Fans were pleasantly surprised last week when Season 1 star Martin Freeman popped by Season 2 of FX's Fargo to narrate the penultimate episode, "The Castle." Although he wasn't reprising his role as Lester Nygaard (which would have been impossible, given the fact that this season takes place 29 years before the first), it was still comforting — and darkly amusing — to hear a voice we knew so well underscoring events as violent as the Massacre at Sioux Falls. But if you thought that would be the only time that Season 1 of Fargo connected to Season 2 ... you thought wrong, as the Season 2 finale, "Palindrome," featured even more familiar faces.
Last week, cancer-stricken Betsy Solverson collapsed in her kitchen. This week, we learned her body had had an adverse reaction to the pills she'd been taking — and as she was recovering, she had a vivid dream that seemingly catapulted her consciousness several decades into the future to allow her a glimpse of her family through the years. First we saw a teenaged Molly and a limping Lou (presumably a result of the traffic stop shooting that caused him to retire early from the force, as explained last year), and then we saw her daughter and husband as we first met them in Season 1, as played by Allison Tolman and Keith Carradine.
The dream ended with Molly, Lou, Gus, and Greta gathered around the kitchen table, celebrating the birthday of Molly and Gus' young son. Although Betsy fretted in voiceover that she feared this happy future would be preempted by violent events in the present, we fortunately knew that this wasn't true. We already know that Lou will grow old, that Molly will get married and have a kid, and that they'll all be relatively happy. (Of course, they'll have some bumps along the way, in the form of Lester Nygaard and Lorne Malvo and the havoc they wreak on the region.)
So what are we to make of this vision? Was it really just a dream, and a way for Tolman, Carradine, Colin Hanks, and Joey King to reprise their Season 1 roles as an Easter Egg for the fans? Or was Betsy having an actual vision of the future? Normally, I would scoff at that idea, but in a season that's included UFOs as an important plot point, anything goes. Perhaps, on death's door, Betsy transcended time in the same way that the aliens transcend space, and was blessed with a legitimate vision of her happy family — a vision which would eventually help her to pass in peace when she inevitably succumbed to her cancer in the years between Seasons 1 and 2.
But Betsy's dream wasn't the only connection to Season 1 in the Season 2 finale. There was another exceedingly subtle reference that only the most astute viewers have noticed. When Hanzee's accomplice handed him his Social Security card with his new identity, the camera lingered for a moment on the name: "Moses Tripoli." This doesn't mean much solely in the context of Season 2 ... but it's one that you might recognize from last year.
Mr. Tripoli was the name of the Fargo mob boss whom Sam Hess worked for in Season 1. After Malvo killed Hess for Lester, Mr. Tripoli put out a hit on Hess' killer, sending Mr. Wrench and Mr. Numbers to find and execute him. We only saw Mr. Tripoli twice, once while enjoying a meal in a Chinese restaurant, and once again when he was murdered by Malvo during his assault on the Fargo mob's headquarters. (Presumably, the deaf kid and his brother whom Hanzee was watching play baseball in that same scene would grow up to be Numbers and Wrench.)
So what's the connection between Hanzee Dent, aka Moses Tripoli, and Season 2's Mr. Tripoli? Although the former was portrayed by Zahn McClarnon and the latter by Mark Acheson, the similar name wasn't a coincidence; they are the same person. Hanzee's accomplice mentioned that he should seek not just cosmetic surgery to repair his blistered face, but also more intensive procedures to completely disguise his appearance. Hanzee then declared his intention to start his own empire from the ashes of the Gerhardts', despite his accomplice warning him that he would one day fall just as hard.
That warning came true. Although Hanzee survived the events of Season 2 and would go on to successfully build his own fearsome syndicate, he was destined to be felled 29 years later by a bullet fired from Lorne Malvo's gun. And so the cycle of violence continues ...
Images: Mathias Clamer/FX