The acclaimed first season of FX's crime anthology Fargo contained many an Easter Egg for fans of Coen Bros. films. And, Fargo Season 2 has many Season 1 references. When the show first began, not only was the plot directly tied to the events of the 1996 film of the same name by the stash of cash buried by Steve Buscemi's Carl Showalter and dug up by Oliver Platt's Milos Stavros. But, there were also oblique references to other entries in the filmmakers' oeuvre: Billy Bob Thornton's unstoppable killer Lorne Malvo was highly reminiscent of No Country For Old Men's Anton Chigurh; Glenn Howerton's preening fitness instructor brought to mind Brad Pitt's absurd role in Burn After Reading; there was even a reference to White Russians, the Dude's drink of choice in The Big Lebowski.
Now in its second season, Fargo is more concerned with connecting itself to the show's own first season than with winking nods to past Coen Bros. movies. Since Season 2 is a prequel that takes place 27 years before the start of Season 1, some of those connections may even be clues about where the simmering plot is headed: the violent Sioux Falls Massacre mentioned by Lou Solverson last year. Here are all of the Season 1 references in Fargo Season 2 so far.
1. An Opening Car Crash
Season 1 opened with a literal bang, as Lorne Malvo's car swerved to avoid a deer and ran into a ditch, allowing a man to escape from the trunk and run away across a snow-covered field, which kicked off the violent events of the season. Season 2 also featured a pivotal car crash — Peggy running over Rye outside the Waffle Hut — even if it took a bit longer in the episode to occur.
2. Disposing Of The Evidence
Both Seasons 1 and 2 also feature humble Minnesotan men in over their heads with bloody crimes: Lester Nygaard, who impulsively murdered his wife in Season 1, and Ed Blumquist, who finished off Rye after his wife brought the gangster home in her windshield. Both seasons then focused on the men's efforts to clean up after themselves, with Lester disposing of his clothes in a trash bag while Ed burned his in the fireplace; and Lester staged his crime scene to look like a home invasion, while Ed ground up the corpse in a meat grinder.
3. A Common Central Location
One of the central locations of Season 1 was Lou's Coffee Shop, the diner that Molly Solverson's dad bought after he retired from the police force. Season 2 also features a diner as a central location... although it subverts the established trope of the diner as a comforting familial setting, instead featuring the Waffle Hut as the scene of a gruesome triple homicide.
4. Lou's Sitting Habits
In Season 1, Keith Carradine's Lou Solverson kept vigil on the porch, anticipating the arrival of the sinister Lorne Malvo. When Gus' daughter Greta asks him if he had ever sat guard like that before, the old man answers her that he did the same back in the winter of 1979, when he kept watch "from dusk till dawn" while his then-4-year-old daughter slept inside. "Who did you think was coming?" Greta asked him. "It wasn't a question of who. More like what," he answered. In Season 2, we've seen Patrick Wilson's younger version of the character already prone to late night vigils, both sitting in his own backyard, tying and untying knots, and sitting on the Blumquists' porch, awaiting their arrival and inadvertently protecting them from Gerhardt henchman Ohanzee Dent.
5. Betsy's Haircut
Betsy Solverson's mushroom 'do is highly reminiscent of the same haircut sported by Ida Thurman, the widow of slain police chief Vern (shot down by Lorne Malvo in the Season 1 premiere). Given the tragic fate that awaited the Thurmans when we first met them last year, it's probably safe to assume that a similar tragedy awaits the Solverson family; especially since Betsy is already wasting away from a battle with cancer.
6. The Silent Henchmen
Every crime saga worth its salt needs a couple of intimidating henchmen, men of few words but quick to leap to action. In Season 1, that role was filled by Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers, hot on Lester's trail after the murder of Sam Hess. In Season 2, those henchmen are the Kitchen Brothers, identical (and mute) twin brothers acting on the behest of the Kansas City mafia in their war against the Gerhardt family.
7. "Kind Of A Prick"
Perhaps the biggest connection between the seasons that has thus far slipped under the radar is that of Ben Schmidt. Viewers may remember him from this season, played by Keir O'Donnell, when he helped Lou Solverson investigate the Gerhardts. But we actually met Schmidt last season, when he was played by Peter Breitmayer as the gruff lieutenant of the Duluth PD. When he heard about Gus' encounter with Lorne Malvo, he stated, "It's goddamn Sioux Falls all over again." When older Lou and Gus met for the first time, Lou asked if the Duluth officer knew of Ben Schmidt. "Kind of a prick," Lou offered helpfully. "That's the one," answered Gus. Lou responds: "We had a deal together once in Sioux Falls. Joint task force situation. Boy, that was a rodeo."
Lou and Ben seemed to get along fairly well a couple of episodes ago, when the latter seemed like a helpful if innocuous presence. What's going to happen to make the two men turn against each other and cause Lou to refer to Schmidt 27 years later as "kind of a prick"? This is just one of the many questions that Season 2 has yet to answer... but as the season rushes headlong towards its bloody climax, the connections between the two entries in this anthology series are gradually becoming even clearer.
Images: Chris Large (4), Mathias Clamer (4)/FX