FARGO -- Pictured: Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo -- CR: FX/Matthias Clamer

I was going to do episode reviews of Fargo, but I never really found the time to do so.  Thinking back, I wish I had found the time, because Fargo is officially my favorite show of 2014.  As the season just ended on Tuesday, it’s a perfect time to reflect on the times that really defined the 10 episodes, so here’s 5 “Aw Jeez” Moments That Made Fargo Amazing.

5. Stavros Gets His Money

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Episode 4: “Eating the Blame”

Maybe it’s just the Coen Brothers fanboy in me, but one of the best moments of the entire series is when we find out the lone linear connection to the film.  Sure, there are some parallels in character arcs that can be drawn (and lines repurposed), but there is only one true connection to the events that take place in the 1996 film.

Stavros, the grocery store magnate didn’t always have the money that allows him to live so comfortably.  In fact, he had some truly lean times in which he couldn’t even afford gas to get his family around.  Low and behold, though, God throws him a bone in the form of an isolated red ice scraper sticking out of the snow.  Any fans of the film will recognize this as how Steve Buscemi’s character marked the bag of money that he would later go back and retrieve, had he not ended up in a wood chipper.

Suffice it to say, I geeked out when I first saw this moment.

Aw Jeez Level: Medium

We waited nearly half the season before the show rewarded us with this reveal, but if you’ve never seen the movie, you probably couldn’t care less.  It’s a pretty great reveal, though.

 

4. The Extortion Plot Meets an End

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Episode 6: “Buridian’s Ass”

Early in the season, one of the major plotlines was an extortion attempt on Stavros by the dimwitted fitness instructor Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton).  Chumph is bad at the whole extortion game, and it doesn’t take Lorne Malvo, who’s been hired by Stavros to find who’s been trying to extort him, long before he puts the pieces together.  Rather than exposing Chumph, Malvo takes over the extortion plot.

Of course, Malvo isn’t in it for the money, he’s just in it to stir up trouble and possibly to teach Chumph a lesson.  So while he has his fun with Stavros by sending a few manmade plagues his way, Malvo’s final step is to set up Chumph to be killed by the police in an epic shootout.

Aw Jeez Level: Medium-High

It’s just amazing how calculating and how much it seems like this was always the outcome Malvo had envisioned once we pieced together who was behind the extortion plot.  Rather than just kill Don right there, he plays it slow and ultimately doesn’t even pull the trigger himself.  He’s pure evil.

 

3. Lester Nygaard: A Two-time Widower

Source: uproxx

Episode 9: “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”

Lester Nygaard follows an arc not unlike Walter White.  He starts off as a human doormat, but his life starts to snowball once he has a chance meeting with Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo and, before you know it, Lester kills his wife with a hammer into the skull.  This sets off a chain reaction that puts Lester down a dark path towards selfishness and ill-gotten confidence that has him frame his own brother for his wife’s murder and, for a time, he gets away with it.

Fast-forward a year later, and Lester is finally on top of his own microcosm of a world: he’s remarried, an award winning insurance salesman (for whatever that’s worth), and he’s doing pretty well for himself, financially.  But he can’t leave well enough alone.  After his award presentation in Las Vegas, he happens by Lorne Malvo, who pretends to not know who Lester is.  After pushing Malvo, Lorne relents and sets his sights on Lester, which eventually leads to Lester sending his second wife to the slaughter.

Aw Jeez Level: High

Not only does Lester send his wife right to where he thinks Malvo is waiting for him, but he makes her put on his coat, so Malvo mistakes her identity.  She never had a chance.

 

2. The Blizzard Shootout

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Episode 6: “Buridian’s Ass”

We’ve seen a lot of shootouts in television and movies, and the Coen Brothers have already done their share, but we’ve never seen one quite like this one.  Taking place during “The Storm of the Century”, Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench get the drop on Lorne Malvo, the man who always seems to be one step ahead of the world.  Throw Molly and Gus into the melee and you have a tense scene that is only amplified by the fact that the visibility drops to below zero.

Malvo is taken by surprise, but it’s not long before he regains himself, and manages to get the drop on Mr. Numbers (Adam Goldberg).  Meanwhile, Gus accidentally shoots Molly, which has to be the darkest meet-cute in the history of fiction.

Aww Jeez Level: High

Stormwatch 2006 is referred to for a few episodes before the blizzard finally hits and the payoff is fantastic.

 

1.  The Elevator Scene

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Episode 9: “A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage”

There’s hardly an episode in the ten that you can classify as anything less that good, but “A Fox, A Rabbit, and a Cabbage” may very well be the best of them all.  We finally get the full scope of the skip-ahead, and we get to see what Malvo, specifically, has been up to.

Malvo has all but moved on from his “work” in Bemidji, having shifted to another job that requires him to assume the identity of a dentist in Kansas City.  That is, of course, until Lester won’t let well enough alone.  The newly confident Lester is a little miffed that Malvo barely acknowledges him, so he presses him until Malvo gives him exactly what he wants.  The way Malvo finishes his other job, though, is not exactly what Lester had bargained for.  Rather than appease Lester, Malvo gives him his undivided attention, by murdering everyone in the elevator, including his pretty fiancée, whom was obviously a part of his cover.

Aww Jeez Level: Aces

Lorne Malvo gives Lester plenty of opportunity to back away, but Lester never gets the hint.  This scene exemplifies Malvo’s MO; he is not operating on a level that you can possibly figure out.  Most of the time, he does things just to see how messed up he can make things.  He often has no motivation more than pure mischief.

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