Spoiler alert: Do not read if you haven’t seen this week’s “Fargo” and don’t want to know what happens in the episode. Seriously, point your browser elsewhere. Now.
With FX’s Coen Brothers adaptation “Fargo” drawing to the end of its 10-episode run, the drama is taking a bold step into the future. Literally.
Episode eight of the drama, which premiered Tuesday, made a major shift at the tail end of the episode, moving the action ahead one year. A lot has changed in the ensuing 12 months — former sad-sack insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) has put the messiness of his wife’s death behind him, and has found personal and professional fulfillment. He’s even scored a fancy new trophy at a swank event in Las Vegas for his salesman skills.
He’s not the only one to have experienced a major life transition. Savvy police officer Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) married to fellow police officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) and with child.
Series showrunner Noah Hawley recently spoke to reporters about his decision to do the time warp, and what lies ahead for the remaining episodes.
Hawley explained that the idea of the time-jump appealed to him in particular because, with Solverson pregnant, the viewer has a reference to the original 1996 movie (which featured Frances McDormand as a pregnant cop). The idea of setting up expectations based on the movie for Hawley to possibly — OK, probably — confound was an appealing one.
“I liked the idea that it felt like a real-life thing because obviously if these cases aren’t solved quickly, often they’re not solved at all or the case goes cold and then something new happens. So, I liked that idea, but it wasn’t until I literally slept on it and woke up the next morning and thought. ‘Well, she’s pregnant, that’s why we’re doing it. We’re doing it because in that year, things have happened to her personally where she and Gus are now married and she’s pregnant,” Hawley said. “And suddenly it is the movie in a way, like you watch this whole thing thinking, ‘Oh, it’s kind of like the movie but it’s not the movie,’ but then the minute that she’s pregnant again, you think, ‘Wait a minute, now it is the movie in this strange way,’ and that also sets up for me … now you have expectations based on the movie about the situations that she’s going to be put in that maybe we play into or maybe we defy in a way that it’s always very important to me to try to create a story that feels unpredictable. Like you can’t jump ahead and see what’s coming, but at the end, when you’ve watched the whole thing, it all feels inevitable.”
The end of the episode also finds Nygaard spotting Billy Bob Thornton‘s drifter character Lorne Malvo — the man who, at the beginning of the series, served as a mentor-in-evil of sorts for the mild-mannered Nygaard. Given the encounter and Nygaard’s newfound confidence, will there be a showdown between the two?
“Well, it certainly looks like that at the end as they’re, for the first time, in the room again,” Hawley offered. “I found it really interesting to … the first episode is all about these two guys and then they’re never in a room again until this point, and hopefully, we’ve managed to keep everyone entertained and create a compelling story without that element, but certainly, bringing them together now in episode eight, I think hopefully it gives everyone exactly what they’ve been hoping for all along.”
In the end, though, viewers will just have to tune in to see where Solverson, Nygaard and Malvo end up.
“I can’t wait for you to see [episode] nine, let me just say that,” Hawley teased.