It’s already a novel series. We’ve a televised adaptation of an iconic and beloved film in which the tone and attitude is just as important as the story and acting. It's a limited event in which there are only 10 episodes and thus a finite time with these characters. What’s more, there are a slew of impressive movie stars that have enlisted to bring the story to life.
‘Fargo’ has garnered myriad positive feedback from critics and audiences alike, and showrunner and executive producer Noah Hawley has not only earned the trust of what was initially a hesitant viewing public, but continued to push the boundaries as the show moves towards its exciting conclusion.
After last night’s Episode 8, "The Heap," we’ve jumped to the epilogue, fast-forwarding in time and reconnecting with characters that have changed drastically in their own ways.
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“I had a writer's room of four writers even though I wrote all of them, but we got together for 10 weeks and we broke Episodes 2 through 9, and there was a moment where one of the writers, Steve Blackman, suggested we do a time jump,” explained Hawley during a conference call with reporters about the pivotal change.
“I liked the idea that it felt like a real-life thing, because obviously if these cases aren't solved quickly, often they're not solved at all or the case goes cold, and then something new happens,” he continued. “I liked that idea, but it wasn’t until I literally slept on it and woke up the next morning and thought well, [Molly Solverson’s] pregnant, that’s why we're doing it.”
During a beautifully cinematic moment in the middle of "The Heap," we watch Gus Grimly go from being a dejected police officer sitting in his car to being a rather content postman deliver mail from his truck. It was his dream as a child, he had explained earlier in the episode, and now in addition to a new (and relatively) safer job, he also has a wife and a child on the way, as Molly and Gus are now together.
“We're doing it because in that year, things have happened to her personally where she and Gus are now married and she's pregnant and suddenly it is the movie in a way,” said Hawley of the parallel with the film ‘Fargo,’ in which Frances McDormand’s Marge Gunderson is the pregnant officer on the case. “It's a tricky line, but I did feel like once the pregnancy thing came to my head that the time jump felt justified on every level, and it allows us to sort of move all the characters forward and to move Lester forward to see his transformation complete and where he ends up, as well as for Molly and Gus.”
Certainly unexpected, or at least not considered, the time jump makes perfect sense in a show that goes at its own pace and does whatever it wants with characters, regardless of the convention of television and the arcs with which audiences are familiar. ‘Fargo’ has killed off characters in dramatic and sudden fashion, introducing them in the first half of the run only to have them meet their fate in the later episodes.
The narrative shift that took place last night is afforded to Hawley because of the nature of the project – a format that has been popping up more and more across cable networks in the form of these limited or anthology series.
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“What was really exciting from the story standpoint is the idea that no matter what we did, FX was going to air all 10 of them, and so, you write knowing that you're going to be judged based on the totality of the story as opposed to people who get only a couple of episodes in,” explained Hawley. “The other thing that it allowed us to do is to really lay in—to set things up to pay off down the road, and so, both from a writing standpoint and visually to really start introducing visual metaphors and themes and setting step up and also just to walk into locations where we were scouting and knowing that we were going to need a back door in Episode 8 or whatever, it was very helpful.”
Hawley didn’t view the project as a writing a TV show, but instead a 10-hour movie, one that didn’t have to adhere to act breaks or consider the future of the show. It stands to reason that ‘Fargo’ will return for a second season based on how well-received this installment has been. It’s a limited series though, and while it would have the same tone and setting, everything else would be different.
“I think if we were to do it again, you would see a new movie with new characters but one that might have some connection either to the first season or to the original movie, just not in a way hopefully that you can predict or expect.”
For now, there are two episodes left, and surely a meeting between Lester and Malvo, and a very pregnant Solverson still plagued by the mystery.
“The first episode is all about these two guys and then they're never in a room again until this point,” said Hawley of the ending in a Las Vegas bar. "Hopefully, we've managed to keep everyone entertained and create a compelling story without that element, but certainly, bringing them together now in Episode 8, I think hopefully it gives everyone exactly what they’ve been hoping for all along.”
“Then for Malvo, all you know is what you saw at the very end, but it's good. I can't wait for you to see nine, let me just say that.”
‘Fargo’ airs Tuesdays at 10/9 on FX.