If you haven’t seen the finale of Fargo yet, come back later.
After what happens in Vegas fails to stay in Vegas, Malvo’s coming for Lester and that’s just for starters. Will there be no end to the number of bodies Malvo leaves lying in his wake? Lester keeps hearing that sinister voice saying, “Is this what you want?” Desperately trying to cover up the murder of wife #2, Lester falls apart in the interrogation room, so much so that even Bill – who, until this point, refused to believe that an old high school chum, in this town of all towns, could do such dastardly deeds – can’t deny what’s staring him right in the eye.
It’s when a grey wolf steps out onto the snowy backroad and pauses in front of Gus’s car that Gus notices Malvo’s red BMW parked in front of a picturesque cabin and creeps in close to investigate. It’s heavy-handed symbolism in the animal motif, but satisfying nonetheless. When Malvo gets in the car and drives away, Gus goes for the cabin. Door’s unlocked? Seems odd.
Molly, Bill, Gus, Lester, Budge, Pepper, Lou, and even Greta are all armed and on guard. Malvo, posing as Budge over the phone, calls off the incoming FBI cavalry and says backup’s not needed. He cons a friendly used car salesman into taking a car for a test drive. It’s a car that looks “just like an old undercover cop car,” the poor, young sales-guy notes. Obviously, he’s a goner.
Malvo’s new used car pulls up to Budge and Pepper who are sitting in the Nygaard driveway where Molly has sent them to keep an eye on Lester. They pull guns on the car and do the come-out-with-your-hands-up thing. The driver is unresponsive. It’s the salesman duct taped to the steering wheel. Duct tape really does come in handy. Malvo appears from out of the white woods, as is his way, and shoots the agents dead; Budge in the head, Pepper in the throat. He makes his way into the house where Lester, having peered out the window and to find only trails of blood in the snow, hides in the bathroom, on the phone with the police, pleading for help. Lester hears Malvo coming, comes out shooting, and nails him in the leg. Malvo throws Lester’s Salesman of The Year award at him, breaking Nygaard’s nose in both a call back to the Vegas elevator and the scene of the crime that started it all. It’s nice when things come full circle.
Malvo’s retreats to the cabin like a wounded animal, and in a most horrific, bloody display, tries to put his obliterated leg back together with an old-fashioned doctor’s kit, some elbow grease, and a real deep breath. (I watched that one through my fingers.) Malvo sits back, gazing out the window where the wolf appears. He’s smiling in a brief moment of calm (does he think he’s winning or does he know it’s the end?) when Gus comes up from out of the shadows and shoots him full of holes. Yep. Gus. Gus got Malvo in the end.
In a “No Country For Old Men” moment, Bill tells Molly he’s quitting. “Don’t got the stomach for it,” he says. He’s been upended by the inhumanity. He recommends that Molly take over as chief after the baby comes. “You’re the real deal,” he says. “I didn’t see it before.”
Molly finds Malvo’s leather case with his tape recorder and catalogued cassettes, one labeled Lester Nygaard. Two weeks later, in Glacier Park, Montana, Lester’s the target of a high-speed snowmobile chase with the police. Wearing a familiar red parka, he flips over on his mobile, and starts running across the frozen landscape. The police shout out that he’s crossed over onto the lake, literally on thin ice, but he doesn’t hear them. The ice cracks and Lester Nygaard goes down a very cold, dark hole to his death.
It took me three episodes to warm up to ‘Fargo’. Though quirky and often crisp, it was occasionally underwhelming. But the acting was aces all around, with Thornton being both suitably chilling and comical. More on the chilling side. The only thing more brilliant than Lester’s perfectly paced and plotted character arc was Alison Tolman as Molly. She’s a revelation. Her character gets to be chief, but the fact that she wasn’t the one to get Malvo in the end made the finale feel anti-climactic. Everything was leading up to that moment for her, but I guess Gus needed to be less of the expendable character he’d become. Still, Molly could’ve have gotten Malvo and chief. The Stavros and the Sioux Falls situations are never explained. More significantly, we never get a backstory on Malvo. Maybe we don’t need to. In Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, we never know where the birds came from, and that’s the scariest thing of all.