Fargo: Review

Oh yah. You betcha. Ok then. You’re darn tootin.

Those are just a few of the sayings included in the colloquial speech of the Midwest. “Minnesota nice” culture influenced the Coen brothers’ 1996 film Fargo, a black comedy crime drama about an explosion of violence in a small snow-covered town. In 2014 Noah Hawley created an anthology television series on FX set in the same world and style as the original film.

Each season stands on its own, with its own story and its own characters. The first season took place in 2006, and starred Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman. The second season took place in 1979, and starred Kirsten Dunst and Patrick Stewart. The new season currently stars Ewan McGregor (in dual roles as brothers), Carrie Coon, Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Carrie Coon. All seasons share the same absurd humor, complicated situations, stark violence and colorful personalities that the film was so beloved for.

The new season premiered Wednesday, April 19. The pilot episode set up three groups of characters: Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor), a parole officer with a chip on his shoulder, and Nicki Swango, a crafty bridge player and Ray’s parolee and lover; Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor again), Ray’s older, successful tycoon brother, and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg), a lawyer whom Emmit treats more like a brother than ray; and the family of Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), a bumbling police chief attempting to earn more respect in her community.

The three parties collide over a feud between the brothers. Ray feels betrayed by his brother who convinced him to trade his stamp collection for a corvette when they were children (both items were left to them in their father’s will). The catch is that the stamps were rare and worth a fortune, allowing Emmit to build his parking lot empire. Ray hires one of his parolees to attempt to rob Emmit’s house. A case of missing identity, drug use, and other mishaps leads to murder and sends the three groups into a whirlwind.

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The acting in the pilot is phenomenal, as expected. Mary Elizabeth Winstead stole the show with her brilliantly funny accent and her calculated criminal actions. Her confidence exudes through the performance and is captivating every minute she is on the screen. Ewan McGregor sells two very different personalities with the carefully-constructed facade of Emmit and the underdog-charisma of Ray, both complete with their own distinct speaking styles. A truly unique performance comes from David Thewlis, who plays a creepy British mob front-man named V.M. Varga, whose job is to turn Emmit’s business into a front for the mob’s activities.

The cinematography is expertly crafted. The effort put into every frame shows. The soundtrack, once again constructed by Jeff Russo, is as unique as ever. The episode contained Inuit throat singing, Italian gibberish-chanting made to sound like an English song, and S.O.B. by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, as bizarre a combination as ever. It is these strange combinations that make Fargo an experience like none other.

The show is on FX and FX NOW Wednesdays at 10PM. The season will last ten episodes, concluding its story within that time frame.

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