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Saying Goodbye to FX’s ‘Fargo’: Does Tonight’s Season Finale Come Too Soon?

Saying Goodbye to FX's 'Fargo': Does Tonight's Season Finale Come Too Soon?

Those who are passionate about television, by and large, have come to embrace the concept of a limited-episode season. It means, after all, that shows aren’t forced to pad out storylines and time reveals for specific times of the year (specifically November and May, otherwise known as “sweeps”). 

But the less than 22 episodes approach means you have to say goodbye to a show far sooner than you might like — something that’s definitely true in the case of “Fargo,” which ends its stellar 10 episode run this evening.  

In case this is the first you’ve heard of it, the FX drama series was created by Noah Hawley while invoking the title, tone and location of the Oscar-nominated Coen Brothers masterpiece of 1996. If you’ve been watching all season long, then you’ve enjoyed the talents of its stellar cast, including Billy Bob Thorton, Martin Freeman, Colin Hanks, Keith Carradine, Keegan Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Oliver Platt, Kate Walsh and breakout newcomer Alison Tolman.  

You’ve also probably been working hard to figure out exactly how the movie and show were connected. Since the beginning, “Fargo” struggled under the pressure that comes with being inspired by such a memorable film, complicated by the fact that the exact relationship between show and film was a little murky. Coen Brothers fans have delighted in finding references to other Coen-related works in episodes — including a massive tie-in regarding a briefcase of money that is presumed lost at the end of the movie, and reappears in the show. 

But the show itself was developed without the Coens’ involvement (though Ethan Coen did review the pilot as “Yeah, good” — a rave review) and is fully credited as being the work of Hawley, who wrote every episode — representing another example of auteur-driven television that made “True Detective” such a standout earlier this year. 

READ MORE: The Top 10 TV Shows of 2014 (So Far)

Of course, “Fargo” is an auteur riffing off another auteur’s work. Rewatching the original “Fargo” in anticipation of the finale, what stands out sharply is how good the Coens are at drawing out such a very specific culture of people, aggressively nice in all the best and worst ways. The men who blush at swearing, the women whose response to a restaurant recommendation is “Is it reasonable?” — there’s something special about the North Dakotan culture as captured in those 98 minutes, a sentiment echoed through to the series. 

Does it reflect the reality of life in Bismark and its like? Not even the cast can really say. (While “Fargo” the film did shoot in Minnesota and North Dakota, the show was largely shot in Canada, specifically Calgary.)

READ MORE: ‘Fargo’ Actor Bob Odenkirk Goes Unrecognized by Interviewer and It’s No Big Deal

The only part of “Fargo” that pushes credibility for me is the concept that the North Dakota area is so full of hardened criminals and killers; or at the least, that they all keep seeming to run into each other. But “Fargo” doesn’t quite exist in reality anyway; the world of the show is just slightly more heightened, while also being clearly defined on a level only seen on the best shows. 

Having seen tonight’s finale, at this point I feel prepared to say that we may have taken “Fargo” for granted — especially given that like “True Detective,” “Fargo” is a limited run series that, should it return, will look very different thanks to cast turnover. Television fans may have enjoyed the series as it aired, but they have perhaps not savored it the way they might have, had they been conscious of the fact that the show was 10 episodes and out. It’s the downside of this amazing era of television we’re currently enjoying; when brilliant writers and actors make a regular habit of stopping by cable, it’s easy to assume that they’ll just keep doing it. 

“Fargo” may continue in some fashion after tonight’s finale, but it submitted itself as a miniseries this year for the Emmys. Plus, there’s always been a sense of an impending ending to the show’s momentum — the sensation all season long that the car was just about to go off the cliff. 

It’s the sort of momentum that differentiates a show like “Fargo,” conscious of its own mortality, from a show like CBS’s “Under the Dome,” which should be working towards something resembling an ending, but will instead be stalling for at least another season. Working towards an ending results in great television. It also results in a few tears, when you realize that, as the poet wrote, you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone. 

Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” franchise has found success with this format, but much of its appeal draws on how that Ryan Murphy and his writing staff are crazy people who do not burden themselves with things like “limits” or “sense.” It’s fun to watch, but has a much more ephemeral quality.

Meanwhile, these 10 episodes of “Fargo” have a chance of standing out as one of TV’s great novels, limited in its run but not without the potential for a sequel. The hope then becomes that should a sequel happen, it’s not only as good as this first run, but that we appreciate it on the level we should.  

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Remember the talk Malvo had with Mollys father in the cafe when he described the mysterious murders he investigated as a police man. That would serve a good basis for the story for season 2 a Young Lou soulverson and yes a young Malvo. Remember also malvos distaste for the Government and authority. Perhaps make him ex returned serviceman gone crazy after something happens to a family member partner?.

FX Chronicles

I agree with the majority of the points in this article and it’s great without any doubt. Really a wonderful post! I like it very much. Here I find everything in details. I hope I will see this type of post again in your blog.


For some reason, the fact that Fargo is only 10 episodes felt right to me, in a way that True Detective's 8 episode season did not. I felt True Detective seemed to have to rush toward the end to get to its conclusion after giving the characters and plot so much space early on. I felt that Fargo was extremely well paced and plotted from start to finish. I actually found myself wondering last week: "Are we really only 9 episodes in?!" This show was so brilliantly crafted, its story felt much more complete in 10 episodes than some shows feel in a 13 episode sseason. I cannot wait to see what Hawley does next season.


Good article. I really enjoyed this show. In my opinion, this was one of, if not the best roles Billy Bob has ever had. I also love seeing Collin Hanks. I hope his career can last as long as his dad's has.


I feel as though it was necessary for this version of Fargo to have been in a miniseries format…since they were trying to stay "true" to the events that had actually taken place, it would have to have been told in a specific amount of time. How could they create more to the story and still stay "true" to the actual events…but hey, I could be wrong…


The only part of your otherwise insightful analysis that I found pushed reality, Liz, is that you did not realize that the only scene from all 10 episodes that took place in North Dakota was the mass shootings in the FBI building which was located in Fargo. Bemidji, Duluth, Minneapolis, and even the little town from which Malvo claimed to be pastor are all in Minnesota.


I have absolutely no problem with the 12-13 episode seasons vs. the 22-23 episode seasons. Maybe for half hour shows but certainly not for hour shows.

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