“It’s a winter show, for better or worse,” says Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley during a recent Q&A on Season 2. Hawley was explaining why we won’t be seeing Season 3 until spring 2017, a terribly long way off for the series’ rabid fans. But, as he and executive producers Warren Littlefield and John Cameron discussed, Fargo is an “event” series. “The minute you’re hitting the same air date year after year,” Hawley continued, “You’re just making a television show.”
It’s safe to say many would have to agree; Fargo is anything but regular TV.
During the appropriately titled “postmortem” call, the three men went over a lot of Season 2’s ins and outs – from the trajectory of Hanzee’s story arc to deciding on episode titles and themes. Of course, there was lots of talk about aliens and Season 3, even if they didn’t have anything really juicy to say this early on in the writing process. As Hawley explained:
We’re going through the writing process now. I’ve written the first hour. We’ll be shooting in November 2016 and hopefully back on the air in spring 2017. It’s important to me and the producers that we separate the writing and the production. We really take our time, and we write 8 of the 10 hours at least so we know exactly what the whole story is.
As far as what that story will entail, they didn’t reveal any specifics. But thematically, Hawley has a strong idea of what he’d like to explore:
We’ve set it in 2010. It’s a more contemporary story. I think that’s exciting. Our first story was set in 2006 but we didn’t really deal with what it was like to be in that region in the more contemporary world. I like the idea that we’re now living in a very selfie orientated culture. Where people photograph what they’re eating and put it up for other people to see. It feels like a social dynamic that’s very antithetical to the very Lutheran pragmatism of the region. So much of our crime stories are based around the difficulties people have expressing themselves and communicating. In a lot of ways, the tragedies at the heart of these crimes could all be averted if Jerry Lundegaard could’ve just asked his father-in-law for the money, or if Lester could’ve just been honest about who he was, and Peggy Blomquist as well. I like the idea of setting these very pragmatic and humble people against a culture of narcissism and to see what that generates for us story wise.
He confirmed that they’ll be filming up in Calgary again, and went on to say that none of the characters from Season 1 will be returning:
The danger of bringing Season 1 characters back for another crazy case, it makes the artifice too clear. Suddenly it just feels like we’re doing because it’s fun and we like these characters. But we’d be breaking our own rules. That’s not to say one of our stories won’t intersect with characters we’ve seen before, but I don’t think that we can say two years later, Molly gets a phone call and you’ll never believe what happens!
Producer Warren Littlefield expounded on this, stating how starting fresh every season is a challenge they love taking on:
The challenge is enormous and it really energizes us. We don’t go back to existing sets. We don’t go back to existing cast members. It doesn’t matter how cold it gets. There’s this wonderful sense of…we’re making Fargo, you know? We really feel like we get the best of everyone – our actors, our crew. We’re making a movie. We’re turned on to that madness.
I hate to call it a “twist,” but for lack of a better word that twist in the final episode was that Hanzee goes on to become mob boss Mr. Tripoli. On that subject, Hawley explained that he never wants to feel like they’re trying to outsmart the audience:
I like the idea that Hanzee emerges from this story as a winner on some level. That this is really an origin story for him as well as an origin story for Molly. If we did our job right, and people didn’t just think we were being clever for clever’s sake, there’s a double realization. That this character grows up to be a character from the first season. And that this character that is now living in your mind, is also dead. Because you already know he gets killed off. I think that’s an interesting journey for our viewers to go on.
Naturally, the UFO was brought up. One of the most talked about aspects of this season, the flying saucer that had viewers buzzing (particularly in the show’s ninth hour), was really pretty simple in Hawley’s mind:
The violence and chaos of our story became so deadly and absurd that the UFO kind of manifests in that absurdity. There were two things that I felt gave me permission. Obviously the Coen Brothers had used a UFO. Also the fact that in 1979, two years after Close Encounters and Star Wars, it was very much in the zeitgeist. And after the crazy political upheavals of the time, people realized that conspiracies really did go all the way to the top. That sense of paranoia in American life was so heightened that it literally felt like you couldn’t trust anything. So those two things created the permission for me to explore those elements.
And if you’re wondering what Ben Schmidt was referencing when he said, “It’s like Iowa City all over again,” according to Hawley, your question may or may not go unanswered. It was just for fun.
It occurred to me that that would be funny to say, since in our first year, Ben Schmidt says, ‘It’s like Sioux Falls all over again.’ It’s great to put that stuff in.
Hawley also talked a little about his upcoming projects, Legion and Cat’s Cradle:
Legion will probably start shooting in March 2016. We’ll be shooting that for most of the year. For Cat’s Cradle we don’t have anything to shoot, there’s no script. I’m working on that in my spare time, I suppose.