Violence is always bubbling under the surface in “Fargo.” Against the mundane existence of the Minnesota expanse, viciousness and criminality explode in gunfire and red blood that seeps into the snowy whiteness. Driven by dissatisfaction and repression, characters lash out violently against their present reality in an attempt to carve out their own chunk of the world, not caring about who’s hurt in the process.

These forceful attempts at controlling one’s existence after endless humiliations are perversions of the tale of Job told by the Judge (Ann Cusack, “Nightcrawler”) to Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World”) before the season premiere’s first explosion. Not everyone can take ceaseless indignities — in fact, most can’t. In the first season, Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman, “Sherlock”) struck out against his meek life after being exposed to the influence of Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thornton, “Sling Blade”).

This theme, initially manifested within Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy, “Shameless”) in the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film and continued with Lester in series form by writer Noah Hawley (“Bones”), touches on the trappings of everyday life and the primal drive to gain what people think is theirs. When Rye, the beaten down youngest son of the notoriously criminal Gerhardt clan, snaps and kills the Judge after she strongly rejects his business proposition it is the continuation, or predecessor, in a sustained cycle of malevolence.

Set in 1979, the second season of “Fargo” is a prequel to the anthology’s first season that took place in 2006. While the events of “Fargo” are terrifying, they aren’t isolated incidents. They’re parts of an endless sequence that’s been going on since before the tale of Job. Hawley controls these recurrent themes through continuously strong characters and a setting that presents a blank canvas for the moral conflict that violently plays out. This excellence in synthesizing themes into the narrative and character arcs makes “Fargo” one of the strongest series on television.

To combat the cycle of evil is a constant good that forms the emotional and narrative heart of “Fargo.” Defined by Lou Solverson (Patrick Wilson, “The Conjuring”), the father of season one hero Molly (Allison Tolman, “The Gift”) now played by Raven Stewart (“Cracked”), this morality expresses itself in small moments. Moments like Lou reading Molly a bedtime story, father-in-law Hank Larsson’s (Ted Danson, “CSI”) personal knowledge of small-town citizens and the quiet moments of intimacy between Lou and his wife Betsy (Cristin Miloti, “How I Met Your Mother”) during their conversations are small but infinitely sincere and meaningful. It’s this sense of community that keeps the side of good together, even in the face of powerful evils like the Gerhardts and the encroaching Kansas City mob.

Stuck in between these sides are the Blomquists, Peggy (Kirsten Dunst, “Melancholia”) and Ed (Jesse Plemons, “Breaking Bad”). The young couple displays both of the sensibilities that could draw them to either side of “Fargo” ’s eternal struggle. Ed’s a simple man, humorously introduced in a sequence that makes ample use of the phrase, “OK then.” He loves his wife and wants to support her through his job as a butcher. Peggy is more complicated, as a sense of dissatisfaction with her monotonous life seems to pervade every moment of her existence. As evidenced by her plans to take part in self-improvement seminars and a stack of self-help books and magazines, she wants more. While Ed wants to preserve this grounded existence, Peggy has ambitions beyond Ed’s dreams of having kids and owning the butcher shop, and it quietly tears her apart.

Hawley’s devotion to detailing his characters with the smallest of particulars crafts a cast of characters that organically fit within the isolated Minnesota environment. In this world, forces push and pull characters towards different sides of a moral compass. While these influences can appear in everyday conversation, a passing compliment or derogatory insult, they can take the form of elements beyond explanation.

As a set of mysterious lights resembling a UFO leads Rye out into the road after his diner massacre, the driving force of the unknown comes into play. Peggy’s car slams into the young criminal; in this moment she is tested, choosing to drive off with Rye’s unconscious body still on the windshield. It’s a choice that will lead her and everyone in her immediate circle down a twisting path of tricky ethics.

Underneath the conceived simplicity of everyday life, the labyrinthine underworld of “Fargo” plays out. “This thing’s only getting’ bigger,” Lou’s conspiracy-minded friend, Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman, “Parks and Recreation”) says in regards to the murders at the diner. With rival criminal organizations preparing for war and perhaps larger forces of good and evil at work, “Fargo” will only grow more complex as the simple morality of people like Lou will struggle against the complicated lawless element that rears its head. Yet, in the capable hands of Hawley and his team, “Fargo” continuously delivers storytelling excellence that remains unmatched by most of its competitors.

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