Last month, I said that life was going to get better when Fargo, the best television show to ever have existed, returned with new episodes on September 27th. Five days after the first two episodes aired, our stupid president got stupid COVID, and I don’t believe in coincidence.
It’s been three years since we last got a new episode of show-runner Noah Hawley’s brilliant, hilarious, shocking, crazy, amazing series, and my expectations were set pretty high. On this site, multiple times, I’ve called the second season of this show the best season in the history of television, and I’ve called it that because it fucking is. However, the problem with being the best is how high you’ve set the bar. Season 3 of Fargo is wonderfully funny and tense as hell, but it’s also not the best season in the history of television.
So, what has this new season (which has aired three episodes over the past two Sundays) given us? And how good is it?
Let’s just cut the shit and lay it out there right now: Fargo, so far, is very good.
Taking place in Kansas City in 1950, the fourth season focuses on the ongoing tensions between the Fadda family, and the Cannon Limited gang. The Faddas, having lost their patriarch, are led by Josto (Jason Schwatrzman), a son trying to prove to everyone that he is every bit the tough gangster his dad was. Cannon Limited is led by Loy Cannon (Chris Rock), a man leading his all-black gang as they attempt to expand and dominate Missouri.
Because this is Fargo, there’s a wonderful twist where part of the truce between Fadda and Cannon involves each giving the other their youngest son to raise. There’s also an insane group of characters who we haven’t quite figured out yet- a murderous nurse (Jessie Buckley), Fadda’s psychopath brother (Salvatore Esposito), a Mormon marshall (Timothy Olyphant), an OCD corrupt cop (Jack Huston) and two escaped convicts (Karen Aldridge & Kelsey Asbille). Also, Ben Whishaw is in this.
That’s right. FUCKING PADDINGTON.
Nothing much has changed in Hawley moving the show back in time farther than he ever has and setting the location further south; Fargo still brings us wonderful characters bringing chaos into the world and all seeing who can be the worst person while delivering razor-sharp dialogue. Every member of the cast here is fantastic, but it’s the two leads who really stand out. Rock is a character who is so menacing that when he does break out his brilliant smile, it somehow feels creepy. Meanwhile, Schwartzman is just letting all of his pathos just land all over every scene he’s in. He feels like a kid wearing his dad’s suits that are too big for him, except it’s psycholgical.
And these characters are given a lot to work with. The first two episodes don’t just show Hawley’s superb writing and character development, but he also directs both episodes and they are gorgeous. I didn’t love his feature debut from last year (Lucy In The Sky), but Hawley has shown that when he comes to television, there is no one better in the medium right now. I even love the fact that there are two major jokes in the first three episodes based on scatological humor (I called the show “Fart-go”, and my wife rolled her eyes, presumably from how amazing that joke was.)
If this season is missing one thing, it’s a law enforcement character we can get behind. We’ve got plenty of robbers, but we’re missing some of the amazing police officers we’ve seen in previous seasons (Colin Hanks, Allison Tolman, Patrick Wilson, and Carrie Coon) who have given the show heart and love and provide some light for the very dark world Hawley gives us. That being said, this may just be me complaining that this season isn’t a carbon copy of past seasons. And the show has been so wonderful, I’m willing to forgive what it isn’t for what it is, and that’s the best show on television right now.
Fargo is on F/X every Sunday night and the whole series is available to stream on Hulu.