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Culture

Mysterious Welsh scenes appear in Coen Brothers’ acclaimed Fargo series

03 Dec 2023 3 minute read
Sam Spruell as Ole/Bryn. Image: FX

Stephen Price

Fargo, the acclaimed television series based on the Oscar-winning movie of the same name, takes a trip back in time and across the Atlantic Ocean to Wales in its latest season.

Like each season prior, the (not so) ‘true stories’ all feature a changing ensemble of actors and themes, but with the unmistakable influence of the celebrated Coen brothers who executive produce.

The first three episodes of season five, set in current day Minnesota, have appeared on Amazon Prime, focusing on the kidnapping of a suspicious housewife by hitman Ole Munch, played brilliantly by actor Sam Spruell.

Spruell’s character, Ole, gives little away at first. A strange haircut. An Eastern European accent. He appears to be a side character never to re-appear. That is, of course, until those who hired him dare to cross him.

Unexpectedly, in episode three, titled ‘The Paradox of Intermediate Transactions’, viewers are taken back 500 years in time to ‘Wales, Kingdom of England 1522’. And that’s when things get really interesting, and quite unnerving. For Ole is revealed to be Bryn, a Sin Eater – someone paid to assume the sins of the deceased.

Surrounded by a congregation at what appears to be a funeral, a priest with a morphing Welsh accent (I’ll give him six out of ten) says a prayer about sin while surrounded by men and women in funeral attire.

A sack is taken from Bryn’s head at the dead body of a man with a plate of food placed upon him.

The priest asks Bryn: “In forgiveness of your debts to man, will you consume his lordship’s sins to God?”

Bryn’s answer, in a superb Welsh accent (and that’s coming from someone who wrote this) is: “I give easement and rest now to thee, dear man… And for thy peace I pawn my own soul.”

‘What the rich make the poor do’

Series creator, Noah Hawley told TV Insider: ‘“What I wanted to explore with the Munch character was this idea of debt and sin-eating, and this idea of what the rich make the poor do.”

He added: “Part of what the rich do to the poor is they make them feel like it’s their fault they’re poor, and that if these poor people have to borrow money from us, it makes them less than.”

The episode later flashes to unnerving scenes of Bryn performing a brutal ritual in what appears to be a tomb or burial mound similar to Bryn Celli Ddu. It’s dark but brilliant stuff!

It remains to be seen if viewers across the world will be treated to another visit to 16C Wales in the critically acclaimed series. We can only hope.

The fourth episode is set to appear on Prime TV on 5 December.


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Bryn
Bryn
2 months ago

Wales was not part of ” the Kingdom of England” in 1522.
The Act of Union was not passed until 1536.
Get it right Coen Brothers!

Riki
Riki
2 months ago
Reply to  Bryn

Yes, the Principality of Wales and that only ever referred to Gwynedd! The rest was of Wales was governed semi-independently of England. The Principality ended in 1536 and then came under the jurisdiction of the rest of Wales., under the UK state. Not England! They were probably told to include such things if they wanted to mention Wales as a way of rubbing salt in the wound by the higher ups. They actually like Wales and have had many moments where they have referenced it.

Wogan Jones
Wogan Jones
2 months ago

I remember Rhys Ifans doing a short film called The Sin Eater.

Orwig
Orwig
2 months ago

‘Inside Llewyn Davies’
‘Llywelyn Moss’
Coens seems to refrence the welsh often in their films.

Iantoglantawe
Iantoglantawe
2 months ago

Bryn is short for Brynmor. Not in use until the late 1800s.

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