As the FX series Fargo continues to trudge confidently on toward the conclusion of its ten episode run, the degree to which his experiences over the course of the previous episodes have changed Martin Freeman’s character Lester Nygaard is becoming very apparent.
Once hapless and milquetoast, Lester has transformed into a man who will do anything to get ahead in life. His freedom, money, sex life, and power trump everything else… Including family. Lester’s wife Pearl used to chide him for not being as much of a man as his brother Chaz was. Lester murdered Pearl with a hammer, and now he has framed Chaz for the crime.
In the process of his character framing Chaz, Freeman is given a monologue to deliver during which Lester expertly lies right to the face of Chief of Police Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk), telling him a false version of what went down on the night of the murders that occurred back in the first episode. Lester’s story breaks the heart of dimwitted, too-trusting Bill, and Freeman and Odenkirk both did fantastic work in that scene.
Meanwhile, police officer Molly Solverson is thankfully recovering from being accidentally shot by beleaguered fellow cop Gus Grimly. (He promises he’ll get her a new spleen.) I had a feeling that Molly couldn’t possibly be dead, as she appeared to be in the previous episode, because Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks provide the show with its heart and soul, its moral center, so even though the show has occasionally shocked me on its way to this point, I didn’t believe we could lose one of these two with a handful of episodes left.
As the show has gone on, it has from time to time worked in scenes reminiscent of scenes in the 1996 film Fargo, even though this series isn’t a remake, it’s essentially a loosely connected sequel. Regardless, Molly has a scene with a criminal in episode 7 that is very much like the scene that played out with police officer Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) near the end of the movie. The “And here ya are, and it’s a beautiful day” scene. Neither Marge nor Molly can comprehend the wrongdoers they have to deal with in the line of duty. They commit horrible crimes… “And for what?” Once again, Tolman is able to touch the hearts of viewers with her endearing, beautiful performance as Molly.
Kate Walsh shows up late in the episode to have more fun in the role of Gina Hess, the not-really-grieving widow of Lester’s longtime nemesis Sam Hess, now just another person for the reborn-into-a-monster Lester to use.
Billy Bob Thornton’s criminal mastermind Lorne Malvo didn’t get much screen time this week, but when he was on the screen he made the most of it, appearing to sever the series’ connection to the city of Fargo by way of committing a massacre that was shot in quite an innovative manner by prolific television director Scott Winant, who kept the camera outside the building for the duration of Malvo’s vengeance, following his progress from window to window.
Yes, Malvo is so in control of every situation he strides into that he’s even able to wipe out a building full of gun-runners as a one man army. He’s always so in control that it’s becoming an annoyance. I’m putting my faith in Molly Solverson and Gus Grimly that they’ll be able to give this guy what he deserves, because I would be delighted to see him take a fall… I’m hoping the last three episodes of the season will deliver on that.