Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


My first Coen brothers' movie was Raising Arizona.  It was so gonzo in concept and so unsentimental about family and children that I was hooked.  My favorite Coen movie is Miller's Crossing, again it stretched the rules of drama - the story really kicks off with a murder that they never bother to explain - and unflinchingly unsentimental.  As Tom Regan say, "What heart?'

What was so impressive about Fargo was how they transferred this artistic tone to television.  It was gonzo - "It's just a flying saucer, Ed, we gotta go." - and bracingly unsentimental.  Characters were killed almost at random and in the blink of an eye.  Peggy was so bonkers and Ed so placid, that you almost hoped Peggy would snuff it to free Ed from this whack-job.

And this is why the finale was so unbelievable.  Unlike a two hour movie, a ten hour miniseries allows you to get really close to the characters.  The final gave us two indelible, emotional moments: Lou talking about the helicopter pilot of the coast of Vietnam and Hank talking about his attempts to create a universal language.  Both scenes were about family, and how maybe in the end family is all you have in a violent, chaotic world.

As Lou says about taking care of your family, "We act like it's a burden, but really it's our privilege."  And Hank says, "You'll know the angels when they come for you because they will have the face of your children."  and when told by his daughter that he's a good man, he gives an unbelievable line reading for: "Oh, I don't know about that, but I'd like to think I at least have good intentions."

The season ends with Lou and Betsy falling asleep in bed - Betsy dying of cancer - but there is a peacefulness that feels both earned and precious.

Top notch. You betcha.

No comments: