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Fargo Season 2: A “True” Crime Masterpiece With a Spectacular Performance by Zahn McClarnon [Review]

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Fargo season 2 (which takes place prior to events in the first season – 1979) just wrapped up from FX and showrunner Noah Hawley. It stars Patrick Wilson, Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, Ted Danson, Zahn McClarnon, Bokeem Woodbine, Keir O’Donnell. Nick Offerman, Brad Garrett, Jeffrey Donovan, Jean Smart, Kieran Culkin and Angus Sampson.

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When FX announced they were doing a TV series based on the Coen bros. masterful film Fargo, nobody knew what to think of the concept. Then the series blew everyone away. It acted as a sequel of sorts focusing on brand new characters but remaining in that bizarre world of Fargo and the universe that the Coen brothers created. Now for a second season we’re going back in time to check out Lou Solverson (he was David Carradine in the first season, this time played by Patrick Wilson). There were references to a crazy case that Lou worked on when he was younger and well… Now we’re seeing it play out. It was a doozy…..

One of the things I love about Fargo, and this is such a minor fact, but I love how it’s filmed close to where I live. So I can recognize a lot of the locations here in Southern Alberta. Fargo is a rural crime drama and filming it in this area really adds to the atmosphere and tone of the series – something I hope continues in season three.

FARGO -- Pictured: (L-R) Ted Danson as Hank Larsson, Patrick Wilson as Lou Solverson. CR: Chris Large/FX

Fargo season two is a series of unfortunate events taking place in the 1970’s. Building upon a shocking murder that ends up involving a butcher and his wife who are at the wrong place, wrong time and wrong frame of mind….. Fargo season two spans 10 episodes of two rival criminal organizations and racks up a high body count in the process. The Gerhardts square off against Kansas City as North Dakota gets covered in blood and bullets. Policeman Lou Solverson tries to keep the peace but it’s hard when so many people are getting killed left and right.

Wilson is such a strong lead and his performance as Lou was so solid and so powerful here. The cast is genius all around: Jeffrey Donovan is off the rails terrific, Kirsten Dunst is batshit crazy, Jesse Plemons gained a ton of weight for some reason, Ted Danson is better than he’s ever been, Angus Sampson is a bearded force of nature, Nick Offerman is doing incredible things again.. The list goes on and on. If you were worried about the lack of Billy Bob Thornton – you get Bokeem Woodbine portraying Kansas City enforcer Mike Milligan instead. He delivers the same kind of thought-provoking speeches while still coming across as an intimidating and memorable villain. This is by far Woodbine’s greatest performance of his career and I love how it plays out over the course of the season.

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The season’s scene stealer is Zahn McClarnon, who plays Hanzee the Native American Gerhardt family enforcer. Holy shit McClarnon. Add Hanzee to the list of television’s most memorable and impressively written characters. That guy went places nobody expected him to go this season. He’s ruthless, frightening, sympathetic and I found myself cheering for him as the season continued forward. Hanzee was so good I’d watch an entire spin-off series with him — PS — I fucking adore the ties he has to season one — that was astounding writing Fargo team.

Fargo season two was so damn good that the writers actually put in a flying saucer at several points during the show, integral sequences even and it didn’t even retract from the quality despite the insanity of it all. Why is there a UFO? It doesn’t matter — or did it? I don’t know and I don’t care – Fargo season two was equally as great as it’s predescessor and in several ways even superior. It’s sad that we won’t continue forward with these amazing and eclectic characters but that only makes this season even more special.

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I didn’t expect Fargo to be as powerful as The Sopranos, as action packed as Banshee and as cleverly written as Breaking Bad. But it was. The music selections too – my god – the use of War Pigs by Black Sabbath in the finale? That might be the best use of music in a television series all year. Showrunner Noah Hawley is a madman and the work his team did this season was magical.

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Editor-In-Chief of Fox Force Five News. I had a zombie cameo on the opening page of The Walking Dead issue #91, where I was killed with a machete... It was awesome.