Last week’s episode of Fargo was a bit of a step down from the fantastic series premiere, which had me worried about the show’s future. Looking back, it wasn’t that “The Rooster Prince” was a bad episode, it was just a bit slower paced and spent much of its time setting things up for later. Luckily for us, “A Muddy Road” builds upon those foundations wonderfully, and is the best episode of the series yet.
While the first two episodes focused most of their time on Martin Freeman’s Lester Nygaard, this week he took a back seat so that we could follow the other two stars of the show: Alison Tolman’s Deputy Molly Solverson, and Billy Bob Thornton’s creepily hilarious Lorne Malvo. The two characters are in different places doing different things, but before long their paths begin to intertwine, as Molly comes closer to piecing the clues of the Bemidji triple homicides together.
This is an effective way of telling multiple character stories, while also allowing them to organically come together in a satisfying way. While we’re witnessing Malvo’s latest chaotic tendencies, we’re seeing Molly’s keen detective sense not only get her into trouble, but get her ever closer to the truth. It’s like we’re seeing a mystery unfold from all angles, making Fargo a unique television experience.
The episode opens with a flashback, showing how Malvo kidnapped a snivelling office employee, dragged him out of his cubical and all the way to the parking garage by the tie, cut off his clothes, and threw him in the trunk. It’s a great scene made even better by sharp editing, and manages to show us just how effective and scary Malvo can be.
We see the aftermath of the show’s opening car crash, and follow as the man in the trunk flees from the vehicle only to fall and die in the woods. Deputy Molly Solverson is our bridge from the flashback to the present day, as she’s investigating the man’s mysterious death, which leads her to the office building. A security camera gives her a glimpse of Malvo, and before long she begins to connect the dots that lead back to Lester Nygaard.
Allison Tolman’s performance has been one of the best in the series so far, and she continues to shine this week. In the first two episodes, she felt very much like a parallel universe version of Marge Gunderson, played by Frances McDormand in the riginal film. Now that she’s given a bit more time to shine and showcase her talent, Tolman has made the role her own and made us fall in love with Molly, which only has me worried about her fate. We’ve seen how dangerous the truth can be, especially with so many different players at work simultaneously.