Once you lay out your favourite crime dramas of the year, you see certain themes and ideas replicated. We saw a bit of The Bridge in Witnesses; there was a bit of River in The Bridge, and so on. What was clear from looking back at this year’s cream of the crop was that the standard was incredibly high in 2015, without actually producing a masterpiece like a True Detective series one or a Broadchurch series one. There were plenty of outstanding moments, performances and bits, for sure, but I would say that only the top three of this list approached total awesomeness. And, I have to say, I went back and forth on our top three because each had a case to be number one. In fact, I changed positions right up until the moment I settled down to write this list. See what you think of our Top Five…
It didn’t take very long for this second series of Fargo to settle down. When it did, it was evident that this was going to be something special. We’ve had it all – humour, tension, farce, suspense, extreme violence and a cast of characters that you felt truly emotionally connected to. Episode eight might have been the best hour of television this year. That’s not to say there haven’t been times along the road where you were shouting at your TV screen (PEGGY WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST CALL THE COPS WHEN YOU RAN RYE GERHARDT DOWN? WE COULD HAVE AVOIDED ALL THIS BLOODSHED), but I like dramas like that because I trust someone like Noah Hawley to deliver the answers in time. And those answers were delivered in this finale.
After last week’s incredible, edge-of-your-seat episode it was time to re-enter the crazy world of Fargo knowing full well it was the penultimate episode and the hugely suspenseful episode eight may have just been a precursor to even more suspenseful, hand-over-mouth moments. Especially because this was the episode where the fabled Massacre Of Sioux Falls would finally take place. And make no mistake, it was a massacre.
For an episode and a half we haven’t seen Ed and Peggy Blumquist, that dysfunctional, mismatched couple who have made bad decision after bad decision. The last we saw of them Peggy had survived Dodd Gerhardt and his gang’s attempt to take her out, while we saw Ed telephone Kansas City’s Mike Milligan to tell them he had Dodd in the boot of his car and wanted to make a deal. Other than that we didn’t really know how Ed and Peggy got to that point. Stand by – all those questions were about to be answered in stunning style.
Erstwhile on Fargo… (I love the way they use the word ‘erstwhile’ instead of the usual ‘previously’ during their little catch-ups at the start of each episode). During the last two episodes we’ve seen the Gerhardt family and the Kansas City mob clash violently as their gang war escalated, while Lou Solverson and Hank Larsson (as well as Ed and Peggy Blumquist) found themselves slap-bang in the middle of all the mayhem. With only four episodes left, it feels as though we’re being pushed towards a final reckoning, but there’s a lot to get through first. So dense and rich was this seventh instalment, it could have been the best episode of the series so far. And that’s saying something.
It’s always worth taking a look at the title of a Fargo episode before you dig into it because it might just give you a clue as to what the theme might be. This fifth episode is called The Gift Of The Magi, which refers to a story written by William Sydney Porter, which, in turn, tells the tale of a married couple who deals with the challenge of buying secret Christmas gifts for each other with very little money. Only in Fargo do you find these strange links between cult literature and storylines in a TV show, and The Gift Of The Magi can only refer to one pair of characters – the doomed Blumquists.
As Fargo settles into its stride there’s a sense that nothing is real. Or at least some things are. We just don’t know. That’s the beauty of Fargo, this snow-bound wasteland where strange things happen. Where bad things happen. War was one of the unifying themes in this fourth episode – Korea was mentioned, Vietnam was referenced a lot, and the Gerhardts had to decide whether to go to war with Kansas City.