One of our guests on tonight’s show, comedian and all-around genius Jo Firestone, describes FX’s Fargo, a show she has never seen, in the words of her friend as “very funny and very well-cast.” While I might see the former as more complicated than that, there’s no doubt that the latter is one of the reasons Fargo has set itself apart in the TV drama landscape. Year after year, Fargo has brought together some of the best ensemble casts, be it Allison Tolman and Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton and Colin Hanks in the first season, Kirsten Dunst and Patrick Wilson and Jesse Plemons and Nick Offerman in the second, to this season’s double Ewan McGregors, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, and Michael Stuhlbarg. Which raises the question, of course, as we wind down the season: Who is this season’s MVP?
It’s got to be David Thewlis. The British actor––perhaps best known to many as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films, but whose career as a character actor long predates those films––is lapping quite possibly everyone––even both McGregors!––in his portrayal of the eloquent and deeply deranged V.M. Varga. And maybe I’m just on a big Thewlis kick, because he’s also quite good in Wonder Woman, but every sentence he utters on Fargo is perfectly delivered, wrapped like a beautiful Christmas present. I can’t stop thinking about small scene between Carrie Coon’s Chief Gloria Burgle and Varga in which he asks what her town, Eden Valley, is like.
“We got a Tastee Freez and a Dairy Queen,” she responds.
Varga smiles. “Will wonders never cease?” It’s the perfect four-word condescension, and it’s delivered with such specific malice and arrogance towards Gloria’s earnest investigation of the Stussy company. Varga is such a complete villain, a Devil stand-in more complete and terrifying than the first season’s Malvo and more competent and intelligent than the bumbling Dodd family of the secon. And Thewlis has played up the grotesque nature of Varga, with his constant eating and regurgitating as well as his cloying, decaying smile. He is a man rotting from the inside out. The maniacal glee that Thewlis has brought to the character is a standout of the series as a whole, and it almost tempts me to root for Varga. (But seriously, don’t root for Varga.)
Tonight, John Teti will explore Fargo’s existence in a post-truth era, and you can also see him play Pick A Choice with NPR host Peter Sagal, as well as a very funny chat with comedian Jo Firestone. Tune in tonight at 9/8 central, only on Fusion or Fusion-enabled apps and set-top boxes.