Noah Hawley has a very assured creative hand, delivering both Legion and Fargo. The former is some of the best X-Men content available. And the latter is a pretty stunning adaptation of an already innovative and iconic movie. However, over time, it grew into more of a loving homage to the Coen brothers’ entire universe. But Fargo’s drama is just as fierce as its crime, both edgy and sophisticated. Truthfully, there are no weak episodes of the series. Still, some were more effective than others. So, let’s review how users rated them on IMDb, to reflect on the characteristics that were more appealing to fans.
10 Worst: The Law of Inevitability
Season three felt quite different from the first two, despite the second being a prequel and involving a UFO. It was blatantly political, surprisingly. But it did consequently own up to the falsehood of the “true story” text preceding each episode. Also, given the period blood, and a persistently vomiting villain, it was far more grotesque. This episode’s rating is probably a result of audiences’ frustration with Gloria’s foolish new Chief. His hindrances almost feel just plain fabricated. So, the suspense of Nikki’s assassination is superbly executed, but it doesn’t quite feel earned. Overall, this could be viewed an in-between episode, connective tissue between more crucial stories.
9 Best: A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage
The one year time jump established in the previous episode was a pretty interesting turn of events. Lester’s transformation was a truly startling arc. Known for The Hobbit, the ordinarily comedic Martin Freeman turned in some fantastic drama. In this episode, Lester runs into Malvo again in Vegas, and feels overconfident. He ruins Malvo’s bounty, and tries to flee. Lester’s cruelty and newly violent instincts kick in. The most memorable scene is when Lester sends his wife into the office, wearing his coat. Lester deliberately wanted to reenter the criminal element, and faced his limits. But it does ultimately undo both of them.
8 Worst: The Rooster Prince
This episode didn’t quite have the breakneck pace of the premiere episode, but it was certainly an incredible mission statement. Season one was the closest in nature to the original film, but “The Rooster Prince” is still very distinguishable. The longer narrative is allowed to pull back on the reins a bit, to explore the universe more thoroughly. This selection is all about consequences. The arriving hitmen and Lester’s interrogation are very interesting. But for the time being, it’s unclear how Lorne’s new relationship with the Supermarket King is relevant. And Molly has to deal with her inane Chief in just the same way Gloria does. The show hit the brakes, and that probably caused for some lower ratings. But it’s still pitch perfect entertainment.
7 Best: Morton's Fork
The season one finale is a truly incredible piece of entertainment. It ties everything together, and despite being a happy ending, it doesn’t feel contrived. The results remained totally unpredictable all the while, thanks to the context of previously subverted expectations. There’s some terrific suspense via Lester’s forgotten plane tickets. But his showdown with Malvo is truly satisfying, revealing that Lester has indeed become a worthy adversary. The deaths of both characters feel well-earned and fitting. With Malvo on the retreat, Grimly does what every cop in every crime story fails to do—he just shoots! No monologuing, no opportunities for the villain to escape. It’s immensely rewarding, especially for such a previously timid character.
6 Worst: The Narrow Escape Problem
He’s known for Star Wars, but Ewan McGregor proves himself a versatile actor as the twins in season three. Their attitudes and mannerisms are surprisingly distinct. He’s actually played a copy of himself before, in Michael Bay’s The Island. But McGregor’s work on this show is probably some of his best. So, when Ray impersonates Emmit, it legitimately feels like a brother pretending to be his sibling. The episode actually focuses predominantly on Ray, and Gloria gets sidelined. Winnie finds all the answers. As a result, it’s a much slower episode, and Nikki’s bridge pursuit seems odd.
5 Best: Rhinoceros
The second season was pretty unique, delving further into the Mafia elements of the universe. As a result, the ensemble of characters grew exponentially, and the story became far more convoluted. But in one of the most memorable scenes of the entire show, Kirsten Dunst’s Peggy has to hide from three killers. While ducking behind her seemingly useless pile of magazines, the killers all undo each other. It’s absolutely hilarious, and it should be noted that Dunst’s performance on the series is some of her best work. Overall, this episode delivers great pacing, laughs, and thrills alike. In that way alone, it’s very much like the Fargo source material.
4 Worst: The Principle of Restricted Choice
This is the episode with the used tampon, and that’s probably enough for lower ratings. It’s just a deliberately bizarre and disconcerting move, for a character who’s trying to be discreet. Meanwhile, Gloria’s investigation is moving at a snail’s pace. The episode is relatively slow, aside from Varga’s men throwing someone off a parking garage. Still, it makes sense that Gloria needs this time to recover from Ennis’ murder. The only issue here is the contrast between this episode and the preceding season three premiere. It had started with a bang, and now we’re left with the aftermath. That has been a consistent reason for lower ratings for every show, but effective action is well-paced.
3 Best: Loplop
In this season two episode, Hanzee hunts down Ed and Peggy, while they try to use Dodd as leverage. Hanzee’s scene at the racist bar is a really interesting turn of events. Hanzee actually fits into the universe even better than Shep did. And that bar scene informs his change of heart, later in the episode. After the tense struggle with Dodd at Ed’s isolated cabin, Hanzee’s random encounter ultimately gets him to save their lives. That’s exactly the kind of coincidental, unexpected determinants that is so cherished in the Coens’ entire filmography.
2 Worst: The Law of Non-Contradiction
Season three just didn’t sit as well with viewers. We must revisit it again for the lowest rated episode of the show. However, it’s a testament to the creativity and artistry of the series that even at its worst, it’s rated fine. The animated story in the episode may have been a bit much for some viewers, which is understandable. It’s an adaptation of one of the character’s novels, and it doesn’t seem very relevant. It almost feels like a piece of Legion. Gloria’s investigation into Ennis seems to have ground to a halt. This is style over substance, but the former is compelling nonetheless. As such, it’s no wonder this episode was so divisive.
1 Best: The Castle
Everything comes to a head in this penultimate season two episode. In fact, so very much happens, it could be mistaken for a season finale if not for the loose ends. The police use Ed and Peggy as bait, and the inevitable showdown with the Gerhardts ends in a bloodbath. Hanzee stabs Floyd to death, and a UFO saves Lou’s life. The relentless pace of this episode is absolutely overwhelming. It finally delivers the promise of the “Massacre at Sioux Falls”, which was alluded to in season one. Season two maintained a strong level of unpredictability, all while systematically putting its pieces in just the right places.