Fargo Wiki
Morton's Fork
Season 1, Episode 10
Episode Information
Air Date:

June 17, 2014

Written by:

Noah Hawley

Directed by:

Matt Shakman

Episode Chronology
Previous Episode:

A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage

Next Episode:

Waiting for Dutch


Morton's Fork is the Season 1 finale of Fargo, as well as the tenth episode overall. The episode premiered on June 17, 2014.


Molly takes the lead, while Gus pursues a hunch. Lester manipulates a situation, and Malvo finds a new target.


An opening montage shows tracks of a snowmobile in the snow, the crashed vehicle, footprints leading across a frozen lake, and a hole in the ice that leads to water.

After watching Lorne Malvo kill his wife Linda, Lester Nygaard nervously enters his insurance agency and stares at her body. He starts to take money out of the store's safe before remembering Malvo asking him "is this what you want?" in the elevator. He puts the money back and puts the car keys in Linda's hand, then goes to Lou Solverson's diner and orders dinner for both himself and Linda before leaving out the back, where he calls the police with a disguised voice and sends them to the insurance agency. Lou mentions that someone had come looking for him earlier and Lester realizes he is describing Malvo. Just as Lester realizes he left the plane tickets in his jacket pocket and gave the jacket to Linda, the police arrive at the agency. Molly Solverson is called to the scene and instantly deduces Linda was not the target, based on her being covered up by Lester's coat. Lester arrives on the scene and feigns an emotional reaction. He appeals to Bill Oswalt's sympathy and asks to say goodbye to Linda, trying to sneak the tickets out of her pocket, but is stopped by Molly.

In a cabin out in the woods, Malvo listens to a police radio and picks up that Molly has Lester in custody, asking to meet Bill Budge and Webb Pepper at the station, and Malvo arms himself. Lou warns Molly about his interaction with Malvo and describes the car he was driving, telling her he will guard Greta Grimly until the situation is resolved. Malvo breaks into the agents' car and takes a booklet as Lester waits in the investigation room, thinking about the Las Vegas murders. Bill, Molly, and the agents all come in to ask him about Malvo. When he finds he can no longer use Bill's sympathy to dodge the question, Lester refuses to talk and asks for a lawyer, ignoring Molly's warnings.

Gus Grimly learns from Lou, guarding the house, that Malvo is back in town. As Molly briefs the department on searching for Malvo, Gus calls her and begs her to stay in the station and not risk her life hunting for Malvo, to which she reluctantly agrees. Gus hangs up and is forced to stop when a wolf wanders into the road. Following the wolf's eyes, he notices Malvo's car parked in front of a cabin. He picks up the phone to call Molly back, but instead decides to stash the car out of sight, watch Malvo leave, and hide inside the cabin.

Molly tells Bill of their plan to let Lester go, as Malvo will easily find him. Bill tells her he is going to retire, disillusioned by the cruelty and manipulation he has witnessed in the last year. He suggests that Molly take the mantle of chief after she gives birth, and Molly says she will think about it. Malvo uses the book he stole to get Budge and Pepper's names and get their backup cancelled. He goes to a used car lot and has a salesman give him a test drive in a tactical car.

Molly tells Lester they are letting him go. Lester insists that he is not a bad person, and Molly tells him a parable: a man drops a glove while running for a train, only realizing when he makes it on and the doors close. Understanding that one glove is useless without the other and he cannot retrieve it, he throws the one he still has out the window so someone can make use of them both. Lester does not understand why she tells him this. As Budge and Pepper drive Lester home, Budge tries the riddle about the fox, the rabbit, and the cabbage on him, and Lester explains the solution quickly. As they arrive at the house, they stand guard while Lester gets Chazz's hunting gear out of the basement.

Greta joins Lou on the porch to stand guard with him. He talks about his time as a cop, and tells her about when he stood guard over Molly in 1979 in freezing weather. Greta heads back into the house and emerges with a rifle, telling him they will take Malvo out together if he comes. Molly decides to visits Lester's house. Budge and Pepper see the rental car approach, believing it to be their backup. As they approach it, they realize it is the car salesman with his hands taped to the wheel. Malvo emerges from the woods and kills them both. The salesman pleads for his life, and his fate is left unknown. As Lester throws his clothes on the bedroom floor, he finds the agents' car abandoned and blood on the snow, and he runs upstairs. Malvo hides their bodies and enters the house to the sound of Lester loudly phoning the police from the upstairs bathroom. As he approaches it, he triggers a bear trap hidden under a pile of clothes, which injures his leg. Lester bursts out of the bathroom and misses a shot. He ducks back into the bathroom as Malvo returns fire, sitting with his back to the wall as he waits for Malvo to come in, but he never does. He comes out to find the trap empty and Malvo gone, a trail of blood leading outside to the now gone FBI car.

Malvo, his leg broken, snaps it back into place at his cabin and locks eyes with a wolf staring at him from outside. Gus emerges from the shadows with his gun drawn, saying he figured out the answer to Malvo's riddle. When Malvo dismissively asks "and?" Gus shoots and kills him, Malvo grinning as he dies. The police arrive on the scene, and Molly and Gus embrace as he takes her into the cabin. Together, they open the case full of tapes from Malvo's clients, and listen to the recorded phone call of Lester confessing to killing Pearl.

Two weeks later, Lester is attempting to flee the country. He is cornered by the U.S. Border Patrol in Montana and crashes his snowmobile. He runs out onto a frozen lake, despite warnings from the patrolmen to stop because of the thin ice. The ice cracks under him, causing Lester to stop, and the ground gives way, drowning him, his hat floating on the surface.

Molly is informed of Lester's death and goes to watch television with her family. Gus tells her he is receiving a citation for bravery for stopping Malvo, and Molly tells him she is proud of him. As Greta rests her head on Molly's shoulder, Gus insists she deserves the citation over him. Molly rebuffs him, saying instead, she gets to be chief.


Main cast

Recurring cast




  • Last appearance of Lorne Malvo.
  • Last appearance of Lester Nygaard.
  • Last appearance of Bill Budge.
  • Last appearance of Webb Pepper.
  • The brain-teaser asked by Bill Budge is anwsered by Lester Nygaard at this episode.
  • The song played during the end credits is the theme from the film.
  • The title refers to a piece of reasoning in which contradictory arguments lead to different but equally unpleasant conclusions. Originating from John Morton, Archbishop of Canterbury, who held that any man living modestly must be saving money and therefore could afford taxes, whereas if he was living extravagantly then he was obviously rich and could still afford them. In the climax of the titular episode, Lester is faced with a 'Morton's fork' as he flees from the police towards the frozen lake after his snowmobile crashes. If Lester surrenders, he will be arrested and sentenced to a lengthy prison stay for his crimes but if Lester runs, he will likely fall through thin ice into the lake and drown.
  • There are a few references to other Coen Bros. movies in this:
    • The deputy reporting a "unsecured load" is a reference to No Country For Old Men, in which Sheriff Bell pulls over a truck (hauling away the victims in the shootout) for that infraction.
    • The light pouring through the bullet holes in the door of Lester's bathroom resembles a similar shot in Blood Simple.
    • Lester hiding out in a cabin by the lake is similar to the hideout Carl and Gaear use in the original Fargo film.
    • Malvo's being hobbled by a leg wound resembles what eventually happens to Chigurh in No Country For Old Men.
Season 1 episodes

01. "The Crocodile's Dilemma"
02. "The Rooster Prince"
03. "A Muddy Road"
04. "Eating the Blame"
05. "The Six Ungraspables"

06. "Buridan's Ass"
07. "Who Shaves the Barber?"
08. "The Heap"
09. "A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage"
10. "Morton's Fork"