TV Recap: Fargo, ‘Waiting for Dutch’ (Season 2 Premiere)

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‘Waiting for Dutch’ Plot Summary:

On a quiet, average night in Luverne, Minnesota, a triple homicide in a diner causes the lives of several different people to completely unravel. At the center of the chaos is Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson), a State Trooper trying to restore order.

Fargo’s first season was one of 2014’s biggest surprises. Shows adapted from older films rarely work, except somehow an exceptionally talented cast and crew came together to make this miniseries special. I thoroughly enjoyed the original movie, and Fargo was easily one of my favorite shows from last year. When a second season was eventually announced, promising to focus on Molly’s father Lou thirty years ago, I got really excited for this new material. Then the trailers came out and I was completely blown away. True, trailers exist to get people to watch a finished product, but you definitely got the sense that Season 2 could surpass what came before.

Patrick Wilson in Fargo
Patrick Wilson as Lou Solverson. Photo Credit : Mathias Clamer/FX

“Waiting for Dutch” proves that this might actually be possible. The Fargo that’s back on our screens is better than the Fargo we got last year, and that’s obviously saying a lot. The cinematography has improved, really accentuating how desolate these winter gripped Northern states are. Characters still retain some sense of the classic Minnesota nice even though certain people on here are straight up murderers. Oftentimes, the screen splits apart to expertly accentuate certain points of focus. This season’s monumental event, a major killing in a tiny Waffle Hut, absolutely wastes no time involving nearly every character on this show. It’s done in a much better fashion than Lester Nygaard killing his wife as certain individuals are brought on simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The cast is absolutely stacked this time around, and talent just bleeds from every corner. Patrick Wilson is by far the strongest presence on the show. When we first met Lou last year, he was a simple diner owner who clearly had seen some heavy shit. What was that exactly? We never saw it, but it was clear he made peace with his old demons. Now we get to see the events that changed him and they’re expectantly very disturbing. When this young Lou is introduced, he’s reading an awkwardly worded bedtime story to a young Molly. His wife Betsy (Cristin Milioti) soon informs him of the murder, and Lou’s primary concern is still how his wife is doing. As heavy as it is, murder is part of the job. Cancer takes priority.

Except this murder is far worse than anything Lou’s witnessed, and Wilson expertly sells that. He walks through the crime scene like a man with a massive weight on his shoulders as if he knows the type of chaos he’s subjecting himself too. It also doesn’t help that his wife is dying, and we all know that she will soon pass despite their best efforts. Eventually Lou returns home and already you see the cracks appearing. This is a small town where even Lou’s father-in-law Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) knows the Waffle Hut’s cook. Triple homicide is not something these people are usually involved in.

Kirsten Dunst in Fargo.
Kirsten Dunst as Peggy. Photo Credit: Mathias Clamer/FX

Right behind Wilson, Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst are other highlights. They play a married couple named Ed and Peggy Blomquist who become wrapped up in this when Peggy hits Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin) with her car. Peggy actually brings Rye home with her, not caring that he’s bleeding everywhere, and eventually forces Ed to follow her lead. It’s really cool watching these two actors playing against type. Plemons was previously the murderous Todd on Breaking Bad and Dunst very rarely plays someone with a deeply disturbed mindset. Yet that’s what we have here. Ed is baffled by what his wife has done, and Peggy convinces him that they must hide this crime at all cost. They are clearly inhibiting a police investigation, which is bound to explode in their faces later.

The conflict this time around is much better detailed. Last year, Lorne Malvo was the show’s main antagonist. He was a figure of chaos that brought pain on nearly everyone that crossed his path. A conflict with competing companies was thrown in there, but at the end of the day, Malvo was still the problem. Season 2 is much different. There’s a turf war going on between a small crime family, The Gerhardt’s, and a major mob group attempting to expand their territory. The episode ends with Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) pledging to eliminate the entire Gerhardt family by any means necessary.

Speaking of that family, it looks like Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) will play a pretty significant role on the show. Donovan too is playing very against type as his most recent series was Burn Notice. He’s now an Irish gang leader who threatens to kill his own brother for not providing enough money for their family. In a way, Dodd is indirectly the one responsible for what happened at the diner. If he didn’t get under Rye’s skin in such a manner, he wouldn’t have felt the need to kill innocent people.

Jesse Plemmons in Fargo
Jesse Plemons as Ed Blumquist. Photo Credit: Mathias Clamer/FX

True to Coen Brothers form, there’s still some dark humor to be found throughout the premiere. Some of the best moments actually came right when Lou and Hank find the bodies. When Hank walks in, he just casually says, “Well this is a deal.” Multiple people dead and it’s a deal. Later the two notice Rye’s shoe in a tree and they act like it’s something totally normal. Pretty shortly after, Nick Offerman’s Karl Weathers goes onto a tangent about how it’s not fair that a woman like Betsy has cancer. According to him, if John McCain can survive in a POW camp for so many years, Betsy beat this disease. Clearly Weathers is an extremely passionate man. Oh, and the premiere opens up with a film being made called The Massacre in Sioux Falls starring Ronald Reagan. A dead extra in the back asks for a blanket because it’s cold. It was hilarious.

Lastly, I loved the entire look and feel of this episode. The 70s vibe is apparent right from the very beginning. The music is groovy, the lettering is stylized like that era, and for a while the footage had that little extra bit of grain. None of this is necessary for us to know it’s the 70s (okay, the music is totally necessary), but it all goes that extra mile to remind everyone not just what we’re watching. We’re reminded of when we’re watching it, and that’s important to understand a lot of references, like Love Canal.

Fargo Season 2 is off to an incredibly strong start. Somehow, the cast and crew have elevated what made Season 1 so good and just made it that much better. These actors are amazing, the design is more refined, the music is incredible, and the style is just plain awesome. There’s also apparently a UFO in the area and not much is done on that in the premiere, but I’m so game to see where this goes. The multiple murders may have turned this region of Minnesota upside down, but they have invariably given us a massively enjoyable story to follow for several new episodes.

Rating: 9.5/10

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