As far as I’m concerned, the first season of FX’s Fargo was the perfect television series. From start to finish every episode was more fascinating than the last and between the unfolding story, alternating violence and brilliant comic moments, and a simply magical group of actors, it was impossible to fathom another season being that good. I’ve been waiting three episodes to experience that feeling again, but it wasn’t until last night’s “Fear and Trembling” I felt a rush of the perfect storm swirling. As Lou Solverson warned Peggy and Ed Blomquist, “You have no idea what’s coming.” Of course, we the audience have some idea, and its in the form of a particularly silent fella who’s already been poking around the Blomquist home. Which reminds me; while there are so many great actors who are masters at expressing themselves with dialogue (Odenkirk, I’m talking to you), those who can make their characters interesting with few or no words at all are part of a much smaller subset.
These five current series characters probably have the fewest lines of anyone on their shows, but every second they’re onscreen, the stories they tell through nuance immediately become the ones we most want to hear.
Peter Quinn (Rupert Friend), Homeland
Carrie Mathison can cry and scream her way from here to eternity, but just one look from Peter Quinn and the pain from a thousand covert kills envelops our soul. This guy’s been a mystery box from day one, and we want to open him all the way.
Liz Taylor (Denis O’Hare), American Horror Story: Hotel
As perhaps the quietest of the Murphy-gathered Hotel denizens, the Hotel Cortez’s (ghostly?) bartender gets a quip here, maybe a zinger there, but he’s mostly seen intensely studying — assessing — others. We’ve gotten a good deal of background on most of the characters, but Taylor’s backstory begs to be told.
Morgan Jones, The Walking Dead
While some people may have been disappointed by the single focus and pacing of last Sunday’s “Here’s Not Here,” Lennie James fans were not among them. The camera lingered on Jones’ face for a reason; every expression tells a story. We may have discovered how Morgan became the peaceful warrior he now is, but we have a feeling his evolution is far from complete. (Honorable mention goes to Carol Peletier [Melissa McBride], who has progressively become less a woman of words than one of silent and necessary action).
Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon), Fargo
Season 2’s Anton Chigurh is only just beginning to give a peek inside his killer (and Vietnam veteran) brain. Smart and decisive, Dent knows exactly how to find what he’s looking for; the very few words he’s spoken put a quick chill into the air. All we’re saying is, Ed had better keep his ears covered and Peggy may end up being the final…bone in the butcher shop’s noisy grinder. But really, who cares about them? We need to know more about Dodd Gerhardt’s better half, that kid who wasn’t the least bit impressed by a magic trick.
***Mild Spoilers for Fargo season 2 ahead***
Otto Gerhardt (Michael Hogan), Fargo
Our excitement at seeing
Colonel Tigh Hogan’s face in “Waiting for Dutch” seemed like it might be short-lived, but through the magic of medicine and that glorious flashback, we’re getting little bits and story pieces about the now-speechless, former head of the Gerhardt family. Even without the ability to utter a single word, Otto is the most intriguing person in his nutjob family. During the happenings in the second half of this week’s episode, and with almost no movement other than his eyes, Hogan took us through Otto’s every emotion. So, give us flashbacks or forward movement, but whatever you do Fargo, give us more Otto.