1. She is, first and foremost, goddamn great at her job.
She manages to shoot a hit man holding an assault rifle twice in a blizzard.
When she wonders how she could be such a competent police officer, Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) says, “Because you’re you.” Which is correct.
The first thing she thinks about when she wakes up in the hospital after getting shot in the spleen is that she had the bad guy.
“Malvo. I had him,” she mumbles.
She’s so good that her boss calls her “a peach” behind her back.
To her face? “Good police work.” She’s just great at her job is all.
She’s not afraid to get physical.
Beat up your brother in front of her? She will tackle your ass.
2. She’s just invested in her own quiet competence.
This is how she smiles when Vern tells her she’ll be chief one day:
This is how she smiles when she’s telling Vern she’s got a good lead and she’s going to check it out.
And this is how she frowns when Vern tells her he’ll check it out; she should call it a day.
3. Although she will shoot you if you point a gun at her, she’s generally pretty polite to malefactors.
“Hold the phone, I know that fella,” she says spleenless and smiling to the man who tried to shoot her.
4. She imagines possibilities for her life that don’t include a traditional, “feminine” path. When her dad tells her she’s going to get married and have kids:
Smile. Dismiss as old-fashioned. Granted, she does end up pregnant and together with Grimly, but that wasn’t the only life she wanted.
5. She is goddamn better than the men around her and she is not afraid to show it on her face.
Bill tells her that Lester can’t be a murderer because Lester fainted in Mrs. Knudsen’s class when they had to dissect a mouse. Molly:
When she and Bill go to interview him about why he was talking about Sam Hess the day he was murdered, Lester says the witness must have overheard him saying, “my face is a mess.”
Bill says he won’t throw up at a crime scene with a dead body, “so long as I don’t look.”
6. Molly looks out for her fellow ladies.
Bill tells her Ida kicked him and the other officers out of her hospital room because they were being too loud.
“So you’re bein’ loud in the hall instead” is a very slick way to shame someone into leaving.
And, before she offers to stay the night with Ida at the hospital, she has the only appropriate reaction to a newborn child.
True, Molly. True.
7. She’s constantly fighting patriarchal bullshit.
Bill introduces her in a professional capacity as “Molly” and she is not having it.
That’s DEPUTY to you, everyone.
Bill arrests Lester Nygaard’s brother even though that makes no sense outside Bill’s bro code-addled brain. Molly fights back.
Yes, stuttering followed by generalities is a great defense, Bill!
She offers people coffee that men made.
SHE is a deputy. SHE does not make coffee.
Molly’s tries to ask Lester legitimate questions related to the case. The weasel tells her, “Ask Bill.”
Bill takes her off the case for being diligent and thorough, and for challenging his masculine authority and his trust of another man.
Your diligence will prevail, Solverson! Your name promises that you will solve this crime!
Her dad tries to get her to be a hostess (combination patriarchal bullshit and parental love).
She turns him down with a helpful suggestion that he include “people in this world are less inclined to shoot a hostess than say an officer of the law” in the help wanted ad.
8. She keeps it real.
9. She has incredibly effective deadpan.
10. She’s dogged.
“I’ve called a couple of times about the Fargo syndicate massacre, how I might know the fella responsible,” she tells an FBI agent. ONE YEAR LATER AND NOT LETTING THIS GO UNTIL JUSTICE IS SERVED.
11. And finally, she knows what she wants, and she demands it.
No one has ever melted more hearts telling someone to get her a new spleen.