Billy Bob Thorton
[WARNING: The following contains spoilers from Fargo's season finale. Read at your own risk!]
No matter how many shades of green Malvo could discern, he still didn't see his predator coming until it was too late.
On Tuesday's Season 1 finale of Fargo, unscrupulous hitman Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) got caught by surprise twice. The first time, he stepped into a bear trap set by Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman). After resetting his leg bone in his cabin hideaway, Malvo then faced Gus Grimley (Colin Hanks), the mild-mannered mailman who was lying in wait and pumped him full of bullets.
From Fargo to Game of Thrones: TV's most iconic toilet moments
"Obviously it's the whole predator-prey thing where Malvo goes back to the cabin and he's almost mortally wounded," showrunner Noah Hawley tells TVGuide.com. "And he looks out the window and sees that wolf ... and that's the moment that Gus comes out, and that smile on his face, Malvo is realizing that he's not the predator anymore. There is a lot of animal symbolism in the show -- from fish to deer to wolves -- and that's not an accident."
Similarly, Lester mimicked a deer on the run when, faced with damning evidence that he killed his first wife, he fled on foot to evade a police blockade. Unfortunately, his flight took him over thin ice, which he fell through to a chilling death below.
Check out the rest of our postmortem with Hawley:
Did you plan on this episode coming full circle? You have another dead Mrs. Nygaard, a pregnant officer, and Lester with a busted nose again.
Noah Hawley: Yeah, there was a full-circle quality to it. When we did our year jump, what I liked about was when I realized that Molly (Allison Tolman) should be pregnant. And then it is the movie in a way ... and now you think it's going to unfold the way the movie unfolded. She's stuck in that precinct, and when she grabs her coat, all you're thinking is, "Oh no! She's going to walk right into it."
What was the most challenging thing about writing the finale?
Hawley: At the beginning of every episode, it says, "This is a true story," which means that the story has to unfold like real life and not like the Joseph Campbell hero's journey. So it's about trying to sculpt something that both satisfied the audience and ended the story, but didn't feel too convenient or fictional or too big.
Part of the way that we solved that is I always like to have a lot of moving pieces. I did set up a mano a mano ending; it was just Lester versus Malvo. And they have their moment, but that's not the end of the story. If I've done my job right then you have totally forgotten that Gus is in that cabin, and when he steps out of the shadow, it's a shock. And I think that there's something that is really complicated about what Gus does, that he shoots Malvo, an unarmed man, without giving him any opportunity to talk his way out of it or make a move. Is that an act of bravery or another act of cowardice?
Worst Ways to Go: The most outrageous TV deaths
If viewers forgot that Gus was in the cabin, maybe it's because they had to make it through that gruesome bone-setting scene first!
Hawley: I know! [Laughs] I had an outline for the whole series, and in the outline I wrote, "This will be the worst thing you will ever see on television."
A lot of the episodes are named after logic puzzles or terminology. This one is "Morton's Fork," which refers to the same inevitable outcome no matter what the path taken. How does that fit?
Hawley: There's a certain sort of "rock and a hard place" feeling to the whole Morton's Fork paradigm. For me, that's about Gus really. He's got two choices, both of them bad. He's got: Kill Malvo or try to bring him in. He's already arrested him once and so he knows that that doesn't go the way he thinks it should go, so the only other real option is to kill the guy, and that's not something he really wants to do.
There were three movies that really inspired this season for me, and they were of course Fargo, No Country for Old Men and A Serious Man. What I loved about A Serious Man was that it really explored the idea of unanswerable questions and this philosophy of you just have to accept the mystery.
Molly told Lester a story about a guy who drops one glove accidentally and then the other glove deliberately later. Is it just about not being selfish? Lester totally doesn't get it.
Hawley: It was explained in the script, but then on the day [of shooting], I decided that if he doesn't get this, explaining it to him isn't going to make sense. It's a relatively simple moral, which is: Here's a man who was not putting his own needs first. He wasn't thinking about himself. Whereas most of us would say, "I lost a glove. Now I'm just going to have this one stupid glove. What am I going to do?" This guy instantly went, "Well, someone is going to find that, and if I drop the other one, they'll have a pair."
PHOTOS: 10 crazy things Fargo's Malvo is like
I appreciated the "DLR" reference to the film Fargo, and that you actually make it a vanity plate on the car Malvo acquired.
Hawley: The clearance people were like, "You can't use that," because apparently somebody in Minnesota has a personalized license plate that reads "DLR." I just did it anyway.
Did the car dealer make it out alive? We didn't see that explicitly
Hawley: Well, you know, the car's not there [at the end]. So I assume he drove away, but I don't know for sure. I mean Malvo doesn't really kill people for sport.
Is Buzz Aldrin really afraid of spiders? I liked how Gus mentioned that tidbit as if it were fact, and Greta (Joey King) accepted it.
Hawley: I have no idea if he does. Much is known about Buzz Aldrin, but I don't know his position on spiders.
Have you thought about what happened to Chazz (Joshua Close) and his wife or Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard)?
Hawley: I assume that once it's clear that Lester is guilty that Chazz is released from prison. I don't know if and his wife reunite or anything, but yeah I assume he gets out. What I liked for Mr. Wrench he gets released and he's out there. Maybe people watched the last two episodes thinking he was going to show up at any moment. That works to my advantage as well, but I don't know where he is.
What's the creative process like for conceiving Season 2's story?
Hawley: In the conversations I've had with FX, none of us are interested in doing this again unless we do it as well or better. That's really on me to sort of figure out if there is another story. Like with writing a novel, there's a difference in planning a complete story versus starting a series. You're starting a series, then you have good premise and good characters, and you can see a little bit into the distance and figure the rest out. In doing a complete story, you have to know what the story is. There's no reason to start it unless you know how it's going to end.
What did you think of the Fargo finale? Watch it again here.