Fargo: Season 3 DVD Review: Oh, You Betcha It’s Great!

It may be a while until Fargo returns to television screens, since there has been no news of a fourth season, and showrunner Noah Hawley has his hands filled with Legion and other projects. Heck, this might even be the last time the series is on the air. It was already brutal for fans such as myself to wait a year for a whole new season, when they had to delay it in order to film in the correct weather climates. But now, we won’t even know if the show is coming back again.

Thankfully, each season is a new story with new characters, so it’s not like we have to wait until the next year to see what happens after the finale. Ten episodes, the story is fully wrapped, and the next season is something different but in the same universe as the movie on which it’s based. But with Fargo, each season has been so clever and wonderfully written that we want it to keep coming back. This season is no exception.

Season 3 takes a slightly different turn than the previous two by making it more modernized. Whereas the first season was set in 2006, and the second in 1979, this new story is set in 2010 and takes aim at how the world has become so addicted to technology and social media. That may sound a bit cliché, since there are so many other projects that are taking aim at that. But Hawley and crew approach it as how the people in the small town in which this season takes place are behind on the times, and they don’t see the necessity of catching up when what they have now works just fine. Although, there is a great bit about still using a telex in modern times in one of the episodes.

The main story revolves around two brothers. One is a very successful businessman named Emmit Stussy, and the other is a struggling probation officer named Ray Stussy. Both characters are played terrifically by Ewan McGregor. Ray feels betrayed based on the fact that Emmit got the better end of an inheritance left by their father. The younger brother traded a valuable stamp collection to his brother for their father’s Corvette, which is running on its last legs.

Ray now feels he is owed the last stamp in the collection that Emmit has framed in his mansion. Ray and his parolee girlfriend, Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), come up with a plan to steal it, but their plans go awry when the man they send for the job (Scoot McNairy) goes to another house with the Stussy last name and kills someone else. That person turns out to be the stepfather of Eden Valley Police Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), who is on the verge of losing her job as the county takes over her department.

Like its previous seasons, Fargo: Season 3 is filled with dark humor that is in the same vein as anything written and directed by the Coen brothers. It keeps the tone of the original film in place without drifting into slapstick territory or a more grim atmosphere. What I’ve loved about the series thus far is not just its nods to the original film, but also nods to other Coen films. The relationship between Ray and Nikki is similar to that of Raising Arizona, and there is a scene in one episode that takes place in a bowling alley, a tribute to The Big Lebowski. Hawley doesn’t make these moments feel like cheap, nostalgic gimmicks; they’re actually executed perfectly and work well in their own right.

Another great thing about the series is that each season has had some of the most memorable antagonists in modern television history. Season 1 had Billy Bob Thornton’s Lorne Malvo, and Season 2 had Bokeem Woodbine’s Mike Milligan. Both of these people were hitmen. Season 3 changes it up by having David Thewlis as British businessman V.M. Varga. He and Emmit have worked together for years, and even though Emmit is trying to cut ties, V.M. has other plans. And he’s a nasty-looking man with greasy hair and horrible hygiene. Thewlis is just creepy to watch every time he’s on the screen.

It’s a bit disappointing that the third season only has a DVD release, and Blu-ray plans have not been announced yet. The picture and sound quality are just fine, but they could use some more definition and clarity, and a Blu-ray transfer would do that just perfectly. The special features are all brief, behind-the-scenes interviews with the cast and crew about the main characters involved in the story and how they were brought to life. There’s also a look into how the show makes references to other Coen films, and how Hawley came up with the idea to put the show in a more modern setting. They all play out like some kind of filler that would air before a program returns from a commercial break, but they are interesting to watch and hear about how certain characters and plot lines came about.

Admittedly, I was hesitant when it was initially announced that Fargo would be turned into a television series. But, after three seasons, it has turned out to be one of the best shows on the air right now. It’s sharp, intense, and wonderfully acted. Each season has had an exceptional cast that gives it their all, and in the end, a lot of them produce some of their best work in years. No matter how long it takes until a new season comes along, I will be ready for it.

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David Wangberg

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