Fargo Season 5 [9/10]

Season 1 of Fargo, the show flowing from the original Coen Brothers movie, set a very high bar indeed. Season 1 pulsed with Minnesotan desolation and energy, fizzed with plot ideas, and entranced with glowing and dark characterization. It was noir as only noir can be. Season 2 was almost as fine, then the third and fourth seasons somehow lost the magic. Now Noah Hawley, the brains trust throughout, returns with Season 5 and I can report that it is a return to his sublime best. When a demure Minnesotan housewife briefly hits national news and incites a kidnapping attempt springing from her past, a cascade of noir events brings together the woman, not at all as dainty as she seems (Juno Temple is exemplary in this role); her apple-pie husband and daughter; her rampaging billionaire mother-in-law (played with vicious vigor by Jennifer Jason Leigh); a MAGA rogue sherriff (I think Jon Hamm steals the show); a compelling roster of cops and FBI operatives; a compelling cast of crooks; and, in a typical gothic twist, an ultra-creepy super-assassin (Sam Spruell cannot be ignored in any scene). The plot is utterly unpredictable, the violence is both capricious and essential, the dialogue sparkles, and directorial control and flourishes delight. Every one of the ten episodes grips and twists. Watch Season 5 of Fargo to remind yourself what noir is on the screen.

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