8 May 2017
Life’s a farce in Fargo, Season 2
In Fargo, Season 1, episode 9 (2014-current; Seasons 1 and 2 are now on Showmax), Minnesota cop Molly Solverson’s (Allison Tolman) dad, retired policeman and diner owner Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine), tells hitman Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) that so many bodies dropped in Sioux Falls in 1979 that “if you stacked them high, you could have climbed to the second floor”.
He promised that his was a tale so absurd that it would sound “made up”. And then he dropped the subject!
But now in Season 2, the time has come to tell that story, and the man on the case is the young Lou (Patrick Wilson) himself. Here’s a taste of what you’ve got to look forward to in Fargo, Season 2.
Absurdity in action
Along with sharing some of Season 1’s characters, Season 2 shares its themes of murder, mob killings, snowballing lies and a sneaking suspicion that life is so full of absurd coincidences that we’re deluding ourselves when we think we’re in control. This sense of absurd futility comes through strikingly in Peggy Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst), whose hidden hit-and-run “murder” of Gerhardt clan mobster Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin), sets the story – and a chain of murders – “rolling”.
When we meet Peggy, she’s signing on for the Life Spring seminar, a motivational course that promises to help her be “the best me”. Peggy develops a death-grip on the idea that she can escape her role as a small-town beautician in the late ’70s. What Life Spring doesn’t mention though, is that her “best me” will be fighting off dangerous circumstances and her disastrous actions. And it’s the desire to both control and escape her fate that drives Peggy to cover up her victim’s death rather than come clean.
Sadly for Peggy, she’s not in control – the show’s writers are! And they’ve shaped Season 2 around the Ancient Greek myth of Sisyphus (The Myth Of Sisyphus is the title of episode 3). He’s the king who is punished by the gods for his boastful sneakiness by being forced to push a boulder up a steep slope, only to have it roll back into his face and back down the hill as soon as he reaches the top, in a never-ending loop for all eternity. Likewise, every time Peggy feels like she’s getting ahead, splat – it’s time for the rock she’s been pushing to fall onto her face. It’s not until the finale that poor Peggy discovers the great joke in her life.
It’s called a black comedy for a reason
In the hands of over-serious storytellers, the sense of futility that dogs Season 2’s characters could lead to a real downer of a series. But Fargo makes sure that each character is charming, interesting or touching enough to be worth your time, and that the absurdity eventually falls on the side of laughter rather than futility. “In some ways, this recipe I’ve stumbled across is a way to use a crime story to explore the meaning of meaningless events, and the search that we have for meaning,” explains series executive producer Noah Hawley.
An aside: You couldn’t make this stuff up
Proving that nothing is more absurd than real life, in 2001, a Texas woman named Chante Mallard really did drive home with her hit-and-run victim, homeless man Gregory Biggs, stuck in her windshield. She left him to die in her garage when she got home. She was sentenced to 50 years for murder, as well as a 10-year sentence for tampering with evidence.
Look out for …
If Greek Mythology and Nihilism don’t float your boat, Fargo has much, much more to offer, like the UFO in episode 9 (we told you life is absurd) and chin-tastic Bruce Campbell giving us his brilliant performance as soon-to-be US President Ronald Reagan in episode 5.
Want to binge on Fargo, Season 2?