Fargo Season 2 Episode 10
Fargo season two was without a doubt the most talked about show on TV this fall and come awards season, I’d bank on it taking home the lion’s share of the trophies that it’s nominated for, and all for good reason; Fargo was consistently funnier, more suspenseful, more stylish, and better performed than this season’s crop of programs.
Season one maybe took too many cues from the Coen’s original film, but this season looked to be inspired by the entire Coen cannon, borrowing music and stylistic flourishes from the their oeuvre while also carving out its own identity. Creator Noah Hawley purposely stuffed his “true crime” story full of oddities and offbeat personalities, and through nine hours, it was quirky, heartfelt, tense, tragic, and sublimely confounding. Tonight’s final installment was all of these things, with huge emotional payoffs, lingering questions, and atypical endings. Some will love it, others will feel disappointed, but in no way does it feel untrue to what precedes it.
After quickly reminding us of all the lives lost in last week’s carnage and establishing that Betsy survived her fainting spell, the final hour begins feeling like a John Carpenter film, with Hanzee on a Michael Myers-like warpath in pursuit of Ed and Peggy. Black Sabbath highlights the horror movie overtones, and more of the kinetic editing and split screen presentation add to the sense of dread. Peggy and Ed hole up in a supermarket meat freezer, and a wounded Ed uses his last gasps to tell Peggy that he knows things won’t work out for them, whether they survive this story or not.
Hearing Ed acknowledge what most viewers saw all season, that he and Peggy were horribly matched, was a cathartic character moment. It’s nice to know that Ed learned something about himself and his life in his last moments, even if his story ends so grimly. Peggy hallucinates that Hanzee is smoking her out of the freezer, but when she opens the locked door, she only finds Lou and Ben on the other side. These delusions speak to who Peggy is, a mixed up dreamer trying to fill her unfulfilled life with anything that’ll bring her closer to who she believes she could be. Listening to her go from California Dreamin’ about a penitentiary with a view to a heated tirade about the expectations set for women and the trap of a suburban life, all while ignoring the fact that countless people lay dead because of her trying to “self-actualize,” prove Peggy had good intentions, but her head in the clouds. Kirsten Dunst does her best work of the season here, all but locking up her Emmy.
As for Mike Milligan, he makes it out of this season alive, but he may have been better off dead. The clutches of corporate life get ahold of Mike quickly after he declares himself a king, a conqueror with a coronation day, and strip him of his crown and force him into a cell disguised as an office. The last cowboy standing is told to ditch the bolo tie, the afro, and fancy clothes and get in line with a 9 to 5. He’s given the Henry Hill Goodfellas ending, a boring, uneventful fate crueler than death. His storyline reinforces the post-modern themes of corporatization in a bittersweet conclusion to the season’s most interesting arc.
And the Solverson clan, well they’re a little banged and bruised, in fragile shape, but as Hank says they’re “all here.” It’s moving to see the family together and undeniably thankful, good people sharing a nice evening with the one’s they love. It’s the sort of warm, happy ending that you wouldn’t necessarily expect from this show, but then it’s dotted with a poignant, weird monologue from Ted Danson in which he describes trying to create his own universal language. And then the episode abruptly concludes, just like the Coen’s No Country For Old Men. It’d be difficult to say that this isn’t just a bit anticlimactic, especially after last week’s fireworks, but it’s strangely admirable. Sure, the aliens are never given a proper explanation, Hanzee gets too clean of a getaway, and the Gerhardts feel a bit shortchanged in all of this (what happened to Charlie?) but I’m happy that the show ended on its own atypical note. It wasn’t a perfect finale, but it didn’t squander all of the good will that the show had built all season.
More quiet epilogue than explosive ending, the Fargo finale still presented clear, earned endings for its principle players. When the show returns, it will be with a new cast and set back in the present day, but the show will surely miss the ‘70s pastiche and steady-handed work of Patrick Wilson and the other members of its brilliant cast. Fargo season 2 was a vast improvement over year one, so I for one can’t wait to see what Noah Hawley whips up. I’ll be waiting for Fargo Season 3, oh yeah, you betchya.