This is a recap. The events described took place during the Fargo finale. Out of respect for those who avoid spoilers, we invite you to read a different TVLine story if you haven’t yet watched. The rest may read the recap of events exactly as they occurred.
There was only one way for this tale of small town destruction to end and that was to come full circle.
The first season of the highly acclaimed FX drama comes to a close with Malvo facing off against Lester, a monster of his own creation. Of course that doesn’t mean there still isn’t a trail of dead bodies lying in their wake — this is Fargo after all.
But did your favorites live to see another day? Or did they take one of Malvo’s bullets to the head? Let’s take a look at what happened in the season finale, “Morton’s Fork.”
AW, GRILLED CHEESE… | The episode picks up right where last week’s ended: Lester cowering in his car having just watched his unassuming wife walk into the trap Malvo had set up for him. Once his would-be assassin leaves the building, Lester does the obvious thing, which is to make the murder look like a robbery gone bad. Of course no cover-up is complete without a plausible alibi, so he heads into Lou’s diner where he places an order (for two) before ducking out to tip the police. Halfway through his grilled cheese, though, he remembers that he left the plane tickets in his coat’s pocket.
When Molly arrives on the scene, she notices that the Dead Body Formerly Known as Mrs. Nygaard is wearing Lester’s jacket, so she asks him if the shooting is connected to what happened in Vegas. Lester feigns innocence, grief and finally illness (“I’m going to be sick”), prompting Molly and Bill to take him to the station for questioning — not before the insurance-salesman-with-a-heart-of-coal makes one last effort to get his tickets… which Molly foils.
A FISH CALLED LESTER | Lou comes down to the station and tells Molly that there was a man at the diner earlier asking about Lester. When he describes
Malvo’s (new) appearance, Molly asks her father if he could possibly be the man from her picture. Lou replies that it’s a possibility. Molly then goes in to question Lester, who sticks to his (imaginary) guns and maintains his innocence, even as the good deputy appeals to his sense of reason (“He’s not going to stop… you know that right?”).
The next morning, Molly outlines her plan to catch Malvo using Lester as bait. Gus, on the phon,e requests that his expectant wife not go out in the field because he can’t make his daughter “go to another funeral” — clearly being in a relationship for a year has done nothing to help the man actually tell her he loves her. Afterward, Bill tells Molly doesn’t have the stomach for the job so he’s quitting and making her the new chief! (Side note: Wonder what the frosting on his cake will be. Another gun?)
THE NYGAARD’S WATCH | Turns out that all of Molly’s planning is in vain because Malvo hears the entire thing on his police walkie-talkie and takes swift action. He calls the police station and gets Budge and Pepper’s names, which he then uses to cancel the back-up the (grumpy!) FBI was sending. Next, he gets himself a used car that looks like it could belong to stealthy feds.
Key and Peele Budge and Pepper drive Lester home, where he refuses to let them come in the house. When the riddle-spouting G-men see Malvo’s new set of wheels approach, they get out of their car and ask the driver to identify himself. When he doesn’t, they investigate… only to discover it’s a trap — Malvo taped the used-car salesman’s hands to the steering wheel, allowing him to sneak up behind the feds and shoot them both in the throat. But as he hides their bodies — some habits are harder to kill — Lester spots the empty car and rightly suspects the worst.
BATHROOM BREAK | Having disposed of the only obstacles in his way, Malvo breaks into Lester’s home, following the sound of a frantic 911 call up to the bathroom where his prey is hiding. But as Malvo approaches the door, he (literally) steps into the bear trap Lester had hidden on the floor (Chaz’s hunting equipment gets some use). His cry of pain causes Lester to emerge and shoot at him, but his gun jams after just one shot, so he retreats into the bathroom as Malvo shoots after him. When Lester emerges a few minutes later, all he finds is the vanished Malvo’s trail of blood. Later, back at his cabin in the woods, Malvo resourcefully re-sets his mangled leg with things he finds in his living room. (Martha Stewart would be proud!)
In the midst of all this, Gus found Malvo’s hole-away-from-home where he’s been lying in wait. After the silver-haired gunman pulls the aforementioned “Physician Heal Thyself,” Gus steps out of the shadows and shoots him (not one, but five times), putting an end to the trail of destruction Malvo’s wrought. When Molly shows up, he shows her Malvo’s collection of taped conversations — hey, even Dexter had his blood samples — one of which is Lester asking Malvo to kill off his first wife, giving Molly the evidence she needs to finally put him away. But where oh where is Mr. Nygaard…?
A COLD PLAY | Two weeks later, in Montana and racing a snowmobile for the border, Lester turns heel when he sees the cops waiting for him. But in his effort to outrun the law, Lester crashes his snowmobile and thus goes on foot, at which point he literally finds himself on thin ice — which he then promptly falls through, proving that Justice is also a dish served very, very cold.
Of course, the silver lining on this dark and violent cloud is Gus receiving a citation for bravery and Molly getting the Chief job she so rightly deserves.