After last week’s bloody episode, the second season finale of Fargo was more of a (somewhat) quiet meditation on life. We had Lou talking about how men will do anything to protect their family. “It’s the rock we all push, men. We call it our burden but it’s really our privilege,” he says. Betsy dismisses the writings of Albert Camus, saying clearly he was never a parent and that we are all put on this earth to do a job. “You try telling them it was all some Frenchman’s joke,” she tells Noreen. And Hank tells Betsy, “You’ll know the angels when they come because they’ll have the faces of your children.”
Unfortunately Ed didn’t make it—I was rooting for him. Nor did the Gerhardt lackey who was trying to steal all the silver. But, as in the first season of Fargo, good eventually prevailed so good people could go on living their lives. There was so much to love about “Palindrome” that I decided to rank all of my favorite things.
1. Season one favorites returned and, per Betsy’s dream, we got to see Molly, Gus, Greta, Lou and the Molly and Gus’ five-year-old son. It was such a treat to see my favorite characters from last season, and a lovely way to tie the two seasons together. “I dreamed of a magical future full of magical devices,” Betsy says.
2. Mike Milligan gets stuck in a mid-level corporate America 9-5 job. After taking credit for obliterating the Gerhardts, Mike heads back to headquarters expecting glory and to be rewarded with a territory. Instead, he’s gifted with a tiny office, the promise of health insurance and a 401k—and the advice to start wearing a suit and tie and brush up on his golf game.
3. In an Easter egg that was quite the gift to fans, we saw a young Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers from last season, with the assumption that they are taken in by Hanzee who is last seen talking about getting a new face. Is Hanzee the Mr. Tripoli of the first season of Fargo? The new identity he takes on via his new social security card certainly implies this.
4. Peggy tries to pin all that has happened on the fact that women cannot have it all. Just as her rant is reaching a crescendo, Lou cuts her off with a curt, “People are dead Peggy.”
5. A dying Ed finally realizes that Peggy is not the woman for him. “Peggy, I don’t think we’re going to make it. We’re just too different. You’re always trying to fix everything, but sometimes nothing is broken.”
6. Betsy lives! Betsy knows and we know that she most likely won’t beat cancer. But she got to live to see her husband and father come home, and for the family to be happy and at peace.
7. After all that speculation, Hank is developing a secret language so people can communicate better.
8. Lou decides to leave certain things like, “gun fight interrupted by space craft,” out of his report.
9. Patrick Wilson starting off the episode by reciting the standard “This is a true story” was a great touch.
It was truly an amazing season with some knockout performances. It should turn Bokeem Woodbine into a household name and open up a whole new career for Kirsten Dunst. For all the blood and terror, Fargo remains a surprisingly optimistic show—once again, ending with a scene of a happy home life. Okay then—on to season three.
Palindrome is a word that reads the same backwards and forwards (noon, civic, refer). Does the title imply that no matter how the events unfolded, the results would have been the same?
By my count the only Gerhardt taken out by Kansas City was Otto. The rest were the victims of friendly fire, law enforcement or Peggy Blumquist.
Adam Arkin, who played mob head Hamish Broker, also directed last week’s episode the finale.
I still could have done without the alien angle. How about you?
Amy Amatangelo is a Boston-based freelance writer, a member of the Television Critics Association and a regular contributor to Paste. She wasn’t allowed to watch much TV as a child and now her parents have to live with this as her career. You can follow her on Twitter or her blog.