Like the film the series is loosely based on, Fargo is at its best when it intertwines seedy crime elements of American life with mostly common everyday people. This is expertly done, in particular, with the two first seasons of the anthology series, and to a slightly less extent, critically, in season three.
Which is why this season which has certainly had its highlights early on, Timothy Olyphant’s character introduction in the police station, Doctor Senator’s last sit down with the consigliere, and Jason Schwartzman’s impromptu hand job from Oraetta while sitting in his car, among them, but has fallen short in its last two episodes.
It's in the little moments that really tie these characters together that have been lacking.
The series is certainly still setting up for big payoffs down the stretch, but Fargo is more about the sliding doors aspect: a delicate balance where, in America, you can be one seemingly small choice away from being caught up in crime, capitalism, and greed.
In this season, that is all on the surface. The Smutneys, a seemingly innocent family, is in debt to the Cannon family from the onset, and their relationship to the outlaws, Zelmare Roulette and Swanee Capps, also precedes events in the show. There is no slow burn of seemingly good people doing bad deeds to better themselves or to rationalize things. This is an element that is pivotal in seasons 1–3.
If the show were only going in a slightly different direction, that would not be a massive problem, but so far the results have been too mixed. However, some of the acting has been an absolute joy to watch. Olyphant and Jessie Buckley have been stand outs. Unfortunately, Chris Rock has been inconsistent as Loy Cannon, failing to be a truly intimidating crime boss, and Schwartzman has also been one note as the leader of the Fadda family, so far.
With only 4 episodes remaining, hopefully the series can find its bearing down the stretch, to not only deliver big deaths, developments, and stylized set pieces the show is known for, but also the serendipitous nature, quirky moments, and dark undertones that have made it a delightful watching experience in the past.
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