blogging by Andrew Wickliffe

Fargo (2014) s04e10 – Happy

Is it sunny and nice in Kansas City in the winter? This episode presumably takes place in January 1951 and unless there was an unexpected heatwave… it’s like they forgot what month it takes place.

The episode opens with a lengthy montage sequence showing the gang war in progress, along with some grim and gritty newspaper photos of actual dead mobsters like the show felt the need to explain they weren’t glorifying violence, they were just showing how it really was and is. Might have been more effective if the sequence didn’t segue into a “Wire” montage for Jessie Buckley. She’s finally figured out her real nemesis is E'myri Crutchfield so she’s going to go right up to her and threaten her to her face in front of witnesses. It doesn’t matter because Crutchfield’s Black and no one’s going to listen to her, just Buckley.

At least they follow up on it. The previous regular episode ends with a presumably big development for Jason Schwartzman and Salvatore Esposito but this episode reveals it doesn’t warrant even a mention. Esposito’s got an okay episode, Schwartzman’s pretty blah. Esposito is able to shift gears to do the happy brothers bit while Schwartzman’s just as awkward as ever. Chris Rock might have been miscast but it’s also the show’s fault he’s not connecting; Schwartzman’s miscast and bad.

This episode has Rock bringing in some other, different help—Edwin Lee Gibson–with Hannah Love Jones doing a Lady MacBeth bit. J. Nicole Brooks is fine, Gibson’s hilarious as a country Black mobster, but the whole subplot also invalidates the previous scenes where Rock’s the man of the crime family on his own. Then again I just realized Brooks’s mother disappears from the series without a trace so who knows. It definitely wouldn’t be worth an extended “Fargo: Season Four” to flesh out these ideas.

Then there’s Jack Huston, who’s finally the hero cop he always wanted to be. Sure, he’s haunted by when he screwed Timothy Olyphant out of his big collar, but this episode sort of reveals Olyphant was a crutch “Season Four” shouldn’t have had. It needed something and the Olyphant crutch worked for a while, but it didn’t do the show itself any good.

The ghost is back to deus ex machina one of the subplots and we even get an explanation of how where he’s from and why he hasn’t been back to “Fargo.” Or hasn’t been in “Fargo” before.

It’s not all connected, after all.

We do finally get the big scene for Crutchfield with Rock, which the show’s been promising directly for a few episodes and implying for longer, but it’s a silly contrived resolution scene. Crutchfield’s fine but it’s not a good scene or plot development.

But this episode’s leagues better than director Sylvain White’s last one. Still bad direction, but Noah Hawley apparently decided to stop letting his terrible co-execs write episodes and ruin the show.

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