Lacking the quality, characters, plot, and humour of the previous series.
Following last season’s critically acclaimed run, Fargo has returned to our screens to dampen our hopes of getting a consistently decent anthology series. What we get here is a stylistic hodgepodge, with characters that are dull, badly written, pale imitations of other Coen brothers characters, or killed off instantaneously – and the majority fell into more than one of these categories.
The initial twenty minutes are nothing short of a mess; with a painfully useless slow intro scene and era affirming montage, which could only have been made by someone who had to google search ‘what old films look like’. We’re introduced to the inconsistent accent crime family and following a stalking scene, we end up at the inciting incident diner. That’s a third of the episode, and what’s interesting about these twenty minutes is that, if it was cut, the episode would be more exciting, interesting, intriguing, and less confusing. In short, we have a show that feels padded before it even really began.
Thankfully the episode does improve as time goes on. Main characters become introduced, small details are noticed that will definitely become relevant later on, and the series begins heading in a set direction.
Essentially this series has done one big change, they swapped tension for set-up. It’s understandable too, the initial series had to prove itself, and once it did, a second outing would undoubtedly be able to assume less of their audience would choose whether or not to continue by the quality of the first episode. Much like the second series of another popular anthology series *cough cough*, it seems to have misunderstood people’s love of the series, thinking that people latched onto the complex plot more than the characters. In fact, the only time that people love complex plots, is when they care about what happens to all the characters within it, otherwise it’s a bunch of faceless exposition bots.
This time around two of the three main characters are inherently dull – boring yokel and stick-in-the-mud cop, with interest only being added externally (dying wife and child/crazy wife). They aren’t thoughtful, they aren’t interesting, and they’re forgettable. The third main character is the aforementioned crazy Kristen Dunst, who shows the most promise, despite only appearing in the last and best ten minutes. Currently she seems to be the sole reason to continue with the show.
But even the most interesting of characters isn’t safe from the lacklustre script, with plausible conversations being broken by long analogies that are ultimately pointless, and characters making illogical decisions. The humour, a majority of people’s favourite aspect of the show, is semi-decent to good, but stuffed into dialogue so clearly set up for the jokes that it takes all the fun out of the situations, and feels rushed at the worst of times. The visuals of the show also seemed rushed, lacking the Deakins mimicking from previous episodes, and seemingly dropping to the quality of standard TV drama.
Maybe I’m wrong and I’m being too harsh on a series that may end up alright; but really, there’s a large part of me that feels like I’m going to be saying “I told you so” a lot in the future.
Fargo airs on Channel 4 on Mondays at 10pm.