Friday, 18 December 2015

The Best Television of 2015: No.3 - FX's FARGO

Friday, 18 December 2015

Set around Luverne, Minnesota, Fargo, North Dakota, and Sioux Falls in 1979, season 2 followed beautician Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) and her husband, butcher Ed (Jesse Plemons), in their attempt to cover up the hit-and-run murder of Rye Gerhardt; son of crime family matriarch Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart). Meanwhile, State Trooper Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) and Sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson) are investigating three murders committed by Rye before his death...

What made it so good? It was just a joy to watch this story unfold with a hugely talented cast involved in the telling. I loved the first season, but it was sedate compared to what happened in season 2. The ramifications of oddball Peggy hitting someone with her car, moments after he shot and killed three people in a diner, set in motion a chain of events that became both darkly comical and often quite harrowing. There wasn't a bad link in the whole ensemble, and everyone got a moment that burrowed itself into your memory, but I was particularly spellbound by Bookem Woodbine as laconic gangster Mike Milligan, and the silent charisma of Indian hitman Hanzee Dent (Zach McClarnon)—both relatively unknown faces in a starry cast.

Fargo was great last season, but it had a very patchy middle. This time, creator Noah Hawley stepped up his game with a classy and engrossing crime drama that never dropped the ball. It was packed with strong performances, inciting incidents, and painterly visuals. The stylish use of split-screens alone got Fargo on my end-of-year list.

The best moment? So many to choose from. Seriously. But I keep thinking back to half-crazy Peggy nonchalantly stabbing Dodd Gerhardt in the chest with a knife, after taping him to a pillar with her fugitive husband. It just makes me giggle. Or how about the first time a damn flying saucer appeared on the show to distract Rye? Or maybe the bravura action sequence of the motel massacre at Sioux Falls, referred to in season 1? Oh, no, the tense police station stand-off? Or how about the forest gunfight? Dodd getting jabbed with a cattle prod in Peggy's basement? Frankly, I lost count of how many fantastic scenes and moments this show delivered. If you didn't watch it, fix that. Now.

Watch this if you like: The Coen Brothers' oeuvre, particularly the movie Fargo this TV series is inspired by, Breaking Bad, The Sopranos.

I'm counting down my 10 Best Television Shows of 2015 this year, so check back tomorrow to see what's at number 2. The whole list can be read here.