Fargo Finale Recap: On Thin Ice

110_0294_Fargo_CLThis 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.

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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.”

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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 comesFargo_Finale_DW 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.

Meanwhile, 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.

Now it’s your turn. Did Fargo‘s final moments warm your heart? Grade the episode via the poll below and then hit the comments to back up your choice!

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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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  1. Trish says:

    frakkin’ ??? Never heard that one. Finale was awesome!!!

  2. Ralph Hartman says:

    How could anyone vote D or F for this episode? This was a awesome end to a awesome series.

  3. CB says:

    Why does this show and every reviewer try to make me love Molly? She was my least favorite character on the show and she didn’t DESERVE anything. End of story.

    • Ana says:

      Care to elaborate? Though I agree on some level.

    • Jack says:

      I totally agree!! Malvo was my favorite character and I really wanted to see him kill Lester and Molly. I just really hated her for going after Malvo. He was just doing his job

      • Zach says:

        Yeah, because there is absolutely nothing wrong with mass murder.

      • CountryQueen says:

        UM? WHAT? His job was hit man. She was a cop. Why are you hating on her for doing her job – better than any other cop?!

      • Britta Unfiltered says:

        Ugh. I bet you’re the kind of guy who also wished Walter White would have killed Skylar. Always wishing for horrible and evil TV characters to commit violence against strong women.

      • Aces says:

        Malvo was also my favourite character, but he got what he deserved in the end. “Aces”

  4. Dave says:

    I just that Malvo would have thought ahead and had a trap at the cabin (like a bomb) and I was hoping Lester would have got away and became a hit man himself (passing the torch)…

    • Faye says:

      I thought that was sloppy of Malvo to not rig something at the cabin and then so easily fall for the trap at Lester’s. Certainly not quite the professional hit man he had been up to that point.
      But for all the questionable things that did and did not happen, I loved the series and am sorry to see it end.
      They only showed Lester’s hat in the icy and were still looking for his body. He has laser like focus and buckets of luck when it comes to survival. So who knows, he may pop up again.

      • Carm says:

        No one is that lucky. I was so happy when Lester finally got what was coming to him. Awesome ending.

      • CountryQueen says:

        Where would he have come up? That water was icy cold – which means death in minutes. No way he would have been able to hold his breath and swim, his breath would have left him the moment he hit that water.

        • brock says:

          Exactly what I thought was going to happen. It just does not make sense to watch a guy change luke Walter white and just as you get addicted to him ythey kill him off.

        • brock says:

          Not true. Happened to me. I fell in ice amd swam for a minute to shore.b people do it once a year a a celebration of winter in parts of Canada.

  5. john says:

    Why did Malvo do all of this in the first place? What was the purpose of him killing Hess for Lester in the first place? What was his incentive?

  6. Viola says:

    Wasn’t the tape of Lester asking Malvo to help him cover up his dead wife’s body, not to kill her, since she’s already dead?

    Anyway. Was a nice full circle to have Gus finish Malvo off.

    • TD says:

      Exactly. Anyone remotely familiar with the show would know that Lester killed his first wife. Why would he ask Malvo to kill her?

  7. poodle lucy says:

    “…Dish served very, very cold.” Brilliant comment and the best of the reviewers.

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  9. Mike says:

    I liked that Gus redeemed himself and Lester bought it running away in fear. We can put to rest Malvo being the devil. I do feel that a postman, even if he is an ex-cop, should always call in serial killer sightings. My other thought is that the happy ending was very non-Coen brothers. It all wrapped up without their trademark ambiguity.

    • t crale says:

      Maybe that’s what the Coen Bros. would like us to believe. I was a bit thrown by both Malvo and Lester exiting in the final episode but we’ll just have to wait and see what they have in store for us in season 2. If Malvo is the devil he can’t be killed; and who knows how hard Lester may fight to get out of the freezing waters???? Perhaps they meet again in this very dark drama-edy (drama-comedy)?

  10. TV Gord says:

    I gave this an A for Awesome (both the entire series and your clever and witty review, Nivea.

    One small thing. Gus may never had said that he loves Molly, but he showed in his actions, especially in that scene. That counts, I believe. :-)

    I also have a problem with Gus filling Malvo with lead. It’s not as though it was self defense or anything. Shouldn’t he be charged with…something? Not in the Fargoverse, I guess (and I’m kind of okay with that).

    • Bill says:

      Yeah, that was something I was wondering about, as well. Seems like he’d face a manslaughter charge, at the very least. I wondered when he picked up Malvo’s knife (why did he do that?) if he was planning on setting the scene to make it look like Malvo was going to kill him, and it was self-defense. But no.

  11. t crale says:

    Good finale but it makes you wonder where the series is headed in season 2 given the departure of the two principal and most interesting characters. I think they should have retained at least one of them, if not both. The weekly dance between Lester and Malvo is why most of us tuned in.

    • Matt Webb Mitovich says:

      Being a miniseries, it’s always been said that any “second” FARGO would feature all new characters.

      • Zach says:

        That would make it a “limited series”, a miniseries would not return at all.

        • Matt Webb Mitovich says:


        • TV Gord says:

          A story I read elsewhere today says there’s a chance that it won’t be back, according to the showrunner. He’s not sure that he’s got another story to tell, and he and FXX are not interested in doing it again unless they can do it as well or better.

      • Ibu says:

        With Molly’s dad Lou mentioning those murders from the winter of 1979 twice in the last couple of episodes, I’m wondering if a second season will focus on that case since it otherwise seemed unrelated.

      • joefromwb says:

        Am I the only one who thinks that Season 2 is going to revolve around the 1979 events that Molly’s father has referred to in each of the final 2 episodes? His comments sure made it sound like an interesting story, and aside from the fact that he and Molly survive, he was vague enough about the details that we as the viewer would really have no idea where the story was going. It’s not like we already know how it ends. I can’t wait to see Molly as a kid. Too bad Abigail Breslin isn’t still the age she was in Little Miss Sunshine. She’d have been perfect.

    • Todd says:

      If I could pick what the next Fargo series was about, it would be the full story of what Molly’s dad hinted at to Gus’s daughter on the porch that happened in 1979.

  12. Justin Burnell says:

    Reblogged this on THB Files and commented:
    Great season. Love the finale. It was epic.

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  14. Nice little conclusion to a great season. The story felt decently crafted, though I gotta admit I’m disappointed a couple of things didn’t come into play. For some reason I think I was expecting the buried money to pop up again, and of course the heavy machine gun Chazz had I was hoping someone would actually use. I suppose it just being used to help frame the guy will do… Gus finally sacking up after being a rather amazing screw up (do we have a new low since he nearly killed his love interest halfway through?) and Molly finally being recognized as the most competent cop in town was nice.

  15. Bud says:

    I would have liked to have seen Molly interview Lester with the tape evidence. I am sure he would have had some form of denial. Loved the show and thought Gus did a bery brave thing. they could have added another episode just for follow-ups.

  16. PJ says:

    Loved the series but a bit “meh” over the ending. In particular Lester’s ending. It seemed very tacked on and last minute like “Oh wait we need to wrap this one up too! Oops!”. I get the oh he is walking/running on thin ice bit and the view of the hat in the icy water, but I dont know I just expected a different ending.

  17. Twokeets says:

    I didn’t like the way Gus said he was given a citation (the good kind) for killing Malvo. It was too cute and too pat. In real life, there would be an investigation, and possible trouble for Gus for acting like a cop when he was no longer a cop. Didn’t really ring true for me. I liked other things about the episode, particularly the sweet relationship between Molly’s dad and Greta. But the end was rushed and not particularly believable to me.

  18. Dear Writer/Creator of Fargo, can we please have another great story?

  19. taahimar says:

    I also gavel it A for awesomeness my only regret is Nyggaard death was too quick I. wanted Molly apprehend him or a slow painful death.

  20. sandit says:

    Wasn’t this supposed to be a true story? Or am I being naive

  21. RichieS says:

    Would’ve loved to see Chazz beat the shiite outta Lester before his demise. Maybe Kate Walsh’s sons could’ve wailed on him as well, karma bein a bitch and all.

  22. Nex77 says:

    I was a bit disappointed by the finale, I would prefer a Malvo vs. Molly in the end with a wounded Malvo leave Molly alive and disappear in the forest like a wolf. Malvo is pure animal instinct and can’t be completely removed from our humanity, so it would be much more symbolic if at the end he could survive (altough with a bit of uncertainty) and Lester be entrapped by the audio cassette.

  23. Blade says:

    I loved this movie and all it’s characters. I’m just wondering how true was this ending…is there any material in the web that I can read about this case? I wonder. This movie was a good old fashion mystery/drama/suspense/with a little love thrown in for good pressure, movie. And they managed to do it all without or very little sex; now that says something for these film makers. Well I loved it and will buy the DVD as soon as it comes out. As for continuing the series….I don’t see how.

    • TW says:

      I read an article on EW.com with the show runner and not a stitch of this story is true. He put the “this is a true story” stuff at the beginning to allow himself to tell a story with a beginning, middle and end. He also did it as homage to the film, which I think did have some elements pulled from real life.

    • Yury says:

      It’s now revealed that season 2 of Fargo will be in the not-wery-far past. End of 70th, that terrible story when Molly’s father was “guarding” somebody and waiting for some THING to came. Brilliant idea – would be hard to make direct sequel.

  24. whack-a-mole says:

    I think the mis-fire of Lester’s gun could be considered Chaz’ revenge

  25. Matt says:

    The title of this article in the google search results is “Lester and Malvo Die.” Come on. That really sucks of you.

  26. Britta Unfiltered says:

    What an excellent and high quality series. Very impressive and well done, start to finish, with some incredibly interesting characters. A love letter to the Coens. A small dark part of me was rooting for Lester to get away with everything, because Martin Freeman is just so damn likable as an actor, but I’m happy with how things ended.

  27. i’m hoping (first of all) there is another go round in this fargo universe (a ‘second season’)… and i would like to see the bag of money be the constant… someone else finds the bag of money and another round of wackiness ensues…

  28. brock says:

    Man killing off the 2 main characters like that is like killing off Bryan Cranston off season 1. They should have written this to have them go on for 3 more season. Screw the original true story and just have it change at the end to do this . I mean…either that or they better get some crazy good characters. It’s nuts because these guys were the right formula to make this series a massive hit like breaking bad. I think they screwed this one up.

  29. Linda says:

    Help! What was the “shades of green” riddle that Gus figured out before he shot Malvo

    • a6175587 says:

      Gus: Lorne Malvo.
      Lorne: Did you know the human eye can see more shades of green than any other color?

      Gus relays this to Molly, and she knows the answer right away: predators. As humans evolved, they needed to be able to see the danger through the grass and trees, hence the green. They’re going to have to catch this predator with some predatory skills of their own.

  30. Aces says:

    When Lester fell through the ice, was he wearing the same coat as Linda, when she was executed?