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. Then the plot went off the rails. Here’s how it could have been done differently:
Problems: Hank returns from consciousness and instead of checking on Peggy or going to the police station, he runs across Lou and Ed on a country road with Hanzee in pursuit. Ed immediately escapes.
Fixes: We don’t learn Hank’s fate. Hanzee gains on Lou and Ed and fires at them through the thick trees with Lou returning fire. In the mayhem, Ed escapes.
Additional touch: With Ed gone, Hanzee and Lou hunt each other in the woods. Both Vietnam vets have momentary flashbacks to the war. Hans momentarily succumbs to the dark depths. Lou stumbles onto a road and flags down a truck to escape.
Problems: Mike Milligan is inexplicably run off the Gerhardt farm. Bear executes Simone. Lou visits Mike at the motel. Kansas City belittles and tries to kill Mike. Floyd flips for the cops but not much comes of it. Ed somehow gets home before Lou and Hank and leaves town with Peggy and Dodd.
Fixes: Mike Milligan shoots up the farm. He runs into Simone and tell her to get out of his way. He bursts into the room with Floyd & Otto. Simone tries to stop him and he kills Otto. Mike is ready to end the feud once and for all. Simone stands in front of Floyd to save her. About this time the Gerhardt’s return. In order to get away, Mike takes Simone hostage and uses her as a shield to get away. Meanwhile at Ed and Peggy’s, Dodd is tied up in the basement. Hank regains consciousness but can’t find his gun. He wanders down into the basement and tries to talk sense into Peggy. Ed shows up. Hank warns them but is unable to talk them out of skipping town. Lou arrives too late. He sheepishly hands Hank his gun that was on the ground.
Additional touch: Simone professes her love to Mike in front of her mother. On the phone with Kansas City, Mike promises he’ll get the whole ordeal wrapped up by the end of the week.
Problems: Hanzee turns into a serial killer, eventually murdering Dodd. Lou and Hank suddenly turn up at Ed’s cabin. Ed easily gets in touch with Mike to make a deal for Dodd. Leftovers from Episode 7.
Fixes: Lou and Hank interview Ed’s mom and learn about the camp. Mike and Simone have a falling out, but he gives her money to leave town. Floyd sends Bear to the motel to get Simone, who she knows is NOT a prisoner, and Simone narrowly escapes. After a good cry, she gets on a bus to San Francisco. Mike and Bear have a showdown (or near-miss). Hanzee tracks down the Blumquists through Constance although we never know if he kills her. We still have a great scene showing the racism Hanzee has put up with his whole life. Dodd turns the tables on the Blumquists, but they are able to fight back and knock-out Dodd. Just then Hanzee walks in. He ties up Ed and calls Floyd to report. She tells them to stay put until she gets there. While Hanzee has the Blumquists hostage, he asks for the haircut which Peggy lovingly gives him. Lou and Hank show up and Hanzee runs away.
Additional touches: There are a lot ways to go here. Maybe the Blumquists kill off Dodd. Maybe Ed gets in touch with Mike in a more believable way to set-up the trade. Maybe the shopkeeper reports Ed & Peggy to Lou and Hank. Maybe Floyd does give info to the cops. But importantly, Hanzee doesn’t suddenly turn into a killing machine and execute Dodd. Bear doesn’t murder his own niece.
Problems: South Dakota police get territorial, run off Lou and predictably get themselves slaughtered at the motel in Sioux Falls. Hanzee betrays Floyd.
Fixes: We’re introduced to a big personality in the South Dakota police chief. He cooks up the plan for Ed to deal Dodd to Mike. He states, we’ll arrest this guy and any Gerhardts that show up too. Remember, Floyd is still on her way to get Ed and Peggy, which Ed tells the cops. Lou still objects to the whole thing and is run off. Hanzee sees the Blumquists being moved and reports to Floyd, etc. A massive showdown is set up at the motel between the cops, Mike, and the Gerhardts. Instead of being lazy, the cops are in full preparation. Mike shows up by himself and is arrested but at the same time the Gerhardts, who have been watching, attack. The police chief moves Mike and Dodd out of the firefight and into a room together. All the other cops are fighting off Gerhardts. The police chief then allows Mike to kill Dodd. It turns out the chief is in the employ of the Kansas City mob. As this happens, Mike’s man shows up with a bunch of other Kansas City thugs and catch the Gerhardts in a crossfire. Bear sees Mike leaving the hotel room and goes after him. The UFO appears and Mike kills Bear (like Lou did) and gets away. Ed and Peggy escape of course. Hans sees them and Floyd, seeing all is lost, tells him to bring them back to her at the farm and drives away.
Additional touches: Lou shows up afterwards, sees all the carnage and says something folksy to Hank. I hate to see Lou sidelined for this whole episode, but then again he didn’t get the news about his wife yet. In my version, maybe he does get the news, or is at least suspicious something has happened, and struggles with family obligations versus his job.
My solutions aren’t perfect, but I feel like the actions of the characters in my version of Episodes 7 through 9 are more true to what was set-up earlier in the season. It’s not as bloody, but still violent enough. As much as seems relevant at this point, I tried to end my version where Episode 9 ends. The Gerhardts are still defeated. Simone, while alive, is gone. Floyd is defeated and will eventually sell to Kansas City for a pittance. Mike, Hanzee, Ed and Peggy are still loose. Lou will have to get back on the Blumquists’ trail, but I’m sure we can figure that one out.