Although I enjoyed season one of Fargo and its unique brand of dark humor, I didn’t exactly love it. Thankfully the show’s sophomore year is a definite improvement in almost every way.
Designed as an anthology series, Fargo’s second season adopts a whole new cast, setting and timeline while still maintaining a small link with the show’s debut season (our protagonist, Lou, was a secondary character last year). It’s a clever enough formula since newcomers can jump right in, while die-hard Fargo fans can squeeze even more goodness from the proceedings.
The season primarily revolves around Lou’s investigation into the Gerhardt crime family, not to mention a suspicious couple who find themselves deeply intertwined in a whole lot of murder and chaos. The season is expertly plotted and paced, slowly bringing together the various players as they collide in epic fashion in the penultimate episode. This means the season finale is somewhat of a low-key letdown, but it’s not enough to derail the rest of the year’s goodwill.
The show’s secret weapon is undoubtedly its mindblowing cast. Whereas Billy Bob Thornton stole everybody’s thunder in season one, the sophomore year spread outs the love with a range of powerful players across the board. From Jean Smart’s mesmerizing turn as Floyd Gerhardt, the matriarch of the crime family, to Patrick Wilson’s likeable hero and Kirsten Dunst’s unsettling housewife, every single performer on the show this year is spectacular. How can they possibly top it all in season three?
It must be mentioned that Fargo is one stylish show. The show’s opening credits continue to appear above the action during the most blood-pumping moments, while the introduction of split screens (yup 24 style) injects a great deal of slickness to the show’s visual palette. All of these touches coupled with a genuine sense of place make watching Fargo an addictive experience: I frequently found myself rushing home to spend more time in the show’s whacky world. Kudos!
Bits & Blumquist
– Although I’ve never liked Kirsten Dunst, she delivered exceptional work this season. She might have started out as somewhat annoying, but she became absolutely hilarious by the end of the year while holding Dodd hostage. Seriously I’d watch a spinoff dedicated to these two.
– Can we please take a moment and discuss the spaceship in the penultimate episode? This development really caught me off-guard, but after some research, it seems that it was a direct homage to the Coen brothers. Still don’t see the relevance.
– How badass was Hanzee Dent? Every time the character was on screen, you just knew things would get vicious. A standout character to be sure, and a fantastic performance by Zahn McClarnon.
– I first saw Cristin Milotti on How I Met Your Mother (yup she played the titular character in the show’s final season), and it was definitely great to see her again here. She downright broke my heart with her cancer and I’m thankful we didn’t have to sit through a horrifying death scene.
– I was actually disappointed when Dodd was killed off. Jeffrey Donovan was stellar in the role – equal parts evil and amusing.
– I’m still mourning Floyd’s death. What a powerhouse she was!
– How likeable is Ted Danson? Loved his turn as Sheriff Hank Larsson. The reveal with him creating a language that would promote love and understanding was heartwarming and unexpected.
– The montage of all the Gerhardts dead was just harrowing. What a sight!
Ed: Hon, did you stab the hostage?
Peggy: No. Yes. I mean, I had to teach him some manners is all if we’re gonna be spending time together.
Betsy: (describing cancer) You know how sometimes you get a peach from the bowl and one side is ripe and yellow and the other is black and moldy?
Betsy: You’re a good man.
Lou: Well, I don’t know about that, but… I like to think I got good intentions.
A definite improvement over season one, Fargo‘s second season is a rousing success thanks to brilliant performances and a fascinating world.