Not exactly a standalone and yet not indeed a prequel, FX’s Fargo season two premiered this week darker and quite funnier, with showrunner Noah Hawley displaying a fresh, clever promise for the series.
As in season 1, the stimulus that sets this season’s events in motion is a murder, or three, depending on where you’re standing. Zealous housewife Peggy Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst), runs over Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin) the youngest son of the Gerhardt crime syndicate family of North Dakota and brings him home with her, eventually forcing her clueless husband Ed (Jesse Plemons) to cover up the crime.
At this point, both of them are unaware that Rye is wanted for a triple homicide he committed at a Waffle Hut earlier that very night, when his attempt to persuade a judge to relieve his partner’s debts and get them into the self-correcting typewriter business doesn’t go as planned.
But much before we are introduced to any of the characters or events, we are prefaced with when they happen.
Waiting for the Dutch opens up with the making-off of a film called The Massacre in Sioux Falls starring Ronald Reagan, followed by a montage of images evoking American life in the late ’70s, accompanied by a voiceover of President Jimmy Carter’s 1979 televised speech “Crisis of Confidence”.
The attention to details is such that we feel compelled to believe the tone and setting are going to play an important part in the understanding of the parables and mini puzzles we are going to be faced with in this season.
- The gorgeous cinematography. The view of Minnesota’s interminable white desolation will always bring us back Fargo. There’s this comfortable feeling we know those grounds, and the afflictive feeling we know what it means to be back, what it means to be open to the possibilities.
- The screen split that contrasts Peggy’s sorrowful account of the accident and her actual cold blood is genius.
- The precious Easter eggs accounted as follows: The Waffle Hut reference from The Ladykillers, the tale of job from A Serious Man, the UFO sighting from The Man Who Wasn’t There, the end credit song from O Brother, Where Art Thou?, performed by Noah Hawley himself.
- The small city feeling. A triple homicide being a matter for local investigation. The dead cook on the Waffle Hut floor being a former high school sports hero. A shoe in a tree being just a shoe in a tree.
- “Dutch” is Ronald Reagan’s nickname.
- The book Lou Solverson reads to young Molly is The Five Little Peppers And How They Grew by Margaret Sidney.
- Peggy hitting Rye with her car and driving home with him stuck in the windshield is a reference to the case of Chante Mallard, who hit a homeless man in 2001 and left him to die in her garage. She was sentenced to 50 years in prison for murder and tampering with evidence. The case also inspired Stuart Gordon’s 2007 movie Stuck.