there is still a missing spark. Doesn’t it feel like everything seems to be unfolding the way it should be happening, as opposed to feeling natural and organic?

Now that Lester is in the hospital, with his hand intact, he’s getting closer to being officially fargo1caught, now that Molly has closed the gap on what she believes to be his crime. I have a feeling that he’s going to accidentally give himself up for his wife’s murder. And boy oh boy, I could feel the blinding pain of his hand through the TV. Woof!

Molly, on the other hand—PUN!, finally gets her chief to see the investigation more clearly. In this scene, if Bill didn’t see the light that Molly was bestowing upon him, I don’t think I Fargo-The-Six-Ungraspablescould comfortably continue with the show. I know that the characters we follow are the “smarter ones,” but after they let Lorne Malvo go free, I don’t know if I would believe that he wouldn’t listen to actual facts. Now that’s he’s on the same page as Molly, I am satisfied enough to continue on in believing the next steps.

We see a little bit of Stavros putting his money together, unlike Bill, not listening to important information (from his son), as well as the two hit men. What we do get a large amount of is Gus, his neighbor, and an impending showdown with Lorne.  The late night story sequence, with in the same realm as the Dybbuk Opening Scene story from ‘A Serious Man’ (another Cohen Bros Movie), is a nice moment between two neighbors. It allows us to see deeper into Gus’s state of mind, while reminding us about the type on community all of these Minnesotans live in and how much of a shock all of these bad men are to their system. (So much listening—or not listening in this episode) I assume that the title comes from the use of this parable?

6542_Fargo_105The final sequence with the neighbor and Lorne may be the most unsettling of these encounters to far, as we now are invested in Gus, his daughter, and his world. If you can’t feel safe in your home or town, where can you?

I am still interested to see where everything is headed and if we get any sort of spark to really set this show on fire—even with all the snow.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Fargo – Eating the Blame (S1, Ep4)

Just a short little review of this week’s Fargo.

fargo-recap-eating-the-blame-martin-freemanFargo has gotten stronger as the series has progressed. While its plots are moving in an entertaining direction, for me its overall success has been in the characters. As Gus and Molly truly begin to team up and the two hitmen get locked up with Lester, I become more and more engaged. (Even Lester is less annoying as he grows a backbone.)

  • Billy Bob’s Malvo Lorne stole the hour this week. Were there a ton of holes in his story? Yes. Did it matter? No, because he was so committed and the cops are so–naive? (Would he have really written his real name in the motel book?) Plus, he had to get away, so we could see his most destructive prank yet.
  • Loved the tie into the movie. It made sense, creating an succinct expanded universe fargo-eating-the-blame_article_story_largewhere characters that we remember and love live in.
  • Some of the small town banter that works well in the movie is really grating the more it’s used every week in the show. It’s getting tough to watch people get dumber and dumber in places for this long.
I can’t say that I’m addicted to this show. I’m more intrigued, but that’s good enough, yeah?
Keep On Watchin’!
-Bryan

 

Fargo – A Muddy Road (S1, Ep3)

Okay. There you are Fargo TV show! The plot finally gets a little thicker–or should I also say muddy? (Neither really, it just moves nicely and finds a great pace.)

As Moses was by fate brought into the land of Egypt, so too is Malvo, or so he believes (or just recites). As he takes over Don’s thin attempt at blackmailing–in a 26879-1-3great scene in a small space–Lorne begins his reign of plagues directed at Stavros.  Is this just his sadistic way of having fun before proving his worth or is Moses taking down Pharaoh? Regardless, I think we’re going to have a little more fun watching this play out. #Ihavetwoquestionsandthenacomment.

As the other plots progressed, the stories settled into a nice sweet spot. Lester is digging deeper and deeper into a hole he can’t climb out of (even if he’s a puss squeezing champion in maybe the most painful Fargo scene yet). The way these stories are slowly wrapping themselves around Lester’s throat (whether he knows it or not) lends a perfect road to his search for protection at the close of this episode. Tazers and machine guns–the old Minnesota way!

In any other show Molly and Gus’s meet would have taken much longer to get to and the colin-hanks-fargo-a-muddy-road-FXphoto exchange an even longer wait. (This show is also much shorter of a run then most.) Fargo has a plethora of everything going for it, from so many angles, that it’s not necessary to stretch anything out for suspense purposes. Molly’s loneliness and sense of duty inform her every behavior, but have also led her to this man and his daughter. After the lunch with her friend, she realizes that her life isn’t what she wanted (especially after her deprecating ‘boyfriend’ comment), but Molly surely doesn’t want what her friend has going. This has led her, in one way or another, to Gus–a version of Lester when things go ‘right’. There’s potential for work and pleasure–or nothing at all.

There’s quite a bit of loneliness spread throughout ‘The Muddy Road’. Hess’ widow, Lester in his home, the hitmen in an fargo-a-muddy-road-allison-tolmanice-fishing cabin, Stavros in his huge house (now sans dog), Gus’ home life, the accountant in the office then dying alone, and Moses in his new land with no companions. This show has finally settled for me and I don’t have any intention of leaving it alone.

NitPick Corner:

  • The lunch meet up with Molly and her friend is reminiscent of the pivotal Marge/Mike Yanagita scene in the hotel bar from the film.
  • Not too much Numbers and Wrench, but they were used effectively enough to excite me for what comes next.
  • Molly is relentless with Lester, but I do love her new tactics. She may have saved Lester from the thugs for the time being, but it’s only a matter of time until he is taken down.Fargo - Episode 1.03 - A Muddy Road - Promotional Photos (2)
  • Hess’ sons probably have made me laugh the most throughout this short season.
  • Do we want to go shipping with Molly and Gus? (Shipping is a term right? That’s what the kids are tweeting these days?)
  • There was a lot of blood from all different types of animals this week! What blood will we see next?!

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Fargo – The Rooster Prince (S1, Ep2)

This week’s Fargo introduced us to new characters and plots, while building on the pilot’s excellent start. Now that the excitement of the Fargo pilot has worn off, I question where this series is going. I know it’s only episode two, but I’m curious what the point of this series is, as my interest dropped off a little this week.

imagesIntrigued by our new hitman duo, as well as Oliver Platt’s Grocery King, I still see a bright season ahead.  Russell Harvard’s Mr. Wrench and Adam Goldberg’s Mr. Numbers (I like to imagine them as the Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd of Fargo) are a nice addition, as they search for Hess’s killer. Platt as Stavros Milos is just another brilliant casting choice that advances the quality of this show’s acting. These two new wrinkles in the fabric of Fargo is a welcome treat. Building on top of what the pilot presented, the infasturcture of the show is getting stronger. It’s also creating an similar viewing experience to the film: The audience knows 99% of what is happening. There are no mysteries for us, but we get the pleasure of watching it all unfold.

While the excellent Fargo continues to engage, as mentioned before, I wonder where this series will go. Some plots are seemingly predictable (Lester and Molly and Gus).  I mean, we’ve not only seen the movie, but have experienced this type of dynamic many times over. Characters have a lot of generic traits, so I’m still waiting for the moment when I truly start believing that each person is more than just those quirks.  A show needs to be able to build this people up andimages-1 tear them down, but as of right now I am impressed with the show, but need a little bit more before I fully buy in to the hoopla. Last week I was over the moon for the show, and over all I think I still am, especially as we add all of the new puzzle pieces. This week, I am more concerned about this show paving its own way and not just being a concoction of great scene work.

NitPick Corner:

  • Malvo’s conversations with public employees continues to impress and the way he takes his power to the next level is incredibly entertaining: ala his bathroom duties.
  • Molly and Bill’s back and forth is getting a little old, so hopefully that branches into something more than run of the mill boss disagreement, etc.)
  • Gotta love Glenn Howerton playing a new version of Dennis.

There’s a great frame work and interconnection of plot, but I’m having trouble finding the spark.  In this short mini-series of  show, I’m sure I’ll get a better feel for the show sooner than later.

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan

Fargo – The Crocodile’s Dilemma (S1, EP1)

I vividly remember the first time I saw the film version of Fargo. Mesmerized by the acting, aesthetic, story, and gore, I was hooked on Coen brother movies. (Up until that point in my young movie loving life, I didn’t really know the filmmakers outside of Raising Arizona.)

I had never been so engaged by a “detective style” movie that had no real mystery. Whilefargo-fx-tv-series-poster we primarily followed around Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunerson (an Oscar winner for that role), she doesn’t enter the movie until a good chunk of time into the film.  All this time is spent letting the audience know who-done-it already. We watch Marge put the puzzle together, even though we see the finished picture and, as I stated earlier, it’s mesmerizing. The most important scene is a conversation in a hotel restaurant!

So, I needed to give you a quick background check because due to my very high opinion of the film I was highly skeptical of the TV show.  Even with the stellar cast, I was still uneasy about the need to revisit anything related to the 1996 masterpiece. Then I watched the pilot.

af473a33-ed87-4515-a622-8fbe3135e5fb_Fargo_CL_0872_firstlook1Based solely on this extended hour, I am overjoyed to be back in the land of endless snow. Here we are treated to a new story with new characters based in the world and cinema aesthetic that Joel and Ethan Coen created. The gore is most definitely there too. When the calm, but ruthless, killer Lorne Malvo (an excellent Billy Bob Thorton) is stranded in Minnesota, timid Lester Nygaard’s (Martin Freeman) life is flipped upside down. (That’s more or less the basics of it all, but you know how many plot lines there are in any given show.)

From the opening shot to the last, Fargo recreates the same feel of the movie, but still stands on its own.  The performances are excellent, especially Thornton, Freeman (regardless of his in-n-out accent), and Allison Tollman as cop Molly Solverson. (Solverson… Hmmmmm, I wonder if she’ll SOLVE it…) This show has so much potential and I hope it explores that in it’s ten episode run.

While the bloody, well choreographed, life-changing sequence near the end of the episode was what turned my Fargo interest into investment, I was most captivated by all of the conversations. Highlighted by Malvo’s traffic stop with Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks), every Allison-Tolman-in-Fargo-the-TV-series-photo-FXcharacter interaction was always packed with a great sense of character and even mystery.  Tension used for the good of the show is always a good thing.

Drawing parallels to the movie isn’t particularly hard (obviously Lester is supposed to evoke Jerry Lundegaard–even both of their last names have double ‘aa’s!), but it’s the newness that feels right about the show. If it continues this first episode’s trend of feeling, theme, characterization,  and gore it will be another great addition to the current TV canon. We know the who-done-it, now bring on the bloody, wacky road to the finish line! #woodchipper?

Keep on Watchin’!

-Bryan