The third season of Fargo has come to a close, and showrunner Noah Hawley says he's not sure if there will be any more. That's not an all-out no, as was first thought - more likely it's Hawley's way of saying he's more than a little bit busy right now, so Fargo is taking a backseat. Who can really blame him? He's delivered 3 seasons of Fargo in four years, and is also helming another big hit for FX: Legion, the X-Men spinoff starring Dan Stevens. That show is already set for a second season, plus Hawley has another limited series in the works for the channel, called Cat's Cradle. Add in the fact that he's also working on two feature films, and it's easy to see why Fargo is on the back burner.
While in many ways it's a shame not to have more to look forward to, it's actually a rather good thing. A break from Fargo is needed right now, before viewers end up breaking up with the show of their own accord. Season 3 was by no means bad. Casting Ewan McGregor in dual roles was a touch of genius; giving him a chance to really showcase his acting skills and reminding us all of how brilliant Fargo is when it gets things spot on. In fact, as with previous seasons, all of the casting in Fargo season 3 was top notch; David Thewlis made a convincingly menacing villain, and Carrie Coon shined as good cop, Gloria Burgle. But even so, Fargo season 3 felt stale at times.
We're well used to the opening credits, that remind us that this is a true story, with names changed to protect identities. That no longer makes us wonder whether three might be an element of truth to it after all, and from there, the series continues with what now feels monotonous at times. We know some small, petty criminal will end up embroiled in some seriously heinous and gruesome crime, probably involving the murder of a lot of people. We know that events will spiral out of control and there will be a web of tangled lies and deceit for an ever patient cop to unravel.
We expect the dark humor, the bloodshed, the rooting for the good guys which jars with the disappointment we feel when the bad guys get caught. We expect the snow, the Minnesota accents, the slow, laid back pace to life in Fargo. We expect it all, and it all is delivered, and yet none of this monotony makes the show bad, per se - it just makes it in need of a bit of a face-lift, really.
At times in season three, we got that, and at other times, we did not. Certainly having McGregor in dual roles helped, but as great as Coon was, she was just the same as Molly and Lou Solverson that have come before her. Arguably the best episode of the season, though, was when Gloria took a trip to L.A.. Suddenly, Fargo looked fresh and bright again, and we could enjoy all of the events taking place on screen, simply because we were in a different location.
Arguably, part of what defines Fargo, is its setting, but episode 3, "The Law of Non-Contradiction," showed that the essence of Fargo in fact lies with how these characters act in their settings, and in episode 3 is what saved Fargo's third season from being too formulaic. It does come right at the beginning of the season, granted, but it's a much needed kick, and reminds us all to never try and second guess Hawley. This isn't Minnesota, or South Dakota, or Idaho, or anywhere where anyone says "Gosh darn" as they blow someone to pieces. This is L.A.: brash, hard-hitting, no nonsense, and a world away from anything Gloria Burgle is used to. Maybe that's the secret for Fargo, going forward.
Hawley himself is fresh out of ideas for Fargo's fourth season, he says. Another reason to be thankful that he's seen sense and not tried to push ahead with something that ultimately falls flat. But, when inspiration does strike, and Fargo returns, let's hope Hawley has read the reviews for episode 3, which were the strongest of all, and that he's realized that moving Fargo away from Fargo, could be a really good thing.
For a start, everyone in Fargo speaks and acts the same way. Slowly. Again, not a bad thing; it's part of the show's charm. But what if, in season one, we'd seen Lester Nygaard in New York? How would Peggy and Ed have fared in Chicago, or San Francisco? Let's face it, it wouldn't be the most outlandish idea Fargo has ever had; this is the show that introduced a great big flying saucer at the end of season 2 and then never said any more about it. It would certainly be a good thing if the essence of the central characters could remain the same, but the entirely different location would allow us to see how other people in the wider world react to these people.
The flashbacks also work well in episode 3; fitting the storyline just right. It felt, at times, like a different show altogether. Hawley could do to make his characters travel. it would keep things fresh, keep an audience on their toes, and it would drive the narrative of any potential season 4. As ever, with Fargo, the writing was, for the most part, strong, and the acting sublime. There's nothing wrong with Fargo, it's just looking a little tired, and maybe some time in the sun is just what it needs.