In the TV show Fargo Police Chief Bill Oswalt (Bob Odenkirk) adopts an african boy towards the end of the series. It is mentioned in one scene where he introduces him to Molly.

The boy explains that before he could meet up with Bill he was robbed at the airport. He didnt know where to go so he had to resort to shoplifting food to survive.

Bill explains to Molly that he bumped into the boy and a grocery store by chance.

The scene felt kind of random to me but reminded me of the scene from the movie where Marge meets Mike Yaganita and how the visit prompted her to revisit the car dealership as she was perhaps too trusting of people (Great Q+A about this here: What significance does Mike Yanagita have in Fargo?)

Similarly, is there a deeper meaning to the scene with the adopted boy?

  • I had always chalked this up to simply adding to the quirkiness yet kind heartedness of the character of Chief Oswalt.
    – sanpaco
    Jan 10, 2020 at 22:05
  • I think it balances the series - equilibrium between evil and good. It's not only about bad guys, also the good ones - how people can make the world better, or worse.
    – Mithoron
    Dec 16, 2021 at 14:36

2 Answers 2


First of all, we should note that Sudanese boys coming to Fargo, is an actual incident. Check this article in The New York Times.

Now, this Sudanese kid scene is shown in the episode entitled "The Heap". The basic theme in this episode is "As time goes by".

Lester successfully frames his brother and the case is kind of closed after Bill stops Molly from looking any further into it. Molly starts dating Gus. Lester starts his new life with Linda. Even Malvo has gone away.

During all this we come to listen to the story of Sudanese boy. He was supposed to meet Bill at the airport, but he couldn't. Then, out of circumstances he starts shop lifting and when everybody had forgotten about it and life is going on, he is suddenly spotted by Bill in the store and hence things fall in place all of a sudden.

We can see this relation in later episodes of Fargo.

When everyone has moved on with life, all of a sudden and strictly by chance, Lester meets Malvo and all those things start again. Later on, in the last episode, Gus is seen asking Molly to forget about Malvo when out of the blue he spots Malvo himself.

So I think the relation is this:

Sudanese kid is expected to come but he gets lost. When everyone has forgotten about it and moved on, he is suddenly spotted and what should have happened normally, happens later by chance.

The Police are expected to solve the Malvo case. But, they fail and choose to let it pass. When everybody has moved on with life, Malvo & Lester meet by chance. Events lead to Malvo coming back to town and again by chance he is spotted by Gus and killed.

So the Sudanese kid's story kind of gives us the idea how the case will be solved in the future (i.e. just by chance, out of the blue).

  • 3
    I also think that it fleshed Bill out as character. He is portrayed as bumbling, naive, and over trusting. His incompetence allows Lester to frame his brother and leads to Malvo being released after Gus's arrest. At this point there is very little creditworthy about his character. Someone looking for an easy life. This scene allows you to see much more depth, and in fact, his mistakes and character flaws not calculated (looking for an easy life) but just someone who's nativity prevents him seeing the darkness that does exist outside a small, mid-west, city.
    – BeaglesEnd
    Jan 25, 2017 at 12:27

I think the random adopted kid scene sort of sets the stage for Bills quitting being cheif "I used to think good thoughts about life" etc; showing an even deeper sentimental side, matching up with the mush of adopting an adult foreign kid, makes the retirement after only one year on the job more buyable.

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