Fargo is following in the recent trend of adapting a story from another medium to the TV screen. Such notable mentions include Game of Thrones, Hannibal and Bates Motel. Set in the same area as the Coen Brother’s original 1996 film, it begins with the same claim of events happening in 2006 and at the request of the survivors the names have been changed, but the rest of the story has been left untouched out of respect for the deceased.
Martin Freeman is Lester Nygaard, a sad sack of an insurance salesman, before a chance encounter in a hospital emergency room with Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) leads to multiple murders and a subsequent police investigation.
Freeman affects a convincing Minnesotan accent with aplomb and plays his character in a way reminiscent of William H Macy’s Jerry Lundegaard, all bumbling and mumbling (with a little bit of stumbling too), but with a subtle air of pent up anger and frustration at his life and those he encounters within it.
On the other side of the law are Allison Tolman and Colin Hanks as Molly Solverson and Gus Grimly respectively. Not as much time was spent developing their characters during the episode, though Grimly’s encounter with Malvo at the end of the episode certainly hints at a stronger presence as the series continues, and Solverson’s superior officer’s suggestion that she will become the next Police Chief throws a smoking Chekhov’s Gun into the mix as well.
Fargo is a show with a lot of promise, and this episode didn’t fail to deliver. Provided the writing, acting and tone can maintain this strong start, we could potentially be looking at one of the best shows of the year, and a strong rival for Game of Thrones and Hannibal for best adaptation of source material.