Published on October 20th, 2015 | by Michael0
Fargo Season Two Episode One – ‘Waiting For Dutch’
At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed
It’s back! Well over a year since the first season finished, the Coen inspired Midwestern Crime Drama returns to our screens, with an all new cast and an almost all new set of characters. Set in 1979, the series feature Patrick Wilson as Lou Solverson, the role played by Keith Carradine in the first series and his daughter, Molly, appears as a six year old. The show is likely to feature the Sioux Falls incident that Lou spoke about in his older days. Indeed, in a neat bit of foreshadowing, Episode One, ‘Waiting For Dutch’, opens with a shot of the set of the (made up) Ronald Reagan film, ‘Massacre at Sioux Falls’. The scene shows many dead union soldier and a cold Native American, who must endure the chilly Midwest while fake arrow wounds are applied to Reagan. In the montage that follows, the beleaguered Jimmy Carter addresses the nation. It seems that like the film director, the whole of the US is ‘Waiting For Dutch’, which was Reagan’s nickname. Reagan doesn’t actually appear in this episode, but in the bingo scene ‘his’ face can be seen on a poster, though it is clearly the likeness of actor Bruce Campbell.
The episode then introduces us to the Gerhardt clan, a crime family based out of Fargo, North Dakota. The family is ruled over by Patriarch Otto (Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan) and his steely wife Floyd (Jean Smart) and also consists of their three sons, Dodd, Bear and Rye. The show barely has time to establish these folks as the dominant crime force in the area before the wheels start to come off. First, Otto is struck low by a heart attack after ranting about the family’s reduced income. Then, Rye (Kieron Culkin) starts to gripe about his place at the foot of the table and things really start to go wrong. Writer Noah Hawley really *gets* the Coen view of the universe, a sort of cynicism married to magical realism but with a large dose of morality. Criminals are almost universally stupid and/or greedy and this will lead to their own downfall, or perhaps they will be thwarted by decent, patient people like Marge Gunderson or Molly Solverson. Occasionally you will get a criminal who is smart and cunning, almost a force of nature, like Anton Chigurh or Lorne Malvo but these are few and far between and are generally as dangerous to the criminals as the innocents. Rye, certainly, is not a great intellect. His cunning plan is to pressure a Judge into unfreezing his associate’s assets, so that Rye and friend can make a mint selling IBM typewriters. Rye trails said Judge to the Waffle Hut. His attempts to intimidate her fall hilariously flat, her references to Job just confuse and irritate him. Cue a truly pathetic shoot-out, as Rye guns down the Judge, the cook and a poor waitress (whom, to be fair, had been freaking him out). Rye botches it, taking two attempts to kill both the Judge and the Waitress. The waitress even made it out the door and across the snowy fields before being gunned down, meaning Rye is outside to bear witness to the passing of a UFO. Then he gets hit by a car.
Fargo then uses one of its patented jumps from horrible violence to utmost decency, as the action switches to the home of State Trooper Lou Solverson and his wife Betsy (Cristin Miloti). Lou is ready young Molly a bedtime story, and his face when he reads the word ‘ejaculated’ (to mean a mode of speech) is an absolute picture. Alas, he’s called away from this domestic bliss to the world’s bloodiest and most stupid crime scene, joined by his Father in Law Hank Larsson (Ted Danson), an officer with another force. It is Hank that notices the most inexplicable (though on the face of it, irrelevant) aspect of the case – a shoe high up in a tree.
So we have the career criminals and the police, the last piece of any real Fargo story are the apparent ‘innocents’ swept up in the whole affair Here they are Peggy and Ed Blomquist (Kirsten Dunst and Jesse ‘Meth Damon’ Plemons), respectively a salon worker and a butcher. Peggy harbours ambitions that apparently far outstrip those of her husband, who seems content to wait for his turn to take over at the Butcher’s and raise a family. Peggy dreams though of California, and bizarrely a reason to go there ASAP might have just presented itself. For Peggy was the one who ran over Rye outside the diner. She thought he was dead, until Ed hears a sound in the garage. Investigating, he is forced to stab Rye and kill the little prick once and for all (probably). Now they’re both culpable. Finally, in Kansas City, a mobster presents a slide show to his bosses, suggesting an expansion into the Midwest, absorbing or liquidating the Gerhardt family. ‘Approved’ is the terse answer he receives. It look like Lou and Hank will have a lot more on their plate than the search for a murderer who is already dead.
As ever, ‘Waiting For Dutch’ is crammed full of references to other Coen works. The Judge referencing Job recalls A Serious Man, in which the main character is given similar trials. Lou and Hanks’ taciturn appraisal of the abattoir that is the Waffle Hut is like Sheriff Bell in No Country For Old Men and the final song, sung by Noah Hawley himself, is ‘Didn’t Leave Nothing But The Baby’, sung by the Sirens in Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
I said that the Coens like to mix magical realism in with their dramas and Hawley seems to have followed suit. The UFO Rye spotted could stand in for the whole ‘is Malvo the devil?’ strain from Season One. Hopefully the alien angle will involve the wonderful Nick Offerman who had one scene in this episode as a conspiracy theorist pal of Lou’s, ranting about the Millitary/Industrial Complex and a girl in a polka dot dress who may have been involved in Bobby Kennedy’s assassination. The episode started with fake wounds being applied to Ronald Reagan. With the benefit of historical perspective, we know that he’ll be getting wounded for real soon enough.