Sometimes to go forward, you must go back. That sentiment certainly applies to FX's crime anthology Fargo, which finds itself traveling back in time for its sophomore season. Anthologies are more popular than ever these days, thanks to not only Fargo but also HBO's True Detective, ABC's American Crime, FX's American Horror Story, and the upcoming American Crime Story. But with so many anthologies out there all employing slightly different variations on the format, one never quite knows where one stands when returning for a new season. How does Fargo Season 2 connect to Season 1? Will there be any of the same actors? Will there be the same characters, the same location, the same time period? Or will absolutely everything be totally different?
Unlike most anthology series, Season 2 of Fargo will take place entirely within the same world as the first. Whereas Season 1 took place in the very recent past — 2006, to be exact — the new batch of episodes will rewind the clock 27 years. When Season 2 premieres, viewers will find themselves in 1979, just a few years after the end of the cataclysmic Vietnam War. And while Season 1 was located mostly in the northern city of Bemidji, Season 2 will shift the action to the small town of Luverne, right in the southwestern-most corner of the state, right across the border from Sioux Falls, SD.
Unlike other anthology shows that completely reset every year, Season 2 won't in any way erase the continuity of Season 1. In fact, the new season in some ways serves as a direct prequel to the first; despite the shift in location, there is one character that carries over between the two years' giant ensemble casts. That character is Lou Solverson, the diner-owning father of Deputy Molly Solverson played by Keith Carradine in Season 1. Season 2 will find the younger version of the character, this time played by Patrick Wilson, still serving as a Minnesota State Trooper, recently returned home from the war in Vietnam with a cancer-stricken wife and a young daughter — none other than future Deputy Molly herself — at home.
Just like Ryan Murphy always sprinkles each season of American Horror Story with clues about the theme of the next, there was a big hint about Season 2's plot dropped all the way back in Season 1. In one episode of Fargo's freshman season, Lou Solverson mentioned a particularly nasty case from his past, which he referred to as "the Sioux Falls Massacre" — a case so nasty it's the reason he left the police force behind in favor of slinging pancakes. (He described it as "savagery, pure and simple.") So what happened in Sioux Falls all those years ago? ... That's exactly what Season 2 promises to show us.
We already know one thing for sure: innocent lives will be caught in the crossfire of the Sioux Falls Massacre. Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons star in Season 2 as a beautician and her butcher husband who "find themselves caught in an escalating war between a local crime gang," headed up by Jean Smart's Floyd Gerhardt (above) "and a major Mob syndicate." But apart from being tied together by this thin strand of plot, the two seasons are also thematic siblings. "I like the idea that somewhere out there is a big, leather-bound book that’s the history of true crime in the Midwest, and the movie was Chapter 4, Season 1 was Chapter 9, and this is Chapter 2," showrunner Noah Hawley mentioned in an interview between seasons. "You can turn the pages of this book, and you just find this collection of stories. … But I like the idea that these things are connected somehow, whether it’s linearly or literally or thematically. That’s what we play around with."
Unfortunately, since Season 2 takes place in the same world as Season 1, Hawley was unable to keep the same cast members around, the way that AHS does every year. So Billy Bob Thornton, Martin Freeman, Allison Tolman, and Colin Hanks are all nowhere to be found this time around. But with an all-new cast containing the likes of Wilson, Dunst, Plemmons, and Smart — as well as Ted Danson, Nick Offerman, Bruce Campbell, and more — Fargo fans are still in for quite the treat. Just don't expect a lot of that trademark "Minnesota nice" as these characters all lie, backstab, and murder their way to the infamous Sioux Falls Massacre.
Images: Chris Large, Mathias Clamer (2)/FX