Fargo (FX) Review “Eating the Blame”

Fargo (FX) episode 4 Eating the Blame (9)

Malvo and Molly have yet to come face to face, but thanks to the brilliance of Noah Hawley’s scripts we can feel these two characters circling one another. In Malvo’s mind, he is the only predator in the water. He stands atop Stavros’ grocery store, surveying his chaos as both a god and a devil as panicked shoppers flee from his man-made plague. Malvo specializes in finding the heart of his victims and exploiting it. Lester was a coward and Malvo found Lester’s anger, then flipped the switch on it. He heard the voice of Gus’ daughter and knew Gus was a man who had something to lose. He discovered Stavros believes God gave him his prosperity and uses that belief to bring down what appears to be God’s wrath upon Stavros’ head in order to blackmail him successfully. At this point, Malvo looks and even believes he is untouchable.

He does not know Molly though. He has not met her, he cannot size her up, but she is studying him from afar. Last week, I noted the two characters have a similar sense of humor in that no one around them ever seems to get their dry jokes. Their similarities run deeper than humor though. Molly is a predator too, but her prey is men like Malvo and Lester. She studies people just as Malvo does– she sees through Lester’s nice guy persona to the twitchy, guilty man below, her anger softens once she understands why Gus let Malvo walk away and she speaks Malvo’s language. He may not know it yet, but he has a worthy opponent tracking him.

Gus is not that opponent. Colin Hanks imbues Gus with such genuine earnestness, it is impossible not to root for him. Even as he catches Malvo it is apparent Malvo will talk his way out of jail and he does. It was a treat to hear Billy Bob Thornton slip into the Minnesota accent as he took on the pastor persona he was given by his boss. The sheriffs lapped up his sob story while Gus watched helplessly as Malvo’s prediction that he would end up saying, “you’re making a mistake” came true.

The series has done a superb job of building Malvo up. He is a horrible person, but he is also amusing and so measured in his machinations that I cannot stop watching him. What I am most curious to see is his fall. Molly only had a couple of scenes this week, but they were pivotal, particularly her final scene with Gus. When he returned to Fargo and relayed Malvo’s riddle (“Why is that man can see more shades of green than any other color?”), Molly immediately understand. While Malvo relied on the Biblical to torture the devout, but clearly fallen Stavros, he is a Darwinist himself, a believer in the strong rising above the weak. Molly knew the answer to the question Malvo insisted was the key for Gus understanding why he failed in keeping Malvo locked up. It is a leftover byproduct of evolution, speaking to the need to survive in a world where dangerous things were always hiding in the greenery of nature. Only Molly and Malvo seem to see.

Meanwhile, Lester continued his descent in a morbidly hilarious fashion. His hand that caught the buckshot is getting worse as it goes untreated, but his biggest concern at the moment is Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench. I don’t know what to make of the duo beyond a deep enjoyment of watching them interact both with each other and characters like Lester. They exude the same silent ferocity of Malvo, but they appear to have a code. At least Mr. Wrench does not want to kill Lester unless Lester confesses to the murder of Sam Hess, which causes friction between Mr. Wrench and his partner/translator Mr. Numbers, who just wants to wrap this case up.

Lester continued to be an interesting character to watch as well as own evolution took another leap forward. He switches back and forth between being fearful and in control several times in this episode. He aborts his panicked call to his brother in favor of using his taser on Mr. Numbers. When he makes his escape he quickly resorts to violence to get a ride away from the men who threw him into a trunk, only to land himself in a jail cell with them. There is a comedic bent to Lester’s predicament at the moment, but he is also getting darker with each passing episode.

Then again, Molly is watching him too. And knowing Malvo and Lester, they will underestimate her, and I bet she is counting on it.

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