Last year, was a standout in a great year of television. With its Minnesota accents, oodles of charm, stellar cast and guest stars, and hilarious mayhem, it provided a unique, high-quality viewing experience. It was so good, I wondered if they could possibly recapture that same magic in the second go-round, since it’s an anthology series that isn’t reusing the same cast members. Thankfully, recapture it, they did, and the second season, which only recently concluded its ten-episode run, is now availabl ’s Fargoe on Blu-ray and DVD.
For season two, the action moves to 1979. It is still in the same part of the country, and has much of the same tone, but now has a period component added in. The music, the cars, the fashion, even Ronald Reagan (Bruce Campbell, Burn Notice), help sell that image. As such, it takes the specific spirit of season one and ups the weirdness even more, with great results.
In order to reach out to existing fans, Fargo Year Two does have two characters that connect it to the freshman run, and covers a case referenced in the premiere outing. Lou Solverson is the detective on the case. Played by Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) now, he is more than two decades younger than Keith Carradine’s version of the character. (There’s a bonus feature on the disc in which Wilson and Carradine discuss the shared role, and it’s a very welcome way to bring the stories together.) Lou’s daughter, Molly, the hero of last year, is five years old in this season. She doesn’t get involved much, but it’s still gratifying to see her.
Lou is going through a tough time when this season begins. His wife, Betsy (Cristin Milioti, How I Met Your Mother), is sick and, going by what we learned last year, doesn’t have a lot of time left. Thankfully, he has a good father-in-law, Hank (Ted Danson, Bored to Death, Damages), also in law enforcement, to help him out. This trio is by and large my favorite part of this run.
Once more, Fargo also has an average, quirky citizen mixed up in murder. This time, it’s Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst, Spider-Man), a hoarder, klepto housewife, and unlike last year’s Lester, her spouse, Ed (Jesse Plemons, Breaking Bad), is not the victim. Peggy doesn’t mean to do wrong, but she’s scared when events occur outside of her control. While she doesn’t handle them as well as we’d like to think most people would, it’s hard to hate her.
What’s interesting about what happens with Peggy in the first installment, which I don’t want to give away, is that it ties into a familiar urban legend. Fargo bills itself as a ‘true crime’ story, with words on the screen at the beginning of each episode proclaiming that what you’re viewing actually happened. It didn’t; that’s part of the conceit of the show, that it’s done in the style, but is not actually real, so those words are a lie. However, tying in something that lots of people think happened will only reinforce the believability of the premise.
For villains, there’s an entire mob family led by Otto Gerhardt (Michael Hogan, Battlestar Galactica). Otto has a wife, Floyd (Jean Smart, 24), three sons, Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan, Burn Notice), Bear (Angus Sampson, Insidious), and Rye (Kieran Culkin, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World), and a granddaughter, Simone (Rachel Keller, Hollidaysburg), and they have no small share of foes to compete with, including ones played by Brad Garrett (Everybody Loves Raymond), Bokeem Woodbine (Saving Grace), and Zahn McClarnon (Longmire).
The Fargo Year Two release has no shortage of interesting extras, going above and beyond what most shows are doing these days, despite its quick turn-around. I mentioned the Lou featurette already. There’s also a bit on “The Films of Ronald Reagan,” a Skip Sprang TV commercial, a two-part making of, and an extra about true crimes in the Midwest. In all, this is a lot more than the normal deleted scenes and audio commentaries, and all complement the set nicely.
Visually, Fargo is stunning. With lingering shots over desolate landscapes and a design and color palette that enhance the experience, it is worth it to shell out for the high-definition edition.
Fargo Year Two is available now.