It’s fitting that to introduce a story in which each of the characters are represented by animals, “Fargo” Season 3 would tap a star from its past to do the narrating.
That voice you heard at the start of the episode was none other than Billy Bob Thornton. He played the force-of-nature hitman Lorne Malvo in the first season of “Fargo,” who terrorized a large swath of North Dakota and Minnesota. Season 1 eventually turned into a manhunt as Malvo came back to take out Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), after Malvo killed Lester’s high school bully, Lester killed his wife, and then Malvo shot the sheriff.
Thornton doesn’t return to “Fargo” to tell any creepy riddles, like “Why can the human eye see more shades of green than any other color?” But his return is thematically appropriate in combining memories of Malvo and his brief role in Season 3. In Episode 4, “The Narrow Escape Problem,” Thornton reads the introduction of “Peter and the Wolf,” pairing each character on the show with an animal, represented by a musical instrument.
That’s fitting, since Malvo spent “Fargo” Season 1 going on about the law of the jungle, and how the trappings of society hide brutal, dog-eat-dog human nature.
The narration Thornton was reading isn’t quite so dark, however. It’s the introduction of “Peter and the Wolf,” a musical fairytale written by Russian composer Sergei Prokofiev. Just like in the show, the orchestra is used to represent each of the characters, and the music is used to illustrate the story as the narrator tells it.
“Peter and the Wolf” tells a story about a boy and some animals — a duck, a bird and a cat. The boy’s grandfather warns him about playing in the meadow with the animals where a wolf could come after him. The wolf does eventually show up, but the boy captures it by tying a rope into a noose, climbing a tree, and catching hold of the wolf’s tail from above.
Afterward, some hunters tracking the wolf come out of the woods, but the boy convinces them to take the wolf to the zoo rather than kill it. The story ends with the boy leading a parade of all the characters, except for the duck.
Notably, the wolf eats the duck in “Peter and the Wolf” before the boy catches him. In the episode introduction, the duck represents Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor), and the wolf represents V.M. Varga (David Thewlis).
That feels like it could be a bit of foreshadowing for the future of “Fargo,” especially since Varga asks Emmit (also Ewan McGregor) if Ray and Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) are going to be a problem. If there’s a wolf in Season 3, much like Malvo was in Season 1, it’s definitely Varga.