Death by aircon – Fargo season 3

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The best things come in threes, don’t they? This month we’ve had Bosch season 3 launch on Amazon, Hinterland season 3 on BBC and the iPlayer, and the 10-episode third season of Fargo has just launched in the United States.

Created by Noah Hawley, and based on the Coen Brothers’ 1987 movie of the same name, the latest Fargo story is set once again in wintry Minnesota. After a trip back to the 1970s in season two, the new story is set in 2010. It’s a tale of two brothers – both brilliantly played by Ewan McGregor.

Rich and successful Emmit has a property empire, palatial house and a vintage two-cent stamp, all of which are the envy of his brother Ray. Years back when their father died, the old man willed his Corvette to Emmit and his stamp collection to Ray. But Ray swapped the stamps for the Corvette and, well, he still drives it today while Emmit has gone on to become the parking lot king of Minnesota.

The green of ladle of envy is distilled down to the blackest teaspoon of noir when parole officer Ray convinces one of his ex-cons to break into his brother’s house to steal the stamp. Episode one in the new season is all about the break-in that goes wrong, drawing Eden Valley chief of police Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) into the fray. That wry, off-kilter, black humour of the film and the first two TV series is as compelling as the plot twists Hawley throws at us.

Doppelgänger, almost
The double-casting of Ewan McGregor is a master stroke. It seems the slick Emmit and worse-for-wear Ray couldn’t be more different, with the actor capturing the confidence of the former and the desperation of the latter. They appear seamlessly together on screen thanks to post production trickery. But McGregor more subtly plays out the similarities between the two. They share a capacity for bad decision-making and Ray choosing to work with one of his loser parolees on the burglary is paralleled by Emmit taking an unsecured loan from a company, which turns out to be a racket.

Ewan McGregor (right) as Emmit Stussy.

Season 3 looks every bit as good as the first two, which made our top shows of 2014 and 2015 respectively. This time the mishmash of retro influences takes in bridge tournaments, an early-80s Chevy Corvette, and a couple of bizarre old pulp magazines hidden under the floorboards at a murder scene. There’s snow, Emmit’s dodgy finances, more snow, a money laundering racket, yet more snow, and perhaps the jewel in the crown of crime fiction weirdness is the use of an aircon unit as a murder weapon.

The series is already airing in the US on the FX network, and Channel 4 is expected to announce UK air dates soon. For our favourite crime shows of 2016, click here.

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