This Fargo review contains no spoilers.
Time has become an odd thing to track throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but it still seems hard to believe that it’s been over three years since the last season of Noah Hawley’s Fargo wrapped on FX. Fargo season 3 was often ponderous, existential, and meandering. It also routinely gave off a vibe that Hawley was growing tired of the Midwest, Coen-worshipping box that he had placed himself in. Perhaps time away from the anthology series allowed Hawley to return with a bit more energy, but also a narrower focus. Instead of a twisty-turny story fueled by happenstance and bad luck, Fargo season 4 is a ‘50s-set, pulpy tale of two warring Kansas City gangs. Some may call this season’s story timely, but it would be relevant in any era of American history. This is a tale of immigrants, race, and what it means to be an American.
Gone are V.M. Varga’s long-winded musings about perception shaping reality and in their place are several characters spouting off dialogue like “You know why America loves a crime story? Because America is a crime story.” If you drank every time a character waxed about America, Americans, or American values, you’d be drunk before the first commercial break. It wouldn’t be helpful to be drunk, because there are a lot of characters to keep track of, each with a gloriously ridiculous name.
The themes may be more simplistic, but the sprawling ensemble cast includes the Italian crime syndicate the Fadda Family, anchored by brothers Josto (Jason Schwartzman) and Gaetano (Salvatore Esposito, from the Italian series Gomorrah) and the Cannon Limited gang headed by Loy Cannon (Chris Rock) and his right-hand man Doctor Senator (character actor Glynn Turman). There’s also the Fadda family’s Irish wildcard Rabbi Milligan (Ben Whishaw) and slightly off nurse Oraetta Mayflower (Jessie Buckley, recently seen in I’m Thinking of Ending Things) sporting the Minnesota accent to remind you which show you’re watching. Oh, and don’t forget twitchy corrupt cop Odis Weff (Jack Huston), arrogant U.S. Marshall Dick “Deafy” Wickware (Timothy Olyphant), fugitive lesbian couple Zelmare Roulette (Karen Aldridge) and Swanee Capp (Kelsey Asbille), and local morticians Dibrell (Anji White) and Thurman (Andrew Bird) Smutney, along with their precocious 16-year-old daughter Ethelrida (Emyri Crutchfield). Keeping up?