Fargo: Season 2
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Fargo: Season 2

If you had one of those days nothing seems to go right that just seems to spiral down getting increasingly worse as time goes on the series on F/X, ‘Fargo’, is certain to give a business perspective on your own life. Series originally based on 1996 film of the same name by the Coen Brothers are supposedly real crime that occurred in North Dakota. Despite the claims of the beginning of the film subsequently the television series the stories are complete fabrications but that does not diminish one iota from the ‘true crime’ intensity they consistently managed to deliver. Consider the format as something that can be called ‘Murphy’s dominoes’, a portmanteau of Murphy’s Law and the domino effect. If something can go wrong in the situation depicted, it will fit in the process set up a chain reaction of misery, misfortune and death the role expanded to encompasses everyone involved. The show is formulated as an anthology series, with each season depicting a unique story with a different cast. Just as the first season had connections to the movie the second season did have some family relationships in other situations that overlap with the first season. By doing this the show’s creator, Noah Hawley, has taken the world created by Joel and Ethan Coen and turned it into one of the best television series currently running. The second season has won the prestigious American film Institute’s ‘Television Program of the Year’, topping off a very long list of notable nominations and awards. The significant portion of the success is accounted for by the interaction set of requisite archetypes; the hapless innocent, the intrepid law man and the personification of death. This formula goes back to antiquity appearing in mythology and folklore standing every culture. Debate is handled here is pure genius as each episode depicts each character fighting against the quicksand of misfortune pulling them down.

This season of the series is set in 1979 with locations in North Dakota and Wisconsin. Each of the archetypes listed above is represented by a family. The most prominent crime family in North Dakota is the Gerhardt’s. When patriarch Otto (Michael Hogan) suffers a massive stroke the power vacuum Knights the long-standing rivalry between his sons, Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan), Bear (Angus Sampson), and Rye (Kieran Culkin). Dodd is always been the alpha male among them, stronger and more ambitious than the others but out of the balance of power has shifted his brothers are starting to think that they should have his father’s position. Rye was never considered much of a contender for boss, slight of build prone to stammering and with the deformed hand is the least threatening of any character in this story. He goes to waffle house in order to speak to a judge try to convince her to free up the family assets. Things go horribly wrong and Rye winds up starting a gunfight that kills everyone else in the restaurant. Running outside towards his car is distracted by a light in the sky only to be killed when hit by a car. The vehicle was driven by a local beautician, Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) panics and with the body still attached to her car to drive home. Her husband, Ed (Jesse Plemons) is a butcher’s assistant in town at the panic but helps her cover up the crime.

This is how one simple intended to be completely nonviolent becomes the first domino to fall. Completely coincidentally, Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett), a representative of the Kansas City organized crime family arrives in town with his enforcer Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) and a pair of twin assassins, the Kitchen Brothers (Todd and Brad Mann). The identically dressed Amish style hats and black coats always completely silent. At this point the law is called in in the form of State Trooper Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), whose wife Betsy (Cristin Milioti) has just begun a round of chemotherapy. She is also the daughter of Sheriff Hank Larsso (Ted Danson). What is truly amazing about this series is the incredible writing. No matter how convoluted the story may become it never degrades into an inexorable mess. The teleplay is sharply written that each of the many storylines remains distinct, clear and possible to follow. The same has to go for the way the characters are developed. The phrase for this aspect of the series has to be shared between the writers in this amazing cast of actors. Not only to each of them managed to keep the distinctive local accent totally believable but none of the characters are portrayed as anything less than fully formed, complex human beings. The one exception may be the Kitchen Brothers remain the unstoppable harbingers of death.

No shortage of intensity to be found among this cast of characters but one stands out as particularly well executed, Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon), a Native American who has been informally adopted by the Gerhardt clan. He seldom speaks is frequently dismissed by many but this is the man who is the personification of death itself. Even when there is nothing left to fight for over seem to have won the day he has the determination and single-mindedness of a Terminator killing everyone was brought home to the Gerhardt family. Another incredible performance is turned in by Jean Smart portrays the matriarch, Floyd Gerhardt. The male name is quite fitting for her as she is as forceful, conniving and deadly as any man. There is a wonderfully amusing cameo by Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan was on the campaign trail for the upcoming 1980 presidential election.

Another hallmark of the series is coincidences with far-reaching consequences. In the Gerhardt family learns that the Kansas City mob is sending someone called ‘The Butcher’ the jump to conclusions in thinking that Ed Blumquist is the notorious colorful back east. Another example is that Peggy this into the family savings in order to attend the self-actualizing seminar as part of determined plans to better herself. Unbeknownst to her Ed has just been offered to purchase the butcher shop when his boss retires. One of the most tragic aspects of this show is that the couple actually do have a very deep and enduring love for each other is severely tested by the most unique and violent circumstances. A connection is made to the be first season we discover that Lou Solverson as depicted here is the same retarded law man and café owner shown in the first season. The fact is never hidden and the difference in dates is always in plain sight but Patrick Wilson and Keith Carradine playing the same character at different points of his life. His core personality traits such as his unshakable dedication to justice the love of his family remain the same with thanks of the talents of the actors assuming the character we have a rare glimpse of seeing a retired state trooper during his youthful days of service. Is just another little connection, Lou is also the father of Molly Solverson (Raven Stewart) the female deputy from season one there was always right but never believed.

Posted 02/17/2016

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