Fargo finale: one of 2014’s best closes

Malvo, masterfully played by Billy Bob Thornton, finally got he deserved. Photo: Supplied

Malvo, masterfully played by Billy Bob Thornton, finally got he deserved. Photo: Supplied

Fargo finale: Morton’s Fork

This week’s prologue begins with ominous shots of a turned over snow mobile and some shots of an ice hole with some heavy breathing heard over the soundtrack.

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Lester’s descent into evil was complete in the finale. Photo: Supplied


Next we cut back to the end of last week’s episode, with Malvo walking out of Nygaard Insurance having just gunned down Lester’s wife, Linda. Lester tentatively enters the shop, stops over his wife’s body (and has a moment of what appears to be genuine remorse): but then quickly jumps back into slime ball mode. He ducks into Lou’s diner and tries to construct an alibi, telling Lou he just dropped his wife off at the office, he then sneaks out and reports his wife’s murder from a payphone. Before he comes back in to finish his grilled cheese sandwich he remembers his wife was wearing the coat with the two plane tickets for Acapulco in it.


Solverson arrives at the crime scene and immediately notices she is wearing Lester’s coat (suspecting it was he who was supposed to be murdered). Lester arrives, acts shocked and is taken in for more questioning. Down at the station, Lou comes down and tells Solverson about his awkward run in with Malvo at the diner and sensing danger then decides to stand watch on her porch with a shotgun. The two FBI Agents, Solverson and Oswalt all question Lester about Malvo: Lester doesn’t flinch.

Grimly, Lester, Malvo and Solverson

Grimly discovering Malvo is back in town immediately phones Solverson from his car and asks her not to go after him. After they hang up, he stops outside a cottage with a red BMW out the front: the house is Malvo’s and Grimly watches him leave for the day before sneaking inside.

Malvo, having heard the involvement of the FBI over the police wire, pranks calls the FBI and tells them to not send any back up, then in one final Malvo-esque flourish, goes to a car dealership and asks if he can take it for a test drive.

Solverson comes and sees Lester, tells him he’s being released and says he needs to be careful because they know Malvo is after him. Lester remains preposterously defensive and asks why she has a problem with him: she responds with a riddle that (accurately) implies he just tossed his wife away to be killed by Malvo.

Pepper and Budge keep watch outside Lester’s house in case Malvo shows up. Eventually the car from the dealership drives up to the house, Pepper and Budge get out and approach they see the dealership guy taped to the steering wheel before Malvo comes from behind and shoots both of them.

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Malvo, masterfully played by Billy Bob Thornton, finally got he deserved. Photo: Supplied

Lester and Malvo

Lester sees the carnage from his window and runs upstairs. Malvo breaks into the house, and hears a frantic Lester calling 911 from upstairs, but when he enters the bedroom, his foot is caught in a bear trap and Lester comes out of the bathroom and fires at him, Malvo manages to duck and evade his shots before escaping. Malvo heads back to his cottage, limping from the bear trap. He gets to his couch and performs impromptu surgery on himself. At which point Grimly appears from behind the couch and shoots him.


As Solverson searches through Malvo’s cottage she finds his tape of his phone call with Lester from the first episode: implicating him in his wife’s murder and in the murder of Chief Thurman. Two weeks later we see Lester trying to evade police in a snow mobile chase in a frozen over national park. Lester then falls off his ride and runs into the open expanse with cops screaming out that it’s not safe – eventually the ground cracks beneath him and Lester falls into the ice. (The shot we saw at the beginning of the episode.).

The episode then closes with Solverson and Grimly watching TV together. Grimly says he’s getting a citation for bravery and Solverson says she’s becoming the new chief. . The screen fades to white as the family sits before the TV in a scene of domestic idyll.

Was it any good?

The final episode saw a fitting conclusion to the wonderful 10-part experiment that was Fargo. The program stayed faithful to the spirit of the original feature whilst expanding its narrative world. Fargo was preoccupied with ideas of how good people in a world capable of senseless, unjust violence and that simple ordinary folk will always be at the mercy of darker forces out there in the world. This week we saw the show give a resounding answer to that question: good people should continue to be good and not be afraid and stand up and fight against the evil in the world. Lou sitting on the porch with a shotgun watching over his granddaughter and eventually the hapless Grimly, rising above his own incompetence to protect his family – and the world – from Malvo. It was a fitting conclusion to their series long battle of wits.

Fargo also had some very pointed commentary on the nature of American society and the value of success. Lester, Malvo, Mr Numbers, Mr Wrench, Milos, Chumpf, the entire mafia syndicate where all, in one way or another, undone by their greed, ruthlessness and lust for money. The narrative world of Fargo meted out Old Testament-style retribution to its evil doers. It was only Solverson, Grimly and their family that would find an enduring happiness in their domestic warmth and simplicity: A strong statement on the value of modest living.

Other observations

Disappointed we didn’t get a better showdown between Lester and Malvo, but I guess they both got theirs in the end. In a kind of departure from the film, Lester wound up not arrested, but dead, in what has to be the most kick ass snow mobile chase of recent memory.

Solverson’s disbelief at Lester was hilarious: “The second Mrs Nygaard was murdered.”

Bob Odenkirk had a great moment as Oswalt tells Solverson he can’t stomach being a policeman anymore. His despair at the state of the world is reminiscent of the Tommy Lee Jones character in No Country for Old Men.

See what the world’s best TV critics thought of the finale and the series.

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