Fargo: Morton’s Fork – the Final Episode

Fargo aired its 10th and final episode tonight. According to the IBTimes otherwise known as the International Business Times (Australia), who reported a one word quote as originally reported on E-Online, Fargo’s writer, Noah Hawley described the finale in one word, “bloody“. The IBT also, this time quoting TV Guide’s Mega Buzz, reported that the last episode would be a final chess match between Lester Nygaard and Lorne Malvo, and TV Guide also hinted at a high body count.

Of course none of that was news in the truest sense. It was just a good way of getting people to read that page, and of course notice the advertisements.

I watched the finale myself, and can say that all of the above is true. What is also true, according to the IBT is that writer Hawley, speaking to E-Online at the ATX Television Festival in Austin, cleared away all doubts by stating that despite each episode opening with a claim that it is a ‘true story’, and “we’re saying it is a true story, which it isn’t, but it’s following a certain true story logic.”

Really? Thanks Noah. Saying nothing in that case would have been preferable.

Well about the final episode, the 10th, and entitled Morton’s Fork, I’m going to do my best to not give away the endings. I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers. In fact, the episode title, Morton’s Fork, is not an expression you hear every day. Morton’s Fork has been said to mean – Heads I win, Tails you lose. Or evidence against a conspiracy is actually evidence for the conspiracy. Or some similar kind of argument.

Any way, Fargo has played games with we viewers for 10 weeks, and initially, at least following Episode One, I intended to do a piece on Fargo on a regular basis. But the twists and turns, and the shocks and surprises kept coming in a way that can be best described as regularly irregular which meant that linear thinking had to be often set aside. One also had to put up with the folksy Bemidji townspeople many of whom were portrayed as being decent and dumb simultaneously.

Then there was the clever Lorne Malvo and his unwilling nemesis Lester Nygaard. I think they were set up as chess pieces from the jump. Lester appeared to be an irrational guy who acted on impulse most of the time. But Lester got smarter and smarter each week. So did Deputy Solverson. The new Chief of Police, Bill Oswalt remained useless to the very end. Okay not quite to the very end.

But Lorne Malvo never met a problem he couldn’t solve. And he had an endless supply of weapons at his disposal for those very solutions. Or for no reason at all he might steal a car. That’s the kind of guy he was. Of course he was a chameleon in one sense, a consummate con man in another sense, and a man who was ever so cool, calm, and collected when necessary, or capable of immediate and final violence when that was called for. He wasn’t a likable character but he was fascinating.

This final episode ran 90 minutes, and that was a surprise, because I hadn’t expected that, and I almost changed channels. But I didn’t because I had read that Fargo would begin and end in the 10 episodes. One always needs to see credits because if there was ever a truism – tv shows end, then there are credits, and then, if the series is continuing, you get a preview of the next episode. So as there were no credits as the show’s normal end time approached, I stayed with it.

By the time the show ended, I was more than satisfied with the series. I don’t think this series is one that you’d like to watch a second or third time; but it did please. However I do have to say, that while the previous nine chapters had those twists and turns which often came out of nowhere, the finale (and some of the latter parts of Episode 9, were filled with clues. Basically everything that happened was given a fair set up, or pre-cursor, so that for me, I wasn’t all that surprised.

Next, I will name the clues, at least those that came to me as I watched, but will leave out the particulars or details. So if you’ve not seen the show yet, you may jump out now.

1) The Orange parka
2) Chaz Nygaard’s Hunting Gear
3) Gus’s incredible memory
4) The Wolf
5) The puzzle logic question asked twice by the tall FBI agent
6) The hole in the ice

fargo_102_allison_tolman_a_l

I think after watching this series, I thought that True Detective was the better show. Fargo had more blood spilled, but True Detective was shocking, creepy, and was a tale of detective work. In Fargo, Deputy Solverson may have connected the dots, but the series ended with her on the sidelines.

Kudos to Allison Tolman as Solverson, and Martin Freeman as Lester, who carried the story along. Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo did an excellent job of providing more than enough menace.

To close I’m looking for answers to a few questions:

a) What happened to the Stavros Milos character played by Oliver Platt?


B) What happened to Gina Hess played by Kate Walsh?
c) Did Lester tell Mrs Hess that the insurance company wouldn’t pay, but in reality they did, and he stole the money?
d) What was the point of having the second contract killer not able to speak?

I’m looking forward to Tyrant which will slide into the Tuesday 10:00 PM time slot just vacated by Fargo. I’m also hoping it isn’t a series like Dallas from the 80’s, only set in a Middle Eastern oil rich state.

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6 thoughts on “Fargo: Morton’s Fork – the Final Episode

  1. As with True Detective, for me, the series fell apart in the final episode, but Fargo fell slightly more gracefully.

    True Detective disappointed by failing to pay off many of the fascinating clues it planted week by week. As I said on this blog at the time, it is easy to pull the audience along a trail of arresting clues, but it’s a huge disappointment to learn that those clues do not actually lead to the solution. This is detection thwarted by the writer’s sleight of hand and is little better than dime store magic.

    In contrast, Fargo, although a detective story, never claimed to be a mystery. Instead of sorting through puzzling clues, Fargo introduced a parade of unlikely characters and humorous events, juxtaposed with sudden scenes of animalistic violence. Fargo is less a guessing game than a shock therapy regime. If you likey that type of overstimulation, Fargo was a kick in the head.

    Except for the last ten minutes, which should have been fed into the show’s iconic buzz saw. What kills a thriller every time is a drawn out ending and boy did we get stuck in taffy. Instead of a dramatic confrontation between worthy foes, Molly, was saved by her male protectors and Lester sled away a cold-blooded fool.

    I would have preferred a stronger shock as my takeaway.

    • Excellent point about dragging out the ending. And yes – though Malvo and Lester met their least desirable destinies – the endings would have been netter with a confrontations.

  2. I have the same questions as you do. Now I wonder how much we really needed of Gina Hess and Stavros Milos, as they ultimately ended up on the sidelines. For a 10-episode miniseries, there sure was a lot of extra stuff in there that seemed to be important, but ultimately wasn’t. I guess it was just world-building.

    Great review! i’m looking forward to Tyrant as well.

  3. Gonna miss these characters. It was a satisfying finale to say the least, but the creators are going to have their work cut out for them next season with new characters. Good review Mike.

    • Hi Dan, has Fargo been renewed? The series seems dead-on-the-close to me. But FX hasn’t asked me to decide for them. Nor has Noah Hawley. And I’m not expecting them to.

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