'Aw Jeez': Get ready for the new season of 'Fargo'

Patrick Wilson and Ted Danson
Patrick Wilson (right) stars in FX's "Fargo" as a young Lou Solverson and Ted Danson plays his partner (and father-in-law) Hank Larsson.
Courtesy of FX

Every week on "Aw Jeez: A 'Fargo' podcast," hosts Tracy Mumford and Jay Gabler recap the latest episode, and interview experts about the mayhem, the mob and the Minnesota moments in season two of "Fargo."

"Fargo," the television show based on the Coen brothers' 1996 film, returns for a second season this Monday. To get prepared, we're studying up on season one and unloading everything we know about season two.

Season one

The "Fargo" television show isn't a straight adaptation of the Coens' movie — but it does bring plenty of murder and Minnesota accents. The same grim act is at the center of both season one and the film: A down-on-his-luck, bumbling man ends up killing his wife.

In Noah Hawley's TV adaptation, that man is Lester Nygaard, played by Martin Freeman of "Hobbit" fame. Freeman swaps his British accent for a Minnesota lilt, and plays a Bemidji, Minn., insurance salesman.

Lester just can't catch a break: His wife, Pearl, will never forgive him for not being able to fix the washing machine, and his high school bully Sam Hess still has fun pushing him around, despite the fact that they're both over 40.

About 24 hours after we meet Lester, both Pearl and Hess are dead.

The season one villain, complete with serial killer haircut, is Lorne Malvo, played by Billy Bob Thornton. Malvo meets Lester by chance in the Bemidji ER, and like some twisted guardian angel, decides to take down Hess for him. Lester, meanwhile, finally snaps and murders his wife himself.

This kicks off a killing spree that travels from Bemidji to Duluth and back, with a stop in Las Vegas, of course. Mobsters from Fargo, N.D., sweep in, and the supermarket king of Minnesota is involved as well.

Our heroes are Bemidji Deputy Molly Solverson and the aw-shucks Duluth officer Gus Grimley. It's awkward deputy love at first sight between these two, even though Gus accidentally shoots Molly during a snowstorm shoot-out with Malvo and the gangsters. (Don't worry, she only loses a spleen.)

Due to the bumbling incompetence of the Bemidji chief of police, Molly and Gus are thwarted in their attempts to prove Lester and Malvo are mixed up in the murders.

For a moment it seems like they might get away with it — a flash forward takes us to Vegas, one year later, where Lester is accepting a salesman of the year award (with a pretty new wife) and Malvo is living it up under a false identity as a dentist.

Back in Bemidji, romance worked out: Molly and Gus have settled into married life, and Gus has hung up his badge in favor of driving the mail truck. But that doesn't mean Molly's given up. In true crime-TV style, she has a whole bulletin board devoted to the case upstairs.

The final showdown of this Mid-Western brings all the characters back together again, in the snow, because it's never not snowing in Minnesota. A very-pregnant Molly has to sit out for the guns-blazing finale, but Gus does her proud and takes down Malvo.

A happy ending — especially since Molly gets to be the new chief.

Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons
Husband and wife: Kirsten Dunst as Peggy and Jesse Plemons as Ed in season two of FX's "Fargo."
Courtesy of FX

Season two

Season two will open with a familiar character: Lou Solverson, Molly's cop-turned-diner owner dad from season one. The season takes us back in time to 1979, when Lou was a young state trooper in Luverne, Minn.

Nick Offerman
Nick Offerman plays hard-drinking Luverne, Minn. lawyer Karl Weathers in the second season of "Fargo" on FX.
Courtesy of FX

The story jumps across state lines to Sioux Falls, S.D., where Lou gets tangled up in the most haunting crime of his career. We heard him give an eerie rundown of it in season one. Enough bodies to climb to the second story, he said. "I'd call it animal, but animals only kill for food."

The cast is stacked with notable names and familiar faces: Kirsten Dunst, Ted Danson, Jesse Plemons, Jean Smart, Nick Offerman and Jeffrey Donovan. Judging from the series teasers, there's plenty of '70s hair to go around. There's also a lot of history to play with, including the impending election of Ronald Reagan (played by Bruce Campbell).

One thing's for sure: The body count will be high.

Stick with us to see who makes it through.

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