Tonight on FX their original series, FARGO, based on the Coen Brothers classic film premieres. On tonight’s episode called, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma,” a manipulative drifter preys upon a small-town insurance salesman in the opener of this adaptation of the 1996 Coen brothers film.
Golden Globe Award nominated actor Billy Bob Thornton will star in the FX limited series Fargo, an adaptation of the classic Academy Award winning feature film of the same title by Joel & Ethan Coen. Thornton will play “Lorne Malvo,” a rootless, manipulative man who meets a small town insurance salesman and sets him on a path of destruction. A 10-episode limited series inspired by the film, FX’s Fargo will feature an all-new “true crime” story, with the series following a new case and new characters, all entrenched in the trademark humor, murder and “Minnesota nice” that has made the film an enduring classic.
On tonight’s episode A rootless, manipulative man (Billy Bob Thornton) meets a small town insurance salesman (Martin Freeman) and sets him on a path of destruction. Written by Noah Hawley; directed by Adam Bernstein.
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It starts with “this is a true story” that took place in Minnesota in 2006 but the names have been changed but the rest has been told exactly as it happened. A car drives on a night along a snow lined road. A man, Lorne Malvo, listens to a religious program. We hear a thumping and screaming from his trunk. A deer runs across the road and he loses control of the car. It crashes off the road in some snow and the trunk pops open. A man wearing only boxers jumps off and runs out into the snowy field. Lorne walks slowly after him and finds the deer lying on the snow dying.
A washer rattles in a basement. Upstairs, Lester Nygaard and his wife eat breakfast and talk about Gordo’s birthday. He says the washer sounds angrier than usual. She tells him his brother got a fancy new washer drier with his new promotion money. She says she married the wrong Nygaard but then says it’s a joke.
He says he’s got to get back to it and she tells him that Kitty told her that salesmen make their own wins and he needs to try harder. She tells him to wear a nicer tie and he reminds her she bought it for him. She says if he was a better salesman, she would buy him a nice tie. She nags him about fixing the washer and says Kitty told her his brother always fixes things. He goes downstairs and stares at the offending washer then leaves for work.
At work, he’s selling a couple on insurance policies and the husband says they just came in to add her to his health care because she’s pregnant. He pulls out a brochure and talks up insurance to protect the baby if he dies. He creeps them out with talk about untimely and painful death. The young couple smiles nervously and say they have to leave soon. They run out before he can even give them a brochure.
Later, Lester stares in the window at a new washer. Sam and his sons walk up. Sam tells his boys that Lester is a black man. Sam calls him the n-word and Lester corrects his pronunciation to Nie-guard. He asks how he’s been and tells Lester that his job is doing great and he just bought a summer house. He belittles Lester and tells his kids that Lester is the guy he stuffed in the oil drum and rolled onto the highway. Sam asks who the girl was he went with in high school and he says Pearl. Sam says she had a rack and that she gave him a tug once and had soft, fat hands.
Lester says they’re married and one of Sam’s kids tell Lester that’s embarrassing. Sam says he never knew what she saw in him – he asks was it his pencil dick or rat face. Sam tells them he used to write his name in Sharpie on his fist before he punched Lester so everyone would know who did it. Lester says it was a long time ago as Sam holds out his fist. He does a fake punch and Lester flinches and busts his face on the window.
Lester sits in the ER next to Lorne. He asks the nurse how much longer and she’s unconcerned. He tries to drink his soda but can’t and Lorne asks if he can have a sip. Lester tells him to take it. Lorne drinks the soda and thanks him. He asks what happened to his nose and he says it was a misunderstanding. Lorne asks who misunderstood whom. Lester says he doesn’t want to dwell on it and Lorne asks why.
He says if it puts him in the hospital it should. Lester says he was outnumbered three to one by a big guy and two kids who were pretty big. He says he should have shown Sam what’s what and tells Lorne Sam was a bully in high school and still is. Lorne asks why he didn’t show him and Lester says he had his sons with him and Lorne asks why he let a man beat him in front of his sons. Lorne says that if you let a man break your nose, next time he’ll break your spine.
Lester says he embarrassed Sam in front of his sons. He says that he was talking about his wife and Lorne asks if he slept with his wife. Lester tries to explain and Lorne says he would have killed him. Lester laughs but Lorne’s expression shows he’s serious. Lester says he bullied him for years and gave him an ulcer. He tells him about Sam putting him in an oil barrel in the road. Lorne says this guy doesn’t deserve to keep breathing.
Lester asks what is he supposed to do and asks casually if Lorne can kill Sam for him. Lorne asks if he’s asking him to kill him and Lester says they’re just talking. The nurse comes and Lester asks her to wait a second. Lorne asks his name and tells Lester to say yes or no. The nurse gets impatient and Lester says yes I’m coming and follows her. He looks back nervously at Lorne.
A cop car is at the side of the road and another pulls over. The chief – Vern – gets out and asks Molly what she found. She tells him about the footprints that went into the woods and he points out the blood. He walks a little way and finds some blood. They look in the car and see blood on the steering wheel and wonder if they hit his or her head. He asks if she checked the trunk and he opens it and they see the deer.
They agree to check the footprints and walk into the snowy field. They head into the woods and talk about his wife. She points out the frozen body sitting in the woods. Vern comes home and calls out to his wife Ida who is in the kitchen. He tells her it smells good and she says their boy wanted a burger. She is also heavily pregnant.
He goes down the hall and looks at the mostly unfinished nursery. He tells her about the body Molly found in the woods. He thinks he was the driver but thinks it’s odd that he was only in his underpants and they couldn’t find his clothes anywhere. Ida jokes that maybe he at them. She says the walls should maybe be blue in the nursery. She says maybe green. Vern says he’s ready to paint when she decides. She says he’s a good man and her sister was crazy to tell her not to marry him. Vern says her sister is crazy.
A blow up doll is inflated by Sam’s idiot sons in a building when Lorne walks in and sees them wrestling. He tells him he’s doing it wrong and explains how to properly choke someone. He asks which is older and Mickey says it’s him and they argue. Sam comes down the stairs and Lorne asks if he’s Sam. He looks behind him and says “me.” Sam asks why he’s there and Lorne says his younger son seems dim. Sam asks what he says and Lorne asks if he’s had him tested because his IQ seems low. They tell their dad to hit him, but he’s got some men in suits there and holds back. Sam asks what he wants and Lorne says he just wanted to take a look at him. He says – that’ll do it – and leaves. Sam is flummoxed.
Lester and Pearl come to Chaz (his brother) and Kitty’s house. Pearl nags him about his nose and he tells her he slipped on ice. Their nephew Gordo answers the door then slams it in their faces. Pearl rings again and Kitty comes to the door and asks them in. Chaz is massaging a ham and then talks about his sweet job, a great trip he just took and how his boss took him out for a steak and gave him a raise and corner office. Pearl nags at Lester and Kitty talks her hubby up too. Chaz rubs the ham and Lester says he saw it on Rachael Ray.
Chaz tells him there is more to life than just Minnesota and say they need to broaden their horizons. He asks about Lester’s nose. They go out to the garage and Chaz says he thinks Gordo might have “the autism.” He says his son has been peeing in a jar he keeps in his closet and asks what that’s about. He shows Lester his gun cabinet then pulls out a giant submachine gun. Lester asks if it’s legal and Chaz says not technically but he’s an American that pays his taxes. An Army buddy got it for him.
Chaz asks if Lester wants to hold it. He does but then drops it and breaks it. Chaz chews him out and tells him that Pearl has had it with him. Says he’s been moping around. Lester says he hasn’t had a lot of sleep. He asks if he really tripped on the ice and broke his nose. Chaz says guys he works with talk about how they look up to their older brothers and sometimes he tells them his brother is dead. He asks when he’s going to get his act together.
In the car on the way home, Pearl chews Lester out for hitting his brother. She asks what’s the matter with him and won’t shut up about it. At Rundle Realty, a guy takes a call about a hit. He answers another line and it’s Lorne. He says he got delayed but confirms he finished the assignment. He says he took a personal detour of a day or two but then will go do the next job. Lorne pulls up at a strip club. Sam sits inside and Lorne comes in and watches the guy as he goes to the back with a stripper. Sam is porking the unenthusiastic stripper when he keels over dead on her with a knife through his back.
Vern’s phone rings and he tells the caller to pick him up. He tells Ida there’s a homicide and that Molly is coming to get him. He tells her to go back to sleep. He comes out and hops in the car with Molly. They take off to the strip club. She asks what he wants her to write as cause of death and says it’s self explanatory. Deputy Bill is nauseated and says he threw up earlier because his wife made spaghetti.
Vern checks the corpse and recognizes him as Sam, the guy with two idiot kids. Molly says she’s heard he was tied to gun runners and asks Vern if it could be tied to organized crime. He says he doesn’t know what he thinks.
At Leroy’s Motor Inn, the manager chews out an employee for taking sheets off one bed and putting them on another. The guy says he shakes them off first. She tells him he’s an idiot and sends him off to shovel the walk as Lorne comes in. He asks for a room and she asks if it’s just for him. He asks what difference and she says it’s a different rate if he has someone else or a dog or cat. He asks what about a fish or mouse or bacteria. She tells him bacteria isn’t a pet and he says he just wants to know the policy. He smiles and says it’s just him.
Lorne walks by the kid shoveling snow and then turns and asks why he lets her talk to him like that. The boy says she’s not that bad and asks what he should do. Lorne tells him if he pisses in her gas tank, her car will never drive straight again. He sees the boy peeing in her car and then calls the office and reports that he sees a guy peeing into a red cavalier. She curses and runs outside yelling at the kid who runs off so fast he trips over the shovel.
Molly sits in the coffee shop when her dad and owner of the coffee shop, Lou Solverson, comes over. She tells him about Sam’s murder. Vern comes in and orders breakfast and sits with Molly. They talk about fishing. Molly tells him there is something odd about the mostly naked guy. She says the person who wrecked had a head injury and the dead guy didn’t.
Molly says the car was stolen and the guy’s prints didn’t come up in the system. He asks if she has thoughts on Sam and Molly says the “lady” he was with didn’t see the killer because of all the blood in her eyes. Vern tells her that she’ll make a good chief someday and she asks about Bill but he tells her the guy cleans his gun with bubble bath. He says it will be her job if she wants it. She smiles.
Sam’s idiot boys sit on the sofa. Gina sits smoking as Bruce Gold tells her how to handle the police when they come. She tells them she’s going to tell everyone at his funeral that he died in a whorehouse then starts crying. Mickey gets a call and tells his brother to stay there with Mom. Lorne is on the phone and lies and says who he is. He says he’s the guy in charge of his dad’s estate. He says that his Dad is giving all the money to his younger brother Moe. He “quotes” the will and refers to Moe as his “favorite son” and says he’s sorry for his loss and tells him to call with any questions. Mickey is furious.
Vern and Molly talk to Gina and Bruce interjects and says she doesn’t know anything about Sam’s business. Bruce says she’s mystified by the whole thing. Mickey comes over to his brother who asks who was on the phone. He asks his brother to go outside and then grabs up a hockey stick.
Vern tells Bruce that he knows some of Sam’s boys have had problems with stolen merchandise charges and other things in the past. Molly says the state also suggested Sam’s company may have ties to organized crime in Fargo. Bruce gets angry at this suggestion. Out the window, Molly sees Mickey beating his brother with a hockey stick. She runs out and tackles him. Gina giggles madly and inappropriately.
Lorne walks out of the hotel and Lester sees him. He asks what the heck but then goes on to work. His boss, Bo, asks what happened and he says he tripped on some ice. Bo asks him to pull the file on Sam Hess because he’s dead. He tells Lester he was stabbed to death and he’s in shock. He says he went to high school with him. Bo says to pull the file so he can call his wife.
Lester comes into the Chinese restaurant he saw Lorne going into and sits at his booth with him. He looks around nervously then asks if he really killed Sam. Lorne says – oh my God is Sam dead? He asks Lester how he feels about it. He says Lester killed him and Lester says that he never said yes and Lorne says he never said no. Lorne reminds him Sam put him in a barrel in the road and tells him that he’s more of a man today than yesterday. He says there are no rules – that we’re gorillas. He says if you don’t stand up against all the shit the wife and boss make you eat, it will never end.
Ida calls Vern and tells him she wants the nursery white. He says it already is and she says she wants it to have a fresh coat. He asks what shade of white she wants and he rattles off some and Bill chimes in with eggshell. They get off the phone and Bill wanders off to work.
Molly radios Vern and says she was checking on Moe Hess and says she talked to a nurse about head injuries and they had one yesterday. She says that the head injury guy was talking to another guy about Sam. Molly says the other guy was Lester and Vern knows him. Molly says she was going to go by Lester’s but he says he’ll go and tells her good job and to call it a day.
Pearl hangs up her coat and calls for Lester. He’s in the basement working on the washer. He tells her he’s trying to fix it and thinks it’s the motor mount. She sasses him and asks if he knows what he’s doing. He tells her to give it a try and she starts it up. It runs smoother at first but then worse than ever. He unplugs it – it’s smoking. She tells him he killed her washer. He stammers and says he was trying to be a man. Pearl tells him he’s not a man and isn’t even half a man and she doesn’t know why she married him.
She says her mom told her he was a loser. He tells her to take it back and she asks what’s he going to do. She says she can’t even face him during sex because she wants to pretend she’s with a real man. He picks up a hammer and she asks if he’s going to hit her and says – that’s a laugh. He cracks her over the head with a wrench. She seems frozen for a moment but then blood trickles down her forehead. He cracks her sideways with it and she falls over. He pummels her repeatedly while he says – oh geez, oh geez. She’s bloody and good and dead. He panics and strips off his clothes and puts them in a plastic bag.
He changes and makes a call. He says – you’ve got to help me, I’ve done something bad. A female voice says it’s the motor inn and he asks for room 23 and is connected to Lorne. He tells her his wife is in the basement dead. He says he doesn’t know what to do. Lorne asks if he’s been a bad boy. Lester says a hammer and then stammers. He tells him where he lives and Lorne says he’ll be right over. He loads his gun and play acts shooting someone that he accuses of her murder. He opens a door and says – what did you do? You killed her. He tries it a couple of times then lays down the gun and goes to the door. It’s Vern the Sheriff!
He lets him in and Vern talks about the weather. He asks if Pearl is home and he says she’s at his brothers. He asks about his nose and he says he slipped. He asks if he went to the hospital and he says he did and Vern asks if he talked to anyone there. He tells him that he heard he was talking to another guy about Sam. Lester says no and then acts skittish when the cuckoo clock chimes. Vern sees blood spatter on the floor coming out of the basement and pulls a gun on Lester. He says he just came home and found her.
He’s calling for backup when Lorne comes in and shoots Vern in the back twice. He kicks the gun away and asks Lester if there’s any more cops. He shakes his head no. Vern chokes out his last breath and dies spitting up blood. He asks what Lester told him. He says he asked about Sam but gestures lips closed. He asks if that’s the basement, sets down Lester’s rifle and heads down the basement stairs. Lester is hyperventilating. He sees lights as another police car pulls up. He creeps down and says the police are here. But Lorne isn’t to be seen.
Molly comes to the door and sees Vern on the floor. She calls officer down and the dispatcher responds. Lester panics down in the basement as Molly calls for anyone in the house to come out with their hands up. Lester reads the poster on the wall that says “what if you’re right and they’re wrong” and runs himself head first into a wall and knocks himself out cold beside his dead wife. Molly comes carefully down the stairs and checks his pulse and Molly’s. Bill comes down the stairs and she tells him – the husband is alive. Bill gets queasy, says “ah geez” and leaves to go throw up.
A ton of police cars surround Lester’s house. Snow is falling. Molly watches through a window as her boss is covered with a sheet. She goes out to the street and stares at the paint cans on the seat of Vern’s car sadly. She pulls up to Vern’s house and takes the paint with her. Ida comes out and sees her and starts to cry. They share a silent look and both are sad.
In Duluth, Minnesota, Gus Grimly, a cop, sits in his cop car. His kid radios him with the Vikings game score. He tells her to do her homework. A car skids by him at top speed and he flips on his lights and pursues. The car pulls over and he pulls out his ticket book and pen and jots down the license plate. He puts on his hat and gets out of his car. He flips on his flashlight and comes to the window of the car and knocks. It’s Lorne driving.
Lorne greets him and Gus asks for his license and registration. Lorne says they could do it that way and see how it goes or he can go get in his car and drive away. Gus asks why he would do that and Lorne says – some roads you don’t go down and some maps used to say, here there be dragons. Gus asks him to step out as Greta radios calling for dad. He asks how old his kid is and then tells Gus he’s going to put up his window and drive away and that he’ll walk away and be glad that he walked into the light instead of the darkness. Gus wavers and Lorne says he’s rolling up his window. He does and he drives away. Gus stands there and then gets meekly back into his car.
At the hospital, Lester lies in bed. He comes to and looks around. He looks at his hand and sees a little hole in his hand. He hides it under the sheet.
Molly is out with her dad and he asks her to come work for him. She tells him she’s a cop but he says hostesses at restaurants usually don’t get shot. She refuses the job and tells him instead of fishing with him, she’s going to work.