Martin Freeman as the lead role was more than enough of a draw for me. Freeman can do a dramatic reading of the telephone book and I’d watch him.
The first hour or so of “Fargo” was meh. It was just good enough to keep me interested in the plot, but if it stayed like that I probably wasn’t going to watch the next episode. Still, I really was hoping that it would get better.
And it did.
Oh MAN it did.
In one (quite graphic, I might add) scene the show justified the entire first hour of the episode in a shocking moment that flipped the whole thing on its head. I suppose it was predictable – inevitable, really – but when it happened I practically jumped out of my seat. The stakes spiked from “semi-interesting” to “enormous” in about thirty seconds, and that was it. I was hooked. The whole rest of the episode had me laughing maniacally (admittedly rather inappropriately, considering the gravity of some of the things occurring) as things spun out of control. The episode ended not exactly on a cliffhanger, but certainly on superb groundwork for a terrific next episode.
As for performances Freeman, as usual, was dynamite. In a role closer to Arthur Dent than to John Watson Freeman was perfectly believable as a hapless, loser salesman, and when the aforementioned climax arrived he was equally believable. Billy Bob Thornton as Lorne Malvo, an amoral, murderous loner with questionable loyalties, was perfectly cast, and played a complex role to perfection. He put an oddly comedic spin on the character that worked extremely well in what was clearly a black comedy.
It wasn’t perfect, of course. There was a brief but entirely unnecessary sex scene stuffed into the middle of the episode that felt really awkward to me, and in general the whole first half was rather underwhelming and only did just enough to keep my interest.
But it was well worth it.
“Fargo” is highly recommended, and you can be sure I’ll take time out to sit down and watch the next episode as well.