blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Fargo (2014) s04e08 – The Nadir

It’s pretty obvious episode director Sylvain White has seen The Untouchables a bunch and maybe one of the Godfather movies–III probably—but there’s no evidence he’s seen, you know, Miller’s Crossing, Fargo, or even an episode of “Fargo.” Despite the episode seemingly having a bigger budget than most, it’s startlingly poorly directed. The Nadir isn’t where “Fargo: Season Four” jumps the shark, it’s where “Fargo: Season Four” goes looking for more sharks to jump scene after scene.

Of course, what’s worse—White’s direction or the script, ostensibly from Noah Hawley, Enzo Mileti, and Scott Wilson? Probably the script? The dialogue never feels like “Fargo” or even a spoof of “Fargo”—dear Dana Gonzales, I apologize for thinking you were going to ruin the show with your direction because nothing compares to Sylvain White.

The episode opens with what seems like a black comedy rom-com between Jason Schwartzman and Jessie Buckley. It’s kind of impressive because she manages to be worse in the scene, if only because she’s got to check up on her side villainy and—again—it’s impossible to believe Buckley could be at all successful at it because she’s clearly terrible at it. Outside her Linda Cardellini impression, she can’t hold an accent either.

We get some justification for why Schwartzman’s so terrible, then he gets what plays like a dream sequence opposite brother Salvatore Esposito. At this point, it no longer feels like the same show as any previous episode because it’s so patently silly. Also, the writing on the characters is completely different—are Mileti and Wilson just abject hacks—which will continue on throughout with the rest of the cast.

Chris Rock, for example, has almost nothing to do because all of a sudden they forgot how to write his character?

There’s a big showdown between Timothy Olyphant and Rock, which should be good, but is not. James Vincent Meredith’s great though. And Matthew Elam and E'myri Crutchfield are cute together (Elam’s Rock’s oldest son so there’s a little bit of a Romeo and Juliet thing going). Otherwise?

It’s terrible.

Jeff Russo’s music is so bad (and entirely different) I didn’t think he did it. Gonzalo Amat’s cinematography is entirely about lighting the scenery and not the people. Got to make it look as much like The Untouchables as possible. It’s so badly done, a baby carriage would’ve actually helped.

Schwartzman isn’t the only one with the redemptive arc here either—actually, justification arc for him—the show breaks its back to give Jack Huston one too. Including him confessing being a dirty cop before Olyphant brings him along on an important assignment. But he’s confessed his sins so it’s fine.

Or garbage.

More like garbage.

The rushed ending is hilariously overwrought and silly.

White’s managed to bring “Fargo” to a previously unimaginable low. No doubt with help from Hawley and Mileti and Wilson. It’s trite tripe. Worst of all, previous season standout Esposito is utterly inept at the refreshed characterization of his role. It’s a truly depressing fifty minutes.

Karen Aldridge’s still great though. Even if all of a sudden they light her poorly.

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