The depravity and inhumanness of all that made the film great rears up its ugly face yet again with this FX series. Set in the same universe as the film, but connected through different elements, this series is every bit as dark as its motion picture counterpart. Much like the movie, the series with the same style of storytelling wouldn’t be complete without the signature Coen Brother’s dark themed humor. Above all else there is zero compromise with this series. The good guys don’t always win nor do the bad and that’s what I like most; there is nothing overly predictable here. At the same time there is definitely a familiarity about it and plays out in a way that is sometimes slow but always methodical and leading to a satisfying conclusion. It has a kind of playfulness to it and when it lulls you into a comfortable routine suddenly everything gets pulled out from under you.
One of the best parts of watching this show unfold each week is finding the Easter Eggs littered throughout the series both visually and story wise. Whether there are similarly styled characters in both forums or there are direct tie-ins firmly planting the series and film in the same universe, the hidden treasures are plentiful. Just as a few examples the characters Jerry Lundegaard (film) and Lester Nygaard (TV) are modeled very much the same as are the characters of Marge Gunderson (film) and Molly Solverson (TV) both being pregnant police officers investigating peculiar homicides. Now as for concrete tie-ins the most obvious one would be the briefcase from the movie. In the film, Steve Buscemi’s character leaves a briefcase filled with one million dollars buried in the snow near a roadway. After he buries the money he leaves a red ice scraper as a marker. A predominant character in the series finds this briefcase shortly after it’s buried.
As fun as the connections are, the series undoubtedly stands on its own as a brilliant piece of dramatic television. The story is dark and foreboding and the characters have a sort of innocence about them, but as situations arise a very dark side emerges in many of them. By far the most fascinating character is Lorne Malvo, played evilly and fiercely by Billy Bob Thornton in one the best performances of his career. He is both murderous and comedic in the different ways that he approaches these unique situations. His skill is unmatched by anyone else in pursuit of him and yet they still manage to cling to his heels nipping every step of the way. Another character of noteworthiness is Lester Nygaard played excellently by Martin Freeman. This character has a remarkable arc as a pushover of sorts who transforms into a murdering sociopath. By the time the finale happens he is barely recognizable as a human being.
With every great villain there must be an equally empowered and determined hero, or in this case, heroine. Molly Solverson played by Allison Tolman is the one convinced of wrong doings committed by those that most believe are either innocent or even non-existent. From the start she has a bad feeling about Lester and the odd story that he spewed out for the police. She is the one that has the intuition that the other police officers seem to be completely devoid of. She is the wrench in Lorne Malvo’s plans of mindless violence he intends to unleash upon this small, snowy Minnesota town. When the chief of police is murdered she steps in to solve his death at all costs.
When Lorne Malvo pulls into a Minnesota town, his influence is felt by the entire town as he murders and pillages his way through. Caught in his wake is the timid weakling Lester Nygaard. In the beginning Lester is simply an insurance salesman with a not so bright future. After an encounter with his childhood bully, Lester runs into Malvo who offers to assist in ending Lester’s problems. Simply fed up with being pushed around, Lester finally stands up to his terrible wife by means of a hammer. Realizing his mistake he contacts Malvo to help him out of another sticky situation. It is from this moment on that all hell breaks loose. Assassins, pregnant police officers, insurance salesmen and even a mailman, Fargo is one of the most unique places on Earth. It’s advisable to never visit this place, ever.
Rated TV-MA For: strong bloody violence, nudity, language, sexual situations
Season: 1, 10 Episodes
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, Oliver Platt, Bob Odenkirk, Joey King
Series Creator: Noah Hawley
Out of 5 Nerdskulls
Story: 5/ Acting: 5/ Directing: 5/ Visuals: 5
OVERALL: 5 Nerdskulls
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