Netflix UK TV review: Fargo Season 2, Episode 2 and 3
Chris Bryant | On 09, Nov 2015Reading time: 4 mins
The first episode of Fargo Season 2 sought to convey business as usual – kooky plotlines, kooky dialogue and kooky characters. But Episode 2 and 3 play a vital role in distinguishing this second run: the kookiness makes way for menace.
Bokeem Woodbine – as loquacious gangster Mike Milligan – proves very swiftly that even without Lorne Malvo, the creations of Noah Hawley can still be fascinating, and lethal. Milligan represents part of the crime syndicate in Kansas, attempting to “acquire” the Gerhardt family’s business after the incapacitation of its leader and the odd disappearance of its youngest son, Rye. The remaining members squabble for power around the family table, their in-fighting, coupled with the hot head of the eldest – Dodd, played by Jeffrey Donovan and his snarl – showing clear cracks for the mafia to exploit. The threatening dialogue fired between them is often perfect, and sets the tone for the show.
In Mike’s quest for the Gerhardt’s turf, he speaks almost exclusively in echoing, cloudy metaphors and balances his soothing drawl with intense stares. Flanked by twin enforcers, Milligan’s story might well rule Episode 2, after his vehicle is stopped by Sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) in a scene cleverly reminiscent of Gus Grimley/Lorne Malvo exchange that drove Season 1. It’s a brilliantly tense situation, in which the slow, confident dialogue bears all the weight. Hawley’s writing, and Danson and Woodbine’s choreographed execution create great suspense in an episode which is largely devoid of the ‘Minnesota nice’ that previously paved the way for Fargo. If every episode is as well crafted as this in other departments, though, it’s hard to imagine many losing faith.
The defining moments of the episode, however, centre around Ed Blumquist’s attempts to hide the evidence of his current predicament. Jesse Plemons continues an enviable rise with his so-far brilliant turn as Blumquist. Comparable to Lester Nygaard in his civilian nature, Blumquist’s connection with the audience is an interesting one. He may not have the uncertain air of Martin Freeman, but he evokes a more serious troubled demeanour, saying very little all episode. Once the lightly soundtracked cleaning montage ends (and the Breaking Bad flashbacks quell), Blumquist commences dealing with the body.
In Episode 3, the Blumquists are contrastingly thrown back into the most difficult part of their cover-up: real life. Continuing their average jobs while dreaming for more, their Nygaard-esque thirst for adrenaline is beginning to shine through.
All the while, Patrick Wilson’s Lou Solverson continues trying to connect the dots of Rye Gerhardt’s massacre and disappearance. Embodying the Solverson’s relentless spirit, Lou ends up at the Gerhardt stronghold, and decides to lay down the law. Lou’s resolve in the face of bad guys is a joy to watch – mostly from behind a cushion. The scope of the case is brought well into perspective, as a Federal Agent suggests that with the Kansas mafia, the Gerhardt’s and who knows who else involved, it may well just be easier for Lou to admit to the crimes himself.
With numerous highlights and standout performances, Fargo fans can rest easy; the new season has already made its mark and it’s bolder than one could have hoped. Witty exchanges, a philosophical take on morality and edited to precision, the opening chapters of Season 2 turn the heat up for Fargo’s new brand of chaos.
Season 1 and 2 of Fargo are available to watch online on Netflix UK, as part of an £8.99 monthly subscription. Head this way for a review of Fargo Season 1.
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Additional notes (contains spoilers
The disorganised malice of the Gerhardt’s is, in some ways, returning the old theme of family values to the show. Their defiance in the face of the mafia thundered in like a freight train, while their squabbling and petty power-grabbing would almost certainly not be welcomed by previous leader, Otto. Dodd’s encouragement of his nephew to pick up a gun before law books is indicative of Dodd’s nature so far – it’s becoming clear that Dodd’s reckless war-mongering probably won’t get him too far when the Mafia realise they’re at war.
– On the other side of the tracks, the bored Blumquists seem as agitated by their financial situation as the fact they’re embroiled in a gangland murder. Peggy’s lonesome dreaming, coupled with Ed’s down-to-earth work ethic is causing them to bump heads, which isn’t ideal when you’ve just sliced up a gangster’s son in your butcher’s shop.
– With Rye’s death being the catalyst for the season, all three major parties – the police, the gangsters and the civilians – are steadily getting closer to each other with each passing episode. As long as the tension remains unbearable – and Mike Milligan keeps monologuing – Season 2 is certain to be a fantastic ride.