Fargo Season 2 is set in 1979, 27 years prior to the storyline in Season 1 and although the storyline is different and so are the main characters you will gradually notice some characters from Season 1 feature prominently in Season 2; be it they are 27 years younger. The way the makers are interweaving the original Coen brothers film (and give numerous nods to movies throughout their career) and the different seasons will delight the fans and spark further interest.
A darkly funny shootout in a Waffle Hut in Sioux Falls will yet again set of a chain of dramatic events that involve a major crime syndicate, a local mob family, the neighbouring police departments (Patrick Wilson playing police officer Lou Solverson, played by Keith Carradine in Season 1) and a young couple: a local butcher played by Jesse Plemons and his wife a beautician, a role for Kirsten Dunst.
The wife happens to drive by the Waffle Hut shortly after the killings have taken place and runs over the shooter who’s distracted by a UFO (!?!?). She drives home with the body of the killer still on the hood with his face through the windshield, parks her car in the garage and prepares dinner for her husband. A situation not to dissimilar to Stuart Gordon’s excellent but sadly somewhat overlooked (or unnoticed) film Stuck (2007).
As the film takes place in 1979 the writers have introduced a funny Ronald Reagan (played by Bruce Campbell) subplot who was on his Presidential campaign tour at the time. Especially his ‘alien threat’speech -prefiguring his future Star Wars plans and in keeping with the UFO sightings that are spread throughout Season 2- is significant. There’s also a heavy usage of split screens, a popular device in the sixties and seventies film and TV shows, but went out of vogue in the late seventies.
If you’re a Joel and Ethan Coen fan you’ll have fun spotting references to Fargo but also to the rest of their body of work. Some examples:
Spread throughout Season 2 you’ll hear cover versions by Texas bands of songs which will sound familiar. Most noticably Let’s Find Each Other Tonight performed in the original Fargo by José Feliciano, A Man of Constant Sorrow and Didn’t Leave Nobody but the Baby from O’ Brother Where art Thou?, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) from The Big Lebowski and Danny Boy from Miller’s Crossing.
Some dialogues like “Just for a little money” and ‘We’re going crazy out there at the lake” and the physicality of certain characters echo does of the original Fargo film. There’s a TV set not functioning properly in a cabin that’s being hit frequently, a woodchipper in the film becomes a meat grinder in Season 2
The ‘looking further in the future’ dream sequence at the end of Raising Arizona is referenced in the final episode of season 2 which gives way the Solverson family connecting with Season 1 in case you’ve not spotted it by then. (They final episode reveals some more character links between Season 1 and 2 which are harder to spot and which may need a 2nd viewing of Season 1. If you do, you may notice that the Sioux Falls incident is mentioned on several occasions in Season 1)
Besides using the song Danny Boy there’s a further reference to Miller’s Crossing in that sequence as a character is being brought into the woods to be assassinated shot in a manor very similar to the way the Coen brothers filmed their scene. The main (deliberated) difference: Miller’s Crossing has shots looking up at trees on several occasions (including the opening title sequence) whereas the TV episode has top shots of trees in a snow landscape, propbably filmed with a drone.
The scene where highrise window washers shoot up an office and the 3 people in it has a nod to The Hudsucker Proxy: the papers of a contract fly through the air in the exact same way as the ‘Bumstead contract’ does in The Hudsucker Proxy due to a window being broken.
The repeated UFO sightings are a nod to The Man Who Wasn’t There, Ed Crane (played by Billy Bob Thornthon, baddie in Season 1) has some similar flying saucers bathing him in light. And so on, and so on.
In summation, Season 2 repeats the miracle that Season 1 was, the makers have captured all the great elements of the original film, made it their own, it features great writing, acting and directing. Can’t wait for Season 3 which allegedly will take place in 2010 but we’ll have to wait till 2017 as writing is still underway. No need for them to rush, just keep up the high quality I’d say.