Archive of ‘Fargo’ category

What do Fargo’s Episode Titles Mean? (Season Two)


I’ve received quite a few comments requesting a season 2 update. There is already a short and dirty description on Reddit, but I’ve written my own longer version down below. While Season one’s title meanings revolved around riddles, season two is drawn from Modernist literature and art. I just realized that Season 2 is available on Amazon so I’ll be periodically updating the descriptions below as I belatedly work my way through the series.

Fargo: Season 1 is now available on Amazon. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should!

Episode List

Season Two
Episode 1: Waiting for Dutch
Episode 2: Before the Law
Episode 3: The Myth of Sisyphus

Fargo (1996) versus Fargo (2014)

fargo movie poster

After spending the last two months watching FX series Fargo, I finally watched the Coen Brothers’ film Fargo (1996) last night. I was surprised how tonally different the two were. In the film, William H. Macy’s character Jerry Lundegaard hatches a hair brained scheme to have his wife kidnapped and ransomed, and his plan is seriously derailed by a sociopath hitman Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare), an overbearing father-in-law (Harve Presnell), and hardworking police chief (Frances McDormand). In the series, a stiff cold wind named Lorne Malvo blows into the small town of Bemidiji and actively and intentionally sows chaos by murdering a local businessman.… Read more »

Fargo Finale: The Bad End Unhappily, The Good Unluckily

Fargo TV Series

What is Morton’s Fork? Morton’s Fork is a dilemma with two negative outcomes. To read more about the meanings behind Fargo episode titles, click here.

In the episode “Who Shaves the Barber,” Lorne Malvo springs Mr Wrench from the hospital after telling him a story about a bear who chewed off its own leg to escape a trap only to die soon after…on his own terms. In a wry sense of irony, Lorne Malvo is essentially done in by Lester Nygaard’s bear trap. Suffering from blood loss, pain, and a hefty amount of painkillers, Lorne Malvo is significantly weakened enough for Gus Grimly to shoot him dead.… Read more »

Fargo: Linda the Sacrificial Lamb and Cabbage

Fargo TV Series

The title of this week’s Fargo episode comes from a variation of the River Crossing. To read more about this and other Fargo episode titles, please see my blog post “What do Fargo Episode Titles Mean?
How do you get a fox, a rabbit, and a cabbage across a river? Agent Pepper asks.
With a Turducken! Agent Budge replies.

The real answer is that in a pinch foxes will eat cabbages too! Poor Linda (Susan Park), instead of being a Cinderella, you are a cabbage. In the aptly named “The Fox, Rabbit, and Cabbage,” Lester Nygaard sacrifices his new wife Linda –a cabbage in a rabbit skin– to Lorne Malvo’s the fox.… Read more »

Fargo: Who Will Come Out on Top of the Heap

Fargo TV Series

The title of this episode is a reference of Sorites paradox. Agent Budge tells a variation of the paradox, when he asks if a filing room is still a filing room when it has all the files are removed one by one. To read more about it and the meaning behind other episode titles, click here.

After springing a bear from a steel trap (Russel Harvard’s Mr Wrench), Lorne Malvo disappears and the residents of Duluth, Bemidiji, and Fargo gradually pull themselves together. Half the episode deals with the immediate fallout of Lorne Malvo (Fargo shooting, Duluth shooting, birth of Lester the Sociopath) before skipping forward a year.… Read more »

Fargo: Who Shaves the Barber? Not Law Enforcement

Fargo TV Series

Last week’s episode “Buridan’s Ass” was a tough act to follow; “Who Shaves the Barber” is not a bad episode judged by itself, but it ranks middling among the seven released episodes. (If you want to learn more about the Barber Paradox, click here.) While I would never ever characterize Fargo as a realistic show, there were several moments in “Who Shaves the Barber” that shook me out of the story.

There are in no particular order:
1) Lester Nygaard’s transformation from a bumbling man swallowed up by his orange parka to a smooth talking sex machine. Has he been replaced by an alien?… Read more »

Fargo Buridan’s Ass: God, Fate, and the Animal Within

Fargo TV Series

Lester Nygaard’s transformation from anxious, inept insurance salesman, timid husband, and all around loser to a scheming sociopath reminds me of James McAvoy’s character in the terrifically bad movie Wanted or Walter White in Breaking Bad. All they needed was that perfect amount of stress to unhinge/ transform them. James McAvoy became a bullet bending superhero, Walter White became a drug kingpin, and Lester Nygaard…well, I suppose he feels slightly more liberated. And what do you know, he might just get away with it for a while, because Molly Solverson is currently out of commission.

Gus Grimly gripes to Molly Solverson about the duplicity of humans, and compares us to dogs.… Read more »

What do Fargo’s Episode Titles Mean?

the muddy road

In Season One, most of the episodes are named after a riddle or a paradox. Creator Noah Hawley has a particular fondness for Buddhist koans, which are paradoxical anecdotes or riddles without solutions. They are used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and provoke enlightenment.

Although it’s too early to tell for sure, Season Two seems to have a different bent.

Without further ado, here are a list of meanings behind Fargo episodes.

Fargo: Season 1 is now available on Amazon. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you definitely should!

Episode List

Season One
Episode 1: The Crocodile’s Dilemma
Episode 2: The Rooster Prince
Episode 3: A Muddy Road
Episode 4: Eating the Blame
Episode 5: The Six Ungraspables
Episode 6: Buridan’s Ass
Episode 7: Who Shaves the Barber
Episode 8: The Heap
Episode 9: A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage
Episode 10: Morton’s Fork

Season Two
Episode 1: Waiting for Dutch

Episode 1: The Crocodile’s Dilemma

The premise states that a crocodile, who has stolen a child, promises the father that his son will be returned if and only if he can correctly predict whether or not the crocodile will return the child.… Read more »

Fargo’s The Six Ungraspables is a Tangle of Yarns

Fargo TV Series

A monk once asked Ummon, “What is the ultimate formless timeless reality?”
Ummon answered him with “The Six Ungraspables.” The Graspables are the five senses and the mind.

For all its Biblical references, the title of this episode comes from Zen Buddhism. At face value, it seems pretty straightforward. What is reality but an interpretation of sensory data? And yet, what an unsatisfying answer. Perfect really for an unsatisfying episode.

Fargo as a series has always been particularly rich in storytelling, not only do the characters enjoy swapping stories but even the thugs appreciate books. Mr Wrench’s first words (Russell Harvard) as translated by Mr Numbers (Adam Goldberg) is an inquiry about the library.… Read more »

Fargo’s Eating the Blame: Superduos

Fargo TV Series

“Eating the Blame” is Fargo’s strongest and eerily bloodless episode with Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) pulling out all stops as a grinning Jack-O-Lantern evil incarnate playing a timid Lutheran minister. As he escapes from Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks), he can’t help but toy with him.

“How can you just lie like that,” Gus asks.
Lorne answers his question with a question about why humans are so good at differentiating between shades of green. Gus has to ask resident smart girl Molly (Allison Tolman), who tells him it gives us an advantage over predators.

Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) is undeniably prey, but others like Stavros (Oliver Platt) are mistaken what side of the food chain they’re on.… Read more »

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