Fargo Review: “A Muddy Road”

(Episode 1.03)

TV Reviews Fargo
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<i>Fargo</i> Review: &#8220;A Muddy Road&#8221;

I’m a little bit in love with the cold opens of Fargo. So far, each one has been immediately attention-grabbing and haunting.

In “A Muddy Road,” an accountant, the one who kicked off the series by freezing to death in his underwear, is dragged by his tie down a cubicle aisle and his co-workers just watch it happen. No one tries to stop Malvo. They probably didn’t even call security since Malvo had time to cut the man’s clothes off him before stuffing him in his trunk. Later the man’s colleagues lament his death and speculate about his problems (drugs, gambling, underage girls), but they don’t feel guilty about the role they played in his demise. Their indifference as their co-worker is dragged to his death is unsettling.

With a bemused look on his face, Malvo continues to wreak havoc. He takes over the blackmailing gig from the bronze trainer, Don Chumph. “I’m confused,” Don laments. “That’s okay. I’m not,” Malvo tells him. Malvo then kills Stravos Milos’ dog, replaces his medication with Adderall, convinces Stravos that he should move into the house and puts blood in his shower. Is he doing this to get the ransom money (which he’s now raised to $1 million) or just to mess with Stravos because he doesn’t like him? My guess is the latter and the money will just be a nice bonus.

In an only-in-a-TV-series plot twist, Lester gets sent to Gina Hess’ house to give her the documents to process her life insurance money. Really? Sam, of the cutthroat trucking business, had his life insurance policy through Lester’s agency? The pilot led us to believe Sam and Lester hadn’t seen each other in a long time, so the whole thing didn’t quite track. And why wouldn’t Lester just say he wasn’t up to going? You would definitely think he doesn’t want to run into Sam’s dimwitted sons again. But the scene was worth it because Kate Walsh is so entertainingly fabulous as former-stripper-turned-bored-housewife Gina Hess. Gina’s “seduction” of Lester to try to get her insurance money faster was simultaneously hilarious and pathetic.

Lester’s hand wound looks awful and infected—his own personal tell-tale heart. Molly continues to investigate Lester without investigating him. She goes to see him under the guise of wanting life insurance and accidentally on purpose drops a picture of Malvo. On cue, Lester freaks out. But Bill doesn’t want to hear about it. He’s “super ticked” that Molly directly went against his orders and continues to view Lester as a suspect. In Bill’s mind, poor Lester has just lost his wife. We need some kind of explanation for why Bill refuses to even entertain the idea that Lester could be guilty. I don’t want it to be because he’s a clueless idiot.

The episodes best moments came when the guilt-ridden Gus Grimley makes his way to Bemidji and tells Molly he stopped Malvo and let him go only to later discover Malvo was driving Lester’s car. (As discussed, Lester is not a bright criminal. He told Molly his car was in the shop.) Gus confesses to Molly that he let Malvo go because he was scared. Colin Hanks was really terrific in this scene. The guilt and shame he feels over what he’s done is immediately palpable.

Upon meeting Gus’ daughter, Greta, and learning that Greta’s mother is not in the picture, Molly immediately understands Gus’ decision. The three of them head to Lou’s diner for milkshakes and burgers, and while Greta may be thinking her dad has found a new girlfriend, the love connection here may really be about two people who really want to solve this crime.

As much fun as Thornton is clearly having with this role and as entertaining as his performance is, it’s Gus and Molly that I’m most interested in and want to follow.

Other thoughts on “A Muddy Road”:
—Allison Tolman is so great as Molly. Here’s hoping this show makes her a household name and a big star.
—Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench briefly appear again with Mr. Wrench’s signing going untranslated. Apparently in later episodes the show will translate what he’s saying. I’m not sure it needs to. It’s more entertaining to be as confused as the people he’s talking to.
—Seriously, where are Lester’s bloody clothes?
—Molly’s friend went from a husband who cheated on her to a boyfriend who had baby spiders crawling out his neck. She really knows how to pick them.

What did you think of this week’s episode of Fargo? Which character are you most interested in? Do you think Gus and Molly will fall in love or just solve the crime? Are you craving milkshakes and hamburgers after this episode? Talk about it below.

Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer and a regular contributor to Paste. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.