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As we all know, the sophomore slump is a real thing. Just because the first season is good doesn’t mean the second will automatically be better. However, I’m happy to say that the first episode of Fargo season two is just as good as anything in the first season – if not better. Right from the intro, they use the old traditional MGM lion to satirize an old Hollywood production, it’s clear Hawley is more ambitious than ever with season two, but his ambition is matched by the quality of his execution.

From there, the season premiere quickly sets the stage for a Minnesota mob war, with Jeffrey Donovan and a coked up Kieran Culkin as the crazed princes of a clan ruled by Battlestar Galactica’s Michael Hogan and an awesomely old-fashioned Jean Smart. The opening scenes are incredibly fast paced and you can really sense that Hawley is trying to distinguish himself from the Coen Brothers by doing his own thing, with a brutal diner scene scored by Led Zeppelin’s “In through the Out Door.”

Once we get through the brutal triple murder the episode starts to settle down a bit to introduced us to Lou Solverson, who was played by an older man, Keith Carradine in season one, but is now played by Patrick Wilson.  The link between Carradine and Wilson’s performance is excellent, although being an anthology show, having seen season one isn’t a necessity to enjoy it. Already Lou’s an extremely interesting character, and it’ll be intriguing to see him navigate the sure to be blood soaked episodes to come.

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The hype of the cast was well justified by their performance with Jeffrey Donovan stealing scenes, and the great Ted Danson showing up as Lou’s sheriff father-in-law. Best of all may have to go to Brad Garrett, who in the last scene is shown playing a mob middle manager who approaches his murderous work just like any other business. It is fairly early, but it seems like Garrett will be special this season. The other major characters are Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst as a married-couple who have a fateful run-in with a murderous Culkin and seem poised to go down the same kind of violent path poor Lester Nygaard did last year.

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All in all after the premier it looks like the season two will be even better than the first. Seeing as season one was one of the best things on television last year, season two looks like it will be a must see this year. I can’t wait to see what this season has in-store. The episode received extraordinary reviews all around. The third episode comes out this Monday, October 26th on FX.