Earlier this year, I reviewed the first season of the Fargo TV series inspired by the Coen brothers’ film of the same name, praising it for memorable characters, disturbing depictions of violence, and writing.
Because I missed it on TV when it aired, I had a lot of hype for the second season Blu-ray, even picking it up on the day it was released, which, surprisingly, is a first for me.
The second season of Fargo is not a continuation of the first, but rather a completely new “true” story that isn’t true about crime in Minnesota. It is again created and written by Noah Hawley, who out-did himself for this season.
The first season followed a standard police procedural format. Considering that everything else in the show was so unorthodox, even more so than the film at times, the fact that the format was so standard bothered me, not because it was bad, but because it was just too mundane compared to everything else. The second season is a lot more like an action thriller. It focuses much less on the police trying to catch the criminals. Instead, they are trying to stop a catastrophic gang war between two opposing factions, that two regular people, by chance, just end up getting involved in. The fat has been trimmed out for this season, and part of that is due to the shift in focus. At the end of the day, a police officer trying to solve the case has been done to death. Even though the first season did this well, the second season brings something new to the table, something fairly rare within television.
The one thing that hasn’t changed, and never should, is the tone. This more than anything ties it back to the source material. At the end of the day it’s still a “true” crime black comedy with a touch of the absurd (although I would argue that this season has been slapped with the absurd instead, which isn’t a bad thing). It still balances comedy and drama on a knife’s edge except this season takes a lot more risks.
A couple of elements are unbelievably divisive. For example, there are two deus ex machinas involving a flying saucer that are never explained. I can’t articulate why these elements don’t bother me, but they just sort of fit in with the Fargo universe. Going into it, you expect that a Fargo story is going to be bizarre. This just took it further than it ever has before and it’s up to you to decide whether it has gone too far.
Overall, I enjoyed the second season of Fargo more than the first. The idea to take the tone from the film and the first season and make the events that happen even more absurd, was a risky one, but had a giant pay-off. The second season may distance itself from the film, but it is the most original thing on television I have watched in recent memory.