A Little Past a Halfway-Point: Checking In on ‘Fargo’s’ Characters

It should be obvious but there are **SPOILERS**

Lorne Malvo: 

Lorne Malvo

Lorne remains in control.  We all remember how Malvo entered the scene: he was in Bemidji to finish some business when he ran into his next“charity” case (because he’s obviously done this before; you saw all of those tapes), Lester Nygaard.  He took a couple of personal days, forgoing his next job, to instill a bit of darkness into the vacant Lester.  Violence follows Malvo, but he’s always on the giving end.  What a generous guy!

Molly Solverson:

ALISON_TOLMAN_01_SNOW_FIELD_031.jpg

 

Most of us wish that Molly was chief.  If she were, there would likely be one less murderous psychopath in the world and Bemidji would probably care a little less about snow plows and a little more about justice.  But this is not a happy show.

While Molly’s resolve has remained steadfast, she has finally made it to a point where she can make an impact.  Through the first four episodes, Molly didn’t understand the dynamics of hierarchy – essentially politics.  Instead of skillfully persuading (aka manipulating), Molly wrongly went over her superior’s head, often resulting in her being further from her goal.  Finally, Molly was able to construct a strong case; so strong, in fact, that even dunderhead Bill couldn’t deny the plausibility of it all.

Most recently, Molly found herself following a gun-fight, courageously chasing the unpleasant sounds despite the unwanted consequences that can follow.  The real question is, if she’s alive (which I’m assuming she is), will her courage be enough for her to survive this ordeal?  One thing is for sure: her new lovelorn partner isn’t helping her out.

Gus Grimly: 

Gus Grimly

There are jellyfish on both sides of the story.  Spinelessly representing the law and justice is Gus Grimly, the lonely widowed animal control… er, uh, police officer who arguably botched the investigation of Malvo even more than Bill Oswalt.  It wasn’t too long ago that Gus pulled over Malvo and let him go on account of being threatened.  Since then, he has preemptively arrested Malvo (without reading him his rights, I may add), received a lesson in charity from a neighbor (which deserves an article devoted to), and, most recently, shot Molly, the woman whom he has obviously envisioned filling that giant hole in his life.  Aw geez, Gus.

Bill Oswalt:

Bill Oswalt

Hal-le-lu-jah, hal-le-lu-jah, hal-layyyy-luuuuu-yaahhh.  Bill has finally seen the light.  Since Bill’s first scene in Fargo, the viewer is informed he is out of his place; an officer – let alone chief – who cannot stomach the sight of blood and gore might have found the wrong profession.  Miraculously, however, upon hearing a compelling argument from his subordinate, Molly, he gives her permission to finally talk to Lester.  Perhaps his “dubya” term is over (everyone must have noticed the not-so-subtle portrait of George W. Bush hanging in his office).  Regardless, I hope Chief (but for how long?) Oswalt will have a place in the show until the end, because Bob Odenkirk is just damn good.  But Fargo is not a hopeful show.

Mr. Numbers: 

Mr. Numbers

Every good crime-thriller needs the professional; the professional launder, that is.  You know, the guy who comes to clean the shit out of your underwear.  Mr. Numbers’ flawless haircut and kempt beard give him an aura of civility, when it’s apparent rather quickly that he’s absent of such.  Nonetheless, Mr. Numbers provided an interesting counter to Malvo, another professional.  When one trained killer goes looking for another trained killer, something is going to happen.  And something did.  In another brutal, violent scene on Fargo, we watched as Malvo outmaneuvered Mr. Numbers leaving his throat with a gaping hole and later prompting the ever-perceptive Gus to proclaim, “I think he’s dead.”  No shit, Gus.

Again, Fargo showed that it falls into no mold.  While Mr. Numbers was just shy of being considered a main character, it will interesting to see how the narrative progresses with seemingly one chapter closed.  But what about his partner?

Mr. Wrench: 

Mr. Wrench

The enigmatic Mr. Wrench’s fate remains unclear.  The last we saw of Mr. Wrench was when he and his late partner, Mr. Numbers, pushed forward into the blinding whiteness of “the storm of the century” when he disappeared from our knowledge.  Following his partner’s death, we saw (who we later found out to be) Molly firing shots into the void at our evil-yet-likeable deaf friend.  But whether or not Molly has decent aim we do not know.

Mr. Wrench offers(ed?) a misplaced sense of justice, contrary to the attitude of Mr. Numbers.  When Mr. Numbers suggested they take care of Lester, Mr. Wrench insisted that they had to be sure.  Lester had not admitted that he was responsible for Sam Hess’ death, which did not sit well with Wrench.  Going forward, if Mr. Wrench is dead there’s another death to add to the ever-expanding toll, but if not, it’s safe to guess that he will prove to be a worthy opponent of Malvo in the future.

Don Chumph:

Don Chumph

It’s no coincidence that Don’s surname is Chumph.  He has provided an interesting perspective of greed and intelligence.  Obviously, Don was not valedictorian of his class.  He’s the epitome of a stereotypical health nut and his initial ransom note (while puzzling to Stavros) was child’s play for the experienced Malvo.

There’s definitely one sincere aspect of Chumph.  While incessantly jabbing to Malvo, he mentions that he plans to put more money into his business with his share of the money.  He may have been dumb, but he found a way to be at peace with his life… in a way.  But now he’s dead.  So there’s that.

Stavros Milos: 

FARGO - Pictured: Oliver Platt as Stavros Milos. CR: Chris Large/FX

Stavros is tripping balls.  We were clued into a magnificent reference to the Coens’ 1996 film with the red ice scraper.  An astute observer may have noticed the framed red ice scraper from the first scene with the grocery magnate, but most probably didn’t watch the film right before starting every episode.  Milos was a poor man who by a stroke of luck (to him, an obvious sign from God) stumbled upon the small fortune buried beneath snow – left by Steve Buscemi’s character in the 1996 classic.

Since realizing Milos’ unique relationship to the Judeo-Christian God, Malvo has been masterfully using it against him.  Substituting his Tylenol with high-dose Adderall, Malvo successfully turned Stavros into an extremely susceptible target.  His mind altered, he doesn’t question the plausibility of Malvo’s staged plagues.  His conscience gnawing at him ferociously and readily as he digests his pills, Milos decides to pay the $1 million.  When going to make the drop, however, Milos has a revelation:  he must return the money!  Aha!  That must be it.

He leaves the top deck of the parking garage, cleverly evoking a scene from the film, and goes back to where he believes he found the money.  He replaces the briefcase and finally feels a sense of relief.  Unfortunately, another plague presents itself; and this time it’s real (or, at the very least, a insurmountably unlikely natural disaster).  Goodbye henchman, goodbye son.

Dmitri Milos: 

Dmitri

Dmitri is in the red vest

Poor kid’s dead.  And to think that he pieced together the hoaxed cockroach fiasco.  Maybe if Stavros had listened to him once (or if he wasn’t tripping balls), Dmitri would still be alive.  Or maybe not.

Lou Solverson: 

FARGO -- Pictured: Keith Carradine as Lou Solverson -- CR. Matthias Clamer/FX

The north star of Molly’s life.  He is the steady presence in his daughter’s life, and reminds me of Walt Jr. from Breaking Bad.  His only contribution may not be eating breakfast, but it would seem that he can whip up a decent meal… and brew a damn good pot of coffee (to everyone except Mr. Wrench, of course).

Chaz Nygaard: 

Chaz

Chaz is that douche-y brother that everyone hates; including himself.  He’s younger than his brother, but far more successful.  He has a pretty wife, a slow son, and an addiction to pornography.  What more could a guy ask for?

If Lester’s recent developments go as planned, he’s as good as dead.

Lester Nygaard:

Lester Nygaard

As one might’ve expected, Lester has come a long way since the beginning of the series.  A detrimentally spineless fellow, Lester finally stood up to his wife; the only problem was that he went from one extreme to another.  He’s proved invariably resourceful when necessary.  First, he thought to run forcefully into his basement wall and knock himself out, then he had the wherewithal to hide his murder weapon in an unsuspecting place, then he temporarily disabled Mr. Numbers and got himself arrested, until finally he accomplished his latest feat.

One wouldn’t have expected such a master plan from Lester.  Dressing himself in gauze and figuring out a way to surreptitiously escape from the hospital for a few hours seemed like an impossible feat for the put-upon insurance salesman.  However, he did it.  And with those few hours he framed his brother pretty well, who is now on his shit list, because their last conversation was anything but congenial.  And you know what?  He is damn proud of himself for once in his life.

If only he had taken such initiative before he was in this predicament.

Brent Glass is a Michigander who graduated from Eureka College in May of 2013. He spent time at the Sagamore Institute in Indianapolis, IN (a non-partisan think tank) where he worked on political economy pieces for Detroit, MI and Elkhart, IN. Additionally, he spent the summer of 2012 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, CA, working on social media management. Currently he is working full-time as a Management Assistant.  He plans to further his education in the fall of 2014 at Wayne State University in pursuit of a Ph.D. in Urban Development.

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Categories: Television

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2 replies

  1. Enjoyed your pithy commentary, replete with Fargoisms. Keep em comin…

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