The “Fargo” TV series on FX might be based on the 1996 Coen brothers’ movie, but its premiere felt as new as the pure white snow covering up the dead body with the blue nose in the teasers (insert obligatory “You betcha!” joke here).
Yes, the series definitely paid homage to its predecessor, but Billy Bob Thornton’s character was a revelation. He was obviously filling in for Peter Stormare’s killer character from the movie, but Thornton’s Lorne Malvo has a lot more to say. Luckily, most of it is either funny or fascinating. The hitman thrives on causing chaos, and he’s a little like the mischievous imaginary devil on your shoulder who’s constantly trying to steer you in the wrong direction. Unfortunately for those who have the misfortune to meet Malvo, he’s very good at drowning out the other guy with the halo (or maybe he just strangled him with it).
In honor of Billy Bob Thornton’s performance, here’s a look at manipulative Malvo’s best moments from the “Fargo” premiere.
His Hit Freebie
Bullies, beware – Malvo isn’t going to let you get away with harassing wee insurance salesmen with nagging wives. It’s weirdly wonderful that Malvo decided to take care of Lester Nygaard’s (Martin Freeman) pest problem for free, but he opened up a whole new can of worms by unleashing Lester’s bloodlust. It’s almost like Malvo was sympathetic to Lester’s situation, and he was obviously eager to take care of it – he killed Sam Hess (Kevin O’Grady) without Lester ever saying yes to his grisly proposition. However, he pointed out that Lester didn’t say no, either. It seems like Malvo has some kind of twisted moral code, but it could end up tripping him up now that it looks like Lester is going to try to pin his wife’s murder on the hitman.
Prank Phone Calls
Malvo really enjoys messing with people. In the “Fargo” premiere, Malvo got his kicks with two prank phone calls. For one of the pranks, the master manipulator planted an idea in the head of a gullible hotel clerk who was pouting after getting reprimanded by his boss. Malvo pulled a few puppet strings and had the boy urinating in the gas tank of his boss’s car in a matter of minutes. To complete the prank, he called the boss lady and tattled on the troublemaker that he created.
Another prank call involved ringing up the doltish older son of recently-deceased Sam Hess and convincing the kid that his dad left his entire estate to his younger brother. This resulted in the younger son getting beaten with a shovel. Malvo didn’t get to witness the results of that prank, but merely knowing that his actions would result in chaos was enough for him. He probably also wanted the teens to pay for being just as brutish as their old man. It just simply wasn’t enough to take their dad away by stabbing him in the back of the neck while he had sex with a stripper.
Strange Speeches About Dragons and Pet Bacteria
Malvo is a frightening philosopher who has a major problem with authority. However, he doesn’t rage against law enforcers by killing every cop he encounters. In fact, the hitman was kind enough to give Tom Hanks’ son an out when the cop pulled over the wrong man. Officer Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) was given an earful while contemplating his fate: Should he risk his life trying to arrest this bad guy, or should he let him go knowing that he’ll get to live to see another day?
Here’s part of the speech that made Grimly back down: “Some roads you shouldn’t go down because maps used to say there’d be dragons there. Now they don’t, but that don’t mean the dragons aren’t there.” Malvo isn’t going to pay extra for his imaginary map friends when he stays at a hotel. After being informed about his hotel’s pet policy, Malvo decided to sass the hotel clerk by asking if fish, spiders, mice or bacteria count as pets. Luckily, the clerk saved herself from becoming fish food by letting him know that he wouldn’t have to pay extra for his pet bacteria. This is what Malvo thinks of your stupid rules about hotel pets (as told to Lester): “Your problem is that you spend your whole life thinking there are rules. There aren’t.”
Malvo’s hairstyle is horrible, but it’s a part of what makes his character so great – he’s ruthless an deadly, but he looks like Jim Carrey from “Dumb and Dumber.” You might guess that this little boy haircut references the laughable ‘do that Javier Bardem’s serial killer character rocks in the Coens’ “No Country for Old Men,” but Billy Bob Thornton told TV Guide that the bad hair is all him.
“That was accidental. I got a bad haircut that I couldn’t do anything with,” he said. After trying and failing to fix it, he decided to embrace the “mid-to-late ’60s L.A. rock” look, and now he thinks that it works perfectly for his character. “It was good because bangs are usually associated with — if it’s not Bettie Page — innocence. Bangs are innocent,” he said. “So to have a guy who is this ruthless to have bangs I just thought, ‘What a great irony.’ So I decided to just go with that instead of fixing it.”
Do you think that Malvo is the new best anti-hero on TV now that “Breaking Bad” is gone?
“Fargo,” airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET on FX. Find the cable provider in your area below and give us a call to make sure your cable package includes FX at the best price.
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