billy-bob-thornton-fargo-FX-750.jpg“Fargo” premiered Tuesday (April 15) on FX and with it viewers got to return to the darkly comedic world of the 1996 Coen brothers’ movie of the same name. The series premiere deftly winds its way back and forth across the line of drama and humor in the way most of the Coens’ movies do, as hitman Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) winds up in Bemidji, MN after his latest target scampers off into the woods in the dead of night.

A happenstance meeting with Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) keeps Malvo in town temporarily, setting in motion a sequence of events that will continue throughout the 10-episode season.

Executive producer Noah Hawley has said that he’s not sure anyone will be redeemable by the end of the series, so with that in mind, in lieu of a blow-by-blow recap each week, we’d like to bring you instead a look at who’s in need of redemption, who’s trying to get it and who just doesn’t seem to care.

The “Fargo” morality index, week one:

1. Vern Thurman:
The best person on the show had to die, of course. What are the stakes if the only people who bite it are a horrible bully and a nagging wife? We’ll pour one out for you, Vern. You seemed like a peach.

2. Molly Solverson: This likable and smart police officer has a lot going for her and (so far) hasn’t done anything for which she might need redemption. Her lack of self-confidence is a shame and it’s the only keeping her out of the top spot this week. Molly needs to work on being more assertive and confident, but as she puts the pieces together of just what is going on in her little town, we have a feeling that’ll come. We have no trouble deeming her the heart of the show and we hope she can stay true to that as things no doubt spiral out of control.

3. Bill Oswalt: He’s got seniority over Molly and with Chief Vern Thurman dead, it seems likely we’ll see this goober take over as the new chief of police. He doesn’t seem nearly as well-intentioned or earnest as Molly, so we think his rank at the top of this index is probably short-lived. But so far all he’s guilty of is vomiting at a crime scene.

4. Gus Grimly: Clearly a stand-up guy put into a tough situation when he encounters Lorne at what he thinks is going to be a routine traffic stop, it seems like Gus’ journey will be all about redemption for letting Lorne get away. But we understand why he did it.

5. Pearl Nygaard: She beats Sam Hess out by one spot because at least she doesn’t seem violent. But words hurt just as bad as fists sometimes, Pearl. We’re not saying you had the hammer to the face coming, but …

martin-freeman-FX-fargo.jpg6. Sam Hess:
A thug who possibly is involved in organized crime, we can’t say we’ll shed any tears for ol’ Sam. He probably should have been put down before he could procreate. Still …

7. Lester Nygaard:
Sorry, downtrodden old pal. Your life kinda sucks, but you don’t get to go around beating your wife to death. Sure, the poster says “What if you’re right and they’re wrong?”, but in this case, you’re wrong. That’s not OK. Can Lester be redeemed? He certainly didn’t speak up when Molly arrived and found her boss dead.

8. Lorne Malvo: Oh, you’re going to be fun to watch. Lorne is not a good guy, but he also seems to have his own moral compass going on. He doesn’t randomly kill (he could have easily killed Gus at the traffic stop) and is it just us, or did he feel bad about the deer he hit? He’s at the bottom of the list because he does kill people for a living, but we wonder how long before someone else usurps his spot down here.

What did you think of the “Fargo” premiere?

Posted by:Andrea Reiher

TV critic by way of law school, Andrea Reiher enjoys everything from highbrow drama to clever comedy to the best reality TV has to offer. Her TV heroes include CJ Cregg, Spencer Hastings, Diane Lockhart, Juliet O'Hara and Buffy Summers. TV words to live by: "I'm a slayer, ask me how."