SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not watched “Somebody to Love,” the June 21 episode of “Fargo.”
The third season of FX’s “Fargo” ended Wednesday night in bloody, morally murky fashion as is its wont. Creator and executive producer Noah Hawley spoke with Variety about season three, the big ideas at the center of the story, and what the future of the series looks like.
What was different about this season from previous seasons?
I think there was something to writing these last few hours that felt like a dialogue with our current moment. And I tried to be very careful not to engage with these questions politically, as if to say “I have a certain political point of view,” but on a philosophical level, to talk about what it is to have two different [economic] realities, how damaging that can be to people and the sort of mental violence of realizing the world isn’t what you thought it was. So there are a lot of issues I wanted to look at that ended up making the season feel very emotional to me. Obviously a story exists in the moment. It also exists in perpetuity. I’ll be interested to see a year from now or a month from now how people look back on the story that we told.
When Hamish Linklater [IRS agent Larue Dollard] is standing in that room with all of those documents covering the walls, it feels current, and it also feels like the show is going some place that it hasn’t previously gone.
When I started out, I basically had this feud between the brothers, and then very quickly I realized that wasn’t enough to hang this season on. You could have a very funny Spy vs. Spy battle between these brothers, but how long is that going to be interesting or fun? This idea occurred to me that because Emmit was in real estate and because we’d just been through the big financial collapse, that he’d borrowed money from someone that he shouldn’t have. Once Varga emerged, it became a much bigger story in scope. I think you always want to feel that the story is bigger at the end than it was at the beginning.
Does Varga feel like a different iteration of the same type of character as Lorne Malvo in the first season?
To the degree that we have a character like Lester or a character like Emmit who’s at this moral crossroads, and that there’s this voice on one shoulder telling them to do good and a voice on another shoulder telling them to look out for themselves. There’s a certain echo there, I think. What drove [Malvo] was very different than what drives Varga. But there’s a certain archetype that I think they both fit into.
In the bowling alley scene, Ray Wise’s character [Paul Marrane] lays out this very black and white struggle between good and evil and puts Nikki on one side of that struggle. Do you see the characters in Fargo as actually fitting into one of those two boxes?
I think it’s not a fixed point. I think that’s the challenge and the struggle is that it’s active, and it’s something we have to decide every day. It’s not enough to have just done something good yesterday. Certainly for a character like Nikki or Emmit or Ray, even, there can be a skewed sense of right and wrong. We get the sense in that first hour with Ray and Nikki they have a sort of very June Cleaver goal of being bridge champions. Yet people are dead and they drop an air conditioner on a guy, and they don’t seem to be aware of the criminality or the immorality of their actions. But certainly the only thing that makes these stories interesting to me is that moral struggle — you’ll do this, but will you do that? The escalation of it.
Is there going to be another season?
I don’t know. I love making the show and I love writing these stories. It’s a huge challenge to come up with another 500 pages with an original approach on a set of archetypes that isn’t repeating things that I’ve done before. I wouldn’t want this show to feel like “Oh, it’s cute. They do the accent, then things happen.” I want it to feel challenging and original and unexpected and with characters you haven’t seen before. That’s no small task. I guess what I would say is I have to take my time to make sure I get it right. The great thing about FX is they’re not pressuring me to get this on the air again next year. But I don’t know yet. I don’t have the idea yet, so we’ll just have to see. Thirty hours is a lot of story. I’m hugely proud of the work that we did, and I don’t want to overstay my welcome.