I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.
Preston Barta // Editor
If you are familiar with Noah Hawley’s work – whether that’s from watching this season of FARGO, last season, or any of his penned episodes of BONES – you may know he always goes against the grain and makes material for you to wrestle with. You may think you have it all figured out, what the outcome of the situation may be, what characters will live or die, but Hawley never writes predictably. And this showed during last night’s bittersweet finale of FARGO‘s second season.
Last season of FARGO was more about the excitement, while this year’s close was more thoughtful and reflective. Last week’s teasers of what would lie ahead hinted at a bloody showdown in a grocery store– and why would we not think that when last week’s episode was the bloodiest of them all?
The Gerhardts were mopped clean, the visual illusion of aliens throughout the season finally came to light, and Hanzee (Zahn McClarnon) is on the move, chasing Ed (Jesse Plemons) and Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) through the streets. Meanwhile, Lou (Patrick Wilson) is after Hanzee to make sure no more blood is spilled on his watch.
But the truth of the matter is, not everyone got their happy ending. This is what separates FARGO from other television shows out there. Of course, we all drooled over BREAKING BAD and MAD MEN, but FARGO takes real situations, real people, mixes in the supernatural, but ultimately arrives at something authentic and true-to-life.
Last episode led us to believe that Betsy’s (Cristin Milioti) cancer got the best of her. However, she survived her collapse. The pills that she has been taking to cure her were only making her more sick. While it’s great she lived through it all, we know where her story leads because of FARGO‘s first season.
But perhaps one of the best sequences of this year came from the finale, where Betsy has a dream that allowed her to see into the future. The audiences see what’s in store for her husband and daughter. She sees a world where Molly (Raven Stewart) and Lou grow to live a happy life together. This sequence even went as far as going past the events of season one to find Molly (Allison Tolman), Gus (Colin Hanks, Greta (Joey King) and Lou (Keith Carradine) all celebrating Molly’s son’s birthday (the one she was pregnant with last season).
This flash-forward was touching. It connected the dots between the two seasons and even made us look at season one’s characters in a new light. But the true point of the dream was to show how the smallest thing could have sent this story on a different course. Fortunately, everything wrapped up rather nice for the Solversons.
The same cannot be said for Ed and Peggy Blumquist. Ed was shot by Hanzee, bled out and died in a freezer. His death called back to his place as a butcher, where he died strung up like a slaughtered animal. Before his death he told Peggy how much he loved her, but also how if they survived their situation they wouldn’t remain together. This followed with Peggy becoming delusional, imagining Hanzee smoking them out of the freezer and confusing the events with the events of a TV show she watched a few episodes back before Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) bit the dust. It was an incredibly tragic and depressing end to the Blumquists, especially knowing Ed died watching his wife lose her mind.
Once reality set in, Peggy realized Hanzee didn’t smoke them out. When Peggy opened the freezer door with a poker ready to stab Hanzee, it was Lou who opened the door to reveal that Hanzee escaped. We see the toll that Peggy’s story takes on Lou, especially when Peggy speaks of how he wouldn’t understand how she was a victim in all of this because he’s not a woman. We can see in Lou’s eyes how her words changed him and how it effects the way that he raises his daughter from here on out.
One of the most fascinating characters of the show, Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine), also received a “true-to-life” ending. He received his “king” status upon returning to Kansas City, but not in the way he thought he would. As Bob Dylan put it, “the times they are a changing.” Disco is dying, Ronald Reegan (Bruce Campbell) was on his way to becoming president– the times were indeed changing. Everything you need to do in life can be done from a desk. This speaks about how life is for us right now– We have all these fancy gadgets and toys that do most of the work for us and we don’t have to push a broom. All of this was said so subtly with the look on Mike’s face as he slowly sunk in his new office chair.
Hanzee, however, got the most ambiguous end of the bunch. He fled in true Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem’s character from the Coen brothers’ NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN) style. He received a new identity and expressed interest in facial reconstruction. His new name is Moses Tripoli, a callback to a character from FARGO‘s first season. The chances are you probably forgot the character’s name from season one and who played him (it was Mark Acheson), but that’s what the internet is for.
FARGO‘s finale was a lot to take in. It featured more talking than desired action, but it was a fitting conclusion to Hawley’s second chapter. Hawley deepened the mythology of the show and refrained from doing what most sequels tend to do: go louder. He just went bigger and better.
Season three of FARGO returns next year.