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Series / Fargo Season Two

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''This is a true story. The events depicted took place in Minnesota in 1979. At the request of the survivors, the names have been changed. Out of respect for the dead, the rest has been told exactly as it occured.
the text that opens each episode

Fargo (Season Two), which aired on October 12, 2015, takes the series back to 1979 to explore the infamous-yet-mysterious Sioux Falls incident that everyone insists on vaguely recalling in the first season. Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) and his father-in-law, Sherrif Hank Larsson (Ted Danson), investigate an Accidental Murder scene left behind by the ambitious Peggy Blumquest (Kirsten Dunst) and her small-town-minded husband, Ed (Jesse Plemons). Their attempts to avoid the law end up entangling them in the middle of a turf war against the Kansas City mafia, with Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart) leading the Gerhardt crime family in their struggle after her husband suffers a crippling stroke.

The series also features Cristin Milioti, Jeffrey Donovan, Zahn McClarnon, Bokeem Woodbine, and Nick Offerman in supporting roles, among others.


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This series provides examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Dodd Gerhardt physically and verbally abuses his adult daughter Simone. He seems rather resentful of the fact that she is a girl, when he wanted a boy, even though she seems rather enthusiastic about entering the family business.
  • Absentee Actor: Despite her name appearing in the credits, Kirsten Dunst doesn't appear at all in "Did You Do This? No, You Did It!" invoked
  • Ambiguously Gay: Constance Heck is strongly implied to be trying to seduce Peggy, though this is never confirmed. She's constantly undermining Peggy's relationship with Ed specifically and men in general. When she drives Peggy home, she invites herself in and at one point brushes Peggy's hair behind her ear, though she's examining Peggy's shiner. At the hotel room she's to share with Peggy, Constance has lit romantic candles and put Chablis on ice while wearing a robe.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: The Kansas City mob seems to be a multiethnic corporation run predominantly by Jews. Joe Bulo (played by the Jewish Brad Garrett) drops a Yiddish expression and seems to have a very low opinion of Germans. The Kitchen brothers wear wide-brimmed hats and beards, giving them a Jewish look. Hamish Broker is also played by the very Jewish Adam Arkin.
  • Artifact Title: Oddly inverted. The original movie takes place almost exclusively in Minnesota with only the opening scene in Fargo. The first season has a few scenes in Fargo. But the second season has much of it taking place there and is the home of the Gerhardts.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Hanzee steals hydrogen peroxide to disinfect his wounds. In reality, hydrogen peroxide slows down wound healing, but is often used on wounds due to a common misconception.
  • Assassin Outclassin': The Narrator of episode 9 confirms that The Undertaker and his men were sent to kill Mike for his failures. Mike and Gale surprise and kill them when they show up.
  • Bait-and-Switch: In episode 7, the mobsters bring in "The Undertaker," an infamous Mob "cleaner" who seems set to be the next Big Bad of the show. In their first meeting, Mike walks up, hand extended, and shoots the Undertaker in the head.
  • Beauty Inversion: Jean Smart has long had "real woman" good looks and has aged gracefully. In this series, she looks like an old woman of the prairie who has strongly led a crime family.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: During the montage of all the dead Gerhardts, Otto, Dodd, and Bear look terrible with holes in their heads. Yet Floyd is lying gracefully with a pool of blood on her sweater and Simone looks gorgeous with no signs of any wound at all.
  • Big Bad: By the end of the season, it's clear that Hanzee fits the bill.
  • Bittersweet Ending: It's pretty apparent that Lou's wife and father-in-law aren't long for this world, leaving him to raise Molly without them. The Gerhardt criminal empire is destroyed and all its members are dead save Charlie, who is in jail and will likely be convicted of attempted murder, ruining his father's hopes of a better life for his son. Mike is doomed to a life of mediocrity as some nameless office schmo, and Hanzee loses his entire identity, himself resigned to a lifestyle he's come to despise, and is Doomed by Canon. Ed's dead, having never gotten the simple life that he wanted, Ben and Hank are clearly affected by the events of the season, and Peggy is downright certifiable, not to mention carted off to the slammer. The body count of the season is tremendous, but even so, Lou seems to take everything in stride and goes on to live his life, getting to see his daughter grow up and start a loving family of her own.
  • The Butcher: Ed is an actual butcher, but when he gets wrapped up in a Mob War, people assume he's some sort of contract killer. He's frequently referred to as "the butcher," and he eventually uses this to his advantage, calling himself the Butcher of Luverne.
  • Call Forward:
    • Hanzee, who through many years of plastic surgery and hard work will become Moses Tripoli, the boss of the Fargo syndicate, will be wiped out by Malvo by season one, which is 30 some odd years from the events of season two. During his conversation with his associate, he talks about building a kingdom, though he is reminded that it, too, will eventually fall into the ocean.
    • First season protagonists Molly and Gus, as well as an older Lou and Greta show up in the opening of the series finale.
    • Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers were the kids Hanzee helps out in the 10th episode. It helps that Hanzee is going to become Moses Tripoli, the mob boss of the Fargo syndicate.
  • Cassandra Truth: In "The Castle", Lou tries to warn Chief Cheney against setting up a sting operation with the Blumquists as bait, telling him that the Kansas City mobsters (who he has faced several times at this point) are too smart to fall for it. Cheney not only calls him a coward, but has one of his deputies escort him out of the state. Lou turns out to be right about the plan being a terrible idea, but the real danger comes from the Gerhardt family, not the Kansas City mobsters.
  • The Cloud Cuckoo Lander Was Right: Lou's conspiracy theorist friend Karl says that the Powers That Be are behind the events at the Waffle Hut. Lou tells him it's just a shooting in the middle of Minnesota, not a presidential assassination. Karl tells him to just watch, this thing is going to snowball. This being Fargo, he turns out to be right.
  • Conspiracy Theorist: Karl Weathers.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Hamish Broker, middle manager for the Kansas City crime syndicate.
  • Credits Gag: The first episode has one in the style of the 70s MGM logo.
  • Cute and Psycho: Peggy
  • Decoy Protagonist: After killing three people in the Waffle Hut, Rye seems set up to be the Lester Nygaard of Season 2 (an impulsive murderer trying to stay ahead as the police close in on him), only for him to be killed off by Peggy and Ed by the end of the premiere.
  • Deus ex Machina: In "The Castle", Lou, Ed, and Peggy are in lethal danger when all of a sudden an UFO appears and hovers over the motel. They use the distraction to save themselves.
  • The Dreaded:
    • The Gerhardt family has a nasty reputation in Fargo. Det. Ben Schmidt tells Lou that he would rather confess to the murders himself and go to jail than have to take on the Gerhardts.
    • Episode 7 has "The Undertaker," an infamous enforcer sent to clean up the mess Mike makes. Mike ends up shooting him dead in their first meeting.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Betsy manages to see her daughter as she grows old, even her child with Gus and an older Lou in the 10th episode.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Rye is introduced whining about his lack of respect to his condescending older brothers.
    • Ben Schmidt is introduced getting distracted by a woman walking by while Lou is trying to talk shop with him, establishing him as a pretty poor cop.
  • Fake Guest Star: Zahn McClarnon as Hanzee Dent, Jeffrey Donovan as Dodd Gerhardt, Bokeem Woodbine as Mike Milligan, and Cristin Milioti as Betsy Solverson.
  • Fictional Document: A History of True Crime in the Midwest, seen being plucked from a bookshelf at the start of "The Castle" and heard being read by Martin Freeman.
  • For Want of a Nail: To ensure that they aren't implicated in the killing, Peggy and Ed fake an accident. Which leads to Dent discovering the car in a local auto shop and tracking them down. Which also leads Lou to the same conclusion.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In "Waiting For Dutch", the Gerhardt patriarch is threatening "I'll grind their bones to make my bread" when he has a stroke; bread is also a recurring symbol of Gerhardt family stability in early episodes. In the next episode, Rye has his bones ground in a meat grinder; from then on, no bread and peace, just meat and war.
    • In "Did You Do This? No, You Did It!", Ed calls the Gerhardts and Mike Milligan from a phonebooth that has a game of hangman on the wall. Later, Dodd fails to kill him by stringing him up in a noose. The letters that are filled in are S_O_X F_LL_, which makes Sioux Falls the obvious answer.
    • Lou's first scene with his family has him reading a book to his daughter. The book seems to be portraying a very family-unfriendly scene, which causes Lou to become increasingly disturbed. This establishes a feeling of vague unease before the bodies start dropping.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: If you pause during "The History of True Crime in the Midwest" in "The Castle", you can see spoilers for the episode. Namely, that Hanzee sets up and murders the surviving Gerhardts in the Sioux Falls Massacre.
  • Friend or Foe: Dodd Gerhardt accidentally shoots one of his own men during their search of the Blomquists' house.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The U.F.O. incident never got written down in the Sioux Falls incident report, probably because they knew that no one would believe it.
  • Guttural Growler: Bear speaks with a voice that will shake the fillings out of your teeth.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Ronald Reagan, played by Bruce Campbell of all people.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Dodd complains to Ed that women lack the ability to think rationally. All the while he's engaging in some major Bond Villain Stupidity by not either getting the hell out of there or finishing off Peggy.
    • Karl says that RFK's assassination was falsely blamed on an "Ay-Rab," then calls the perpetrators racist.
  • Ironic Name: Peggy wants to go to a seminar in Sioux Falls called "Lifesprings," but ends up in the middle of a bloodbath instead.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: The crimes take place in three different states and four different jurisdictions.
    • Averted with Lou and Hank. The Waffle House Massacre is technically Hank's jurisdiction, but he has no problem working with Lou when Lou offers to help out.
    • Subverted with the Fargo PD. They cooperate with Lou as long it does not upset the Gerhardts too much and then keep on cooperating since they are desperate to stop the killing. Lou is not happy that they make a deal with Floyd, but goes along with it.
    • Played straight in "The Castle" where the South Dakota cops take over and Lou's refusal to participate in their dangerous plan gets him escorted to the state border. Hank is also almost kicked out but agrees to play along. Averted with the Fargo cops, who want to get in on the possible headline news arrest, so they join in with the South Dakota plan.
  • Karma Houdini: After multiple episodes of murdering innocent bystanders, Ohanzee has managed to elude police capture at the end of the season. He'll eventually be killed by Malvo, but not before reigning as the head of the Fargo mob.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty:
    • Peggy and Ed skirt the edge of escape and justice for a majority of the season, but once they flee from the Sioux Falls massacre in "The Castle," Ed ends up dead and Peggy awaiting trial.
    • An interesting Subverted example ends up happening with Hanzee. As stated above, he ends up washing himself clean from any involvement in the crimes of the season in the finale "Palindrome". He also, however, adopts the fake identity of Moses Tripoli, who Malvo killed back in season one, so his ultimate fate is revealed to be Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Mike Milligan's long-awaited promotion to kingpin of the North Dakota underworld turns out to be nothing more than a dull nine-to-five job in a cramped office building.
  • Kill ’Em All: All of the Gerhardts are killed except for Charlie, and he is going to jail. Hanzee, Betsy, and Hank are all Doomed by Canon even though they survived the season. Ed Blumquist and quite a few other supporting characters don't survive the season as well.
  • Kitchen Sink Included: Peggy uses a loose sink to smash one of Dodd's men in the head.
  • Kosher Nostra: The Kansas City mob is an Ambiguously Jewish crime outfit. Many of the mobsters have Jewish mannerisms and drop Yiddish phrases, and the enterprise as a whole is noticeably businesslike and profit-driven, which is reminiscent of stereotypical Jewish avarice above all other concerns.
  • Last Chance to Quit: Lou offers this to the Blomquist couple in the closing minutes of "Fear and Trembling".
  • Late to the Party: Mike Milligan arrives a few minutes after the Sioux Falls Massacre has ended and wisely decides to just get into his car and drive off.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Hanzee sets up the Gerhardts to start a firefight with the South Dakota cops, hoping that both sides wipe each other out and he can then kill Ed and Peggy.
  • Literary Allusion Title:
  • Longing for Fictionland: Peggy convinces herself that her situation with Ed in "Palindrome" is just like a romantic movie she had recently seen, because if they were like the two lead characters, Ed would still want to be married to her.
  • Losing a Shoe in the Struggle: When Peggy hits him with her car, one of Rye's shoes flies off and ends up caught on a tree branch. Since Peggy drives off with him lodged in her windshield, the presence of the phantom shoe initially confuses Lou and Hank.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: In "Palindrome," Ed admits that while he still loves Peggy, their personalities and aspirations are too different for their marriage to work. Peggy's brain responds by hallucinating smoke coming through the vent so that she can pretend that their situation is like a movie she had recently watched with a similar setup where the heroine was saved from a perilous situation by the hero who wanted to be with her.

  • Made of Iron: The Gerhardt men are notoriously hard to kill.
    • In 1951, it apparently took 19 bullets to do in Dieter Gerhardt.
    • In 1979, his grandson Rye was beaten, stabbed, run over by a car, bled out for several hours, and still had enough strength left in him to attack Ed before finally being put down via yet another stabbing.
    • Dodd needs to be tasered with a cattle prod no less than three times before Peggy can be sure he is not getting up. He also withstands being stabbed multiple times and being hit in the back of the head with a fireplace tool before being taken down with a headshot by Hanzee.
    • Bear is shot in the head and twice in the chest, and still managed to almost strangle Lou to death. He's only stopped by the massive distraction of the UFO, at which point a shot to the head puts him down.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane:
    • After last season's subtly Biblical themes, this season is more overtly sci-fi. UFOs and extraterrestrials are referred to by minor characters and the soundtrack; both Rye and Ohanzee Dent separately see strange bright lights in the sky outside the Waffle Hut. The latter even loses about two hours of time without realizing, judging by his pocket watch. And then a UFO shows up at the motel massacre.
    • Betsy has a vision of the future when she sleeps that is too accurate to be a normal dream.
  • Meaningful Echo: When Rye threatened the judge in the Waffle Hut, he told her it wasn't "one of those optional, check-A-or-B scenarios." Later, when Hank asks Peggy to explain why she continued driving after hitting Rye, she replied that it wasn't a test where you could check A or B.
  • Mêlée à Trois: The Mob War escalates into a conflict between the Gerhardt family, the Kansas City Syndicate, and the state police (mainly Hank and Lou) who are trying to stop them both. This conflict is particularly complicated since the first two factions are trying to kill each other without killing any cops, since neither can handle dealing with police heat in the middle of a Mob War, and the police are likewise trying to avoid getting into a shootout with either side. Hanzee Dent exploits this to wipe out the Gerhardt family by tricking them into thinking a bunch of out-of-state cops not wearing their uniforms are Kansas City men holding Dodd hostage. It doesn't end well for either the Gerhardts or the police.
  • Minnesota Nice: Discussed and deconstructed by Mike Milligan, who claims that people in the Midwest are not really that nice, but are just very good at using politeness to disguise the fact that they are actually unfriendly and hostile to someone.
  • Mob War: One of the main plot points of the season is the fight between the Gerhardt Crime Family and the Kansas City Mafia. In the end, Kansas City wins because of Hanzee Dent's betrayal and the Gerhardts' internal strife. It culminates in the mythic Sioux Falls Massacre, and, with around 60 deaths total, has, as Lou said in Season 1, bodies stacked up to the second floor.
  • The Mountains of Illinois: Luverne, being in southwest Minnesota, is a prairie town in Real Life. The show, however, regularly portrays Luverne with lots of pine forests — a feature of the northeastern part of the state.
  • Mugging the Monster: A bunch of racist barflies in Sioux Falls try to pick a fight with Hanzee. A few minutes later, they, the bartender, and a pair of cops are dead or dying on the ground.
  • The Narrator: "The Castle" features excerpts from a Midwest true crime book being read over the action. Narrated by Martin Freeman, no less!
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Judge was truly surprised when Rye pulled a gun on her.
    • Ed, Peggy, and Hanzee all have this reaction at the end of "Loplop", when they see Lou and Hank approaching the cabin.
  • Opening Monologue: Freeman's voice-over narration prefaces the penultimate episode.
  • Papa Wolf: (Ironically) Bear. He was really upset when he found out that Dodd sent his son to make the hit on the Butcher and then would stop at nothing to free him from jail. Ultimately, he gives in to reason when Karl convinces him that breaking him out will be much worse for him than letting him go to trial. It's obvious he does not want his son involved in the family business and will go to great lengths to make sure he accomplishes legitimate things. He also calls Simone out before he executes her for showing no concern for her cousin's situation.
  • Police are Useless:
    • Averted with Lou and Hank, who are very competent and quickly figure out what is going on and try to stop the bloodshed.
    • The Fargo police are too afraid of the Gerhardts to do anything about their criminal empire and only spring into action when they have a full-blown Mob War on their hands.
    • The South Dakota cops try to avert this trope by being proactive and setting a trap for the Kansas City mobsters, but are Lethally Stupid about it and it blows up in their faces. When Lou tries to warn them, they ignore him and have him escorted to the state line.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Lou and Betsy have very conservative views on gender. Betsy tells Lou to feed more than what he had on fishing trips as a child because "she's a girl" and Lou's speech to Peggy at the end is subtly sexist, albeit not in a condescending way.
  • Poor Communication Kills: The cops at the motel in Sioux Falls turned off their radio, so Lou can't warn them of the Gerhardt family's approach.
  • Pretty Little Headshots: The trope is Zigzagged throughout.
    • It's played straight in episode 8 with Dodd who's shot through the head, and while the exit wound is bigger than the entry wound, it's a small clean hole through and through.
    • Episode 9 averts this with Bear, who's shot through the chin, and a good chunk of his skull is taken off when the bullet exits.
  • Pyrrhic Villainy: Mike Milligan wins the war against the Gerhardts, but his reward is a tedious desk job.
  • Really Dead Montage: All the Gerhardts that died are shown in the opening of the 10th episode.
  • Riddle for the Ages: According to The Narrator, no one ever found out what caused Hanzee to betray the Gerhardts or even if it was a spur-of-the-moment decision or something that has been brewing for decades.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Hank's office full of symbols. The reason is more eccentric than crazy: he's trying to create a more effective language based on pictures.
  • Scary Black Man: Mike Milligan, who some early reviewers compared to Shaft.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: In "The Castle", the various cops talk about where the best place to piss is while playing poker.
  • The '70s: '79, to be precise.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Ed Blomquist becomes this to most of the Gerhardt family because of Dodd's fabrications and his sheer luck. By the time Hank tries to explain to Floyd that "The Butcher of Luverne" is not a hitman, she's convinced he's some sort of Sleeper Agent.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: While Peggy delivers her Motive Rant to Lou, he shuts her up pretty quickly by stating something simple:
    People are dead, Peggy.
  • A Simple Plan: Rye just wanted to extort the judge to get a few more bucks. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The Blomquists' actions completely disrupt the plans of both the Gerhardt Family and the Kansas City Syndicate.
    • Hanzee's scheme to get Ed and Peggy derails the police, the Kansas City Mob, and the Gerhardts' plans.
  • Stealth Prequel: Aside from the obvious, non-stealthy ways in which this is a prequel to Season 1, Moses Tripoli, the boss of the Fargo syndicate, is the identity assumed by Hanzee Dent at the end of the season. He also has an encounter with Mr. Numbers and Mr. Wrench, who are children at the time.
  • There Is No Kill Like Overkill: Dieter Gerhardt apparently took 19 bullets to the head in 1951.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Peggy tells Ed she was a total mess after running down Rye and couldn't think straight. However, we see her being cool and collected as she cleans herself up and takes time to do regular chores.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: During the long-awaited Massacre at Sioux Falls, a Flying Saucer appears out of nowhere directly above them, and everyone drops what they're doing. Everyone except Peggy, who says, "It's just a flying saucer. Come on, Ed, we've gotta move!"
  • Verbal Tic: Lou says "Yup" when he spots a clue.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While this season isn't a "true story" any more than the film or first season, Peggy's hit-and-run is based on the murder of Gregory Glen Biggs. Lou also relates the real life story of Ba Van Nguyen's chinook rescue.
  • Wham Episode: "The Castle" depicts the infamous Sioux Falls Massacre, set up in season 1 and foreshadowed all season. But even that event of huge importance is almost completely overshadowed by the UFO descending above the massacre and being seen by Lou, Bear, Hanzee, Ed, and Peggy.
  • Wham Line:
    • In "Fear and Trembling", Constance mentions the seminar she and Peggy plan on attending is in Sioux Falls, which, according to Lou in Season 1 and foreshadowed throughout Season 2, becomes the site of a massacre.
    • In the season finale "Palindrome", Hanzee, having just received his new identity of "Moses Tripoli," tells his associate of his policy toward rivals, "Kill or be killed. Head in a bag. (in Sioux) That's the message." This reveals Hanzee to be the true identity of Mr. Tripoli, the Fargo boss Malvo kills back in season 1. When Tripoli is told that the killing of Sam Hess was likely personal and not related to the business, he responds with almost the same words.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • While Charlie's incarcerated, his final fate after is never shown as the season concludes.
    • Gale, the surviving Kitchen brother (the one with the red trench coat), is not seen after he and Mike Milligan stroll around the Gerhardt house and kill one of their hired thugs.
  • Your Mom: Lou, of all people.
    Mike Milligan: So, where'd you say you saw ol' Skip?
    Lou Solverson: At your mother's house. I think goin' in the back door.


Example of: