After another lengthy 18-month wait, the third season of the FX original series “Fargo” has finally arrived with a brand-new story arc of deception, murder and a triangle of trouble.
Like the title implies, the show is inspired by Ethan and Joel Coen’s classic 1996 film of the same name, with the Coen brothers serving as executive producers.
While the show does not make direct connections to the plot of the original movie, the primary setting and a lot of stylistic elements are still present, with a few nods to the movie thrown in for fan service.
Like “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story,” this show is an anthology series with an emphasis on season-long plotlines.
For the new season of “Fargo,” acclaimed Scottish actor Ewan McGregor takes on a dual role as two brothers with differing backgrounds. One brother, Emmit Stussy, is a self-made man with a vast amount of wealth. The second brother, Ray, is a corrupt and down-on-his-luck parole officer who blames his brother for all of his misfortunes in his life.
After Emmit refuses to lend him money to pay for an engagement ring for his parolee girlfriend Nikki Swango, the couple conspires to get back at him by hiring someone to break into his home and steal a valuable heirloom—a vintage postage stamp from their father’s collection. Things goes awry and Ray and Nikki are left to deal with the fallout.
The female lead is played by Carrie Coon, who portrays a local police chief who is about to discover that a simple crime is about to escalate into something much bigger.
Rather than going straight to the plot, this new story arc utilizes a strange, cold opening.
In an interrogation room in East Berlin in 1988, a local man is being accused for the murder of a woman, an accusation that he claims to be a mistake. While the scene may come out of left field, it seems like a nice way of setting up a potentially shocking plot twist later on in the season.
At face value, the story for season three seems a little bit more of the same.
Noah Hawley explained in an “Entertainment Weekly” interview that the tone of season three would be between the simple scope of the first season and the more complex and thought-provoking feel of the second season.
The result is a premiere that at times comes off as underwhelming. This feeling is further emphasized by its lengthy 67-minute runtime.
That is not to say that there is nothing good and entertaining about the new season, because there is still enough in the first episode to get fans curious about how the rest of the season will unfold.
The writing is still characteristically bleak and there is a morbid sense of humor that has long defined not only “Fargo,” but the Coen brothers as well.
All of this is encapsulated in the opening titles, which claim that the story about to unfold is “a true story.”
The cinematography is just as sharp as ever, whether it is an intense action sequence or vast wide shots of fields covered with snow.
The acting performances, too, remain just as solid as viewers remember them. If one can look past the cheesy wig and makeup for both characters, McGregor nails the dual role concept.
Save for occasional moments where his native Scottish accent accidentally breaks through, he really gets the North Dakota/Minnesota accent down for both characters.
Coon is also a worthy addition to “Fargo’s” lineup of strong female characters, both in the show and the original film.
It might be off to a bit of a rough start, but the third story arc of “Fargo” has just enough good going for it to warrant sticking around for its duration.
Hopefully, the rest of the season improves as the story pans out.