FX’s Fargo has sadly come to an end. Ten episodes of brilliant, thrilling, suspenseful storytelling ends tonight with “Morton’s Fork.” The tale concludes with finality, tying up the loose ends from this excellent freshman run, leaving a possible (probable) season two to seek out new characters and new cases. It’s both satisfying and regrettable to see it go.
An important element of “Morton’s Fork” is that both Lester (Martin Freeman) and Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) get what they deserve. The airwaves are full of dark, gritty crime shows these days, and those do not always leave the viewers with a good taste in one’s mouth. Bad guys get away to kill another day, and heroes question their moral compass. Fargo is lighter fare, though, mixing lots of off-beat humor and quirky charm in, so those who deserve to go down have to for it to be an ending that fans feel good about.
Equally crucial is that Molly (Allison Tolman), Gus (Colin Hanks), Greta (Joey King), and Lou (Keith Carradine) survive. They are a sweet family unit, and because of, not despite, their coming together late in the season, they have to have a happy ending. We cannot bear to see these characters who are so good at heart suffer more misfortune and pain. They need to win the day and come out the other side intact, and they do.
Gus has an interesting arc. He leaves law enforcement for good reason, being bumbling and inept. He runs into Malvo early, but backs off because he can’t handle that type of villain himself. Yet, with his family on the line, Gus steps up as a man, protecting those he cares about, killing someone his family will never be safe having in the world.. I’m not sure he should go back to being a cop again, but he certainly gets a chance to redeem himself here, which I think he deserves.
One might wish that Molly is the one who takes down Malvo, since she is really the main heroine of the miniseries, but she doesn’t get the short shift in “Morton’s Fork,” either. She still gets pay off for the detective work she’s completed, and she finally earns the respect and admiration of her boss, Bill (Bob Odenkirk), as he steps aside and recommends her for promotion. There is major triumph in this, even if she isn’t the one to bring in Lester or Malvo, which she is still instrumental in getting to a place where they are taken down.
Fargo proves that good and evil battles can still be thoroughly engrossing and entertaining without the grey areas that pervade a lot of modern fare. I have nothing against its peers, loving many of them dearly and intrigued by shifty players, but its also nice to get a whiff of Fargo‘s scent, unique for the time in its lightness when dealing with such heavy subject matter, and almost miraculously staying as well-developed as those darker programs.
Part of the reason for this is because at many points during “Morton’s Fork,” the audience thinks Molly, Gus, and / or Lou may not make it out alive. Whether it’s Molly rushing off to Lester’s house alone, not realizing the FBI agents there are dead and no back up is on the way, or Gus sneaking into Malvo’s hideout, then confronting the scary man mano-a-mano, or even Lou sitting on the porch with his shotgun, there are moments where things could turn dire.
Fargo does a terrific job with presenting danger, but knowing who it can and cannot spare. Agents Pepper (Keegan-Michael Key) and Burdge (Jordan Peele), lonely men with no real lives? Sure, they can die. Gus, who has a teenage daughter and is expecting a baby? No way. The sense that Fargo just might let Gus perish anyway keeps the action intriguing, but when the writers don’t go through with it, it’s a relief, not a cop out.
There’s a feeling of authenticity that is in the proceedings. The not-actually-based-on-truth story, even as the opening proclaims otherwise, is tongue in cheek, but always keeps itself grounded. There isn’t anything in the show that couldn’t actually happen, and Molly won’t be solving more major crimes like this week after week or even year after year. In this, Fargo is mostly unique.
There’s also an extremely high level of consistency in the miniseries. All ten episodes are written by the same guy, Noah Hawley (Bones), and that provides solid through-lines. There aren’t weak points or people acting out of character because no other voices go into writing dialogue for the players. Mix in an unusually talented cast with no weak links, handling the material like pros, and Fargo is very successful in what it sets out to do.
I could pick apart “Morton’s Fork” in a 10-page review and praise every scene for something special; it’s that good. But I won’t because I feel works of art on this level are meant to be appreciated and re-watched for new meaning frequently, not analyzed to death by any single perspective. For me, Fargo is right up there with The Walking Dead in that I couldn’t wait to watch it each week, growing excited at the prospect of each new installment, and rarely waiting until it actually aired to view it. (Thanks to FX for being more generous with early screeners than any series on any network in recent memory.) I rank it one of Top Five shows of the year, easily, and cannot wait to see what Hawley comes up with for Fargo next season, assuming its renewed, which it likely will be.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00JMJRYTA,B00HZN8S9U]