FX’s Fargo A Muddy Road TV Show Review. Fargo: Season 1, Episode 3: A Muddy Road finds Lester Nygaard falling deeper and deeper into the rabbit’s hole. Most importantly, A Muddy Road starts to give us glimpses at how all those characters and stories introduced in the previous episode will all fit together.
The tension on Lester has been dialed up so high, it’s exciting to imagine how these writers will let the story unfold in the coming weeks. Will they drag out this singular problem for the rest of the run, or is a sudden drastic change on the verge of occurring? Deputy Molly Solverson will not back down from her suspicions of Lester, despite the stubbornness of her new boss, Sheriff Bill Oswalt. It also seems she’ll be receiving backup from Duluth Officer Gus Grimly, who we’ve only had brief encounters with in the past. On the other side of the law, Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench have their sights set on the bumbling Lester. After what they did to a completely innocent man in the last episode, one should worry about what they have in store for poor old Lester.
Meanwhile, the insane Lorne flips the script regarding the blackmail case he’s investigating for Supermarket King Stavros. After discovering that Stavros’ wife’s personal trailer Don (Glenn Howerton) is behind the operation, Lorne assumes control from him and is now leading a disturbing, violent, psychological attack on Stavros.
A Muddy Road sets Fargo back on the track of intrigue, as all the stories have been set and now they are allowed to unfold. The series continues to separate itself from the source film, while also retaining some of the most important themes. One scene finds Molly having dinner with an old friend, who blathers on about her failed relationships and spider eggs hatching from her lover’s neck. The entire scenario reminds one of the awkward dinner between Marge Gunderson and Mike Yanagita. Both are irrelevant to the plot, but are thematically essential: they reinforce the idea that these simple-minded, blissfully (perhaps willfully) ignorant characters live in a frightening, dangerous world where bad things can happen at any time, to any one, without warning or reason.
Main players Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton, and Allison Tolman are as strong as ever here (particularly Thornton who has quite a few hilarious quips), but the supporting cast really shines in this episode. As Sam Hess’ gold-digger widow Gina, Kate Walsh is a hilarious addition that sticks out of the Minnesota crowd like a sore thumb. In a landscape of doe-eyed “aw jeez”-ers, Walsh’s Gina is a burst of energy and a wonderful foil to scene partner Freeman. Glenn Howerton, known for his comedic role in other FX hit series It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, is wonderful as the overly-tanned-personal-trainer-turned-blackmailer Don Chumph. The character is ridiculous, but he works because Howerton know that Don takes himself seriously. Also continuing his magnificent supporting work is Keith Carradine, as Molly’s diner-owning father.
One last note: the motif of signs hanging in Lester’s home continues here, with the phrase “the key to life is happiness” spelled out on the fridge in magnet letters. It’s become a fun game looking for new signs every episode. Hopefully they continue this motif.
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