When Fargo Season 2 Went Off the Rails

The Season Two finale of Fargo is next Monday on FX. For six episodes, Season Two was better than the first. The story was a creative yarn set in 1979, with another all-star cast and the same quirks, dark humor, and style as Season One. Peggy, the butcher’s wife, runs over the troubled son of the Gerhardt clan, who are in the midst of a turf war with Kansas City mobsters, and machinations begin. Five beautifully crafted episodes culminated in three showdowns: one at Peggy and Ed’s house with Dodd Gerhardt, another at the police station with Bear and his thugs, and a third at the Gerhardt’s homestead.

It’s just a flyin’ saucer, Ed. We gotta go. – Peggy

When Episode Six ends, the police station showdown is resolved and Mike Milligan is storming the Gerhardt compound, where Floyd and Simone are completely unprotected. That’s all fine, but Sheriff Larsson returns from consciousness at Ed and Peggy’s and instead of going back into the house or to the police station, he’s next seen intercepting Lou and Ed on a country road. (Hanzee the Indian is pursuing them.) Ed immediately gets away, to which Hank says “Don’t worry we know where he’s going.” Ultimately, Ed will somehow get home with enough time to pack up Peggy and get out of town. This is the first head scratcher leading into the next week, where the plot completely derails.

Episode Seven has so many plot problems it feels like the old team of writers were fired and a new group took over. We find out that off-screen, Mike Milligan was somehow runoff from the Gerhardt’s. Bear gets wind of Simone’s cavorting with Mike and, in the first sign of his dark side, takes her out into the woods and executes his own niece. In a waste of screen time, Lou visits Mike and tells him to leave town which of course he doesn’t. Floyd turns into an police informant, although we don’t know what evidence she hands over and looking forward, absolutely nothing comes of it. Mike Milligan, the trusted Kansas City man who has been quite competent thus far is not only racially belittled by his handlers in KC but they send a hitman to try to kill him.

The most troubling thing about Episode Seven’s non-sensical turns is they also push the show down a darker, more travelled path. When Bear kills Simone, it is an unnecessary, cold-blooded murder, beginning a trend that will only worsen in the next two episodes. In Episode Eight, Hanzee suddenly turns into a serial killer, executing citizens and police left and right including Dodd, his longtime employer and childhood friend. Hanzee continues his killing spree in Episode Nine, where it turns into full-blown treachery. The Gerhardt clan and a team of cops predictably gun each other down at a motel in Sioux City. Instead of dark comedy or violence in service of the story, it simply becomes killing for killing’s sake. It is every hack action movie ripping off Tarantino. Not only is it not true to the characters, it’s not true to Fargo.

Throughout all of this, Episodes Seven through Nine are still completely watchable because it is still Fargo. The acting is top notch. They style is there. There are plenty of great moments, which is why the missteps are so disappointing. Although we know everyone’s gonna die, we want to see exactly how it goes down. With many of the characters either deceased or sidelined, the finale will come down to Hanzee chasing Ed and Peggy and Lou chasing Hanzee. As original as Season Two began, is there much doubt now that Ed and Lou will live, Hanzee will die, and Peggy will save the day?

In case you’re interested: How I Would’ve fixed Season Two of Fargo

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