Photo: Chris Large / FX

Jordan Peele And Keegan-Michael Key Bring Their Magic To Fargo

And improve it just like they improve every other place they ever go.

Other than all the bit players who were hired out of Vancouver or Toronto and are better known to this commentator for their appearances in Canadian TV commercials and/or Caprica, Fargo has been marked by its interesting, unexpected casting choices. Consider Martin "John Watson" Freeman as a William H. Macy type -- a grinning midwestern boob with hidden depths of depravity; Colin "Tom's Son" Hanks as a totally incompetent police officer that would disgust any of his dad's past characters (especially Captain Phillips...and Walt Disney...and Turner from Turner & Hooch); a straight-off-Breaking Bad Bob Odenkirk as a well-meaning but credulous police chief. Nothing in either of their résumés (or I guess I should say "both," since they've worked together so much) would seem to have made Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key obvious choices to play a couple of FBI agents assigned to surveil "Fargo," but honestly, they could have been cast in just about any roles in this whole production and I would have been just as happy to see them.

It's literally impossible to say too much about the brilliance of Key and Peele on Key & Peele, their tremendous Comedy Central sketch show. If you somehow haven't gotten on board, I promise you that it's as smart...

[rssonly] it is extremely silly.


But as much as I enjoy them separately -- as with Peele's role as Dr. Brian on Childrens Hospital, and when Key popped up this season on Parks & Recreation and The Middle -- it makes me so happy when they show up together in other projects, because for some reason it's very important to me personally to know that they like each other in real life and make it a point to work together outside of their main gig. The big-screen Untitled Keegan-Michael Key/Jordan Peele Project they're working on with Judd Apatow, for instance, will presumably right the wrong that kept them from having any scenes together in Wanderlust, which Apatow produced. (And if it turns out to be ninety minutes of East/West Bowl names, no one is going to be too mad about it.)

Seeing Peele and Key as Agents Pepper and Budge on Fargo is fun not just because Peele and Key always give their characters interestingly sharp edges and a distinct point of view even on projects they didn't write, but also because these particular characters could so easily be transported into a Key & Peele sketch -- officers so busy kibitzing about shitty fast food (like a midwestern Jules and Vincent from Pulp Fiction) that they completely miss the gunman carrying a small cannon into the building they're supposed to be watching and killing basically everyone involved in the criminal organization they're supposed to be monitoring. All it would take to turn this into a K&P sketch show moment is a button where not just the body that flies out the window but everyone on the sidewalk blows up and sprays Fargo with human shrapnel. And honestly, given the events Lorne set up at Don's in last week's episode, I'm not ruling out the possibility that it could still happen.

Though there are still three more episodes this season in which Budge and Pepper could redeem themselves, so far Molly is still the only law-enforcement official on the show who's worth a damn, and if this fuckup comes out, maybe these guys will be just as likely as Gus to get bounced into another line of work. And while I know this is only supposed to be a single-season "limited series," it will be okay with me if this one comes back -- UNLIKE UNDER THE DOME -- and we get to see Pepper and Budge trying out new jobs, like...competing jazzmen. Or substitute teachers. Or college football stars.

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