Wednesday, April 11, 2018

TV Show Review: Godless

I had passed on the Netflix Western for some time but when I got around to watching it, I was blown away. The streaming service continues to use its budget to increase its catalog of original shows and this gun-slinging limited series is a wonderful addition. The show starts out slow letting the pieces fall into place. Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery) lives on the outskirts of the troubled town La Belle with her son Truckee (Samuel Marty) and his grandmother when an outlaw Roy Goode (Jack O'Connell) stumbles on their land and gets a bullet in his throat. The town of La Belle is unique in that most of the men died in a mining accident and the population is mostly women. The sheriff Bill McNue (Scoot McNairy) begins to go blind and wants to reassert his authority even as Mary Agnes (Merritt Wever) takes responsibility at home.

The killer Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) and his posse go on a killing spree through towns where they believe Roy Goode is hiding out after Roy Goode shot him forcing him to cut off his arm. Rumor of Frank Griffin's rampage reaches La Belle and McNue decides to set out and find the outlaw to bring him to justice. Agnes tries to take the lead in the town but the other women out vote her to sell the mine to a mining company. Before McNue left he rode to Alice's farm and arrested Roy Goode but his deputy Whitey (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is unable to keep Roy imprisoned when Alice frees him at gunpoint. Alice recruits Roy to train her horses so that she can sell them and leave the cursed town of La Belle behind her. The other women believe Alice is a witch that cursed the town. 

The mining company brings in their own security led by Ed Logan (Kim Coates) who kicks Whitey out of the sheriff's office. Whitey has fallen for a young woman Louise Hobbs (Jessica Sula) who he asks to teach him violin lessons despite the deputy not having any musical talent. Louise lives in her Blackdom with her parents including her father Elias (Erik LaRay Harvey) who was part of a lethal group of Buffalo Soldiers before he became a simple farmer. The show moves steadily towards the final confrontation dragging at times but I was able to watch most of it while exercising so I didn't mind the steady plotting as much as I would have if I had just been watching the show. Still, the finale is worth it. The newspaperman A.T. Grigg (Jeremy Bobb) sees Roy Goode, whose past with Frank is laid out in flashbacks, and writes a news report knowing Griffin will find it.

Roy Goode tries to leave La Bell just as McNue is returning but Roy stops to prevent Ed Logan and his gang from making off with Alice's horses after she sold them to the townspeople. Mary Agnes and Alice Fletcher prepare the women for the oncoming attacks as Frank Griffin and his gang kill most everyone in Blackdom. There are many deaths and I'm trying to write fewer spoilers so I won't state who but plenty of them are shocking. Frank Griffin repeatedly states that he knows how he will die but even he is shocked by a spectacular standoff at the end. 

Godless was an incredible show that I put off watching for longer than I wanted. I was lucky that I found time exercising to catch this show because it has been one of my favorites, which is also why I am reviewing months after its debut, not a common practice for me. I believe the finale is one of my favorite episodes of television that I have seen in a long time and made the slow Western build up that much more enjoyable. It's too bad that this is a limited series but it shows the potential of Netflix in various genres. The acting was superb with recognizable starts led by Daniels riding around and gun-slinging and I also liked the increased roles for women with the clever plot twists. 

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