‘Fargo’ Is Gettin’ Super Ticked Here

Published 12 months ago by

Allison Tolman and Martin Freeman in Fargo Episode 3 Fargo Is Gettin Super Ticked Here

[This is a review for Fargo episode 3. There will be SPOILERS.]

So far, Allison Tolman’s fantastic performance as Deputy Molly Solverson has been an auxiliary thread for Fargo, which has understandably had its hands full with Lester Nygaard’s involvement/participation in the triple homicide that rocked Bemidji courtesy of the devilish Lorne Malvo. The busyness of the first two episodes essentially forced the story line to temporarily marginalize Molly, asking the audience to subsist mainly on morsels of her personality and drive, yet keep an eye on her for more than the character’s similarities to the likes of Marge Gunderson.

While Lester has managed to distance himself from Jerry Lundegaard, Molly has ostensibly remained a static reminder of the series’ inspiration. However, as ‘A Muddy Road’ demonstrates, it wasn’t that Fargo writer Noah Hawley was fumbling to find purpose and distinction for Molly, it was a matter of when the story line would allow him an organic opportunity to develop her character, and allow Tolman an opportunity to break out and showcase her talent, as well as her vision for the role.

The episode begins in the past with a long shot of an outwardly desolate metropolitan downtown that’s followed up by an equally desolate (or seemingly so) office building. The shots effectively mirror the opening sequences of the first two episodes, which focused on the barren stretches of highway in between places like Fargo and Bemidji. On the face of it, these superb opening shots are saying: Things are bleak all around. Meanwhile, the painterly depictions of cruel, lonely environments serve to color the equally harsh morality of the series.

Deserted highways and quiet offices alike are presented as having similar levels of severity; they are cold, unforgiving places where a man can be dragged down a hallway, through a lobby, and stripped nearly naked in a parking garage without anyone lifting a finger to help. They’re also where said man winds up freezing to death in nothing more than his underwear.

Adam Goldberg Martin Freeman and Russell Harvard in Fargo Episode 3 Fargo Is Gettin Super Ticked Here

That alone goes a long way in explaining how the series sees the world it’s depicting. “It’s already a dog-eat-dog world,” Malvo tells the proprietor of a mobile pharmacopoeia who’s trying to up-sell him on a zombie survival pack in case things somehow get worse. The pack is intended to go along with the Adderall Malvo picks up to use on Stavros, as part of his plan to take over the poorly organized blackmail scheme from the over-bronzed Don Chumph. The intimation of both men is clear: The world is, indeed, a dark place. But as Malvo sees it, the only way to survive is to always be prepared to be the darkest.

In a way, the misanthropic misadventures of Lorne Malvo serve to establish the extremes Fargo is working in, especially as Malvo increasingly becomes the center of Molly’s investigation. The more the series focuses on the two, the more profound their juxtaposition becomes, especially as Molly’s character is made more distinct by not only her natural competence as a deputy, but her inherent decency as a human being. In that sense, then, Lester Nygaard and Gus Grimly (and their respective festering consciences) work to fill the gap between the two extremes, smartly establishing a bundle of complex motivations and character depictions that even out the intensity of Malvo and Molly’s opposition.

Despite all that transpires in ‘A Muddy Road,’ it still works out to be Molly’s breakthrough episode. While most everyone is moving in the opposite direction, either stuck envisioning the recent past, or, like Bill, literally turning his back on her, Molly is focused firmly on what lies ahead. But it’s the scene near the episode’s end featuring Molly, Gus, and Greta at her father’s diner that resonates the most; demonstrating the character’s natural decency in such a way that it begins to melt the darkly humorous permafrost that has, up to this point, kept the show a little cold to the touch.


Fargo continues next Tuesday with ‘Eating the Blame’ @10pm on FX.

Photos: Chris Large/FX

TAGS: Fargo
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  1. Anyone else notice the painting of a certain ice scraper hanging in Stavros’ office? A certain ice scraper that may have been a marker for a certain bag of money buried by a certain someone who may have met his fate in the business end of a wood chipper.

    • You might be onto something! the show could link directly to the movie through that, we already know Stavros is rich and has some big money-related secret.

  2. This show is actually pretty terrible. I expected better from a show that has the Coens as EPs, but I guess I had my hopes too high ’cause this show is embarrassing.

    I mean, Thorton’s character is constantly doing things that aren’t logical. In the first episode he threatens a police officer and is allowed to just drive away (I know it’s explained, what with the cop being afraid, but it’s still a stretch) and the in the first episode he just magically disappears from Bilbo’s basement? Now in this episode he’s literally dragging people around and nobody lifts a finger? Not one person? I don’t buy it. Oh and he gets caught on tape? It’s implied this guy is a pro and he willingly gets caught on camera?

    Not to mention the fact that every character is unlikable and annoying and overall the show bares little resemblance to the original films beyond the country-western music that constantly pops up and, of course, the title.

    So…Yeah, it’s awful.

    • its a black comedy, have u seen the Coens films? there a little strangeness in their films, almost Wes Anderson quirky.

    • 1) It may not be logical in real life, but it wasn’t completely out of left field that he could intimidate Gus. Ultimately it seems like Gus cares more about being there for his daughter than arresting some drifter and having the risk of getting shot. Not that hard to fathom, really.
      2) He “disappeared” from the basement? Really? Basements usually have a door leading outside, or at least a window. So…not sure where you’re getting that he disappeared. It may have seemed that way, but come on.
      3) This is only ep 3. Who says he didn’t drag him out like that on purpose so that he could get caught on camera? Did you see the preview for next weeks ep? Malvo is disguised as a nerdy looking guy. It’s clear that Malvo has something planned and you’re being far too critical of everything. The show isn’t done yet, wait and see if it’s a piece of a bigger puzzle.

      • When Bilbo went down to the basement to find Thorton, he couldn’t, and he also couldn’t find a similar way out so he ran head-first into a wall, nearly killing himself. You’re telling me that Thorton was able to sneak out of a basement batman-style but Bilbo, the man who owns the house and likely knows every nook and cranny, couldn’t figure a way out? Okay. That makes total sense.

        The intimidation thing I understand, but it’s highly unlikely that it would ever happen. Single father or not, there isn’t a single cop out there that is gonna let you walk away after you threaten them like that. It’s not believable to anyone with a working brain.

        Regardless of all the issues, the show is still lackluster. It wants to be something it isn’t. It thinks it’s an actual work of the Coen Bros and it isn’t. It lacks the quality and creativity to be a Coen Bros work. But every 10 minutes they introduce you to a new “quirky” character or a bit of country-western music as if to say “Don’t forget! This is supposed to have a Coen Bros style, Dontcha know?”

        I love the Coen Bros. I expected better since they’re EPs on this.

        • Malvo seems to be more like Anton Chigurh than any character from Fargo; the show seems to be pulling ideas (or at least easter eggs) from other Coen films. And if you accept that Malvo is like Anton then his escape from the basement is just like Anton’s disappearance from the hotel room; we saw him inside and then we saw he was gone while the window was closed from inside (unless you want to get into the whole “he was in the next room” debate) and Sheriff Bell referred to him as a ghost.

          About the intimidation thing it may not even have been a bluff for Malvo, having seen Gus he probably knew that he could kill him in a heartbeat. I know this isn’t likely to happen in real life but it’s not really out of place in fiction.

          Of course if despite all that you don’t like the show then you don’t like the show! I know it’s frustrating to keep wanting to like a show. I for one was a little bit disappointed after the first episode but I’m really liking the series so far and intend to follow through. Yeah, it’s not as good as a Coen movie but at moments it reaches those heights, IMO.

  3. Yeah, you just keep telling yourself wait and see, but honestly, didn’t you feel that so stupid to even try? I mean, there’s tons of good show out there at the time, then why must people stay around for one show that they already know that it’s falling apart and there’s no way to fix it except some lame excuses and twists!

    The first episode was so promising, they gave they audience a (nearly) misterious Lorne and 2 bright apprentice such as Molly and Lester. Then, in the second episode, Lorne is still mysterious, Molly is still quite bright, but where is Lester in the picture now? He’s just nowhere, he’s getting more and more dump time after time, and so he just becomes such a joke, and a pain in the ass as well.

    The show just keep leveling up Molly up and up, and by the time they ruin Lester piece to piece, the so promising battle between 2 bright apprentice suddenly becomes a boring hunting trip between a very skilled good hunter and a very dump villian. You say thay Molly is clever, but no, Lester is just so silly to against her. So, who’s next silly enough to keep turning on by such a predictable show? The show keep telling everything bases on true story, then maybe in real life, people are stupid like that, so no wonder why the police keeps winning, huh?

    In the best case, maybe they will change the fate by letting Lester kill Molly, but then what? He’ll become another Lorne or some sorts of Mr. Rippley? How fascinating is that!

    Another case, just let Molly win (like she already did now), and then what? She will rival up against Lorne? That’s even more lame, maybe the lamest thing. I mean, how can Molly even face Lorne when she has no chance to win? She’ll beat him and lock him up and then call it a win? No, to win, you have to corrupt the guy, and Molly never can put Lorne in that sittuation. To the law, to every moral code, Lorne won and he always will, he pissed them off, he took away the sherrif, the symbol of goodness and he successfully created Lester, turning goodness to devil.

    The only one that can face him and get a win from him is Lester, only his handmade devil can kill him and also break him by letting him know that he created a wrong darkness and the chaos is no chess piece that hen can handle, he the God named by himself can control nothing. But, of course, with what was happening, the show just completely

    • Of course, with what was happening, the show just completely kill of that posibility, and judging on what was going on on 3rd episode, they should’ve killed of Lester already!

      * Sorry I have to continue my comment here ’cause some stupid tablet manner happens to post my comment before I finish it.

  4. Great review. Pretty cool episode. The scene with Molly, Gus and Greta was indeed one of the highlights; they gotta show Molly as someone good and pure like Marge and I’m glad that they’re managing to do that despite all the differences.