Published on May 8th, 2014 | by Jimmie Dodger


Fargo – The Story So Far

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Fargo is a dark and comedic series created by Noah Hawley and based upon the 1996 movie by Ethan and Joel Cohen of the same name.  Each episode of the TV show start with the text ‘This is a True Story’ and claim ‘the events depicted took place in Minnesota in 2006’  – although after some research this appears to not be true and possibly just an amalgamation of several stories to create the most far-fetched story imaginable including: murder, lies, hitmen, dry humour, money, sex and lots of snow.

The general plot for the show is set in the small town of Duluth in Minnesota (hilarious accent), and based around two main characters, Martin Freeman playing ‘Lester Nygaard’ and Billy Bob Thornton as ‘Lorne Malvo’.  Lester is a pathetic man with little to no self respect and no self esteem, confidence or balls, he is practically bullied by his wife with snide comments to drive down his self worth even further.  This theme is cut short fairly quickly in the first episode when Lester kills his wife with a hammer – this is the first blow, so to speak, to the normality depicted in the show – quite quickly things start to spiral downwards on a highly unlikely series of connected events.  Falling down the stairs would be a good metaphor for Lester’s story in this show; once it’s started it is only going to get worse and all you can do is hope for the best and that you come out relatively unscathed.  Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Lorne’ however is the very opposite: confident, smart, straight faced, and with a haircut that resembles Ralph from The Simpsons.  Lorne is the main antagonist in the classic sense of the role, with the show opening on Lorne driving a car with the intention of passing through Duluth with a stern look upon his face, and an almost naked man in the trunk.

Up until episode three (of ten) there has been mainly just the initial story outlined with the ever-growing rabbit hole about to be explored.  This can be basically boiled down to Lorne quickly befriending Lester as they meet in the emergency room, Lester accidentally runs into a wall to escape a fake punch from an old school bully, ultimately breaking his own nose; and Lorne hitting his head on the steering wheel of his car while he ploughs into a deer on a snowy road.  This encounter ends up being a bit of quirky ‘Coen style’ dialogue with Lester proving that his ‘Minnesota niceness’ gets the better of him when he explains to Lorne, he didn’t want to inconvenience Sam Hess (the bully) even though he was a vile individual who had also slept with Lester’s wife many years ago.  Lorne barely responds but asks ‘do you want me to kill him?’ Lester is stunned by the proposition and insists Lorne doesn’t act on the idea.

From the moment Lester kills his wife in frustration, his life turns upside down; he rings Lorne after it happens with the intention to kill and frame him for the murder but while Lorne is on his way Police Chief Vern Thurman is on his way over to talk to him.  Vern turns up to Lester’s crime scene, and the blood drops on the floor show Vern something isn’t right, he demands Lester gets on the ground where he starts to break down and deny everything that has happened – enter Lorne with the shotgun – who fires two rounds into Vern.  Lester reacts in the way Lester is best at doing, by panicking and purposefully running into a wall knocking himself out so he looks like a victim.

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Now we reach episode three which aired on ‘Star Wars Day’ where the rabbit hole starts to get a little deeper.  Firstly we are shown why there was a near naked man in Lorne’s car trunk, the reason being he walks into an office block, drags a guy out by his tie and cuts his clothes off him before throwing him into the trunk.  Meanwhile Deputy Molly Solverson digs deeper into her theory that Lester was part of the murder of his wife, and going against Deputy Bill Oswalt’s theory (played by Bob Odenkirk a.k.a Breaking Bad’s Saul Goodman) that a drifter killed Lester’s wife and Vern Thurman.  Also Lorne screws with his current employer by becoming the blackmailer he is trying to find and killing the man’s dog to add insult to injury.

Throughout the series so far there has been some very good dialogue, some very dodgy accents from every cast member, a few very funny lines, a stunning performance from Billy Bob, and a couple of recurring themes.  One of these themes is fridge magnet phrases, now known as memes, with lines such as ‘What If You’re Right and They’re Wrong’ which is a poster in the Nygaard’s basement and shown when Lester kills his wife and also just before he runs into his second wall.  We also see a more subtle one in episode three when Lester is revisiting the memory in his mind and behind him (actually on a fridge) is the phrase ‘The Key To Life Is Happiness’.  One last plot device is the sound of what I can only describe as sleigh bells ringing when Lester is confronted with a situation regarding his wife’s smashed in head and trying to cover it up by lying again and again and again; watch out Lester, that bottom step is going to knock you the hell out if you’re not careful.

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