Well, okay then. Fargo is back for a second season.
It must have been extraordinarily stressful for show runner Noah Hawley to follow up on the success of Fargo’s inaugural run. As an audience, we have high expectations and the backlash could have been huge (see the second season of True Detective). So it’s with a big sigh of relief that I tell you that the show’s second season is off to an amazing start. FX actually sent out the first four episodes of the new season and it took all my self-restraint just to watch the first one. I like to review each episode without knowing what is coming next, but this is the hardest that decision has ever been.
What strikes me the most is that the first season of Fargo had a unique vibe with characters, tone and settings unlike anything on television. And this season has an equally unique but also totally distinct vibe. That is a credit to Hawley who has once again created a vibrant, believable and quirky world. Set in 1979, the show evokes the ‘70s without making a joke of it.
We could spend a lot of time looking for the Easter eggs that link the first Emmy-winning season with the second. The most overt link is, of course, a young Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), a state trooper with a six-year-old daughter Molly. We met them last season as Deputy Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman) and her retired father (Keith Carradine).
Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin) is the youngest son of a crime family in Fargo. He wants to be taken seriously, so he kills a judge and two other people at a Waffle Hut in Luverne, Minnesota. Like a monster in a horror story, Rye just won’t die—not when he’s shot at and not when Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) hits him with her car. Peggy’s first instinct is to keep driving right into her garage (but don’t worry, she took the back roads). Then she proceeds to make her husband dinner. I loved the reveal that Peggy was the one who hit Rye. because we watch the whole scene between her and her husband Ed (Jesse Plemons), as the cracks in their marriage are exposed, without knowing what she’s done.
Poor Ed discovers Rye in his garage and kills him in self-defense. Ed loves his wife and wants to build a family and a life with her, so he agrees to cover up the murder and places poor Rye in the freezer. But something clearly isn’t right with Peggy who seems to be less in shock over the whole thing, and more… well, just a little nuts. Unlike Lester Nygaard who seemed to have an evil lurking in him that Malvo unleashed, Ed seems like a decent guy making some very bad choices.
Lou and his father-in-law Hank (Ted Danson), Luverne’s sheriff, are called upon to investigate the crime. Their scene as they walk around the Waffle Hut is just fantastic. From Hank’s remark that he knows the dead cook, a local high school sports hero to their awkward exchange about Lou’s wife and Hank’s daughter, every nuance of that scene is spot on.
The premiere also does a great job of introducing a wide array of characters and the cast this season is incredible. In addition to the amazing actors already mentioned, there’s also Jean Smart as Rye’s mother Floyd, Jeffrey Donovan as her son Dodd, Cristin Milioti, who seems destined to die a young mother on TV, as Lou’s cancer-stricken wife Betsy, Nick Offerman as Lou’s friend and resident conspiracy theorist Karl and Brad Garrett as mafia man Joe Bulo. Clearly everyone wants to be a part of this show.
The episode ends with Joe’s big plans to assume the Gerhardt crime family. But Floyd, who is still sleeping in the bed with her near-dead husband, clearly has different plans.
Okay then. We’re off to a great start.
Other thoughts on “Waiting for Dutch”:
With both The Americans and Fargo on FX and with their time frames so close, I can’t help but think, “Aw geez wouldn’t a crossover episode have been great.”
What is with the UFO?
Bruce Campbell shows up soon as Ronald Reagan reuniting him with his Burn Notice co-star Donovan.
Just like the faux massacre Lou and Hank are investigating, Massacre at Sioux Falls isn’t a real movie and while ultimately the opening works, I was super confused watching it. Were you?
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.