tv review – FX’s Fargo, episode 1.10

‘Morton’s Fork’ was Fargo‘s last episode and with it the show delivered a stunning series’ finale. Its title refers to a logical dilemma in which someone is faced with two equally undesirable options, leading to a unpleasant outcome if the individual can’t come up with a exception to avert making the choice between these two evils. It was suiting title, given the fact that, for a large part, Fargo was Lester Nygaard’s story, the story of a man who tried to escape the consequences of his actions all season long. Lester was a man looking for a loophole whenever he could, for a way out, because he felt he was entitled to happiness and power, despite the despicable choices he had made. The end of the series found Lester at Morton’s fork, where he still chose the option that could lead to his escape, but likely wouldn’t. And it didn’t: it led to his death, an option he favored over defeat. Lester chose to go out on his own terms when he ran across the thin ice, until it gave out and Lester was swallowed by the icy water.

Ultimately some form of justice arrived to Bemidji, with good prevailing over evil. Despite the clear-cut division, Fargo‘s strength was that it offered up wide varieties of good and evil, and that it really painted its characters in many shades of gray. Especially Molly and Gus felt like real people, presented with very real dilemmas, which made their conversation at the start of the episode entirely logical and understandable. After Lester’s attempt to dodge the law once again, Molly went after Malvo and then Gus called her, pleading her to stay at the office and not get in danger. He didn’t like to ask, she didn’t like to comply, but both did because of love for each other and empathy. That last trait was present in all the good characters in the show, not in the bad guys, which really made Fargo into a modern morality play. Which also made the scene with Gus and Malvo very powerful: after being injured by Lester, Malvo was injured and unarmed when Gus walked in. After a few words Gus pulled the trigger multiple times and he killed Malvo. The way this scenes was shot and acted out it was abundantly clear that this wasn’t an act of heroism: it was an act of necessity, necessary for Gus to protect his family. You could tell Gus was appalled by the act itself, that he took no pleasure out of the murder; he just knew it had to be done, even if it was hard and unpleasant and would likely leave its scars. Gus was also at Morton’s fork in this moment, but his decision was made bearable by the fact he didn’t think of himself, but of the people he cared for.

With Malvo and Lester both dead at the end of the episode and Gus, Molly and Greta sitting together, enjoying each other’s company, we were given an happy ending to this miniseries. In other hands it could’ve come off as sappy or forced, but here it was the perfect moment to end the series on: it wasn’t telegraphed, anything could’ve had happened, but the show really earned our belief that these three people deserved to win and overcome the obstacles they were presented with. The way these characters were written and performed showed you they weren’t perfect, but that they were humble, honest and warm people, something that goes a long way amidst the snow and pitch black minds and hearts of Lester and Malvo. In short: Fargo really made you feel that Molly and Gus had earned this simple pleasure, and that Malvo and Lester had everything they got coming to them. During the season we’ve seen all these characters at forks in the road, where they’ve made their decisions, and Fargo chose to award and value the modest actions of a few good people, instead of falling for the grandiosity and allure of its seductive antagonist Malvo.

‘Morton’s Fork’ was a stellar finale to the Fargo series. While it ignored some dangling plot threads, it wrapped up the stories of its main characters in a fantastic fashion, making this one very satisfying final episode. 9/10

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