After a stellar first season, I had high expectations for the second season of Fargo. I’m happy to say that this season surpassed my expectations. The performances were top-notch, maybe even a bit better considering we were without Martin Freeman’s Kermit the Frog impression/accent.
The second season was strong thematically as well. As institutions changed to become less personal, failures of communications and feelings of unnamed dread were revealed. The characters grasped for straws to try and make things “like they were” or “like their best selves” when the solution was far simpler than that. They just needed to listen to each other.
Anyway, final top ten:
10. Ed Died as He Lived
Surrounded by meat products.
9. I Want a Nice, Sunny Jail
Apparently Peggy never heard the song “Folsom Prison Blues.” Two counts of kidnapping and two counts of felony murder (when people die while you’re committing another felony) should keep her hearing that train a comin’, a comin’ round the bend for quite some time.
8. Montage of Gerhardts
It should be pointed out that none of the Gerhardts were actually killed by the Kansas City Mob. Instead, they died due to a combination of their own hubris and events largely outside of their control. Their Rome was going to burn to the ground eventually, the role of the KC group served only to accelerate the inevitable.
7. And the Bad Guy Gets Away
How bad was Hanzee though, really? Sure he caused a lot of people to die, but most of them were assholes or criminals.
6. Hank = Tolkien
Creating your own language is ambitious, just ask the great novelist and linguist J.R.R. Tolkien. We all thought Hank was going a little crazy, and it turns out he’s one of the sanest people around.
5. Flash Forward
Great use of cameos from the cast of Season One. It’s a bit of a Tolkien reference itself. In The Lord of the Rings, Faramir gives an account of a recurring dream of a great wave, washing over trees and green fields. Faramir fears the downfall of his people, and Betsy fears that the future she sees will not come to pass.
4. Camus is Do-Do
Betsy’s right about one thing though. That Camus was full of crap.
3. Mike Milligan is the Czar!
Mike fashions himself a cruel, but fair, monarch. From his throne in the Dakota badlands he will rule an empire of crime with an iron…
2. There is no Czar! Only the Party!
Or not. Instead he gets “promoted” into a role as a corporate worker-bee with a 401K and a 9-5 office job. His dreams of being a brutal tyrant are crushed by the massive weight of the collective machine. The machine has no name, has no face, and cannot die, in theory, anyway.
1. The Works of Anton Chekhov
This theme of Russian history leads me into the final point I want to make about this season. The second season of Fargo has much in common with the works of Anton Chekhov with its themes of family, miscommunication, and dread. Specifically, Chekhov posits:
Nature’s law says that the strong must prevent the weak from living, but only in a newspaper article or textbook can this be packaged into a comprehensible thought. In the soup of everyday life, in the mixture of minutia from which human relations are woven, it is not a law. It is a logical incongruity when both strong and weak fall victim to their mutual relations, unconsciously subservient to some unknown guiding power that stands outside of life, irrelevant to man.
The second season of Fargo certainly demonstrates that the strong and weak are subject to the power of forces outside of their control. It goes one step further and tries to provide an answer. There can be order in the chaos if we just stop and listen. We may always be subject to the chaos, but we don’t have to despair in it. We can understand each other if we try.
(c) 2015 D.G. McCabe