Maybe it was the unique way the second season of Fargo began, or maybe it was the freaking UFO. It really doesn’t matter because I was hooked from the start. Did the second season of Fargo outshine season one? To learn the answer, you’ll need to meet me at the Waffle Hut.
I’ve been a fan of Fargo’s executive producers, the Coen Brothers, for a long time now. There’s something magical in the way these talented brothers, Joel and Ethan create and bring to life characters that both amuse and shock us. When season two begins with a snippet of a black and white film about the massacre at Sioux Falls, we were left to wonder what rabbit hole we would be dragged into. Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait long.
Fargo under the guidance of writer/executive producer/showrunner, Noah Hawley, stars Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart and Ted Danson. There is a connecting link between the seasons and the link is Officer Lou Solverson. In the first season, the show revolved around Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and the part of her father, Lou, was played by Keith Carradine.
In episode one: “Waiting for Dutch”, which takes place during 1979, Molly is a child and Lou is still a cop. Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) and his father-in-law Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) are trying to keep the people of their town safe. Lou’s wife, Betsy (Cristin Milioti), is fighting a losing battle with cancer. An event is about to take place that will turn the town on its head.
Peggy and Ed Blumquist are pulled into the fiasco between the local Gerhardt crime family and the Kansas City syndicate, when Peggy hits Rye Gerhardt with her car, impaling him in her windshield. Rye (Kieran Culkin) was no sweetheart. He had just killed three people at the Waffle Hut when a UFO distracts him from seeing the ditzy blonde speeding his way. This is the first of many appearances by said UFO.
Peggy, played fabulously by Kirsten Dunst, is a bit touched. Ed, her loyal husband doesn’t realize just how delusional Peggy is, but he will soon. The badly injured Rye is finally killed for good when he attacks the confused Ed. What would make a person drive home, park in the garage, then make dinner while a man is stuck in her windshield? Who does this? Peggy is the Queen of Crazy, but she picked the wrong person for a hit and run. Rye is the youngest son of the Gerhardt crime family and, with war on the horizon, everyone is searching for the missing Rye.
Just when you think this series can’t get any freakier than it is, Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons) is forced to get rid of the body. Did I mention that Ed works in a butcher shop?
Gerhardts vs. Mike Milligan
While the Gerhardts, which include Otto (Michael Hogan), Floyd (Jean Smart), Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan), Bear (Angus Sampson), Simone (Rachel Keller) and Rye (Kieran Culkin) are your typical Fargo racketeers/murderers who rule their dynasty with a firm and heavy hand, Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine), accompanied by his silent and deadly sidekicks is a poet reciting cool dude with a wide smile that betrays the cunning killer within. Mike works for Hamish Broker (Adam Arkin). Adam Arkin also directed the last two episodes of the series.
Unlike True Detective’s disappointing second season, Fargo surpassed the excellence of its first season with characters that constantly surprised us with their kindness or evilness. One of the best secondary characters ever to grace a series was Dodd Gerhardt’s henchman, Hanzee, played wickedly by Zahn McClamon.
This Native American was a quiet man, but there was a freaking storm raging in his head and when he finally killed Dodd, I knew he would be a force to reckon with. That little snippet at the beginning of the series about the massacre at Sioux Falls was a warning of things to come when Hanzee betrays the Gerhardts and later hunts for the fleeing Blumquists.
Hanzee, who is severely burnt from boiling water tossed in his face by Peggy, meets up with a confidant who gives him a new identity, Moses Tripoli, the mob boss character from the first season who is killed by Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton).
There were so many high points to this series: like Martin Freeman, who played Lester Nygaard in season one, reading a passage from The History of True Crime in the Mid-West at the beginning of episode 9; Jean Smart’s Floyd trying to run the family business after her husband’s stroke, while dealing with three loser sons. But, it was Peggy and Ed Blumquist’s constant good luck in not getting killed by both the Gerhardts and the cops that made us laugh out loud.
Fargo had it all: love, devotion, family life and horror. There was plenty of blood spilt as Mike Milligan and his twin goons took down opposing forces, but there were also tender moments between State Trooper Lou Solverson and his ill wife Betsy.
Fargo, which began each week with a claim that the story was true and the identities changed to protect the living, was definitely a crime drama, but it was also funny. UFO’s appearing with no rhyme or reason and Peggy poking holes into Dodd because he disrespected her were just a few examples of the show’s genius.
In the end our Vietnam war veteran and hero, Lou Solverson, gets to go home to his wife and child. After all their good luck, Peggy is now alone when her loyal and loving husband dies from one of Hanzee’s bullets. Still delusional she asks Lou if she might be able to serve time near the San Francesco Bay. Is she talking Alcatraz? Mike Milligan’s reward for falsely claiming that he wiped out the Gerhardt family is a corner office and a menial administrative job. The crime syndicate has gone corporate.
The award winning Fargo series gave us a mysterious UFO and the understanding that good people do bad things and bad people can sometimes be funny. There will be a third season, but we’ll have to wait until 2017. According to Noah Hawley, the new season will be set in the year 2010 with a more contemporary feel and have a whole new cast.
We’ll need to be patient until the arrival of the season three, but will the wait be worth it? You Betcha!