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‘Fargo’ Series Premiere Review: The Crocodile’s Dilemma

Pictured: (L-R) Shawn Doyle as Vern Thurman, Allison Tolman as Molly Solverson. CR: Chris Large/FX Copyright 2014, FX Networks. All rights reserved.

I remember the first time I watched Fargo very well. I was in college and a group of friends had rented a VHS tape. Needless to say I didn’t quite get what the film was about at the time. Of course it didn’t help that a few of my friends were Minnesotans and didn’t have a very good sense of humor about things, mostly the exaggerated accents. I spent most of the film politely nodding as they complained about the mockery. I didn’t have the heart to point out that they said “beg” instead of “bag” and “aboot” instead of “about.”

I didn’t see the movie again until years later and it has now become one of my favorite films. What makes the film so captivating for me is the hidden message that isn’t revealed until the very end of the film. People are important. The final lines of the film say it all:

“So that was Mrs. Lundegaard on the floor in there. And I guess that was your accomplice in the wood chipper. And those three people in Brainerd. And for what? For a little bit of money. There’s more to life than a little money, you know. Don’tcha know that? And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day. Well. I just don’t understand it.”

I was curious if the FX series would keep this message or not. Many of the elements of the film are kept the same, the cold wintery setting, the down on his luck dope that makes the wrong decisions, and the small town deputy trying to make sense of a grisly string of crimes. But in order to make a two-hour movie into a viable television series, the story needed to be adapted. After viewing the first episode of the series, I would say the attempt to move a film to the small screen has been successful.

Lorne Malvo

The two strange goons for hire from the movie have been morphed into a very odd hitman name Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton). It’s clear early on that Lorne loves his job. He’s like a cat that plays with a mouse as if it were a toy before actually killing it. He also takes a perverse delight in coercing others into turning on one another. Enter Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman)…

Lester Nygaard

Lester is an unusually nervous insurance salesman. It seems he never outgrew being the bullied the nerd from high school. He’s weak not only physically but socially and emotionally. After a a chance meeting and some conversation, Lorne seems to take liking to him. Perhaps he seems something of who used to be in Lester or maybe he just feels a pang of sympathy for him.

Lorne kills one of Lester’s bullies and Lester later smashes his shrewish wives head in with a hammer. Things get even messier when a local lawman Vern Thurman (Shawn Doyle) finds what Lester has done and Lorne executes him in Lester’s living room.

With some quick thinking and a self-inflicted bash on the head, Lester is able to make the gory scene appear to be a vicious break in.

Molly Solverson

Instead of the very pregnant Marge Gunderson, the series has quirky Molly (Allison Tolman) as the observant heroine. The pilot almost had a Dexter feel to it at first in the fact that the focus seemed to the murderers. However while Lester gives the audience a look at the dark fantasies come realities of a man pushed to far, Molly provides the moral compass of the series.

As like in the movie, it’s not until towards the end that Molly delivers the message that killing is wrong. This message is quietly displayed when Molly stands outside the home of her murderer partner. She looks at his pregnant wife with sorrow in her eyes as she holds the two paint buckets he had purchased earlier to paint the baby’s nursery.

Final Assessment

Fans of the movie will not be disappoint. The series manages to make the right changes to the movie in order to make it a viable television series while keeping everything that made the original unique.

Grade: Y for You Betcha

What did you think of the season premiere? Will you be tuning in next week? Hit the comments and share your thoughts with us!

About the author

Jenn Bishop

Jenn Bishop is TVSource Magazine's Soap Editor. She's a thirty-something fan girl of soapy television and anything involving Joss Whedon. She began sharing her views on daytime soaps in 2012 with her blog Save Our Suds. A former philosophy major, she loves discussing different view points with fellow TV addicts and aficionados. When not watching television, she enjoys art, live music, exploring the Midwest food scene, and drinking too many lattes. Follow her on Twitter at @SourceJenn.