TV Review: Fargo: Season 2, Episode 2 (SPOILERS)
Season 2, Episode 2: Before the Law
SUMMARY: The Gerhardt clan, now headed by matriarch Floyd (Jean Smart) closes ranks after a visit from the Kansas City syndicate in the guise of middle-man Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) and his associate Mike (Bokeem Woodbine).
REVIEW: “Directed by Noah Hawley.” That credit alone should tell you everything you need to know about episode two of the already brilliant second season of Fargo. Picking up right where the amazing season premiere left-off, this second installment maintains the standard set by the very first episode, introducing touches of the macabre that would do executive producers Joel & Ethan Coen proud.
Hawley's directorial debut, this episode does a brilliant job juggling the myriad of stories we've been gifted-with. The first half of the episode is primarily concerned with infighting in the Gerhardt family, with psychotic son Dodd (Jeffrey Donovan) battling his steely mother for control now that his dad is sidelined following his massive stroke. Donovan's about as far removed from his slick Burn Notice spy as you can get, expertly conveying Dodd's malevolence, although the real surprise is Jean Smart as his sharp-witted mother, who'll likely prove to be a formidable opponent for both him and the Kansas City mob.
Notably, this episode also introduces Mike Milligan, played by Bokeem Woodbine. Only briefly spottedin episode one, he seems to be taking on the Lorne Malvo-style part as the purely evil, but silver-tongued killer, who, in his icy face-to-face with Ted Danson's Sheriff Hank, seems poised to start some chaos. Woodbine is just as expertly cast as everyone else, with his smiling, happy-go-lucky psychopath being immediately memorable (as is Brad Garrett as the mob's fixer).
Patrick Wilson's Lou Solverson is still the focus however, and his home life is just as intriguing as the carnage, with his cancer-riddled wife (Cristin Milioti) conveying the sharp-intelligence her daughter Molly shows as an adult in season one. Knowing what we do about her eventual fate makes her scenes all the more tragic.
As good as everything about this episode is, from the cinematography (the best lensing on TV in my opinion) to the music (I especially loved the use of Jeff Wayne's 'War of the Worlds') the moments everyone will remember are the bits involving Peggy (Kirsten Dunst) and Ed (Jesse Plemons) as they try to dispose of the late Rye. Ed's butcher shop plan proves to be absolutely demented but inspired, with Hawley's graphic shots of him grinding Rye's corpse into ground beef being among the most grotesque moments I've ever seen in a TV show, although it fits so perfectly into this world, with all the violence being almost comical in how unexpectedly extreme it is. Hawley's effortlessly found the pitch-black tone the Coens are masters of, and with him showing a sharp directorial flair in episode two, one wonders just how good this season is going to get. The safe bet is to assume the sky's the limit for this incredibly inspired show, which is turning into a Breaking Bad-level masterpiece. What a friggin' great show!