Premiere of fourth season of Noah Hawley’s ‘Fargo’ has an impeccable start
By Jonathan Pabico, Senior Columnist
Season four of Noah Hawley’s anthology series Fargo saw its original air date back in April halted by COVID-19 and was released instead on September 27. Despite this setback, the seriesis ambitious with its important themes and incredible portrayals from a talented cast. The back-to-back episode premiere follows two crime syndicates in Kansas City, Missouri, during the 1950s as tensions between the two organizations risk their already fragile truce.
Hawley proves his storytelling has no equal; his complex characters and amazing direction astound. His excellent dialogue scenes are layered with hazy lighting from the sets and Kansas City’s industrial smog to elevate the story’s hardboiled realism. Hawley pays homage to gangster films like Gangs of New York with his own sophisticated yet violent world of organized crime.
This newest season also has a distinctly Shakespearean tone to foreshadow tragedy and develop emotional depth for future episodes. The premiere brilliantly explores the family politics and social dynamics between or within the crime syndicates. Both episodes enrich these facets by evoking the harsh realities of the 1950s. This is achieved through riveting blues jazz music which not only sets up the stakes, but it also mirrors the melancholy of the time.
The cast provides tremendous performances on screen. Jason Schwartzman plays the young leader of the Italian mafia, Josto Fadda, as a parody of The Godfather with his Michael Corleone demeanour that’s undermined by his childish insecurities. His opposite is Chris Rock as an African-American crime boss named Loy Cannon. Rock is charismatic and methodical.
Known more for their comedy, Schwartzman and Rock give surprisingly serious candor and suave style to their roles. They could’ve had more scenes together, but viewers will still be satisfied with their story arcs so far.
Newcomer E’myri Crutchfield as teenager Ethelrida Smutny also has an impressive performance as a smart and tenacious youth. Her scenes with Jessie Buckley as the disturbingly duplicitous Nurse Mayflower create a curious relationship between them.
Hawley boldly examines racism and xenophobia against ethnic minorities in America’s 1950s era. He explores the ripple effects of how these issues contribute to the endless cycles of crime and violence that shape a city’s criminal underworld. Hawley’s characters raise relevant questions about what it means to be a marginalized foreigner.
As for flaws, there are a few scenes that are weirdly organized into comic book panels. This imagery feels a bit off, which may be Hawley’s intent, but he could’ve just stuck with normal frames instead.
Overall, Fargo’s season four premiere promises a memorable story with its complex characters, humour, talented cast, and relatable motifs. The episodes are accessible and provide an enjoyable watch without trouble. If you like gangster crime dramas, then Noah Hawley’s show is truly worth the wait.