Fargo: Series Three. Television Review.

Liverpool Sound and Vision Rating * * * *

Cast: Ewan McGregor, Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Goran Bogdan, David Thewlis, Michael Stuhlbarg, Shea Whigham, Scott McNairy,  Andy Yu, Mark Forward, Olivia Sandoval, Russell Harvard, Mary McDonnell, Hamish Linklater, Scott Hylands, Graham Verchere,  Linda Kash, Caitlynne Medrek, Sylvester Busch, Thomas Mann, Fred Melamed, Riger V. Burton, Rob McElhenney, Francesca Fisher, Nikolai Nikolaeff, Ray Wise, D.J. Qualls, Billy Bob Thornton.


The Mid-West, slow, flat, often thought misguidedly as uninspiring, a desolate place in which the horizon reaches out and never ends, in any direction, just always there, humming a tune to itself and causing no trouble, except when people make it, when people see dollar signs and the chance to turn the horizontal graph into an upward curve.

Fargo, a place where the survivors ask for their names to be changed and where the dead get the headlines, a headline for the news gatherer, the bodybag for those who reach too far.

It is almost impossible to fault David Thewlis’ performance in anything, an unsung hero of British television and film, and his role as Inspector Goole in the Helen Edmundson 2015 television adaptation of J.B. Priestley’s play An Inspector Calls was far and away one of the finest programmes made by the medium that year; so to then his role in the third series of Fargo. A role that captures the sentiment of being unnerved perfectly, of seeing inside the mirror, of the greed offered and the damage it does to the soul; this is not just some image of a person mutated by the pursuit of money, this is almost evil incarnate, the use of close ups on the actors face when he eats is stomach churning and his elegance in prose is firmly and unquestionably brilliant.

With incredible performances from Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Michael Stuhlbarg and Ewan McGregor, the third series of Fargo lived up to expectations and hopes with ease but in comparison to the previous two series it somehow lacked a real dynamic, a real dynamite blow to the senses that for example Billy Bob Thornton provided in the initial series, a purpose rather than an explanation.

Fargo broke a mold when it was first released as a film, an American offering with a intimidating female lead and showing the desolation of the United States’ flatlands, the two almost at odds with each other, the harshness of the surroundings, the absolute boredom of a place which is seemingly on the level but knowing it is rife for crime to breed, if anything to break up the monotony of the scenery. That sense of obligation has so far continued but in essence the third series certainly felt underplayed, like eating a great meal out in a New York City club but knowing you have had to sit through a couple of half interested acts to get to the main performance.

Fargo still has a distinctive edge to it which is beguiling but it will be fascinating to see if projects an upward curve should they make a fourth series.

Ian D. Hall