TV REVIEW: Fargo - A Muddy Road

The third episode of Fargo opens with a flashback, allowing us to see just how the frozen dead man in his underpants got into the boot of Lorne's car. It's another fine example of the cold, quiet humour that the show has developed as Lorne (Billy Bob Thornton) appears silently at the end of the row of office cubicles before dragging the man out by his tie. After the titles, we're returned to the present day as Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) continues to look into his death whilst Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) admits to his superiors that he had Lorne in his sights that night but let him go with a warning. Meanwhile, Lorne has decided to get in on the Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) blackmail himself as Lester (Martin Freeman) returns to work.

Over the course of the two episodes so far, various narrative threads, with parallels and crossovers between each, have been established with only figure connecting all of them. As malevolent presences go (his name alone is a suggestion of this), Lorne Malvo is a seemingly unstoppable and unpredictable one. We have yet to learn his agenda or who he is working for, if indeed he is working for anyone. The kidnap of the businessman seemed to suggest he is, but the blackmail plot offers up an alternative as it seems Lorne is working towards his own ideas there. His slow, steady torture of Stavros Milos (Oliver Platt) gets considerably worse over the course of the episode ending, quite literally, in a shower of blood. It's an icky, skin-crawlingly awful moment and one that reveals more of a picture of Lorne; his delight in torturing people is not limited to the simple mind-games he played with the Hess family, but extends to a macabre theatricality.

Lorne is also central to the investigation into Lester Nygaard, despite the police chief's continual denial of this fact. Deputy Solverson, who should soon be everyone's favourite character if she isn't already, is edging ever closer and finally establishes a connection between the two men in this episode. It brings her into contact with a parallel charact, Gus Grimly, as he drives over from Duluth to apologise for letting Lorne get away. Their dinner is pretty much an embodiment of the various aspects of Fargo; adorably sweet one minute as Gus wonders if Molly's nice and grotesque the next as Molly tells the story of flesh-bursting spider-eggs. The three actors, including Joey King as Greta, had a lovely chemistry in this scene and has made look forward to the inevitable moment in which Gus joins the investigation in Bemidji to aid in Molly's pursuit of Lester.

Out all of the disparate moments in this week's episode, it is probably Lester's that resonate the most. His arc over the course of the season so far has been one slow descent into guilt-ridden nervousness and he begins the episode in much the same way. He returns to work and is immediately faced with having to deliver insurance papers to the Hess family. Easily one of the funniest scenes of the episode, Lester is faced with Mrs Hess' legs as she not only demands to know when she gets her money, but propositions him for good measure. The nerves continue as he deals with the cut on his hand, a festering reminder of his guilt that is clearly infecting him both literally and metaphorically. Shortly after his meeting with Numbers and Wrench and then another with Molly in which he fails to convince anyone that he's a good lier, Lester looks ready to snap.

And snap he does, but not necessarily in a way we were expecting. Lester's narrative in this episode ends with him firing off a massive gun with his brother, a look of manic delight etched across his face. Lester may have invoked our sympathies in the first episode up until beating his wife to death with a hammer, but his path ever since has been a descent to the dark side, prompted by his relationship with Lorne. However, Lester is clearly not as good as Lorne at this career criminal thing and it's going to end badly, that much is all but confirmed now. What will be interesting is just who Lester takes down with him in the process.

Despite only one dog-related death, this episode of Fargo manages to be its bloodiest yet. Conversely, it also happens to be its sweetest. Watching Lorne weave through the people of Bemidji and set a large majority of them up for a fall is fast becoming compulsive and all the more compelling given we don't know why he is doing it. 

- Becky

You can read Becky's review of the previous episode, The Rooster Prince, here.

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