Warning: Spoilers for Season 2, episode 1 of “Fargo” follow…
The second season of FX's anthology crime-drama “Fargo” has premiered with a magnificent first entry that, once again, gracefully dances the line between homage and ingenuity. The series found thematic and tonal links to the Coen brothers' beloved classic in its fist season, and
while it continues to honor those roots, becomes even more its own animal in Season 2.
Take a look at Alan's review here.
There's one particular moment in the debut episode that will likely have viewers talking. The aliens. Or rather, the aliens?
I'll confess, it was one of the fist topics I wanted to dive into after seeing the Season 2 premiere. When Kieran Culkin's Rye Gerhardt races out of the massacre at the Waffle Hutt, it appears as though he is witness to a UFO swooping across the lonely winter highway.
Of course, he'd just experienced (well created) a trauma and could have been hallucinating.
“It's not my place to tell you what's real on some levels,” executive producer Noah Hawley said coyly when I sat down with him earlier this summer. “There is a theme in Joel and Ethan (Coen's) work of 'accept the mystery.' And I felt like 'The Man Who Wasn't There' had given me permission [to go there] on some level.”
Hawley drew from both “The Man Who Wasn't There” and “Miller's Crossing” as he crafted the second season's arcs.
“There's an element of 'why is this in this movie?' in their work [that I was referencing],” Hawley explained. “The challenge is that I don't want to be gimmicky.”
For the writer/executive producer, it is the thematic significance of aliens that is of more interest than their literal existence…or not.
And as those who love the Coen brothers — and the first season of the FX series — can attest, we may never receive an explanation. Nor, ultimately, do we want one spelled out for us.
“It's interesting,” Hawley mused. “It sort of goes to a larger conversation about the '70s. One of the interesting things is that we have this tension between 1979 and what's about to happen in 1980 with Ronald Reagan in the wings. And we play with that a lot in the story. The idea is that the American narrative was so complicated in 1979 after Watergate and Vietnam and there is this conspiracy mindset, which had proven to be true. Conspiracy did go all the way to the top and there were layers within layers, and it really fed into this idea that we can't trust anything and we're being watched. That was something that was fun to play with.”
Ultimately, 1979 was a time in which, as Hawley points out, many disenfranchised groups felt they were about to get “a seat at the table.” Yet, what actually happened is that Reagan ushered in the rise of corporate America.
“I wanted to find a way to tell a crime drama about that,” Hawley said. “It's about the small family business and the corporation.”
Only in this case, that business happens to be crime. And the alien is the strange invader (cultural shift…political movement…charming movie star turned politician) coming to witness and alter the shape of your reality having never been a part of it.
Stay tuned for more on the series. Meanwhile, you can catch Season 1 on Hulu and watch “Fargo” Season 2 Mondays at 10PM on FX.