Chris Large / FX

Who's Going To End Up Being The Lester Of Fargo's Second Season?

And more not-quite-burning questions about the Season 2 premiere.

The S2 premiere of Fargo takes us back to the Midwest and back in time -- to 1979, when Lou Solverson is still a Minnesota state trooper (and one who looks a lot more like Patrick Wilson than Keith Carradine). Lou's called to investigate the murders of two employees and a patron in a Waffle Hut, a diner outside Luverne -- soon joined by his father-in-law Hank, the local sheriff -- and soon finds evidence that the stab-wounded perp staggered out to the road and "absconded." What we know, but they don't, is that poor Rye -- the youngest child and biggest fuckup of the Gerhardt crime family -- was, in fact, struck by a car whose driver then...very carefully left the scene with Rye still on its hood.

Since all that and much more occurs before the first commercial break, it would be weird if we didn't have questions. So here they are!

How cute is the show going to be about producing Ronald Reagan already?

The episode -- titled "Waiting For Dutch" -- opens with what seems like it's the title sequence for a fictional Ronald Reagan film called Massacre At Sioux Falls (a phrase that popped up periodically in Season 1 as the event in which Lou was shot, so...presumably that's still to come this season). The sequence then ends with a medium-ranked crew member killing time chatting with the actor playing a tribal chief about what "Ronnie" is like. Later -- well after the show establishes the current year -- Lou tries to unwind after walking through the Waffle Hut crime scene by having a beer at bingo, where a Reagan campaign poster is visible but not especially prominent in the background.

FX

FX

Even at this distance, it's clear that's Bruce Campbell, and the fact that he's playing candidate Reagan was first reported more than half a year ago. So the buildup seems weird unless we are supposed to feel anxious "Waiting For Dutch" to hurry up and become President and save everyone from their malaise the way Republican presidential candidates keep claiming everyone was at the time. And even if that is the idea, it's still weird. (Particularly if you, like me, are Canadian, know this is all shot in Canada, and recognize all the Canadian actors playing bit parts.) My point is: we all know he's coming; quit with the fan dance.

Was that UFO really there?

Part of the reason Rye -- after failing in his mission to get his targeted judge to bow to his intimidation on behalf of his typewriter-selling co-conspirator and just shooting her and the diner employees instead -- is sufficiently distracted that he's in the road to get hit by a car is...well, let's be honest: he did just get stabbed in the back by the judge in the very last moments of her life. But that's not all that causes him to forget basic pedestrian safety rules.

Previously.TV

Previously.TV

I bailed on Mr. Robot part of the way through its first season when I started to suspect that some characters didn't really "exist" even in the fictional context of the show; the hallucinogenic aspects of The Leftovers are not quite so tiresome for me personally because those characters are still living in the traumatic experience that might crack up anyone. But if this UFO that Rye seems to see just before that sedan plows into him would have also been visible to anyone else if he had not been alone, then we'll be getting into American Horror Story: Asylum territory, and I will have concerns.

Why doesn't Peggy want to sleep with Ed?

In the moments before we find out what Kirsten Dunst's Peggy Blomquist and Jesse Plemons's Ed Blomquist have to do with the rest of the story, we learn a lot about them. Peggy, who doesn't want Ed to move a pile of magazines off any of the three kitchen chairs they're stacked on so that he can sit and eat dinner, possibly has hoarding tendencies. Ed is excited to tell Peggy his boss Bud has offered to sell him the butcher shop where he works when Bud retires at the end of the year. Peggy doesn't really seem to care. Ed hints that he could take over the butcher shop and she could end up running the beauty salon where she works, unless they end up having "a whole litter of kids by then." Peggy seems to care even less about that prospect, evasively saying that they've been "trying" but that it "takes time," to which Ed notes, "Last time I checked, there's just the one way to make a baby." "We did that last weekend, didn't we?" chirps Peggy. Apparently, they did not. Peggy seems cordial and pleasant with Ed, perhaps in the way of friendly roommates. What else does she have going on? I mean...we're about to find out what else she has going on now. What did she have going on last weekend when he wanted to have sex and she put him off?

Are the jokes maybe trying a little too hard?

In its first season, Fargo was, like the film that inspired it, both incredibly violent and dryly funny -- a fine balance I assume its producers aim to repeat in its second season. But am I the only one who found the touches of humour in this episode kind of heavy-handed and self-conscious? The aforementioned exchange between the Massacre At Sioux Falls crew guy and the actor playing the film's Indian chief ends in an awkward attempt by the crew member to relate to the actor on the basis that they're shooting on his ancestral land, only to find out the actor's actually from New Jersey. Far more effective, actually, is the understated business the fed-up extras do in the background.

Previously.TV

Previously.TV

See also: the over-long Job story the judge tells Rye; Lou's quizzical pause over the word "ejaculate" (in the speech sense of the word) in the story he's reading Molly; Nick Offerman's Karl Weathers spinning conspiracy theories about the Waffle Hut murders; Karl Weathers approvingly referring to John McCain's forbearance as a POW; Karl Weathers being named Karl Weathers. The scenes at the Gerhardt house; the comfortable rapport between Lou and Hank; the heartbreak bravely borne by both Lou and Betsy as conveyed in this tiny moment...

Gif: Previously.TV

Gif: Previously.TV

...let's get more of that and less of the bold and italicized corniness.

Who's most likely to end up being this season's Lester Nygaard -- Peggy or Ed?

Fargo's first season was the story of Lester Nygaard, a man of modest ambitions and achievements, whose chance encounter with a person involved in organized crime changed the course of his life and led to his discovering depths of depravity he didn't know he possessed. So it seems to be with Season 2: of course, Peggy is the driver who strikes Rye and then rolls him all the way home, parks with his head still smashed through her windshield and his body prone on the hood, and then goes in to make dinner, apparently trusting that he either already is dead or will be before she has to tell her husband anything about it. Rye makes so much noise in the garage where Peggy's trapped him, trying in his probably neurologically compromised condition to puzzle a way out, that Ed goes to investigate; Rye advances on him, and Ed stabs him in the side and finishes what Peggy accidentally started. Peggy suggests that they could flee to California and start over, but Ed likes the life they've built, so when Peggy suggests that he'd better get rid of the body, he seems to think it's a good idea: the last we see of Rye, for now, is both Blomquists rolling his corpse into their deep freeze. But which one of them is really going to Lester out and evince truly alarming sociopathic tendencies? Peggy would seem to be the likeliest candidate, given that she DROVE HOME WITH WHAT SURE SEEMED TO BE A CORPSE sticking out of her windshield and then whipped up some Hamburger Helper. But in some ways, Ed may have more to lose, or think he does; even though he wasn't the one who started killing Rye, he definitely finished it on Peggy's behalf, and seems pretty determined to do whatever he can to keep her at home, with him, and out of prison/California. Peggy might just be heedless and lack the ability to think ahead; Ed may have more resourcefulness to put to use perverting the course of justice.

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