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 tenth episode, and the Season 1 finale of Fargo. 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.


The episode opens up showing the aftermath of a snowmobile crash. From the snowmobile, a trail of footprints is seen in the snow leading to a hole in the frozen lake.

Back in the parking lot outside Lester's workplace, Lester watches as Lorne exits the bulidng after killing Lester's second wife, Linda. Once Lorne leaves the area, Lester goes into the insurance shop in order to get the money from the safe. Before leaving, he covers up the crime scene in order to make it look like he was never there.

Lester enters Lou's Coffee Shop, where he orders two grilled cheese sandwiches, telling Lou that Linda went to his office to get something and will be here soon. Lester indicates he's going to the bathroom but he leaves the Coffee Shop through the back door.

Outside, Lester enters a phone booth and makes an anonymous call to Bemidji's Police Station.  He reports shots being fired at an intersection which is near Lester's office. He continues his report despite being told by a voice on the phone that he should've dialed 911. Lester hangs up ignoring the voice on the other end of the phone, then sneaks back through the back door into the cafe. 

Lou brings him ordered drinks and Lester, in a nervous manner, makes excuses about Linda going to the office for something. To that Lou responds he already said that and asks if Lester wants the meals kept warm until Linda shows up. Lester replies she should be there any second now. Lou recalls his conversation with "a fella" (Lorne Malvo) who was looking for Lester. Lou says he offered to give Lester the man's number, but Lorne declined. He also didn't like Lorne's demeanor. Lou leaves Lester to his thoughts then.

Lester then realizes that he had left the airplane tickets to Acapulco in the winter jacket he gave to Linda before she went into the office. Immediately thereafter, police cars with sirens rush along the Coffee Shop, presumably driving to Lester's office.

At home, Molly Solverson receives word that another of Lester's wives has been murdered.  Molly goes to the crime scene where she meets Lester. Lester tries but fails to retrieve the tickets from the jacket that Linda is wearing.  The police bring Lester back to the station where he refuses to answer any questions.  The next morning, Lester is allowed to return home, but must be accompanied by agents Pepper and Budge.

Meanwhile, Malvo goes to a used car lot and chats up one of the salesmen about one car that looks like an undercover police car, convincing him to allow the two to go for a test drive.  The Salesman, the same young husband that Lester failed to sell life insurance to a year earlier, obliviously consents.

Malvo later sees Lester being taken home by the FBI agents, and follows in his own car.  During his trip home, Lester is asked about and solves the riddle of the Fox, the Rabbit and the Cabbage.  Once they've returned Lester home, the two FBI agents remain outside.  Apparently forced by Malvo, the Salesman drives his car up to Lester's house.  The FBI agents, suspicious, order the driver out.  With both agents focused on the car, Malvo emerges from the surrounding woods and murders both of them and presumably the Salesman as well.

Malvo enters Lester's house, and each stalks but fails to kill the other.  Malvo strikes Lester in the face with Lester's award, bloodying his face and mirroring the injury inflicted on Lester by Sam Hess a year earlier.  Though Lester's gun jams, Malvo's foot is caught in a bear trap left by Lester, but escapes severely injured.

Malvo retreats to his nearby cabin to treat his injury, not knowing that Grimly has already found it.  Grimly kills Malvo.  When the police arrive, they find Malvo's trove of audio tapes, including the one containing Lester's confession for the murder of his first wife.

Two weeks later, Lester is shown on a snowmobile in Glacier National Park in Montana,  Presumably being sought now that his role in his wife's death has been established, Lester is recognized by law enforcement officers also on snowmobiles.  Lester tries to escape only to crash his snowmobile.  Desperate, he escapes on foot, only to crash through thin ice, dying in minutes, and revealing that the scene shown at the beginning of the episode depicted Lester's fate.

At home, Molly receives the news of Lester.  Gus tells her that he's receiving a citation for bravery, but he feels that she deserves it.  Molly reassures her husband that this is his moment.


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"