The Imminent Doom of a New President
While season 1 of Fargo on FX was very influenced by the film it’s based on, the Coen brother’s 1995’s Fargo, a case can be made that season 2 has much more to owe to their 2007 masterpiece No Country for Old Men (my personal favorite film of theirs).
In season 1, the doofus in over his head over his head was Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman), who was an incarnation of Fargo the movie’s Jerry Lundegaard (William H Macy). In season 2, the main sucker in over his head is Ed Blumquist (Jesse Plemons). His character is much more well-meaning. He does what he can to protect his family, but is not a bad guy; is not out for unfair personal gain; and is very likeable. In that sense, he is much more in line with No Country’s Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin). In season 1, Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton) is the almost immortal killing machine, but his sense of humor puts him much more in line with 95’s Fargo . Season 2’s Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClaron), who is a quiet sociopath, is much more reminiscent of Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem).
No Country for Old Men takes place in 1980, and is theorized to be about the change that is coming from the 70’s to the 80’s. The final nail in the coffin of the hippie times and into the harsh reality of a new decade that are so grave that even the toughest guys are disposed of by the random forces of nature.
Season 2 of Fargo takes place just a year before, 1979, and is about the same changes, but more specifically, the changing of the guards from Jimmy Carter to Ronald Reagan.
This is pointed at strongly by Reagan’s character being in the show and played with a bumbling idiocy by legendary horror icon Bruce Campbell. For such a force of an actor to be in basically a cameo playing such a distracting character has to mean something. It doesn’t feel like it can be just excess fat done for fun.
While No Country was about the harsh realities of a deadly new world, Season 2 of Fargo is about the harsh realities of a new and more oppressive world to women (Peggy Blumquist, played by Kirstin Dunst), African Americans (Mike Milligan, played by Bookeem Woodbine) and Native Americans (the aforementioned Hanzee Dent).
**Now entering major spoiler territory**
All 3 of these characters survive the season, but are given a far more dire punishment than the victims who die. They now have to live in this new world. And all 3 are feeling desperate with their new realities.
The oppression of women was hinted at several other times in the season, most specifically when Simone Gerhardt (Rachel Keller) screams she is standing up for herself and not spending her time on her back anymore, before kneeing a detective in the crotch and making a run for it out of an elevator. But Peggy’s speech at the end in the car to the otherwise heroic Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) really brings home her feelings. She feels this pain and desperation and is promptly shut down by Solverson.
Hanzee, in in episode 8, decides he is ready for a new life. Possibly this happened in the bar where he has to shoot 3 racists who are making fun his heritage. Possibly it happened after. Or possibly it happened long before. It’s really hard to tell with him and his deafening silence. But it happened. And when he shoots his boss Dodd Gerhardt (Jeffrey Donovan) in the head and immediately asks Peggy for a haircut, he signals that he is ready for a change. Hanzee was raised by the Gerhardt family to become the killer he is. For him, there was no other way for him to have what he deems a normal life. But right before the clippers snip, his old identity is forced to remain on him with the presence of Solverson and sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson), gunshots, and then the clippers stabbed into his shoulder by Peggy.
As for Mike Milligan, his death was set in stone by the mysterious character The Undertaker, who was hired by Milligan’s own boss to kill him. That is before Milligan turns the tables with the deadliest handshake imaginable. But in the end, he remains in his organization. Not on the street doing what he does best, killing. Rather stuck behind a desk. Working 9-5. For the man. For eternity.
Welcome to Reaganism.
Now this brings us to the elephant in the room. The UFO. You literally can’t talk about the season without mentioning an enormous UFO showing up in episode 9 at the most important time. Saving Lou from imminent death. Perhaps it’s important to keep in mind that Carter is the only US President who claims to have encountered a UFO in his life. He was mocked and ridiculed for it. Perhaps this is his presence and his last hurrah before a new era. And with another kind act, he helps dispose of the monstrous Bear Gerhardt (Angus Sampson), leaving the remaining characters to face what’s next. A task that even the Sioux Falls massacre couldn’t prepare them for.