FX’s 10-part series Fargo ended this week, so let’s take a look at what the critics said about the limited series, the final episode, and the ambitious undertaking of adapting such a beloved movie. [Caution: spoilers below.]
In praise of Fargo:
At 98 percent Certified Fresh on the Tomatometer, it’s safe to say that Fargo was a critics’ darling this year. Following the finale this week, many lauded the series from beginning to end.
Gail Pennington, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Tuesday night’s finale gave fans everything we could have wanted and cemented a place for Fargo among television’s best, not just for this season but for any season.
Neal Justin, Minneapolis Star Tribune: Not only is the mini-series the front runner to take home an Emmy; it just may be one of the most engaging, brilliantly acted, unpredictable products ever seen on TV.
Mark Rozeman, Paste Magazine: Perhaps the most impressive feat with Noah Hawley’s Fargo… was how, despite the show’s ever-expanding canvas, it still managed to keep its focus on the characters and themes that mattered. That being said, it also did a great job of presenting supporting characters as something more than simply a collection of quirks.
Tim Surette, TV.com: That sense of uncertainty and unease is what made Fargo such a special miniseries. It’s already one of the best examples of the genre that will flood your small screens in the next few years as television gets hot for the “limited event.” And good luck to those who follow it, I say, because Fargo has set the bar awfully high.
Did Fargo stick the landing?
It’s one thing to develop a successful show, and another to end it. For these critics, Fargo‘s ending was the right execution:
Ellen Gray, Philadelphia Inquirer: Noah Hawley, the writer who took Joel and Ethan Coen’s film Fargo and used it as the inspiration for 10 episodes of something new and strange — and yet strangely familiar — is a storyteller. He brings that home tonight with a finale that’s satisfying and a little unsettling and with, yes, a few things I didn’t know I wanted until I saw them.
Carla Day, TV Fanatic: “Morton’s Fork” was the perfect conclusion to Lester and Lorne’s game of cat and mouse… Fargo was brilliant from beginning to end.
For others, the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying:
Todd VanDerWerff, AV Club: Endings are tough. Everyone will acknowledge that. And that’s what I’m clinging to when thinking about “Morton’s Fork,” an episode I really, really liked but possibly not quite the finale I wanted when it came to how all involved were going to wrap up Fargo… I think what ultimately disappoints here is that Fargo has felt so cleverly, cleanly structured throughout… yet this finale feels like it deviates from that structure and starts hopping all over the place.
Maureen Ryan, Huffington Post: Fargo‘s plot resolution ticked all the “conclusion” boxes, and normally, I would respect the desire to provide a well-defined wrap-up, given that so many shows have trouble with endings. But it’s as if the desire to wrap up the plot neatly also led the show to avoid philosophical and metaphysical complexity, which is a great thing in storytelling… If Fargo returns, next time I hope it’s a little less careful and distant and a little more heedless and bold.
Nick Venable, CinemaBlend.com: My view on FX’s Fargo is currently in limbo following its Season 1 finale “Morton’s Fork,” as my lack of enthusiasm is trying to convince me that I’ve been enjoying a wildly uneven show this entire time.
And what did that ending mean, anyway?
There was a range of interpretations from the critics:
Willa Paskin, Slate: Instead of tracing the long arc of Molly’s professional triumph, the show was actually tracing the redemption arc of the previously insufficiently macho Gus. Fargo is not a self-aware antihero show, it’s a self-help antihero show: How to locate the alpha dog within.
Roth Cornet, IGN: Fargo ultimately revealed itself to be a refreshing tale of good versus evil. It’s a rare thing to find a story this rich and nuanced that also takes a definitive stance about the nature of morality.
Linda Holmes, NPR.org: It’s not a happy ending; it’s the work of the devil. The devil — not just in a literal religious sense, but in the nebulous sense in which we can loosely personify temptation and wickedness — works in ways more complex than blowing your head off… But to me, the ending reads as far more ambiguous than it did to many.
How well can you really adapt the movie Fargo into a TV show?
The answer: very well. For many, the idea of turning a beloved Coen Brothers movie into a TV show was a risky one — but worth it:
Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times: It’s clear FX’s Fargo has become its own wonderful thing. These past 10 episodes are a terrific example of how to take an existing piece of work and turn it into something that feels original and necessary.
Alan Sepinwall, HitFix: This has not been an exact copy of Fargo the movie — and it would have likely been terrible if it was — but it’s been true enough in both spirit and quality that it feels utterly appropriate to hear that memorable, melancholy tune play as Gus, Molly and Greta try to return to normalcy after a year of so many violent extremes… That was Fargo. This is Fargo. Both are great, defying all logic, and yet pleasing so many.
James Poniewozik, Time Magazine: In the end, Fargo turned out to be a more lively, majestic, lyrical reimagining of the movie than we could have expected. Its answer to Malvo’s riddle is that while it may be foolish to underestimate (like Bill) “the lengths people are capable of,” it’s just as foolish to underestimate (like Malvo) the power of decency — even toward the undeserving.
What did you think of the season finale of Fargo? Are you hoping for a season two?
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