TV Recap: Fargo, S01E03


This episode opens with a flashback sequence showing Billy Bob Thornton’s enigmatic character Lorne Malvo kidnapping a petrified accountant. This takes place at the man’s office during daytime in full view of the man’s co-workers. Malvo is recorded on surveillance cameras and this gives deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tollman) a lead to work with regarding her ongoing murder investigation throughout the episode. A policeman asks Molly if she thinks the strange man on the video footage might be the killer she is looking for. “Could be”, she says; “he’s a nasty enough fella”.

Having been hired to find the person blackmailing a supermarket magnate in the previous episode, Malvo next confronts the man he has uncovered as the culprit. It is the personal trainer for the wife of Malvo’s employer Stavros Milos (The Supermarket King, played by Oliver Platt). When Malvo tells the man he has been found out, but that instead of handing him over to Milos he will be taking over the blackmail scheme, the man says that he is confused. “That’s ok I’m not” Malvo amusingly declares.

As a part of his blackmailing, in a long scene Malvo breaks into his boss’s house to drug Milos, after purchasing supplies from a strange dealer. He switches the man’s medication for something similar to the drug speed. Probably the most startling moment of the episode happens at the end of this sequence. To send a message that the blackmailers are serious Malvo has slain Milos’ dog, King, off-screen with his small blade. (This knife is shaped a bit like a raptor’s claw from Jurassic Park. Keep an eye out to see if you think I am crazy about this. Great acting also here from that dog in playing dead anyhow – I guess years of performing that trick really paid off just there). This is a harsh moment in the episode that is really quite sinister.fargo tv poster

During this episode, Lester (Martin Freeman) returns to work after the murder of his wife (which he committed). He is required to visit the widow of Sam Hess about the insurance payout. The wife, a drunken former stripper, tries to seduce Lester to get the insurance payout faster. Next Lester is accosted at work by the two heavies from Fargo who work for Sam Hess’ associates. “Lester we saw you with the widow…were you celebrating maybe?” They think he was in cahoots with the wife to off their former employer. Policewoman Molly promptly arrives at the store and the two men leave, and Lester covers for them, although they look suspicious.

Molly explains that she is a “single person” and pretends that she wants to buy a life insurance policy. She has laid a trap for Lester that he falls right into. Molly drops her paperwork and when picking it up a picture of Thornton dragging the accountant by his tie from the start of the episode can be seen. Lester notices it and his mood completely changes, and he quickly harangues Molly out of the office. “It’s like he saw a ghost!” Molly later tells her boss Bill (Bob Odenkirk).

The line about being single relates to a recurring theme of this episode for Molly. She visits a friend from high school, who at first implies is happily married but then quickly explains that she has divorced her husband because “he had intercourse with his physical therapist”. The friend talks about her love life, online dating, and the like. Molly says she is married to the job but this scene raises questions about Molly’s romantic life for the first time. As a possible taste of things to come, Colin Hanks and his 12-year-old daughter come from another police jurisdiction to explain how Malvo got away on the night of the murders.

Hanks feels guilty about the incident, but was scared of leaving his daughter without a father when Malvo subtly threatened him (back in episode 1). The two cops work together to discuss the Lester situation and end up sharing dinner at Molly’s father’s diner. It turns out that Molly’s father is an ex cop. He gets on well with policeman Colin Hanks, and Molly gets on well with the young girl also. It is a nice and easy scene.

During a meeting at the narcissistic supermarket boss’s office, Malvo asks Milos if he thinks it was the wife who had the dog killed. “It wasn’t the wife, ass-hat!” – Milos’ ex-boxer bodyguard perplexingly responds. “Who else knows about the money?” Malvo asks his employer. Here the trickster Thornton seems to be setting up the ex-boxer for a fall I think – preparing him for a nice frame. In the last episode when the bodyguard threatened Malvo in his hotel room but he didn’t immediately retaliate, that meant he would get back at the bodyguard eventually through some other dark method I feel.

Milos is angry that the blackmailers killed his dog and now demand a million dollars from him. “My response is eat a turd!” Milos thinks that it was “some sick bastard who gets off on hurting little things”. Here we have to question whether Milos has just summed up the basic motivation of the Malvo character, as from what we have seen in the few episodes that have screened thus far it seems not too far off the mark. Malvo next moves into the Milos residence until “this thing is done”. We see Milos complain about the heat in his office – the drugs seem to be taking effect. Similarly, at the end of the episode Thornton reads from the bible over images of Milos showering and getting covered in blood. We can hear him totally freaking out, and Thornton smiles as he places his bible next to large containers of pig’s blood in the back of his car. This is yet another example of Malvo playing games with people in this interesting instalment to the ten-part Fargo series.

Fargo airs Thursday nights on SBS1. See more episode recaps here.

3.5 blergs
3.5 blergs

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