After a brilliant first season inspired by the Cohen brothers’ masterpiece, series creator Noah Hawley manages to outdo himself. Following the new fad in television of anthology series, this time around the story is set in 1979 between Luverne, Minnesota, Fargo, North Dakota, and Sioux Falls, South Dakota with a brand new cast and another “true crime” tale.
A young Lou Solverson (Wilson), State Patrol officer and Vietnam veteran, investigates a multiple homicide case involving a judge and the disappearance of Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin), the youngest son of a local crime lord based in Fargo; helping him piece things together is his father-in-law, Hank Larsson (Danson), Sheriff of Luverne. The investigation will lead them to a colorful collection of characters that includes Ed (Plemons) and Peggy Blumquist (Dunst), a Luverne’s butcher and his wife, who are not exactly law-abiding citizens, and the Gerhardt family, kingpins of North and South Dakota. Led with iron fist by Otto (Michael Hogan) until his stroke and then by his wife Floyd (Jean Smart), they are ruthless and fearsome, in particular Dodd (Donovan), the eldest son, who has big dreams of building an empire and champs at the bit. However his big dream is thwarted by an encroaching criminal organisation from Kansas City with expanding ambitions of its own. When negotiations for a peaceful merger fail, Mike Milligan (Woodbine), is left to deal with the Gerhardt. He is skilled enforcer with plenty of street smarts, and aided by the Kitchen brothers (Todd and Brad Mann), slowly works toward his goal of wiping out the competition.
The stage is set for an interesting tale of intertwined stories with very engaging and well-rounded characters and it doesn’t disappoint. The vicious confrontation between the two criminal organisations is the perfect foil for the struggle of Lou and Hank, both decent reasonable men, to make sense of the blood trail they are following. Wilson and Danson have great chemistry and embody their characters wonderfully, giving them depth and humanity that make them very relatable. Durst and Plemons are equally great as Peggy and Ed, normal folk who are swept into a life-changing situation and become a little detached from reality. Special kudos go also to Nick Offerman as Karl Weathers, the town lawyer of Luverne, and Zahn McClarnon as Hanzee Dent, right-hand man of Dodd and enforcer of the Gerhardt clan. The script is strong and the few lulls in the pace are well repaid afterward. Moreover there are some very inspired cinematic choices that add charm to the already beautiful visuals. Engrossing —8/10