TV: Fargo Season Four: Episode Three (2020) - Reviewed


I often wonder if a show like Fargo would be better served with every episode being made available at once, rather than week to week. I’m sure the same could be said for almost any show that still releases one episode at a time, but in Fargo’s case it comes down to the storytelling technique of Noah Hawley. He is a novelist, first and foremost, and it’s clear he enjoys letting things unfold over time, much like pages in a book, chapter by chapter. 

While we all read differently, we still have the complete text in front of us and can choose whether to binge it all in one sitting, or to read it over several days, weeks, or even months. Every season of Fargo unfolds like a novel or series of novels. In a brilliant opening of a second season episode, Fargo looked at itself as a single book: The History of True Crime in the Mid West. Each season, it could be argued, is a chapter in one very long book. A sprawling saga that spans decades, maybe even centuries.

The point I’m trying to make is that when it comes to reviewing a single episode of a show like Fargo, it can be tricky. It’s akin to asking someone, mid chapter, what they thought of a paragraph on any given page. 

Case in point, Episode 3, Raddoppiarlo (Italian for “double it”) does feel like an excerpt, with storylines unfolding slowly (not a bad thing) and new characters being introduced. It was a compelling hour of television, but it’s still difficult to see how certain elements will come into play later on. What remains clear, three episodes in, is that Doctor Senator (Glynn Turman) is quickly becoming the best character in a sea of many excellent characters. 

Maybe it’s a stretch, but I could not help but think of him as Fargo’s version of Mike Ehrmantraut (Jonathan Banks’ character in Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul, for those keeping track at home). I mean that as a compliment. On Breaking Bad, Mike was always one step ahead of the other characters. No one could outsmart him. Doctor Senator is very similar. He’s witnessing how all the pieces are fitting together. He’s calm, calculated and shows restraint, while also being unafraid to flex his metaphorical muscle when the situation calls for it, as he did in Raddoppiarlo during a crucial meeting with a messenger for the Italian gang. 


Doctor Senator’s relationship with Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon is also very similar to Mike’s with Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito). I can’t get a read (yet) on what kind of man Loy is, but Raddoppiarlo made it clear that he will take a moment to listen, rather than simply react. A great line during this week’s episode comes near its midpoint, with Doctor Senator and Loy in conversation about their latest gamble: 

Doctor Senator: You think you can control things. That’s why God created tornados… to remind us. 

Loy Cannon: Yeah. But you can raise the odds… 

Like Doctor Senator, the other standout during Sunday’s episode was Dick "Deafy" Wickware, a U.S. Marshal played by none other than Timothy Olyphant. (Side note – If you’ve never watched Justified, you should stop what you’re doing and avail yourself the series immediately.) 

About the only similarities between Deafy and Raylan Givens (Olyphant’s character on Justified) are that they’re U.S. Marshals and each are given excellent writing in terms of dialogue and character. The line that made me chuckle the most this week was when Deafy, a Mormon, is speaking to Kansas City’s police captain, and, after noticing how much he takes the Lord’s name in vain says:
 I can safely say that you blasphemy more than any man I’ve ever met, and I’ve been to Cleveland.

Olyphant is a welcome presence in anything he does, but it’s especially fun to see him this season on Fargo.

Surprisingly, Rock got minimal screen time this week, allowing for characters like Doctor Senator and Deafy to shine. About the only unwelcome guest this week, both as a character and an actor, was Salvator Esposito as Gaetano Fadda. Esposito seems to only be able to make his eyes wide, doing almost a caricature rather than anything substantive. 

Again, I trust Hawley, and maybe Gaetano’s existence will be justified as the season progresses, but for now he just seems like the proverbial bull in a china shop, destined to bring chaos wherever he goes. 

As excerpts from books go, this week’s paragraph was particularly delightful, despite some mild speedbumps along the way. I’m excited to see where this year goes and how it connects to the previous three seasons, though I already have some theories. I’ll share those in the coming weeks.
For now, I’m just enjoying the ride.

--Matt Giles