In many ways, the 2014 FX series Fargo may have been more entertaining that the Coen Brothers flick that it was loosely based on. Not only did season one rack up two Golden Globes & three Emmys (among a few dozen other wins and nominations), it ended up on the top of my favorite shows of the year list, and outranks the film on Rotten Tomatoes (98% fresh, compared to the movie’s 94%).
That’s why, though it may be hard to believe, I actually think that Fargo season 2 is better than the first.
Admittedly, I was nervous for Fargo when it premiered this month. The news that series creator Noah Hawley was going to take the show down the American Horror Story “anthology” route was met with a bit of resistance on my side, particularly after the disappointment of this season’s True Detective.
However, my worry of any degradation of the masterful work that Billy Bob Thornton, Allison Tolman, Colin Hanks, & Co put into season 1 would be damaged this year was quickly put to rest by the time season 2’s premiere hit its first commercial break.
Fargo season 2 reignites all of the cleverness & quirk that made it an award-winning series in the first place. Season 2 stars Patrick Wilson—as Lou Solverson, Keith Carradine’s character from 2014—and Ted Danson play the role of subtly bad-ass small-town cops that you want to root for, just as Hanks & Tolman (whose character is shown as a child this season) did in the original. Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad) handle their roles as a couple facing a major challenge to their outwardly normal, happy existence with the eerie-but-cutesy believability we’ve come to expect from Hawley’s anthology. A favorite of mine, Burn Notice star Jeffrey Donovan—along with Jean Smart (Designing Women)—are Fargo‘s new “bad guys”; who face their own threats from the Kansas City Mafia (led by Everybody Loves Raymond‘s Brad Garrett.
By far, though, my favorite character in Fargo season 2 at this point is Bokeem Woodbine‘s Mike Milligan. His calm, articulate demeanor (even whilst dispensing threats of violence) reminds me much of Billy Bob’s ruthless, but well spoken, Lorne Malvo. Woodbine has an incredible writing team behind him (as do the others on Fargo), but his portrayal of the KC Mob’s strong-arm man is one of the actor’s finest roles to date.
The characters of Fargo season 2 are as engaging as the first, and the sometimes-absurd storyline is brilliantly told through powerful acting, beautiful cinematography, and a soundtrack worth downloading. Of course, there will be those naysayers—but, in my mind, season 2 of Fargo is worth more than just a casual watch; it may just be one of the best shows of the year, again.