Billy Bob Thornton is sublime as a psychopathic criminal capable of performing evil acts without batting an eye. His face rarely changes expression, so when he laughs, or shows concern for someone, like a real (normal) person we go on red alert. What is this leading to? His name is Malvo, and he is evil incarnate, just like the name implies.
But the show is not about Malvo. It is about Lester Nygaard, a terribly flawed insurance salesman, played by Martin Freeman. Lester has a mean wife, a mean brother, and mean clients. What is a bullied wuss to do? When he runs into Malvo, in the hospital, Malvo has a solution.
Like the movie directed by the Coen Brothers, Fargo erupts into unexpected scenes of garish violence. Sometimes the murders are ridiculous. Sometimes the realism takes your breath away.
Mostly we sit and wait for one or the other, Lester, or Malvo, to get caught. The police are pretty dim, with the bright exception of a portly kindly woman operating out of the Bemidgi Police Department. Molly has a keen eye and good instincts but none of the other cops takes her seriously (except for her supervisor who is killed early on). It is as if female cops in 2006 were living in the pre-feminist days of the 1950s and Betty Friedan had not written her book.
Molly (Alison Tolman) has a relationship with a Fargo cop named Gus (Colin Hanks) who really only wants to be a post office carrier. Talk about dim. Where did his lovely and intelligent daughter come from?
Molly also has an understanding father who runs a diner where several memorable scenes take place. Keith Carradine plays the dad with restraint, like a good Minnesotan.
I am getting impatient for the conclusion (episode 9). Tension is running high. So is the body count. Come on, Malvo, make your move. Come on Lester. Show us how brilliant you are at survival which is what the show seems to be about.