Fargo (FX) Series Finale 2014 Review “Morton’s Fork”

Fargo (FX) episode 10 Morton's Fork (1)

“Is this all a dream?”

— Agent Budge

What did I expect from Fargo‘s finale? I have been asking myself that question all afternoon. The season itself was an absorbing experience. The journey was winding, contemplative, exquisitely dark and captivating, so much so that when it came time for the story– the parable, is probably a better way to describe Fargo –to end, I had no concrete idea of what I wanted. A Lester/Malvo showdown? Molly taking out both men who plagued her? A vague No Country For Old Men style fade to black? All of these thoughts crossed my mind. The thought that never occurred to me was Fargo was playing a long con on us, the viewers. In the end, this story was as much about Gus as it was about Molly, maybe even more so.

Noah Hawley told us how this story would end way back in the final moments of the premiere. Malvo and Gus came face to face, Gus had a choice and Malvo had a choice. They both chose to let the other man go. This one moment caused a chain reaction that led Malvo to Stavros, Gus to Molly, Malvo to Fargo and then back to Bemidji where he went after Lester. In between, Gus caught Malvo, temporarily righting his wrong, but Malvo slipped away again, leaving Gus with a riddle Molly solved for him: humans see ore shades of green than any other color because we were once predators roaming the jungles and forests for our prey.

For so much of the story, Malvo was the ultimate predator. He was almost elevated to the status of a god as he stood on top of Stavros’ store staring down at the havoc he had wrought. The trouble is Malvo was only fighting for his own life. Last week’s time jump created a situation where Gus had everything to lose. Since the day Gus met Malvo he was threatening Gus’ daughter’s well-being. Now, a year later, Gus has not only his daughter, but a wife and a baby on the way. In the world of predator and prey, that gives Gus more motivation to overcome his fears and find his inner predator.

Malvo manages to leave another trail of blood during his final reign of terror. In addition to taking out Lester’s second wife, he murders Agents Budge and Pepper (and possibly a used car salesman). However, he underestimated Lester and Gus; two timid men whose lives were irrevocably changed by Malvo. Lester, so much cleverer than anyone ever gave him credit for being, leaves a bear trap under piles of clothes to snare Malvo and his plan works. He wounds Malvo and sends him hobbling away back to his lair in he woods. That is where Gus is waiting to pump Malvo full of bullets, ending the man’s bloody work once and for all.

This does not turn Gus into Lester. Deep down, Lester was always a coward. He was the kind of man who sent his own wife in to be killed in his place. Gus always had a gentle spirit, but he values his family above all, and Malvo was a threat to his family. That is why the series ends with Gus cuddling on his couch with his loved ones while Lester’s daring escape from the law ends with him falling through thin ice.

After all of her hard work, Molly is not the one to physically stop Lester or Malvo. Her reward comes from Bill handing over his badge to Molly once he understands just how terrible he is at his job. Part of me feels cheated out of a Malvo and Molly showdown. The man has been a spectre in her life since the very beginning. They were mirrors of one another, she was Malvo if he used his wits for good, but she never has the opportunity to speak with him. She did not have to; not in the end. Her work spoke for itself and Molly will continue to keep Bemidji safe.

Fargo is a triumph of television. It spoke to us in parables, riddles and folk lore. The story was told largely in the abstract, with the creator’s hand ever present. I do not know if the finale satisfied me. But I do know, Fargo as a whole was a special story, one I want to revisit again.

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