Northern Lights

Fargo Pilot Overview

Decrease Font Size Increase Font Size Text Size Print This Page

Initially when dropped into the small town of Bemidji, Minnesota we are greeted with a very ominous screen telling us that the following is based on true events. Anyone who has seen the namesake however will look straight past the Coen brothers’ little inside joke, never the less I think it adds to the realism of the characters. Fargo is known for its suspenseful and unexpected scenes that can turn from an argumentative chat to someone being thrown into a wood chipper. The television series is no different.

We see two headlights emerge from the distance on a remote road during the dark of night. Then we close in on the devious eyes of the man driving, as they dart back and forth from the road to a black brief case on his passenger seat. Out of nowhere a deer runs across the road and into the car bonnet. The car swerves into a ditch. All is silent until the trunk clicks open and a nearly naked man falls out and starts to sprint across a snowy field toward some woods. Our driver, with stiff and slow movements gets out of the car and looks toward the escaping man. Defeated, he turns to the injured deer as it fights for life.
Already we have conflict. We can see that the man driving not only had someone trapped in his trunk, he was also holding onto a briefcase. Which is a very familiar sight for Fargo fans. The briefcase in the film was the main cause of tragedy. It was filled with money and fought over by almost every character.

We are then introduced to Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) and his wife Pearl during a relatable conversation about the sound of the broken washing machine in the basement. Their relationship immediately feels a little off. Lester keeps zoning out whilst they are talking. Pearl slips in a line or two about how Lester is less successful than his brother. We then see Lester exit his house to a snow filled street wearing a very vibrant orange coat heading off to his Insurance sales job.

Already, we have had many parallels between the series and the 1996 film. Firstly, the surnames of the two main characters are both Scandinavian sounding: Nygaard and Lundegaard. Also both characters seem to be small and quiet. They are also both in dead end sales jobs.

After a less than successful day of selling insurance, Lester is looking at a new washing machine through the store window, knowing deep down he’ll struggle to afford it. He is then interrupted by one of his 6’5” high school bullies, Sam Hess, and his two sons. After a few words of intimidation, Hess and his sons force Lester from the relative safety of the high street to the escalated danger of a side ally. Sam swings for a fake punch but Lester, not knowing the intention of Hess, dives backward into the store window nose first.

By Daniel Cowell

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *