Warning: The following contains big spoilers for last night's Fargo (and, I suppose, the ~20-year-old film of the same name).
Last March, we learned that a limited series based on Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo was headed to FX. Originally, the series was said to be an "adaptation" of the film, which raised more than a few wary eyebrows. Subsequent updates about the production cast a different light on the project: we were told that, rather than being an expanded adaptation of the film, director Adam Bernstein's series would be inspired by the Coen Brothers' 1996 classic. That sounded a little more reasonable.
By the time casting announcements were made and teaser trailers started arriving, the suspicion that initially greeted Fargo's announcement seemed to have evaporated entirely. Bernstein, who directed several iconic episodes of AMC's Breaking Bad, had wrangled together an impressive cast (including Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Bob Odenkirk, Colin Hanks, Julie Ann Emery, Oliver Platt, Adam Goldberg, Kate Walsh, Allison Tollman, Glenn Howerton and - oh, hell yes - Key and Peele) and the footage itself looked appropriately haunting and ominous. This thing might actually be pretty interesting!
But, still...would there really be no connection between the two Fargos? Last night, we finally got an answer.
Fans of Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo (and, according to not-entirely-accurate urban legends, uber-fans of Joel and Ethan Coen's Fargo) have long wondered what might have happened to the suitcase full of money stashed by Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi) towards the end of that film. The case is last seen being buried by a bloody and desperate Carl alongside a typically godforsaken highway somewhere in North Dakota. Carl, having deducted $80k from the case's million-dollar total, marks the case's burial site with an ice scraper before returning to his partner in order to hand over his $40k share. Clever plan. But then one thing leads to another and Carl ends up in a wood-chipper, leaving the remaining $920k sitting under a foot of snow, never to be found.
Well, almost never.
Last night's Fargo opened with a flashback that finally explained where all that missing loot went. The episode began with a much-younger Stavros Milos (the character played by Oliver Platt in Fargo's present-day timeline) discovering the case alongside that very same stretch of godforsaken highway after his car breaks down, right where Carl Showalter left it. In 2006, Milos is a grocery store magnate who claims to have bankrolled his empire with a loan from his uncle, but Milos' ex-wife led us to believe this story was bullshit. Turns out, she was right.
I found this to be an enormously satisfying turn of events. What a clever way to connect the series to the film! Regardless of what FX's press releases said, I'd been expecting some sort of connective tissue to present itself at some point, but I honestly didn't see the connection playing out like this (I'd been hoping for a Mike Yanagita cameo*; this was way better). That said, I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised: FX's Fargo has surpassed my expectations in every way, offering a weekly dose of twists and turns that've quickly made the series a must-watch in my household.
If you haven't been watching Fargo, I strongly recommend checking out back episodes via Amazon Instant (they may also be available via FX OnDemand, but I'm honestly not sure). There are just six episodes left this season, and right now it's anyone's guess as to how things will turn out...and who might survive until the end of the series. I can't wait to see where Bernstein (and writer/creator Noah Hawley) take things from here.
What'd you guys think?
* = I ALWAYS LIKED YOU SO MUCH.