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Fargo (season 2)

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Fargo
Season 2
Fargoseason2promo.jpg
Promotional poster
Starring
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes10
Release
Original networkFX
Original releaseOctober 12 (2015-10-12) –
December 14, 2015 (2015-12-14)
Season chronology
← Previous
Season 1
Next →
Season 3
List of episodes

The second season of Fargo, an American anthology black comedycrime drama television series created by Noah Hawley, premiered on October 12, 2015, on the basic cable network FX. Its principal cast is Kirsten Dunst, Patrick Wilson, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, and Ted Danson. The ten-episode season's finale aired on December 14, 2015. As an anthology, each Fargo season possesses its own self-contained narrative, following a disparate set of characters in various settings.

A prequel to the events in its first season, season two of Fargo takes place in the Upper Midwest in March 1979. It follows the lives of a young couple—Peggy (Dunst) and Ed Blumquist (Plemons)—as they attempt to cover up the hit and run and homicide of Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin), the son of Floyd Gerhardt (Smart), matriarch of the Gerhardt crime family. During this time, Minnesota state trooper Lou Solverson (Wilson), and Rock County sheriff Hank Larsson (Danson), investigate three homicides linked to Rye.

Cristin Milioti, Brad Garrett, Elizabeth Marvel, Jeffrey Donovan, Rachel Keller, Zahn McClarnon, Angus Sampson, Bokeem Woodbine, and Nick Offerman all make recurring appearances. Kieran Culkin guest stars.

Hawley and his writing team used the second season to expand the scope of the show's storytelling. Season two's episodes were shot in Calgary, Alberta over an 85-day period. The series received widespread critical acclaim and was cited as one of the strongest programs of the 2015 television season. It was a candidate for a multitude of awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Limited Series and Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film, and won several other honors recognizing outstanding achievement in acting, directing, writing, cinematography, editing, special effects, and creative direction.

Cast[edit]

Main[edit]

Recurring[edit]

  • Cristin Milioti as Betsy Solverson, Lou's wife, suffering from cancer.
  • Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd Gerhardt, the oldest of the three Gerhardt brothers.
  • Zahn McClarnon as Hanzee Dent, a Native American veteran of the Vietnam War who works as Dodd Gerhardt's enforcer.
  • Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan, a charismatic member of the Kansas City crime family, sent to deal with the Gerhardt family.
  • Angus Sampson as Bear Gerhardt, younger brother of Dodd and older brother of Rye.
  • Brad Garrett as Joe Bulo, a senior representative of the Kansas City crime family to supervise the negotiations and potential elimination of the Gerhardt family.
  • Nick Offerman as Karl Weathers, the only lawyer of the town.
  • Michael Hogan as Otto Gerhardt, Floyd's husband and the Gerhardt family patriarch, who suffers a stroke.
  • Rachel Keller as Simone Gerhardt, Dodd's rebellious daughter.
  • Adam Arkin as Hamish Broker, a senior executive at the Kansas City mafia.
  • Raven Stewart as Molly Solverson, Lou's six-year-old daughter. She is played by Allison Tolman in season 1, where she is shown to be a deputy in the Bemidji police department.
  • Emily Haine as Noreen Vanderslice, a young woman working at Ed's butcher shop and an avid reader of Albert Camus.
  • Daniel Beirne as Sonny Greer, a mechanic and friend of Weathers.
  • Brad and Todd Mann as Gale and Wayne Kitchen, Milligan's twin enforcers.
  • Elizabeth Marvel as Constance Heck, Peggy's coworker at the hair salon, who shares her interest in self-help literature.
  • Allan Dobrescu as Charlie Gerhardt, Bear's teenage son who has mild cerebral palsy.
  • Keir O'Donnell as Ben Schmidt, a Fargo police detective whom Lou is forced to work with. He is played by Peter Breitmayer in season 1, where he is shown to be a senior lieutenant in the Duluth police department.
  • Terry Kinney as Chief Gibson, an officer in the South Dakota Highway Patrol.
  • Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan
  • Ann Cusack as Judge Mundt, a judge whom Rye attempts to coerce into unfreezing his business partner's assets.
  • Mike Bradecich as Skip Sprang, the hapless owner of a typewriter shop and Rye's business partner.
  • Greg Bryk as Virgil Bauer, one of Dodd's trusted henchmen.

Special guests[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal air dateProd.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
111"Waiting for Dutch"Michael Uppendahl
Randall Einhorn
Noah HawleyOctober 12, 2015 (2015-10-12)XFO020011.59[1]
In 1979, Otto Gerhardt, patriarch of the Gerhardt crime family in Fargo, North Dakota, is incapacitated by a stroke, possibly jeopardizing their dynasty's leadership and sending two of his sons, Dodd and Bear, into a power struggle. At a Waffle Hut near Luverne, Minnesota, Otto's third son Rye attempts to extort a judge into unfreezing the assets of his business partner Skip Sprang, but ends up murdering her and two restaurant employees. Wounded, he sees an apparent UFO and stumbles into the road, only to be struck by a passing car. The driver, beautician Peggy Blumquist, assumes Rye to be dead and hides him in her garage. Her husband Ed, a butcher, discovers Rye alive and stabs him to death after being attacked. The two elect to keep the incident a secret and hide the corpse in their meat freezer. State trooper Lou Solverson and Sheriff Hank Larsson (Lou's father-in-law) begin investigating the diner murders. At home, Lou tends for his cancer-stricken wife Betsy and their daughter Molly. In light of Otto's stroke, members of a Kansas City-based syndicate make plans to move on Fargo.
122"Before the Law"Noah HawleyNoah HawleyOctober 19, 2015 (2015-10-19)XFO020020.96[2]
Otto's wife Floyd is approached by Joe Bulo of the Kansas City mafia, who offers her a buyout of her family operation that keeps the Gerhardts' leadership intact. Dodd bristles at his mother running the business, but acquiesces when Floyd names him her successor after the situation settles. Floyd demands Rye found. Bulo's associates Mike Milligan and the twin Kitchen brothers also begin searching for Rye. While driving into town, Lou stops by the Waffle Hut crime scene, where Betsy finds Rye's gun. That night, Lou stops by Ed's butcher shop to buy bacon, unaware that Ed is disposing of Rye's body in the meat grinder.
133"The Myth of Sisyphus"Michael UppendahlBob DeLaurentisOctober 26, 2015 (2015-10-26)XFO020031.21[3]
The police begin searching for Rye after his fingerprints are identified on the gun from the Waffle Hut; Milligan, Dodd, and the latter's henchman Hanzee independently search for Rye themselves. At the beauty salon, Betsy speculates to Hank (her father) that Rye is the victim of a hit-and-run in front of Peggy, who convinces Ed to crash her car a second time to hide evidence of Rye's murder. Lou travels to Fargo, where he and Detective Ben Schmidt travel to the Gerhardt farm and have a tense encounter with Floyd and her sons. Lou then visits Skip's typewriter store, where he has a standoff with Milligan and the Kitchen brothers. Dodd's rebellious daughter Simone points Hanzee to Skip, who is brought to Dodd for interrogation. After determining that Skip has no information on Rye's whereabouts, Dodd has Skip buried alive, then directs Hanzee to look for Rye in Luverne.
144"Fear and Trembling"Michael UppendahlSteve BlackmanNovember 2, 2015 (2015-11-02)XFO020041.28[4]
As Otto is being taken to a doctor's appointment, Simone has sex with Milligan, inadvertently mentioning the doctor visit. The Kitchens then eliminate Otto's guards in the parking lot outside the medical clinic, leaving Otto unharmed. Meanwhile, Floyd, Dodd, and Bear meet with Bulo and propose a counter-offer to his buyout in the form of a partnership. Bulo balks at the idea, since Dodd assaulted two of his men earlier. Bulo phones his superiors who reject the Gerhardts' proposal. They now offer two million dollars less than the first offer and demand the Gerhardts' complete surrender. In Luverne, Hanzee's investigation leads him to find Rye's belt buckle in the Blumquist fireplace. Lou talks to the Blumquists regarding his suspicions that they are involved in Rye's death, but they stubbornly refuse to cooperate. He warns them of the Gerhardts' violent history. At the Gerhardt farm, Floyd tells the family to prepare for war.
155"The Gift of the Magi"Jeffrey ReinerMatt Wolpert & Ben NediviNovember 9, 2015 (2015-11-09)XFO020051.13[5]
Lou is temporarily taken off the Waffle Hut murder case while working a security detail for presidential candidate Ronald Reagan. Dodd and Hanzee concoct a story characterizing Ed as a hitman called "The Butcher" hired by Kansas City to kill Rye, in an attempt to rile Floyd into waging war. On Floyd's orders, Hanzee kills Bulo and a Kitchen brother, and sends the former's head to Milligan. Milligan later threatens Simone into spying on her family for him. Dodd sends his henchman Virgil to kill Ed, accompanied by Bear's naive son Charlie. Peggy heeds Lou's warning and plans to leave for California, but Ed insists on staying. Peggy ultimately sells her car to get the down payment to purchase the butcher shop. The assassination attempt on Ed ends with Virgil dead, Charlie hospitalized, and the butcher shop ablaze. Ed returns home and decides to leave town with Peggy, only to learn she sold their car. The police arrive on the Blumquists' doorstep.
166"Rhinoceros"Jeffrey ReinerNoah HawleyNovember 16, 2015 (2015-11-16)XFO020061.15[6]
Ed is arrested and brought to the police station for questioning, while Hank interrogates Peggy at her house. Floyd demands "The Butcher" executed and Charlie released from jail; Dodd and his men go to the Blumquists' in search of Ed, while Bear fetches for Charlie. Hanzee knocks out Hank, but Peggy subdues Dodd in her basement using a cattle prod. Karl Weathers, Luverne's only attorney, is summoned to the station to represent Ed. Bear and his men arrive soon after; realizing Ed will be killed, Lou sneaks him out a rear window while Weathers convinces Bear to leave. Hank drives back into town and intercepts Lou and Ed, but Ed runs off, with Hanzee in pursuit. While the Gerhardts depart, Simone calls Milligan and asks him to murder her father as revenge for Dodd's abuse. Milligan and his men arrive at the Gerhardt farm and open fire with Simone, Floyd, and Otto inside.
177"Did You Do This? No, You Did It!"Keith GordonNoah Hawley and Matt Wolpert & Ben NediviNovember 23, 2015 (2015-11-23)XFO020071.24[7]
Otto is killed in Milligan's raid on the farm, escalating the war between Fargo and Kansas City. Lou and Ben arrive after Otto's funeral and take Floyd to the station for questioning. She eventually accepts a deal that absolves her family for their past crimes in exchange for information on the inner workings of their drug operation. Bear drives Simone to a secluded forest and shoots her for betraying the family. Lou asks Weathers to keep an eye on his family; Betsy claims to Weathers she has received placebo pills for her treatments, and wants Weathers to look after her family after she is gone. Betsy later goes to her father's house to feed his cat, but discovers his office filled with strange drawings and symbols. Milligan's superiors call him to inform him that an "Undertaker" has been sent to take over his end of the operation; when he arrives, Milligan kills him and his men, intending to blame the murder on the Gerhardts. He then receives a call from Ed, who says he has Dodd hostage in his trunk.
188"Loplop"Keith GordonBob DeLaurentisNovember 30, 2015 (2015-11-30)XFO020081.32[8]
Ed rushes back home; he and Peggy put Dodd in the trunk of his car and hide out in a relative's hunting cabin in South Dakota, unaware that Hanzee is pursuing them. At a gas station, Ed makes several unsuccessful phone calls to the Gerhardts to bargain for Dodd's freedom. He finally comes to an agreement with Milligan, and prepares to meet him at a motel in Sioux Falls the next morning. However, Dodd gets loose, incapacitates Peggy, and hangs Ed; Peggy knocks Dodd unconscious in time to save her husband. A manhunt ensues for Hanzee after he shoots five individuals at a bar; he finds Peggy's coworker Constance and forces her to trick Peggy into revealing her whereabouts over the phone, to no avail. A gas station attendant calls the police after he recognizes Hanzee in his shop. Hanzee finds the cabin, shoots Dodd in the head, and asks Peggy for a haircut. Peggy stabs Hanzee in the back as Lou and Hank arrive, forcing Hanzee to flee.
199"The Castle"Adam ArkinNoah Hawley and Steve BlackmanDecember 7, 2015 (2015-12-07)XFO020091.31[9]
Lou and Hank call in the South Dakota Highway Patrol after recapturing the Blumquists. The Patrol's Captain Cheney hatches a reckless plan for Ed and Peggy to wear a wire to the meeting with Milligan. Lou strongly opposes the idea, prompting Cheney to have him escorted out of the state while Hank stays behind. The Blumquists agree to the plan in exchange for lesser charges, and the police set up an ambush at the motel. Hanzee lies to Floyd and Bear that Dodd is being held in the motel by the Kansas City mob. Lou stops at the gas station to call home, unaware that Betsy has collapsed, and discovers that Hanzee has killed the attendant. He rushes to warn the others, but arrives to find the Gerhardts in a shootout with Cheney's team. All but Ben and a wounded Hank are killed; Floyd realizes Hanzee's deception before he stabs her to death. Bear attempts to strangle Lou, but a UFO suddenly appears above the motel, allowing Lou to shoot a distracted Bear. The Blumquists flee with Hanzee in pursuit, while police reinforcements arrive.
2010"Palindrome"Adam ArkinNoah HawleyDecember 14, 2015 (2015-12-14)XFO020101.82[10]
Hanzee shoots Ed while he and Peggy flee. The two take shelter in the meat locker of a supermarket. Ed eventually succumbs to his blood loss, causing Peggy to have a mental breakdown and hallucinate that Hanzee has set the supermarket ablaze to smoke them out, mirroring a film she watched earlier. When she exits the locker, she is met by Lou, who arrests her. On the drive back to Minnesota, the two converse about life and death, with Peggy finally accepting her fate. Hanzee receives a new identity from a confidant and rescues a pair of young boys, one of whom is deaf, from a schoolyard bully. Milligan is promoted after taking credit for wiping out the Gerhardts, only to find himself working in a small corporate office. Betsy recovers from the side effects of her chemotherapy drugs; she, Lou, Betsy and Hank gather as a family, with no one able to explain the UFO. Hank tells Betsy that the symbols in his office were his attempt at creating a universal language to promote better global cooperation. The three ponder what the future holds for themselves and their family.

Production[edit]

Development and writing[edit]

Details of a new season first emerged in the media following a Television Critics Association (TCA) press event,[11] and by July 21, 2014, FX commissioned ten episodes for Fargo's second season.[12]

As an anthology, each season of Fargo is engineered to have a self-contained narrative, following a disparate set of characters in various settings.[13] Noah Hawley and his team of writers used the second season to expand the scope of the show's storytelling—from its narrative to its characters.[14] They increased the show's cast of core characters to five, each with interconnecting arcs and different viewpoints of the central story. Hawley wanted viewers to sympathize with characters they might not feel empathy for in real life.[14] The producers at one point discussed revisiting a modern period for their story.[15] Ultimately, their vision—inspired by Miller's Crossing (1990) and The Man Who Wasn't There (2001), in addition to the show's namesake film (1996)[16][17]—was realized as a prequel that takes place 27 years before the events of the first season of Fargo (set in 2006) in 1979, rotating between Luverne, Minnesota, Fargo, North Dakota and Sioux Falls, South Dakota.[14][16] According to Hawley, the change in the time period helped to develop a sense of turbulence and violence in a world that "could not be more fractured and complicated and desperate".[14][18]

Casting[edit]

A principal cast of five actors received star billing in the show's second season.[19] Hawley did not tailor his characters with any specific actors in mind, though Nick Offerman, Brad Garrett, Patrick Wilson and Kirsten Dunst were among the few he considered for starring roles in the season's early stages.[20][21] The search for talent was sometimes an exhaustive process that required advertising via custom built websites and social media. Once actors were hired, their agents were made aware of the frigid shooting conditions and any issues with the location and potential scheduling conflicts during production were discussed.[22] Hawley discussed the script with actors who had little experience in the television industry. "They're used to reading the whole story but you've given them one or two hours of it," he remarked.[21] Once hired, the actors trained with a dialect coach to master a Minnesota accent.[23]

Dunst and Jesse Plemons were the season's first lead castings (as Peggy and Ed Blumquist) in December 2014.[24] Dunst found out about the project through her agency,[25] and read scripts for two episodes, viewed Fargo's first season, and its namesake film, before securing her role.[21] The actress recalled, "I was so impressed by the way it looked, the writing; it was such high-quality television."[25] Plemons came to Hawley's attention for his work in Friday Night Lights (2006–11) and Breaking Bad (2008–13).[26] Hawley thought that the actor's bulky physique, weight he had gained previously for Black Mass (2015), captured the cow-like deportment of his character.[27][28] Plemons said that he had trouble interpreting his role initially because he "was worried that [being cow-like] meant dumb and just went along with whatever his wife said".[29]

Wilson, Ted Danson, and Jean Smart completed the principal cast by January 2015.[19] Wilson appeared as officer Lou Solverson, Danson as sheriff Hank Larsson, and Smart as Floyd Gerhardt, the matriarch of the Gerhardt crime family. Wilson's casting was unique because he was the only performer to portray an already established character; Keith Carradine played Lou for the show's first season, set 27 years after the events of season two.[30] As such, Hawley did not want to take cues from Carradine because Lou was "at a different point" in his life, although Wilson analyzed Carradine's performance to a point.[31][32] Wilson was persuaded by Fargo's critical accolades and commercial success; the actor said: "There have been several times that you've given your heart and soul to an independent film and more often than not it doesn't match up to any commercial success or people seeing your film. So [my wife and agent] were like, 'You need to do something that people see'."[30] Danson found learning the Minnesota accent difficult; to improve, he began practicing as soon as he was signed, often on set before filming began.[23] Smart's role required an older look, which producers achieved by cutting and dyeing her hair, and Hawley gave the actress a book of paintings by Andrew Wyeth to explain her character.[23]

An ensemble of 20 actors make up the bulk of the series' cast. Hawley found ensembles enticing because they presented "a lot of really good moving pieces".[33] At Paleyfest 2015, the Fargo creator commented: "It's sort of like a horse race in a way, especially when you know that everyone is on this collision course. It's like, 'Who's going to make it?' And you can put people together in unexpected pairings."[33] Offerman played Karl Weathers, an alcoholic and the only lawyer in Luverne, and Cristin Milioti was assigned the part of Betsy Solverson, Lou's terminally ill wife. Hawley felt that Milioti was the right choice because her personality was similar to her character's.[33][34] Garrett portrays Joe Bulo, and Bokeem Woodbine appears as Mike Milligan, a role he was offered two days after auditioning.[35] For the role of Hanzee Dent, Hawley hired Zahn McClarnon two weeks after his audition.[36] Six others play members of the Gerhardts: Kieran Culkin as Rye,[37] Rachel Keller as Simone, Michael Hogan as Otto,[37] Allan Dobrescu as Charlie, Angus Sampson as Bear, and Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd.[37] When asked about his decision to cast Donovan, Hawley told the actor, "I don't know. You just come off with a sense of power. I think Dodd comes off with a sense of power, and I thought that you have the chops to find the humor in it."[21] Donovan gained 30 pounds in preparation for his role.[38] Other major supporting roles in Fargo's second season include: Bruce Campbell as Ronald Reagan, Keir O'Donnell as Ben Schmidt, and Elizabeth Marvel as Constance Heck.[37][39]

Filming[edit]

The Calgary skyline, as seen from Prince's Island Park
Downtown Calgary, pictured here in 2007. The city's central business district and Kensington neighborhood doubled for Kansas City, Luverne, and Sioux Falls.

Preliminary scouting was well underway by the time Fargo was renewed.[11] Principal photography began in Calgary, Alberta on January 19, 2015,[40] and took 85 days.[41] The city's central business district and Kensington neighborhood doubled for Kansas City, Sioux Falls, and Luverne.[42] Production crew constructed the Waffle Hut set[43] on the CL Ranch in neighboring Springbank.[42] Elsewhere in the area, shooting took place in Didsbury, High River, Fort Macleod, and St. Mary's University.[42][44] Initially, the weather posed a challenge for the production because it was too warm for snow. To solve this problem, the production crew brought snow to the set from nearby mountains.[41]

Continuing his services from the prior season, Dana Gonzales oversaw production of the show's second season. The cinematographer took cues from William Eggleston to develop a retro visual palette.[45] To achieve this quality, Gonzales relied on vintage practical lighting technology, and captured scenes with an Arri ALEXA camera, retrofitted with vintage Cooke lenses.[45] In one section of Calgary where they were filming, production staff replaced each sodium-lamp street light with tungsten light bulbs, creating an ambience that "pulls the audience into the world when the story takes place".[45] Also, once Hawley analyzed the 1968 thriller film The Boston Strangler, split screen effects were employed to help streamline the narrative during transitions.[45] Gonzales said: "We felt that split-screen would be an incredible way to track all these characters and locations within the episode: Where's the Gerhardt family? Where are the guys from Kansas City? Where's Peggy? Where's Ed?"[45]

Costume design[edit]

Costume designer Carol Case and Hawley worked closely together to develop Fargo's costumes.[46] Case saw the show as a big undertaking because of her desire to capture the "specific feeling" of 1970s fashion.[47] Starting "from scratch", the design team sought to create a "really small-town America[n]" style for most of the show's wardrobe.[48] They also felt that it was important to distinguish the style of the rural characters, who at that time were largely unaware of fashion trends, from that of the urban characters.[47][48][49] For the urban characters, Case used clothes she bought from New York to create a more polished, sleek look.[48] Though Fargo producers bought a few pieces months in advance of production,[47] sourcing vintage wear proved to be daunting, especially for cold weather, since much of the available supply was inadequately insulated.[50] As a consequence, many costumes, such as Dunst's, were either modified by adding insulation, or created anew by the design team.[49][50] Some modern pieces were used for footwear and accessories.[47]

Music[edit]

Leading music production of the second season of Fargo were composer Jeff Russo and newly appointed music supervisor Marguerite Phillips. Phillips was hired immediately after her first meeting with Hawley, in a text which she received as she left the building.[51] Together, they brainstormed ideas on the season's musical direction; progressive rock, krautrock, Jethro Tull, and The Runaways were among several early suggestions.[51] Phillips spent months conducting research, "dicking around and 'going down rabbit holes'" for the obscure music choices, until ultimately narrowing down the selection of music from a master playlist.[51] Russo employed various compositional and recording techniques to build a distinctive retro sound.[52] The soundtrack features songs by: Lisa Hannigan, Billy Thorpe "Children of the Sun", Burl Ives, Cris Williamson, Devo, Jeff Wayne, Yamasuki, Blitzen Trapper, Shakey Graves, White Denim, and Bobby Womack, as well as one cover versionEmmylou Harris, Alison Krauss and Gillian Welch's "Didn't Leave Nobody but the Baby" performed by Hawley.[51] The use of "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath in the opening scenes of the season finale received acclaim.[53][54][55] Russo also recorded music with the University of Southern California (USC) marching band at Hawley's request.[56]

Reception[edit]

Ratings[edit]

Fargo premiered to 1.59 million U.S. viewers; 609,000 were in the 18–49 demographic. Viewership was down by 40% after the series premiere, and 19% from the season one finale.[1][57] From then on, ratings for the second season fell in the 1.13 to the 1.32 million range until the final episode, which peaked with 1.82 million viewers.[10]

Reviews[edit]

Fargo was considered among the best television shows of 2015 by the American press.[58] On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 100% of 61 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 9.1/10. The website's consensus reads, "Season two of Fargo retains all the elements that made the series an award-winning hit, successfully delivering another stellar saga powered by fascinating characters, cheeky cynicism, and just a touch of the absurd."[59] The season also holds the rare distinction of having each episode maintain a perfect 100% rating as well.[59] Metacritic gives the season a score of 96, based on 33 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[60] It was the highest rated TV show of the year on the same site, as well as the 20th highest of all time.[61][62]

Christopher Orr of The Atlantic called Fargo "smart, thrilling, imaginative television, in addition to being wicked funny", in which Hawley assumes greater narrative dimension and assurance in his vision.[63] Matthew Gilbert from The Boston Globe identified the dialog, acting, cinematography, music, set design and directing as its most satisfying attributes.[64] So too did The Hollywood Reporter's Tim Goodman, who believed that said qualities "make a very riveting and entertaining dark comedy spectacle".[65] Neil Genzlinger, writing for The New York Times, said that Fargo marries deadpan humor, violence, and "observational oddity" in a way unmatched by similar dramas.[66] In his review for Variety, Brian Lowry believed that despite the show's brisk pace, Hawley nonetheless adds depth to his story.[67] Dan Jardine of Slant Magazine agreed and thought that the narrative complexity is what distinguishes season two from Fargo's freshman season.[68] Rolling Stone's Rob Sheffield felt that Fargo painted "a fascinating portrait of America at the crossroads".[69] Alan Sepinwall said in his review for HitFix that the series captures its namesake film's most redeeming qualities while assuming a distinct identity,[70] and The A.V. Club website felt that the series was "the rare cable drama that forgoes attenuated storytelling and moral ambiguity, and instead delivers episode after episode where a lot happens, and all of it matters".[71]

The ensemble performances were frequently mentioned in the critiques. Lowry cited the cast as one of the show's strongest assets,[67] and Robert Biano in USA Today wrote that Fargo's cast was "with nary a false note".[72] The Daily Telegraph critic Michael Hogan singled out Dunst, Danson and Wilson for their work on the show,[73] as did the San Francisco Chronicle's David Wiegand, whose opinion was that many of the performers' signature roles enhanced Hawley's script.[74] Matt Zoller Seitz of New York magazine found Wilson to be the stand out among a pool of actors that "deserve their own stand-alone appreciations".[75] He said of the actor's performance: "He's a young man, and he's in good shape, but he carries himself like an older, heavier one, as if weighed down by burdens he hasn't fully acknowledged because he's not ready yet. You get a sense of a personality, perhaps a soul, in the process of evolving."[75] Reviews from Entertainment Weekly and The Washington Post singled out Donovan, Smart, Milioti, Garrett, and Offerman for their acting.[76][77] Grantland, The New York Observer, and the Los Angeles Times also praised the ensemble performances.[78][79][80]

Accolades[edit]

Fargo was a candidate for a variety of awards, most of them recognizing outstanding achievement in writing, cinematography, directing, acting, and special effects. The series received eighteen Emmy nominations for the 68th Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony.[81][82] It was named Television Program of the Year by the American Film Institute,[83] and received three Golden Globe nominations—including for Best Actor and Best Actress in a Miniseries or Television Film (Wilson and Dunst respectively).[84] Other accolades included two Satellite Awards nominations in two categories,[85] two TCA Award nominations in two categories,[86] and one Empire Award nomination.[87] At the 6th Critics' Choice Television Awards, Fargo won four awards from eight nominations, the majority of which acknowledged the performance work of the show's cast.[88]

Home media release[edit]

On February 23, 2016, 20th Century Fox released the second season of Fargo on DVD and Blu-ray formats in region 1. In addition to all ten episodes, both DVD and Blu-ray disc formats include five featurettes; "Lou on Lou: A Conversation with Patrick Wilson, Keith Carradine and Noah Hawley", "Waffles and Bullet Holes: A Return to Sioux Falls", "The Films of Ronald Reagan: Extended Fargo cut", "The True History of Crime in the Midwest", and "Skip Sprang TV Commercial".[89]

References[edit]

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