Fargo
Season 1
Promotional poster
Starring
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes10
Release
Original networkFX
Original releaseApril 15 (2014-04-15) –
June 17, 2014 (2014-06-17)
Season chronology
Next →
Season 2
List of episodes

The first season of the anthology black comedycrime drama television series Fargo, premiered on April 15, 2014, on FX. Starring Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks and Martin Freeman, the season consisted of ten episodes and concluded its initial airing on June 17, 2014.

Set from January 2006 to February 2007, the season follows hitman Lorne Malvo (Thornton) who stops at a hospital in Bemidji, Minnesota following a car accident and influences local mild-mannered insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Freeman) with his violent and deceptive ways. Their meeting sets forth a series of murders throughout the city. Meanwhile, Deputy Molly Solverson (Tolman) of Bemidji and Officer Gus Grimly (Hanks) of Duluth attempt to solve several crimes across the state that they believe may be linked to Malvo and Nygaard.

Bob Odenkirk, Keith Carradine, Joey King, Glenn Howerton, Kate Walsh, Russell Harvard, Adam Goldberg, Oliver Platt, Keegan-Michael Key, and Jordan Peele all make recurring appearances.

Filming of the first season began in Calgary, Alberta, in late 2013 and concluded in 2014. The first season received acclaim from critics, praising its writing, directing and the performances of Thornton, Tolman, Hanks and Freeman. The season won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries, along with Outstanding Directing and Outstanding Casting, as well as fifteen other nominations. It was nominated for five Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Miniseries or Television Film and Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film for Thornton's performance as Malvo.

Cast

Main

Recurring

Guest stars

Episodes

See also: List of Fargo episodes

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
11"The Crocodile's Dilemma"Adam BernsteinNoah HawleyApril 15, 2014 (2014-04-15)XFO010012.65[1]
In January 2006, Lorne Malvo hits a deer while driving on a highway outside Bemidji, Minnesota. A nearly naked man escapes from the trunk and runs into the woods. In town, insurance salesman Lester Nygaard runs into his childhood bully Sam Hess, who intimidates Lester and causes him to break his nose. Lester meets Malvo in the hospital and tells him about Hess; Malvo casually suggests murdering him, which Lester neither approves nor rejects. Malvo later kills Hess, telling Lester he never said no to the idea. Police chief Vern Thurman and deputy Molly Solverson discover the bodies of both Hess and Malvo's kidnapped man, and learn that Lester was overheard discussing Hess with Malvo. At his house, Lester gets into an argument with his verbally abusive wife, Pearl, and impulsively kills her with a hammer. Vern arrives to question him, but Malvo, whom Lester summoned to help, kills Vern and disappears. Lester knocks himself out to make the killings look like a home invasion. In Duluth, Malvo is pulled over for speeding by officer Gus Grimly, but threatens Gus into letting him go.
22"The Rooster Prince"Adam BernsteinNoah HawleyApril 22, 2014 (2014-04-22)XFO010022.04[2]
Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers, two hitmen, arrive in Bemidji searching for Hess' killer. Hess's attorney directs them to a strip club with a description of Malvo. After abducting the wrong man, Wrench and Numbers drop him into an ice fishing hole. Meanwhile, Bill Oswalt is promoted to police chief, and he and Molly immediately clash over suspects. She suspects Lester is connected to the driver in the car accident as well as the murders of Hess, Pearl, and Vern; Oswalt believes a lone drifter was responsible. In Duluth, Stavros Milos, the "Supermarket King" of Minnesota, hires Malvo to uncover who is blackmailing him. News about the Bemidji murders reaches the Duluth Police Department, and Gus realizes the car he pulled over could have been tied to it.
33"A Muddy Road"Randall EinhornNoah HawleyApril 29, 2014 (2014-04-29)XFO010031.87[3]
Molly learns that the frozen man found in the woods had been abducted from his workplace in St. Paul, probably due to gambling debts; a security camera image shows the kidnapper's partially obscured face. Wrench and Numbers observe Lester meeting Gina Hess, Sam's widow, regarding Sam's life insurance policy. They later visit Lester's office to interrogate him, but leave when Molly unexpectedly arrives. Molly lets Lester glimpse Malvo's photo, and his reaction convinces her he recognizes him. Malvo identifies Don Chumph, Mrs. Milos' fitness instructor, as Stavros' blackmailer. He takes over the blackmail scheme and begins exploiting Stavros' staunch religious beliefs, killing Stavros' dog, replacing his medication with Adderall, and causing pig's blood to flow out of Stavros' shower head. Gus finally reports to his lieutenant that he let Malvo off for speeding, then visits Bemidji to discuss the murders with Molly.
44"Eating the Blame"Randall EinhornNoah HawleyMay 6, 2014 (2014-05-06)XFO010041.70[4]
In 1987, the Milos family car runs out of gas along a deserted highway in winter. Heavily in debt, Stavros prays for help. Stepping outside the car, he finds a satchel filled with money buried in the snow. In 2006, Malvo continues terrorizing Stavros and leads him to believe himself subject to biblical plagues. Gus spots Malvo near Stavros' house and arrests him. He calls Molly to Duluth, but Chief Oswalt overrules her and goes instead. Malvo provides documentation identifying himself as a Christian minister with a plausible alibi, leading to his release; Gus confronts him as he leaves. Numbers and Wrench kidnap Lester, but he escapes and assaults a nearby police officer to get arrested and taken to safety. Wrench and Numbers later get themselves arrested and placed in Lester's cell.
55"The Six Ungraspables"Colin BuckseyNoah HawleyMay 13, 2014 (2014-05-13)XFO010051.60[5]
In jail, Wrench and Numbers forcefully obtain Malvo's name from Lester. They are released, but Lester is taken to the hospital with a severe infection from a stray shotgun pellet that struck his hand when Vern was shot by Malvo. Lester had been concealing the wound, knowing it proves he was in the room when Vern was killed. With this new evidence, Molly convinces Oswalt that the recent events are related. With Stavros close to paying the blackmail demand, Malvo locks Chumph in Chumph's kitchen pantry overnight to prevent him from ruining the scheme. After Malvo drives Stavros home, he spots Gus parked near the house and follows him home. Outside, Malvo is confronted by Gus' neighbor, whom Malvo threatens before driving away.
66"Buridan's Ass"Colin BuckseyNoah HawleyMay 20, 2014 (2014-05-20)XFO010061.80[6]
Malvo has Chumph call Stavros, who is ready to pay off the ransom. Malvo then restrains Chumph to a bench in his entryway, tapes an unloaded shotgun in his hands, then uses a rifle to fire randomly into the neighborhood. He leaves before police storm the house, killing Chumph. In Duluth, Molly and Gus are alerted to gunshots and arrive at a car wreck staged by Wrench and Numbers to trap Malvo. A gunfight ensues amidst a snowy whiteout. Malvo ambushes Numbers, forces him to reveal who hired him, then kills him. A blinded Gus hears shots and accidentally shoots Molly. Stavros buries the blackmail money in the same spot he found the satchel of cash. He believes God has now forgiven him for having taken the satchel, but later discovers his bodyguard and son have been killed in a freak auto accident. In Bemidji, Lester sneaks out of the hospital and plants the murder weapon and other incriminating evidence in his brother Chazz's gun cabinet after Chazz disowns him. He also places an unloaded handgun in his nephew Gordo's backpack, then returns undetected to his hospital room.
77"Who Shaves the Barber?"Scott WinantNoah HawleyMay 27, 2014 (2014-05-27)XFO010071.52[7]
The gun Lester placed in Gordo's backpack is discovered at his school, prompting police to search Chazz's home and discover the evidence Lester planted. Lester concocts a story to the police framing Chazz for Pearl and Vern's murders, leading to Chazz's incarceration and Lester's release. Lester later seduces Gina Hess with false promises of inflating her payout from Sam's insurance policy, despite knowing it was cancelled. An injured Molly questions a hospitalized Wrench and tells him Numbers is dead, but Wrench, who is deaf, refuses to cooperate. Malvo travels to Fargo, North Dakota and murders 22 people associated with Wrench and Numbers' employers; the two FBI agents stationed nearby notice the scene too late.
88"The Heap"Scott WinantNoah HawleyJune 3, 2014 (2014-06-03)XFO010081.86[8]
Lester gains a newfound confidence after evading justice for the murders, throwing away Pearl's belongings and starting a new life. Gina, accompanied by her two sons, storms into Lester's office demanding payment from Sam's cancelled insurance policy, but Lester sternly rebuffs her and the two boys, impressing his coworker Linda Park. Molly returns to work and unsuccessfully attempts to reopen the investigation into Lester. In Duluth, Malvo kills a police guard then tells Wrench that he killed Numbers, giving him the keys to his handcuffs and encouraging him to try avenging Numbers' death in the future. In Fargo, FBI agents Budge and Pepper, who were on surveillance during Malvo's rampage, are demoted to filing clerks. A year later, Gus, now a mailman, is happily married to Molly, who is pregnant. In Las Vegas, Lester, who has married Linda, receives an award for salesman of the year. While at the hotel bar, he spots Malvo, who has changed his appearance and name.
99"A Fox, a Rabbit, and a Cabbage"Matt ShakmanNoah HawleyJune 10, 2014 (2014-06-10)XFO010091.90[9]
Lester confronts Malvo, following him and his companions into the elevator and demanding that Malvo acknowledge him. Instead, Malvo kills his two friends and his new fiancee, furious that Lester made him blow his cover and cost him a large bounty. Lester strikes Malvo with his award and escapes the hotel with Linda, insisting they immediately fly home. The next day, the Las Vegas police department reviews hotel surveillance footage and calls the Bemidji police to report Lester as a witness in the murders. Molly interviews Lester at his new house, but he pleads ignorance. In Fargo, Budge and Pepper act on a new tip from Molly regarding Malvo and travel to Bemidji to meet with her, where they are impressed by the evidence she has amassed. Malvo arrives in Bemidji, where Gus briefly spots him driving by. Lester hastily arranges a vacation with Linda; the two stop by his office to retrieve their passports and cash, but Lester, fearing Malvo's presence, sends Linda into the office wearing his hooded jacket. He watches Malvo shoot Linda after mistaking her for Lester.
1010"Morton's Fork"Matt ShakmanNoah HawleyJune 17, 2014 (2014-06-17)XFO010101.98[10]
Lester erases evidence of his presence from the scene of Linda's murder before anonymously calling the police to report gunshots. The police discover Linda's body and question Lester before releasing him. Molly's father Lou, a retired cop turned coffee shop owner, tells Gus that Malvo may be back in Bemidji. Gus later spots Malvo exit a cabin and drive away. Budge and Pepper drive Lester home, unaware that Malvo is following them in a car stolen from a dealership. The agents remain on watch outside Lester's house, but Malvo ambushes and kills them both. Lester hides from Malvo and sets a bear trap in his bedroom that maims Malvo's leg, forcing him to flee the house. Malvo returns to his cabin to treat his injury, but Gus surprises Malvo and fatally shoots him. He later shows Molly a briefcase containing Malvo's various tape recordings, including that of Lester confessing to killing Pearl. Two weeks later, police track Lester to Montana, where he attempts to flee, only to fall through thin ice to his death. Molly is informed of the scene at home, where she and Gus celebrate the end of the case.

Production

In 2012, it was announced that FX, with the Coen brothers as executive producers, was developing a new television series based on the 1996 Academy Award-winning film Fargo.[11] It was later announced that adaptation would be a 10-episode limited series.[12]

Series creator Noah Hawley served as the sole writer for all ten episodes of the season, while the task of directing was given to Adam Bernstein, Randall Einhorn, Colin Bucksey, Scott Winant and Matt Shakman. On August 2, 2013, it was announced that Billy Bob Thornton had signed on to star in the series.[13] On September 27, 2013, Martin Freeman also signed on to star. On October 3, 2013, it was announced that Colin Hanks was cast in the role of Duluth police officer Gus Grimly.[14] Production began in fall 2013 with filming taking place in and around Calgary, Alberta.[15]

The season featured many guest appearances, such as Bob Odenkirk, Adam Goldberg, Russell Harvard, Oliver Platt, Glenn Howerton, Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Keith Carradine, Kate Walsh, Julie Ann Emery, Rachel Blanchard, Joshua Close, Susan Park, Gary Valentine, Stephen Root and Shawn Doyle.

Reception

Critical response

The first season of Fargo received critical acclaim. It holds a Metacritic score of 85 out of 100 based on 40 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[16] On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 97% rating based on 141 reviews, with an average rating of 8.45/10. The site's summary says that "Fargo presents more quirky characters and a new storyline that is expertly executed with dark humor and odd twists."[17]

Robert Bianco of USA Today gave it a highly positive review, praising the performances of the cast and "the depth of its characterizations and the individuality of its approach."[18] Brian Tallerico of RogerEbert.com acclaimed the series and wrote, "With an amazing ensemble driven by great performances from top to bottom, an incredibly smart writers' room, brilliant callbacks to the original that feel more inspired than forced, and a filmmaking style that feels as cinematic as this grand Minnesotan tragedy deserves, Fargo is one of the most addictive new shows of the year."[19] However, Emily Nussbaum of The New Yorker criticized the series for its sexualized violence and its lack of ambiguity and pathos.[20]

Awards and nominations

Main article: List of awards and nominations received by Fargo (TV series)

Year Association Category Nominated artist/work Result
2014 15th American Film Institute Awards[21]
Television Program of the Year Fargo Won
Crime Thriller Awards 2014[22]
Best International TV Series Nominated
Best Leading Actor Martin Freeman Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Billy Bob Thornton Nominated
4th Critics' Choice Television Awards[23]
Best Miniseries Fargo Won
Best Actor in a Movie or Miniseries Martin Freeman Nominated
Billy Bob Thornton Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Movie or Miniseries Colin Hanks Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Movie or Miniseries Allison Tolman Won
Gold Derby TV Awards 2014[24]
Best Movie/Miniseries Fargo Won
Best Movie/Mini Actor Billy Bob Thornton Nominated
Martin Freeman Nominated
Performer of the Year Nominated
Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actor Colin Hanks Nominated
Bob Odenkirk Nominated
Best Movie/Mini Supporting Actress Allison Tolman Won
Breakthrough Performer of the Year Won
Joey Awards 2014[25]
Young Actor – Age 12 or Younger in a TV Series Drama – Supporting/Recurring Spencer Drever Won
18th Online Film & TV Association Awards[26]
Best Miniseries Fargo Won
Best Ensemble in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Best Direction of a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Best Writing of a Motion Picture or Miniseries Nominated
Best Music in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Editing in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Cinematography in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Production Design in a Non-Series Won
Best Sound in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Visual Effects in a Non-Series Nominated
Best Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Martin Freeman Nominated
Billy Bob Thornton Nominated
Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Colin Hanks Nominated
Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture or Miniseries Allison Tolman Nominated
66th Primetime Emmy Awards[27]
Outstanding Miniseries Fargo Won
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Martin Freeman Nominated
Billy Bob Thornton Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or Movie Colin Hanks Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or Movie Allison Tolman Nominated
Outstanding Directing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Adam Bernstein ("The Crocodile's Dilemma") Nominated
Colin Bucksey ("Buridan's Ass") Won
Outstanding Writing for a Miniseries, Movie, or Dramatic Special Noah Hawley ("The Crocodile's Dilemma") Nominated
66th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards[27]
Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Rachel Tenner, Jackie Lind, and Stephanie Gorin Won
Outstanding Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie Dana Gonzales ("Buridan's Ass") Nominated
Matt Lloyd ("The Crocodile's Dilemma") Nominated
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Miniseries or Movie Regis Kimble ("Buridan's Ass") Nominated
Skip MacDonald ("The Crocodile's Dilemma") Nominated
Bridget Durnford ("The Rooster Prince") Nominated
Outstanding Makeup for a Miniseries or Movie (Non-Prosthetic) Gail Kennedy, Joanne Preece, Gunther Schetterer, and Keith Sayer Nominated
Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie, or Special Jeff Russo ("The Crocodile's Dilemma") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special Frank Laratta, Kevin Buchholz, John Peccatiello, Skye Lewin, Jason Lawrence, Brent Planiden, Adam DeCoster, and Andrew Morgado ("The Crocodile's Dilemma") Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Miniseries or Movie Mike Playfair, David Raines, Mark Server, and Chris Philp ("The Crocodile's Dilemma") Nominated
30th TCA Awards[28]
Outstanding New Program Fargo Nominated
Outstanding Achievement in Movies, Miniseries, and Specials Nominated
16th Women's Image Network Awards[29]
Made-for-TV Movie/Mini-Series Nominated
Actress Made-for-TV Movie/Miniseries Allison Tolman Nominated
2015 65th ACE Eddie Awards[30]
Best Edited Mini-Series or Motion Picture for Television Regis Kimble ("Buridan's Ass") Nominated
19th Art Directors Guild Awards[31]
TV movie or Mini-Series John Blackie and Warren Alan Young Nominated
30th Artios Awards[32]
TV movie or Mini-Series Rachel Tenner, Jackie Lind (location casting), Stephanie Gorin (location casting), Charlene Lee (associate) Won
ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards 2015[33]
Top Television Series Jeff Russo Won
Banff Rockie Awards 2015[34]
Serial Drama Fargo Nominated
Camerimage 2015[35]
Best Pilot Matthew J. Lloyd (The Crocodile's Dilemma) Nominated
51st CAS Awards[36]
Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing – TV Movie or Mini-Series Michael Playfair, CAS (production mixer), David Raines, CAS (re-recording mixer), Mark Server (re-recording mixer), Andrew Morgado (ADR mixer)
(for "The Rooster Prince")
Nominated
6th Dorian Awards[37]
TV Drama of the Year Fargo Nominated
72nd Golden Globe Awards[38]
Best Miniseries or Television Film Won
Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film Martin Freeman Nominated
Billy Bob Thornton Won
Best Actress – Miniseries or Television Film Allison Tolman Nominated
Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Colin Hanks Nominated
International Film Music Critics Association Awards 2014[39]
Best Original Score for a Television Series Jeff Russo Nominated
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild Awards 2015[40]
Mini-Series or TV Movie Contemporary Make-Up Gail Kennedy and Joanne Preece Won
Mini-Series or TV Movie Period and/or Character Make-up Chris Glimsdale and Keith Sayer Nominated
Mini-Series or TV Movie Special Make-up Effects Gail Kennedy, David Trainor and Gunther Schetterer Nominated
Mini-Series or TV Movie Contemporary Hair Styling Gail Kennedy and Joanne Preece Nominated
62nd MPSE Golden Reel Awards[41][42]
TV Short Form Music Score Skye Lewin, MPSE (supervising music editor)
(for "The Crocodile's Dilemma")
Won
TV Short Form – Effects/Foley Frank Laratta (supervising sound editor), Kevin Buchholz (supervising sound editor), John Peccatiello (sound designer), Andrew Morgado (supervising foley editor) & Adam Decoster (foley artist)
(for "Buridan's Ass")
Nominated
74th Peabody Awards[43]
Peabody Award Fargo Won
26th Producers Guild of America Awards[44]
Outstanding Producer of Long-Form Television Adam Bernstein, John Cameron, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Michael Frislev, Noah Hawley, Warren Littlefield, Chad Oakes and Kim Todd Won
Royal Television Society Programme Awards 2015[45]
Best International TV Series Fargo Won
19th Satellite Awards[46]
Best Television Series – Drama Nominated
Best Actor – Television Series Drama Martin Freeman Nominated
Billy Bob Thornton Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Allison Tolman Nominated
21st Screen Actors Guild Awards[47]
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Miniseries or Television Movie Billy Bob Thornton Nominated
Screenwriters Choice Awards 2014[48]
Best Television Drama Noah Hawley Nominated

Home media release

On October 14, 2014, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released the first season of Fargo on DVD and Blu-ray. In addition to all ten episodes, both DVD and Blu-ray disc formats include audio commentaries on three episodes by Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman and Noah Hawley, deleted scenes, three behind-the-scenes featurettes, and in select sets, an exclusive, collectible beanie.[49]

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