Episode 1 -| Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 8 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 9 -| Review Score – 2/5
Episode 10 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 11 -| Review Score – 4/5
Fargo has always been one of the most impressive anthological crime drama series out there. The first two seasons in particular were outstanding, blending some excellent editing with a tightly woven story that only grew and evolved as the seasons progressed. While the third didn’t quite match up to the previous two, it still delivered a pretty compelling watch nonetheless.
With three towering seasons to compete with, Fargo Season 4 never looks like matching up to its predecessors. With a gang-related story mixed in with timely commentary about racism and kinship, Fargo lulls its way through most of its season with a litany of characters that fail to really step up and grab the limelight.
With the exception of a few characters – including Chris Rock’s Loy Cannon – the show struggles to really match what’s come before and deliver something truly special.
Of course, given this is going by the Fargo name it was always going to be a tough ask to do that. Despite a few glimmers of brilliance, the writing pales by comparison to what’s come before.
Backdropping the name of Fargo this season comes a story about gang warfare in the midst of Kansas City. With the Italians ruling the streets, the savvy upcoming gang of the African-Americans arrive and look to try and usurp the current established order. Of course, things don’t go to plan.
Across the season, Fargo draws out this bubbling conflict between the different factions with monologues, split-screen shots and some well choreographed action. All of this works well for the most part but episode 9 feels completely out of context to the rest of the show.
Here, the idea of style rather than substance comes forward as Fargo delves into a black and white noir format to follow two groups of characters in a stand-alone cat and mouse game.
On paper – and in isolation – this episode is actually quite good but in the context of Fargo’s intense gang warfare, it feels ill-placed and poorly plotted. Several characters die in unfulfilling ways here too, whisked away by a tornado that suddenly pops up in an incredulous and fortuitous way. While this gives obvious nods toward Kansas and Wizard Of Oz, it never quite works as well as it should.
For a lot of the season, Fargo trudges along at a rather pedestrian pace with a couple of dramatic spikes along the way for good measure. It’s not really until the final 2 episodes where things are cranked up a gear but one can’t help but feel it’s too little too late by then.
Don’t get me wrong, season 4 of Fargo is certainly entertaining and by any other name this would stand out as an above-average crime drama. Under the Fargo umbrella however, this one pales by comparison to what we’ve seen before. It’s certainly unlikely to be a season remembered as fondly as what’s come before.
And average is unfortunately where Fargo sits for much of its run-time. It’s obscured by a black cloud of mediocrity that clings to large swathes of this 11 episode story.
In a year that’s produced so many spectacular and memorable shows, the fact Fargo isn’t anywhere near the top is testament to the fall of this fourth season. It’s not a terrible series, but it’s not exactly great either; the faint rays of hope never stick around long enough to truly bask in.