We are currently in the fourth season of the TV show Fargo. Maybe they wouldn’t want me to call them seasons, because each “season” is telling a different story. I think they try and get themselves classified as a miniseries for the Emmys, but to me they are seasons, even if the season in Fargo is always winter to match the Coen Brothers movie the show is inspired by. I enjoyed the first season, the most like the movie, quite a bit. I thought the second season was fantastic. That was a great season of TV. The third season I thought was fine. On paper, the fourth season has the most in common with the second season. It’s about a gang war and its set in the past, this time 1950. However, and while we are still in the middle of the season as I watch this, season four of Fargo is shaping up to be a bit of a disappointment.
Am I enjoying it? Yes, but it definitely feels like it will end up being the weakest season so far. A gang war is all well and good, but the season feels too crowded. There’s the Fadda family, led by dueling brothers Josta and Gaetano, going up against Loy Cannon’s crime syndicate. There’s the cop caught between them and the Mormon U.S. Marshall that’s sticking in his craw by sticking by his side. We’ve got a family that owns a funeral parlor whose daughter seemed like a point-of-view character at first but at this point there is no point-of-view character that I can see. The matriarch of the funeral parlor owning Smutny family has a sister who is an escaped convict alongside her girlfriend. Oh, and Jessie Buckley plays a sociopathic nurse who I guess is a serial killer? And somehow she ends up being a part of this story as well. There’s also ghosts.
It’s easy for me to point out some of the flaws, beyond the chaos. This is the darkest season so far, and some ways needlessly so. They just pile on the darkness sometimes in ways that don’t feel earned or necessary. Additionally, Loy Cannon is played by Chris Rock, while Josta Fadda is played by Jason Schwartzman. Schwartzman is an actor I’ve never really been a fan of. I just don’t think he’s a very good actor. Directors really need to build around the sliver of things he can do acting, and Fargo can’t do that. Must be nice to come from a Hollywood dynasty family when it comes to getting work. Rock, meanwhile, is limited as an actor as well. Then we have a great actor like Jessie Buckley stuck in this random role that feels tacked on.
I’m also writing this after a couple of episodes that feel like padding. There’s still time. Maybe the season is going to rev it up down the stretch and I’ll be happy. There probably is an all-out gang war coming. That should be exciting. However, those gangs are led by Rock and Schwartzman, which tempers that enthusiasm. In theory, Fargo should be able to tell new stories every season that feel fresh, because they are always starting over anew. That just isn’t happening in season four.