Review: In first two seasons of Fargo—a powerhouse of anthology based on The Coen Brothers’ 1996 film of the same title, Noah Hawley has proven his worth as a hell of most consistently stylist showrunner. Extracting the comedy-of-errors formula from the film and creating hollow modern folklore set in the film’s universe, Hawley also crafts unsympathetically likable characters and throwing them into an awkwardly cunning situation. The result: a pitch black comedy and mayhem at the same time.
As for the third season, Fargo returns with an unpretentious rhythm—smaller in scale, calmer in sense, lesser havoc compared to the first two seasons (the first renders the film quite closely, while the second feels more heavy-metal)—which ends up in a more traumatic result. It’s no longer a rough mix of petty-crime-gone-wrong and wrong-people-in-wrong-place situation, although the shades of it still become this season’s foundation. A stroke of enigmatic evil also presents, this time, in a more contagious fashion.
Set in 2010, the third season brings a helluva casts tangled in the cluttered threads. The most pivotal is Ewan McGregor, who portrays Stussy Brothers—Emmit, the successful one, and Ray, the loser—whose feud becomes the show’s capital. In the verge of the feud, both brothers commit ill-advised deals which jeopardize themselves and people around them. Emmit and his colleague, Sy Felts (Michael Stuhlbarg), encounter the enigmatic V.M. Varga (David Thewlis), the source of evil power, like Lorne Malvo or Mike Milligan of this season. Meanwhile, Ray and his girlfriend, Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), fuck up their own plan and drag former police chief, Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) into the game.
Hawley, as usual, patches Fargo’s sour, multifaceted chaos neatly, crafting a northern Minnesota poem of errors. This time, Hawley devises a non-explosive and less-manipulative approach. The whole season doesn’t cascade with explosive tides; instead, it creates small ripples that resonate for some times. At some points, the whole set-ups might feel a little off and slow; even, Fargo establishes a slower connection to empathize to the characters. The show’s episodic structure plays out in higher stakes this season, especially with the slower pace. However, it’s the pace is the cue for audiences to focus on details because that’s what this season is rich of.
Among the layers of conflict, Emmit and Ray are only as good as a pair of baits, triggers, and victims at the same time. Varga’s ominous power overshadows everyone around him, especially with Thewlis’ quirky performance which defines ‘menacing’ in a completely different way. However, Fargo is always about its strong female characters; in this season, this powerhouse is represented by Coon’s strong portrayal of Gloria, the show’s real conscience, and Winstead’s Nikki, a slick manipulator and femme fatale. While working separately, there’s a pattern that connects these two women into completing each other’s role if you watch carefully.
All the discords and off-Fargo turmoil spread along its ten episodes culminate in the finale, which doesn’t appear big, but powerful. When it comes to that, the whole frustrating slow-paced niche in this season is proven deliberate, only when you notice carefully. Only when your patience finally guides you to the end, you can witness how this season reinvents the Fargo formula and crafts a subtle blow that lingers long after it ends.
After all, it might not be Fargo’s best season by far; but, this season displays a sense of maturity that transcends Fargo into a reflection of irony—not as predictable irony of human reflection. With our current blurred vision about the series’ future, it’s still safe to say that Fargo has ended it elegantly, in case this season is their last.
Drama, Crime, Thriller Created by: Noah Hawley inspired by a film by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen Starred by: Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, David Thewlis, Michael Stuhlbarg Network: FX No. of Episodes: 10 Runtime: 50-60 mins