Fargo Season Finale Recap: Frozen Dope

Photo: Chris Large/FX
Episode Title
Morton's Fork
Editor’s Rating

This recap covers the season finale of FX’s Fargo, and spoilers so obviously abound that it should go without mention. Click through if you’ve watched it; otherwise we encourage you to come back later.

A veritable high noon is fast approaching in Bemidji, and everybody’s armed and ready. Lorne, requisite arsenal in tow, is committed to tying up loose ends and taking more lives. Lester’s emptied the contents of Chazz’s fateful hunting-gear box, rightly anticipating a duel with his adversary. Lou’s camped out on the Grimlys’ porch with a shotgun, adamant about avoiding another Sioux Falls (whatever it is that actually happened in the winter of 1979). Greta’s got his back, joining him on watch with a rifle. The entire local PD’s been instructed to aid on-site G-Men Budge and Pepper, even though, as Chief Oswalt laments, “Most of these guys can’t shoot a can off a fence.” In fact, Bill might be the only soul not chomping at the bit for some closure. He’s too shaken by the “inhumanity,” so burdened by what his wife calls “an unquiet mind” (oh, that Mrs. Oswalt), that he can barely muster the conviction to lead.

And if the sight of down feathers adhered to Linda’s bloody head was more than Bill could stomach, good thing he never got a load of Lorne resetting the bone in his leg. Pesky Lester had Malvo’s number again, wounding the wolf at his door with that ominous bear trap, sending him back to his lair in the woods trailing blood like a leaky chassis. And who was there waiting? None other than little lamb Gus, who’s stalked and cornered the biggest threat to his kin. Oh, how comely Mrs. Ziskind would have admired her former neighbor had she witnessed him unloading shells into Lorne’s chest, barely flinching at his requisite “gotcha” fake-out when the first shots failed to put him down.

Malvo’s death was the culmination of a precipitous descent down the food chain in those final minutes, but also a consequence of his most human quality: pride. It’s the same sin that felled Lester, who represented an unlikely, irresistible challenge for Lorne, who in turn awakened the beast in mild Mr. Nygaard. It’s a shame that Linda, the used-car salesman, Pepper and Budge (whose deaths were foregone, and who may have been the show’s weakest recurring characters), Dr. Canton, and so many other relative innocents were casualties of their primal conflict. Molly’s (via Marge Gunderson) “was it worth it?” lecture to Mr. Wrench may have been pat, but what Linda later described as the “disarray left behind” does seem pointless now.

The bigger debate is whether their deaths (along with Vern and a host of others’) resulted from doomed choices or our dual natures. Whereas Fargo the movie felt like more of a fable, its televised spawn is a sprawling, allegorical quilt. “Morton’s Fork,” per its titular namesake, delivers comeuppance without offering easy answers to the series’ deeper concerns. Lester is dead, deep below the ice, appropriately beneath the requisite six feet allotted decent people. Lorne’s both better and worse off than that bear he so admirably eulogized for Mr. Wrench. Our heroes are safe, and even Stavros — one of many regulars, including Chazz, Gordo, and Gina, who were more symbolic than fully realized — is likely heartbroken and poor, but given a second chance. Any meaning beyond that is fleeting. The survivors of what happened in Northwest Minnesota, circa 2006 may as well be a riddle. But if Fargo taught us anything, it’s that yes or no, fox or cabbage, hold on tight to the ones you love and stay far from thin ice.

Apart from all that:

  • I shall miss Lorne and Lester’s little bitch fights.
  • I wouldn’t have minded seeing Chazz released from prison.
  • Allison Tolman was very sweet and funny here. Too bad she didn’t get a chance to truly shine till the series’ back end.
  • I wish this show had more frequent punchlines about Bill being queasy.
  • In honor of Budge.
  • Who knew it was so easy to get FBI backup off your tail?
  • There’s a third way of looking at it Lou: Don’t let your daughter and her baby get killed!
  • Man, that Grimly family sure got super cozy in a mere year.
  • Love that Molly kept her last name.
  • Hate when characters, even Molly, speak in anecdotes.
  • And your final music notes (and, as a general note, thank you for reading and interacting all season. It was truly appreciated.): Not too many recognizable tunes on the finale’s juke, but who knew that Lou was a Yusef Lateef fan? And, fittingly, let’s pay tribute one last time to Carter Burwell’s original Fargo theme.