Crooks, Assassins, Cops, Mobsters, Hairdressers, butchers and… UFO’s? Yep, that’s right, things got pretty weird this season on FARGO, they got weird and then they just kind of ended, and ended not in the ambiguous tantalising way that is oh so satisfying, but in the way where they just… uh… end. FARGO is an excellent show, it’s wonderful, its television made by artists who really know and love what they are doing — that is obvious. No dispute needed. FARGO is close to being a great show, and season 2 was close to being a great season. Close. But unfortunately, close is never quite good enough.

There was so much right about this season, more right than wrong, easily more right than wrong. But the problem is that FARGO has ambition. It’s not trying to be a good show, it’s trying to be a great one. Trying and failing is better than not bothering at all, so credit where credit is due but there is no point praising FARGO season 2 for being better than the 90 percent, because being better than the 90 percent is not where it wants to be. Clearly it wants to be the best, it wants to be the 1 percent and it tried so very hard — commendably — to get there. Alas, however, it didn’t make it. It was excellent, but it wasn’t great.


My main gripe — and what indeed was the root cause of any frustrations — was with the cast, not the personnel, but with how many of them there where. This was an affliction suffered by another returning anthology series — TRUE DETECTIVE. Like TRUE DETECTIVE, FARGO decided its sophomore entry needed to expand, that sprawling narratives were needed, that its world needed further populating. Like TD, FARGO moved away from a central duo dynamic and spread its love over a large core of characters. This method didn’t work — for either show — as well as they hoped. FARGO’s attempt was more digestible than TD’s but it still affected the show for the worse.  Having to spread its time and energy over a larger amount of leads, both shows lost that dynamism, that energised focus they had enjoyed in their debut outings. Imagine if season 2 of FARGO focused solely on Ed and Peggy as the leads, or just Lou, or the Gerhardt’s. It would have been a very different season of television. The diversion of energy would never have existed and it would have allowed its audience to truly invest in its characters, invest in minutia of what makes them people and not just their surface habits.

For those reading this, I hope the wrong impression isn’t garnered. FARGO, for 10 weeks, was something to look forward to. I hope they continue to make this show, I look forward to season 3. I hope they continue to reach for the stars, that they continue to provide excellence and that they one day reach the greatness they seek. Ambition may have been this season’s weakness but it is also the thing I admire most about the show, it is ultimately the quality I admire most about any show. So while I think we should all calm down a little in our affectation for FARGO, we should most definitely appreciate it, appreciate the things it did so well and for trying to make something special happen. There is a lot that can be done in this world, what is down the line is pretty tantalising. Things can of course get worse, but right now, they can also get better, and that is pretty exciting. Don’t ya think?


Film and TV Journalist

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