FX (US), Sky, NEON (NZ)
April 19th – June 21st, 2017
8 hours 55 mins
Well Legion had only just finished, and yet here we were with another Noah Hawley show. This is a thematic continuation of the Coen brothers’ 1996 film of the same name. FX’s Fargo is back in this anthology series. Unlike American Horror Story, it’s a clean slate with entirely new actors. Now we get two Ewan McGregors, an upstanding Carrie Coon, a parolee Elizabeth Winstead, and a squirm-inducing David Thewlis.
Ewan McGregor is playing two brothers who look vastly different from each other (just look at that hair and moustache, c’mon!). It does seem kind of needlessly complicated. Was McGregor so expensive they got him to play two characters to make it worth it? Because that’s how acting works right? Or was it some sort of marketing stunt? Who knows, but there really wasn’t much of a payoff for them being identical twins.
The Ewan on the left is Emmitt Stussy, a successful parking lot mogul. The Ewan on the right is Ray Stussy, a crusty probation officer. Ray is still pissed at Emmitt for taking their father’s valuable stamp collection after he died, and the brother’s feud is ongoing.
We have Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle. Carrie Coon is having a bit of a moment lately, being a prominent figure in two shows airing at the same time. She was playing an agent over on The Leftovers, and is a police chief here in Fargo, complete with Minnesota accent. Sadly, as much as she appears, Coon doesn’t have much to do in this show in comparison to her role on The Leftovers. She spends all her time turning up to crime scenes and arguing with her superiors. Like The Coen Brothers’ films, it’s all crazy random happenstance, and although she can piece it all together, no one will listen to her.
Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is one of Ray’s parolee’s and lover to boot. We’ve seen Winstead in a bunch of genre fair, including cancelled 2016 political-scifi comedy BrainDead and film 10 Cloverfield Lane. She is the devil on Ray’s shoulder and not to be trifled with. Winstead gives a strong-willed performance and I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with Nikki Swango.
David Thewlis (recently in Wonder Woman) plays V. M. Varga, the villain of this season, and what a creepy performance he gives. I didn’t even recognise him at first with the shift in his voice, and his sickening grin with vomit stained teeth. As a villain, he is prone to monologuing and this is taken to the extreme. With every scene he’s in he has some seemingly unrelated story to tell, and after a while this does get grating. As captivating at his performance was I would rather watch Thewlis chew the scenery in his normal accent with his normal teeth.
My favourite is Michael Stuhlbarg as Sy Feltz, Emmit’s nervous but loyal business partner. He’s good natured and slowly but surely he’s torn apart by Emmit’s reluctance to do anything about the Varga issue, and it tore me apart to witness it.
Now the reason I’m bringing up so many of these performances is that the story here is sadly ho-hum. It lacks a sense of direction and is meandering around this big tax fraud situation. As many murders that surrounded it, it’s just too hard to make tax interesting, which is probably why it was left to the background. I wasn’t overly interested in what was going to happen and was simply itching for them to just get on with it.
Fargo is, of course, still as gorgeous as ever. The crew play around with cinematics and camera angles including the opening of every episode “This Is A True Story”. We also have the winter wonderland that is Minnesota that serves as the backdrop of these crimes.
The dark comedy of a Fargo season is there. The initial coincidental deaths feel all too familiar. We want something familiar, but at the same time new and exciting. You can’t please us TV viewers can you? Fargo Season 3 fails to deliver anything fresh, but it’s still pretty to look at.