Fargo: Episode 1 Review

“A near-perfect 1hr 24 mins of entertainment”

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Written by Luke Bigmore

There was a scene in Channel 4’s brilliant new dark comedy-crime drama series, Fargo, which involved Billy Bob Thornton pointing a gun at a police officer, that is very reminiscent of his 1998 outing in Sam Raimis’, A Simple Plan. If you haven’t seen it, it involves a sackload of money, and the wife of one of the perpetrators gets blown to smithereens in the kitchen. There’s also beautiful crisp, shots of the snowy outdoors. Money isn’t the overriding theme here, however, although a pivotal scene in Sunday night’s opener (created by Noah Hawley) does see a spouse get killed, this time by means of a hammer, as Martin Freeman (Lester Nygaard) gets tired of his wife’s constant comparing of him to his infinitely more successful brother, Chaz.

Freeman adopts a Canadian accent throughout the episode, and the chemistry between him and Thornton (who plays Lorne Malvo) is superb, particularly in the hospital setting, after Freeman is laid out by former school bully, Sam Hess. This sets in motion Thornton later killing Hess. He also then later kills the police officer mentioned above, Vern Thurman, in the final showdown. Sadly, we tragically learn earlier in the episode, that he is expecting a child, and the two tins of paint bought for the nursery are visible in the back of his car. It’s up to fellow police officer Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), to deliver the news to his wife.

Molly is brilliant in the episode, which is about as close as being a near-perfect 1hr 24 mins of entertainment that you can get. After Lesters brother Chaz boasts about his work success in the kitchen, we then see them downstairs with Chazs impressive piece of gun weaponry (yet another gun), which Lester promptly drops. The violence is pretty graphic and there is some sexual content, which involves Hess, before he meets his maker.

There’s a fairly significant poster, which hangs in the room where Lester killed his wife, which reads: ‘What if you’re right and they’re wrong?’ and shows one odd fish swimming backwards, compared to the rest of the clan. Is this Lester’s motto for life? I suppose this could be in reference to his wife? He later runs head first into it, knocking himself out after the final bloodbath, to make the killings look like a home invasion. Freeman is immensely watchable throughout the episode, and his near-perfect accent apparently had cast members not realising he was actually British.

The final scene involves Colin Hanks as another officer, and shows the level of fear that Thornton is trying to bring to the character of Malvo, that he manages to convince Hanks to let him drive away, after Hanks orders him to get out of the car, by asking him to think of his daughter. If he makes the right choice, he’ll be able to go home and see her. Given the amount of bloodshed that follows in the episode previously, it appears he definitely made the right one.