To paraphrase Lorne Malvo, “I have two questions and one comment.” Firstly, why pick Billy Bob Thornton to play the gleefully malevolent chap who takes on an entire town in Fargo and secondly why not someone else, like Ray Wise, who is well known for playing this type of character and finally, now that the questions have been asked, it seems the reason Thornton was picked is that the role of the devil was obviously tailor-made for the actor. And friends, if that isn’t the truth, it should be.
That Malvo is really the devil seems to be a given. While most fundamentalists would argue this next point it still seems to fit that his character is at least how fiction portrays the iconic gent with the horns, tail and trident/pitchfork. Going back to Bedazzled, starring Brendan Fraser and Elizabeth Hurley, Fraser’s character sells his soul to attain the girl he loves. Hurley plays the devil with a sense of humor that intimates she/he knows the punch line to the jokes already and cannot wait for you to catch up to learn that the joke has been on you the whole time.
Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo feels the same. While not as visually appealing as Hurley his evil manipulator on two legs shares that same, “I know how this joke ends” air. His eyes are filled with gleeful malevolence and his sense of humor is let out at the most inappropriate times. When he and the blackmailer, the supermarket king’s ex wife’s lover, go into a crowded storage room to talk, Malvo interrupts the nervous man to ask if he could not find a smaller room to talk in. The blackmailer’s “Huh?” Shows just how deep his lack of understanding really is.
Lorne almost has trouble containing his mirth when he tells the blackmailer that his bronzer on the back of the blackmail note gave him away. Thus far, Billy Bob Thornton appears to be playing the devil in Fargo. If he isn’t the head guy in charge of all things fire and brimstone he must be, at the very least, the dark prince’s right-hand man.
However, Malvo has at least one equivalent on the “other side.” Deputy Molly Solverson (played just as brilliantly by Allison Tolman) is the local cop’s version of someone who is too smart for the local populace. Lorne Malvo, apparently loves being surrounded by members of the “sharp as a box of rocks club.” While Solverson, is being constantly reminded that the people in her life will never be considered for a membership in Mensa. The good deputy is disturbed by the lack of brainpower and Malvo, on the other hand, finds it as vastly amusing as his mischievous evil pranks.
Pranks may not be the appropriate term for the murderous activities of Lorne, but it certainly seems that he thinks of his deeds in this way. As he purposefully spreads chaos through the small snow laden town of Fargo, his devil is happily sewing seeds for what will surely be an end event of apocalyptic proportions. Billy Bob Thornton seems to have waited all his life for this role, a part that fits him like a too-tight glove. In last night’s episode, he managed to overshadow everyone, even the odd couple hit team. It seems almost logical that sometime over the next few episodes that Malvo may sprout horns and a tail and when he does so, he will have that same look of joyous glee in his eyes.
By Michael Smith