AMC’s small screen version of Fargo continues to work, it’s high level of quirkiness is still evident in episode 2 and despite its slow pace, the show is rapidly becoming an almost addictive experience. Perhaps the public is ready for a new type of Twin Peaks with an almost somnambulistic delivery of plot twists and turns. It has to be said, however, that despite the slowness of the show’s theme, the cast assembled for the series are hitting high notes that will most definitely resonate with the audience.
The show’s second episode continues the convoluted, but fascinating plot with the introduction of two “hitmen” who have been summoned to find the killer of Sam Hess, high school bully grown into one of society’s less pleasant individuals. Hess was taken out last week in mid-coitus by a knife wielding Malvo as part of the “contract” killing that he decided Lester Nygaard wanted done. The part of Lorne Malvo is still played to disturbing perfection by Billy Bob Thornton. Martin Freeman is still putting enough pathos and tragedy into his forlorn loser, who murdered not only the town police chief but his wife as well, to impress the most jaded palette.
Taking a closer look at the two “hitmen” it’s clear that the writers have taken a page from the Pang Bros 2000 film Bangkok Dangerous. In the Pang Bros’ film, the hitman was a deaf-mute and one of these two odd death dealers for hire is also, seemingly, a deaf-mute. The opening of the show, which included an interrogation of a friend of Hess’ was, like the show itself, very different.
Fargo and episode 2 of continues to deliver quirkiness that works. Although, to be honest for just one moment, it does feel as though it’s being odd just for the sake of it. It seems that rather than relying on fully rounded characters to deliver the strangeness that is Fargo the town and its townsfolk they are “inventing” oddness. It may also be a matter of too much cynicism, but the “sign language” seems to be “overdone.” Trying too hard to make the situation funnier than it needs to be. A case of “pay attention viewer, this is supposed to be funny.” It interferes with the audience’s enjoyment of the already present humor.
Going back to the main characters of the show, Lester displays a touching amount of grief for his “spur of the moment” murder of his overbearing wife. Nygaard’s response to his “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” partner feels spot on. How many have gotten into a spirited argument with their significant other and been thankful that they did not have an implement of murder in hand? Lester’s meeting with Lorne Malvo has changed him and released him from the role of worm. It will be interesting to see how long this change lasts.
While Molly is champing at the bit to speak to Nygaard, Deputy Bill Oswalt, now Chief Oswalt, wants to peddle softly as he believes that a gang of roving vagabonds committed all the murders, Sam Hell, Mrs. Nestor and the late police chief. Bob Odenkirk seems to have the ability to almost take over every show he works on. Like his Saul Goodman in Breaking Bad, his Bill Oswalt appears to be overshadowing a lot of the other players in the show, with the possible exception of Thornton’s Malvo.
Speaking of Lorne Malvo, a tip of the hat has to be made to the writers again for giving a name that pretty much spells out just what Billy Bob Thornton’s character is all about. The man exudes malevolence to such a degree that he seemingly overpowers all adversity with a look and that smile. When Malvo looks amused the great amount of hilarity that looms in his eyes makes him look madly murderous. The joy in his eyes gives the recipient the feeling that Malvo will have the same look when he’s committing a gruesome and heinous act of murder.
Malvo makes a fleeting appearance in this segment, which follows instead the work of Oswalt and Molly who are questioning Lester about the double murder and the killing of Hess. Deputy Solverson believes that Nygaard has copious amounts of blood on his hands. The new chief does not want to pursue this line of questioning, much to Molly’s disgust.
Malvo is now stepping outside his previous role of hitman and spreader of chaos, he now appears to be a sort of problem solver who is “taking care” of a supermarket magnate who is being blackmailed. Gus Grimly, the man who let Malvo leave without his car being searched is still suffering a guilty conscience for his lack of action.
The two new hitmen question their first suspect in the killing of Sam Hess. After finding out that he is not the man who killed Hess, the two then dispose of him in a style fitting the oddness that is Fargo. Malvo finds out who’s blackmailing the supermarket king and he gets a visit from Siminco the magnates right-hand man. While being threatened by the local tough guy, Malvo lowers his trousers, sits on the toilet and begins reading a book.
Lester reveals where he hid the murder weapon before moving in with his younger brother, the same one he punched in last week’s episode. Despite being told to leave Lester alone by the new police chief, Molly tries to question Nygaard again. The salesman is not too pleased at being questioned about the murder.
He complains to the new police chief and Molly is taken off the case. Fargo, episode 2 ends with the disposal of the two hitmen’s first suspect. The quirkiness continues in the show and it works on so many levels. It may not be the new Twin Peaks but it’s close enough. AMC have delivered another addictive television show that may just reach the parts that other shows do not.
By Michael Smith