Freeman plays that brutal scene with the heavy breathing and wild countenance it demands, but it’s a rare burst of volume amid his understated facial guitar solo of abjection. Reaction shots have long been his foremost weapon: He pioneered the bemused camera-mugging that John Krasinski rode to a comfortable living Stateside, and his perplexed head-cocks are the Picassos of the form. But on Fargo, he’s reaching a new pinnacle of pitiful.
As Lester, 42-year-old Freeman fidgets like a five-year-old boy and shrugs his shoulders like a 78-year-old war prisoner. He is giving a master class in clenched-lip mouth-squirming. He’s simply the best at being the worst, and watching the walls close in on him is gonna be one heck of a show.