Did FX's Fargo Make You Say 'You Betcha'?

fargo_325_2“Oh what a day,” down-on-his-luck insurance salesman Lester Nygaard laments during the premiere of Fargo.

The FX series loosely based on the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film follows Lester (played by Sherlock‘s Martin Freeman), who is unaware that that day — his whole life, in fact — is about to get a lot worse, courtesy of the complicated character sitting next to him in a hospital waiting room.

RELATED | Upfronts 2014: FX Boss Talks More Americans, Finite Fargo

Lorne Malvo (played by Billy Bob Thornton, Slingblade) calmly listens to Lester’s story about how he’d recently been bested again by a bully he’s known since high school, then makes a simple, psychotic offer: He’ll kill the bully, named Sam Hess, if Lester wishes.

Lester nervously laughs off the offer, not knowing that Lorne is a hired assassin who wound up in the Minnesota town by accident and has decided he’s going to stay a while.

Lorne unrepentantly creates chaos wherever he goes, and it doesn’t take long before Lester realizes that the killer made good on his offer to off Sam. “I never said yes!” Lester whispers, panicked. “You didn’t say no,” Lorne purrs.

The murderer lives by a code he then shares with his new pal: “Your problem is, you spent your whole life thinking there are rules. There are none.”

RELATED | FX’s Fargo Adds Key & Peele as FBI Agents

Imbued with Lorne’s alpha-male nonsense, Lester returns home and impulsively drives a hammer into his shrewish wife’s skull during a fight. He quickly freaks and calls Lorne to help with the clean-up… but the local police chief (Shawn Doyle, Big Love), following a tip that Lester and Lorne had spoken at the ER, gets to the Nygaard home first.

Moments after the chief notices blood on Lester’s floor and calls for backup, he’s felled by a couple of shots from Lorne, who has quietly snuck out the back. His colleague Molly (relative newcomer Allison Tolman) arrives on the scene to find two corpses and the body of an unconscious Lester, who’s realized that Lorne fled the scene and quickly chose to fake a home invasion.

RELATED | FX Orders Billy Crystal/Josh Gad Comedy The Comedians to Series

Meanwhile, Lorne makes tracks for Duluth, where his erratic driving causes lawman Gus Grimley (Colin Hanks, Dexter) to pull him over. But a menacing Lorne warns Gus to walk away, and the spooked cop does.

The cast also includes Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad) as Molly’s slightly dim fellow officer, Keith Carradine (Dexter) as Molly’s diner-owning dad, and Kate Walsh (Private Practice) as Sam’s not-that-grieving widow.

The series is darkly comic and violent in a way that fans of Breaking Bad or True Detective will find familiar. And, like the latter series, it’s set up as an anthology – meaning this self-contained season will have its own beginning, middle and end; if there are future seasons, they’ll center on different characters and circumstances. The format lends itself to tight storytelling, and with the talented Thornton insinuating his dark character into this salt-of-the-earth community, Fargo is likely to be a wild, snow-covered ride.

That’s our take, but now we want to know what you thought. Grade the premiere via the poll below, then back up your pick in the comments.

 

 

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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35 Comments
  1. Pat D. says:

    Damn, that was one HELL of a premiere. Really looking forward to future episodes of this show.

  2. thatdude says:

    Fantastic, 9/10…fx has a winner. breathtaking….i am hoooked!!

  3. Alex says:

    This was an awesome premiere!

  4. uh huh says:

    Loved it. Is there a better actor working today than Martin Freeman? I don’t think so.

  5. The Beach says:

    I recorded it but haven’t watched it yet but wow, every comment above is a rave. I think I’ll go watch it.

  6. April says:

    Lousy accent by Freeman. Without Frannie McDormand as the cop, this blows.

    • Pat D. says:

      Ehhh…nobody did an accent worse recently than Mike Rappaport’s attempt, and that turned out ok in the end, IMHO.

    • uh huh says:

      What ARE you talking about? His accent was fine. And you do realize that this isn’t a remake of the movie, right? Marge doesn’t exist in this universe.

    • yurie says:

      Yeah, the accent left a LOT to be desired. Atleast his acting was in fine form though!

  7. Dani says:

    Loved it, you betcha!

  8. Lisa says:

    Best “pilot” i’ve seen in awhile. Well acted, made, and written. I’m impressed

  9. Walter Freeman says:

    Better than expected. The original Fargo movie was a particular mix of dark, goofy, and just plain weird, but this television pilot doesn’t seem afraid to dial up the darkness a wee bit more; balanced with a few moments of almost normal tenderness. Lots of shout outs to the original movie dialog, but you can see they’re not afraid to make the story their own. It’ll be interesting to see how the next two episodes unfurl; should become obvious real quick whether this newfangled Fargo is something or nothing. Color me optimistic for now.

  10. Britta Unfiltered says:

    Holy crap, I did not recognize Wild Bill Hickok as Molly’s dad at all.
    .
    I freaking loved it. It exceeded all my expectations. Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton were pretty fantastic. I can’t decide who I liked better. So, did you love it, Kimberly? You have such great taste in television I would imagine you loved it. I’m looking forward to more future great reviews of yours on this show.
    .
    Solid A. Maybe even an A+. I’m not normally this pulled into pilots, even for shows that I love, so the fact that I liked the pilot so much bodes very well for how much I’ll like rest of the season.

    • bev says:

      you should have seen him 20 plus years ago in “the Duelist “- with HARVEY KEITEL , and in Bob Altm,ans, Nashville

    • The Beach says:

      Totally agree. I can’t remember when I’ve been this impressed with a pilot. Loved it. You’ve got a lot to live up to so don’t disappoint me.

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  12. David says:

    It was awesome. I kind of want to binge watch it though. Netflix has ruined shows like this and having to wait a week!

  13. Jerri says:

    Hot damn! If they keep it at this pace every episode – Sign me up!

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  15. Patrick Maloney says:

    I honestly was going into this nor expecting to like it but it was one of the best premieres so far this year.

  16. knd says:

    Is it next Tuesday yet??? Because that premiere was fantastic. I can’t wait to see more. Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton are pure genius.

  17. IMHO says:

    Fantastic Premier for Fargo !
    I enjoyed it more than True Detective.
    I can’t wait for it to continue next week.
    Best thing I’ve seen since Breaking Bad.

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  19. rubytu says:

    I both loved and hated the premiere. Insurance salesman played just a bit over the top, as was his nemesis, and the nemesis’ widow. I can’t even begin to tell you how little screen time I think she should have if her acting doesn’t get any better. But, on the plus side, casting was brilliant, Billy Bob Thornton is mesmerizing, another good Carradine role, and I was totally hooked when I saw Colin Hanks – I’m hooked!

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  24. Sven says:

    Too “kooky”. The movie struck a beautifully sombre, dark note, where the sheer bleakness of the characters’ actions was the joke. This just apes the movie but exaggerates and plays it for references and laughs, only with “comedy” music, so the tone’s out to begin with. I was hoping for something more True Detective than this. I’d watch Thornton with both hands tied behind his back, under frozen ice (and guess I might at some point), but this feels like a missed opportunity at this point.

  25. kwhyh8strm says:

    My Wednesdy morning ritutal…watch the recorded episode from the prior evening. Great way to kick off Humpday!

  26. rose says:

    Please bring Fargo back for a 2nd season! Anything Coen is great and we need more edgy tv like this….too many shows that insult our intelligence on now. This show was so awesome!