When Fargo was released 20 years ago, its subsequent success …
With the first season of Fargo, Noah Hawley and company did something unheard of in television: he took an iconic American film, and turned it into a better TV show, adapting the dark, twisted humor of the 1995 Coen Brothers classic into a show that both felt abundantly familiar, and wildly original.
Once upon a time, there was a Japanese woman who watched the movie Fargo. The movie begins with a title card pronouncing, “THIS IS A TRUE STORY,” and the fact that the Coen Brothers were playing a little prank with that statement was covered in American media only. So it came to pass that the woman believed the film to be true, and carried her belief to such a degree that she travelled to Minnesota alone, in search of the ransom money hidden by the Steve Buscemi character near the end of the film.
There are a handful of moments in “Morton’s Fork” where characters consider two very different options. Some are existential (Pepper wondering if he’s awake or asleep), some are incidental (whether Lester should run away not once, but two more times), and some are moral (Gus and Lou’s attempts to “protect” Molly). However different these choices may seem on the surface, the underbelly of “Morton’s Fork” is about the ambiguity of “good” and “bad”, silently observing the battle of each in characters, from Lester to Malvo, right down to our soon-to-be-retired police chief Bill. And by plainly stating the bad and good of each character in this world, Fargo doesn’t end with the Biblical implications it began with, ending with a Coen-esque morality play, where the decent win, the dumb die, and evil is finally vanquished from Bemidji.
In a world where the devil runs amok around America, killing dentists and mobsters, scaring little children and old men alike, Lester Nygaard is the most evil presence around. It’s taken Fargo awhile to build to this – nine hours, exactly – but it finally comes to light, in an hour where Lester’s pride refuses to let him walk away and enjoy his spoils. It’s not enough to be recognized and assisted by the devil, not for ol’ Lester, who walks up to Lorne Malvo in a Las Vegas hotel bar and insists he knows who he is. After repeated, obvious attempts by Lorne not to reveal such a truth (after all, six months of work was on the line), Lorne asks Lester a very, very familiar question: