If all of that holiday cheer put you in the mood for some true grit, you might want to saddle up and check out Netflix’s new Western series, “Godless.” The limited series takes place in the town of La Belle, a frontier settlement now entirely inhabited by women after a horrible mining accident claimed all of the men.
There is a large and varied cast that shares the limelight, which is all but stolen away by Jeff Daniels. Make no mistake, everyone does a wonderful job (I’m particularly a fan of Merritt Wever’s portrayal of Mary Agnes). However, Daniels makes Frank Griffin into a true villain. Frank is on the trail of Roy Goode, his adopted son who betrayed him, and there are all sorts of hell to pay.
The atmosphere of the series is well built, if fairly slow. It is a very traditional Western story, in the way that it is hard and laborious journey that is occasionally punctuated brutal violence. Thematically, “Godless” has a lot going for it. As you may have guessed from the title, faith and religion is tied deeply into many of the characters and meandering plots. There are also a lot of interesting questions and dilemmas posed around race and gender. In this aspect, “Godless” walks a very compelling line where it doesn’t shy away from reality, but also provides opportunities for empowerment over the genre-standard “white male savior” narrative.
“Godless” is a great mini series, only seven episodes that are only about an hour long, but you do feel each of those hours. If you don’t mind taking your time with a show, grab a seat, partner. If your patience is in short supply, may as well skedaddle.
4/5 Stars. Don’t Forget the Girls of La Belle.