The fifth season of Fargo keeps fulfilling Noah Hawley’s odd and slightly hallucinatory vision

Fargo, TV series, Jon Hamm, Juno TempleFargo has been an odd and slightly wonderful Brigadoon of Peak TV, appearing at the oddest times, always a little different and consistently worth the wait. The various seasons have varied from damn good to awesome, and the newest season, starring Juno Temple and Jon Hamm, is damn near as good as the legendary Season One.

There hasn’t been a really bad season of Fargo in five seasons, but this one is right up there with the first one – and, for my money, with the Coen Brothers’ original film from which all things grow. (By the way, did you catch the homage to the Coens’ other movie, No Country for Old Men? The first line of the first episode, the voice-over from Jon Hamm’s Sheriff Tilman, is identical to the opening line voiceover in No Country.

But let’s talk about Noah Hawley first. He cut his teeth on the odd and fondly remembered police procedural Bones, but really came into his own as a master adaptor of other IP’s when he took on one of the more obscure Marvel properties, Legion, back in 2017– wow, was it really almost 7 years ago? Good God. Anyway: incredible cast – people like Dan Stevens, Aubrey Plaza, Jean Smart, Hamish Linklater – who went on to just kill it in Mike Flanagan’s Midnight Mass in a truly hallucinatory series about the son of Professor X – with the nearly uncontrollable ability to alter reality. Truly a terrific show, as almost anybody who watched it said. Unfortunately, there weren’t quite enough of those anybodies to get it past 27 episodes, but it showed Hawley’s stunning ability to combine the natural with the supernatural –even hallucinatory And when he took the Coen Brothers very odd small-town Minnesoda murder mystery, Fargo, and built a whole series of loosely – or even un– connected stories out of that aesthetic … wow. Over the years we’ve seen some great ideas and some terrific performances… and this season is no exception.

Which brings us to Juno Temple. Now, I never get too far into Ted Lasso – I know, I know, I can’t watch everything – so I’ve missed the ever-changing British actress in most of her work… until now. And she is absolutely the key to appreciating this season of Fargo, an impossibly tough and resourceful woman who sounds like a chirpy little Yooper gal and fights like a friggin’ tiger. With every new revelation, we learn more about Dot – I mean Linda – I mean Dot – and through all the twists and turns, many of them jarring and even hard to believe – she keeps her believable, and keeps the story on track, in spite of the purely evil machinations fo Jon Hamm’s Sheriff Atilman.

And let’s be clear, Hamm’s winning streak as an actor, after Confess, Fletch and Maggie Moore(s) and even the most recent season of Good Omens is just … well, just astonishing, the range on this guy and how each time he makes you forget about the other Jon Hamms you’ve seen, from Mad Men to Metalpocalypse, in a matter of seconds. Great work here, right through his very last scene.

And so much more I could go on and on about this, but – for a change – I’ll keep my mouth shut … partly because it would be damn difficult to summarize the plot of this thing – it is all over the place in the very best, most surprising ways – but really because I want you to watch it just unfold in front of you, episode by episode. It’s better that way.

Just think of it this way: if you liked any or all of Noah Hawley’s earlier seasons of Fargo, or even if you like the original moves from way back when, yu will like this season. Go for it. And meanwhile, I cannot wait to see what Hawley does with his next big IP assignment: he’s taking on the Kelvin Timeline version of Star Trek, with Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto and all.

As if Fargo wasn’t cool enough … that’s gonna be even cooler.

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