TV Review: “Fargo” Season 2 — Real Good, Dontcha Know?

Written by Michelle Young January 18, 2016

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After a show reaches a considerable amount of success in their first season, coming back with a second season that can live up to standard is no simple task. Anthology series like “Fargo” benefit significantly from their ability to basically start fresh with each new installment, but are by no means exempt from experiencing the “sophomore slump”. The mediocre second season of “True Detective” is perhaps the most telling and recent example. Luckily for us, season two of “Fargo” reached the standard of not only its last season, but really started to carve out its own original shape, distancing itself, in a good way, from its historical source material.

The latest installment in “Fargo” is set in 1979 and takes place predominantly in the small town of Luverne, Minnesota. This season acts as somewhat of a “prequel”, connecting to the first season through a young Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), Deputy Molly’s (Allison Tolman) father. In true “Fargo” fashion, the plot surrounds the “true story” of an initial deadly crime and the twisted web of chaos that ensues around it. The events of this season begin after Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) accidentally runs over the youngest son of the Gerhardt crime family, Rye (Kieran Culkin) after he kills three people in a local diner. The rest of the series follows Peggy, her bumbling husband Ed (Jesse Plemons), policemen Lou and Hank (Ted Danson, the various member and associates of the Gerhardt family, and the Kansas City mob as they attempt to make their way through the violent turf war that was unintentionally started from Rye’s death.

“Just watch, this thing’s only gettin’ bigger.”

What makes this season of “Fargo” really stand out was how it started to carve out its own path. It became much more stylized than either the first season or the original movie, partially due to the “groovy” 70s setting, but also in the actual direction and editing of the show. This season prominently featured split screens, which for the most part were a very effective and creative storytelling mechanism (in the rare occasion it didn’t really feel that necessary or it was confusing as to why it was used). In conjunction with some great music choices that differed significantly from what was used in the first season, this new style created some really compelling sequences to watch. This season also felt a little funnier to me, which I think was a symptom of the show’s deeper dive into the absurd and the firmer distinction in style. The campy 70s tone really made the darker comedic moments stand out.

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The casting of “Fargo” was also outstanding. Every character felt distinct and fit perfectly in this world. I especially enjoyed Kirsten Dunst portrayal of Peggy, as a wispy, dissatisfied housewife who seems more concerned with “actualizing her being” than the trail of death and destruction that she leaves behind her everywhere she goes. Nick Offerman was also a favourite as Karl Weathers, the town’s gruff lawyer and avid conspiracy theorist. His drunken sequence in the episode “Rhinoceros” was one of my favourite moments of the season.

“Me and Ed, we’re just bystanders, not even…disconnected. Him with the shop and me just try to actualize fully, ya know?”

The success of this season of “Fargo” is really impressive considering all that it has to live up to from the first season and the original movie. “Fargo” as a TV series is really coming into its own while still staying true to its foundations in the signature Coen brother black comedy style. This season was a long time coming, but certainly worth the wait and I am really excited to see where this series will go next.

My Rating: 9/10

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