The first season of Fargo was some of the absolute best television on the air last year, and it even has a number of awards to back that claim up. Despite that, it was still a surprise when they announced a second season of the show. Everything was pretty well wrapped up by the end of the first season and there didn’t seem to be much ground left to cover, unless they wanted to play the angle of some random person finding the briefcase full of money again, and most of the cast was dead anyway. In a certain sense there was a worry that a sub-par second season could even negatively detract on the first season (which has happened to several movies and shows over the decades). So where do you go from there? Thirty years in the past, apparently.
The setup for season 2 actually makes sense when you break it down. We know that Molly’s father, Lou Solverson (Keith Carradine in the first season), was an officer back in day and that something heavy happened during his time on the force — this is from a few off-hand conversations about a massacre in Sioux Falls in season 1. By laying this groundwork into the original season the idea of doing a prequel series starts to become a reasonable prospect, and given how tightly plotted season one was I have to assume it was intentional. If the series didn’t meet a solid reaction then it is just a few throwaway lines of background information, and if the series is successful (as it obviously was) then you have a natural springboard.
So Fargo season 2 will follow, to a degree, Lou Solverson (played by Patrick Wilson in the new season) as he assists the town’s sheriff, Hank Larsson (played by Ted Danson), in trying to solve a murder at a diner. This being Fargo, though, means that absolutely nothing is even close to that simple. There are a lot of potential suspects with a wide variety of motives and backgrounds, and figuring out who did what to whom will be thrilling. If season one is anything to go by there will be a lot of otherwise good people doing really awful things, and often rather ineptly.
The first full trailer gives us a lot of Most members of the cast get a few seconds of screen time in the trailer, and it looks like we will have just as strong a cast as last year’s all-star group. This is pretty important, too, since a lot of times the successive class of actors on a popular franchise can often be over-shadowed by their predecessors. Just look at Lord of the Rings’ cast versus The Hobbit’s, or the original Star Wars crew versus the prequel team members, or even look at the current season of True Detective versus the original season. The first season or movies in a franchise form a template or prototype of how we see the series, and when those change it can negatively affect how we view the new cast (though, in the examples I picked there were/are significant storytelling deficiencies also impacting the perception of these franchises’ second efforts). Fargo looks to be trying hard to avoid this issue, and early indications from the trailer keep my hopes high.
It is hard not to be hopeful, too, as the trailer plays. Quick shots of guys like Nick Offerman (from Parks & Recreation), Jesse Plemons (from Breaking Bad), Jeffery Donovan (from Burn Notice), Brad Garrett (from Everyone Loves Raymond, among others), Jean Smart (from 24 and Frasier, among many others), and many others really make this feel like a collection of some of television’s best actors over the last several years. The one character we did not get to see in the trailer (except briefly, in a background poster) is Bruce Campbell (from Burn Notice and Brisco County Jr, among others) as Ronald Reagan (yes, the President), which has to be one of the most inspired, and insane, casting choices I have heard of in a long time. We got a brief shot of him in a previous teaser video, but not enough to judge yet. I would be surprised if he does not steal just about every scene he is in, honestly.
There is a lot to like in this first trailer, and it does its job of building anticipation nicely. The tone and feel of the series seems to be copied directly in from the first season, which is great, and the actors have clearly gotten into their roles about as deeply as you can for television drama. The off-beat humor from season 1 is also prevalent throughout, as is the omnipresent Minnesotan accent. I am sure we will see more as the series comes closer to its launch date, but for now this will be sufficient. I am not just excited for season 2 (even if it has apparently pushed back from September to October), but I want to rush out and watch season 1 all over again. That’s a fairly rare feat for a trailer.