"Fargo" returned for a second season on Monday and, based on the early reviews, it looks like FX has another Emmy winner with this instalment. The sophomore entry in the anthology scores a jaw-dropping 96 at MetaCritic. That is up markedly from 85 for the first season, which won Best Miniseries at last year's Emmys as well as prizes for directing and casting. (Read excerpts of the raves below.)
This season is set in 1979 and is set in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where state trooper Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson) investigates a series of killings tied to a crime family led by one mean mama, Floyd Gerhardt (Jean Smart). Beautician Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst) and her husband Ed (Jesse Plemons) become ensnared in the inquiry.
Matt Roush, TV Guide
"The winner of a miniseries Emmy for its first year is well on its way to earning a second if the first four episodes are any indication. From its surreal opening scene, a hilarious outtake from a B-movie Western — to say more would give away the joke, let alone the foreshadowing — executive producer Noah Hawley's variations on a Coen Brothers theme are inspired in their quirky, shocking unpredictability and quite often surprising in their deeply felt humanity."
Neil Genzlinger, New York Times
"The strangely savory acquired taste known as 'Fargo' returns to FX on Monday night for its second season, with a new story, new cast and new time period but that same just-barely-askew take on the world. Violence, deadpan humor and observational oddity mix on this show in a way that no other current series quite matches, not 'Bates Motel,' not 'Salem,' not even that other FX curiosity, 'American Horror Story.' Who else would set a tale in motion with a slaughter at a Waffle Hut?"
Ken Tucker, Yahoo
"The show is packed with plot, yet creator-writer Noah Hawley is so confident in his storytelling, the show feels leisurely; there’s always time to tuck in a small laugh-line or a neat little character detail. And over it all, Hawley hangs a political context, as this show set in 1979 feels the presence of Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, with their antithetical philosophies of governing."
Matt Zoller Seitz, Vulture
"The crime story is merely the clothesline along which Fargo strings all manner of subplots, embellishments, grace notes, and splendid images. Season two expands and deepens a fiendishly complex world. Its conception owes as much to Stephen King’s Maine and in its more nuanced moments, Jon Dos Passos’s USA trilogy; yes, really as it does to anything the Coens have made."
Robert Bianco, USA Today
"The special insight of 'Fargo,' however, is that most people don't fall into either divide. Once again, the pivotal characters are those whose dedication to walking the straight and narrow falters the moment that path becomes difficult, or a more tempting one arises. Deluded and unpredictable, they're the ones most at risk, and the ones who pose the greatest dangers. Through scene after scene, 'Fargo' crackles with mordant wit and sustained tension."
Photo: Patrick Wilson in "Fargo." Credit: FX.