Godless, the latest epic story by Scott Frank (writer of Logan, Minority Report,) brings to life a town where tragedy struck the men, leaving just the women and a few men (mainly aging shop owners and young deputies) to look out for themselves in this western. Set in the 1880s, this story follows Frank Griffin, (Jeff Daniels) an outlaw posing as a preacher, and the man who dares to leave him, Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell, Unbroken) in this game of cat and mouse. Only this cat isn’t just after the mouse, he’s after anyone who’s ever even laid eyes on Roy Goode, the orphan he took in as his own.
Frank, having been brought up in an abusive household, thinks he’s being a blessing to these boys he picks up as you would stray dogs and trains them to be ruthless killers. The only code he seems to uphold is being kind to horses. As the mob (which is over 30 strong) ride from town to town, they rob the mines of its payroll. During the latest robbery, Roy, who’s become estranged from Frank at this point (played by Jeff Daniels) has been turning the tide on them and robbed them. As they chase each other over the terrain, they both get shot, and Roy (played by Jack O’Connell, UnBroken) winds up at the doorstep of widow Alice Fletcher (played by Michelle Dockery, Downton Abby) who takes him in.
The show is broken down into six episodes, the shortest being 40 minutes and most being over an hour, so prepare for a long haul if you’re planning on binge watching this over the holiday break.
The show is beautifully shot, with spectacular panoramic views of the western countryside and poetic slow motion shots. The cinematography jumps out at you from the first shot to the last, and you can’t help but appreciate how beautiful the film is. Everything from the town, to the sets, to the costumes look superb and feel authentic.
The story has a large ensemble cast, with some familiar faces. The sheriff’s sister, Mary Agnes, is played by the one and only Merril Weaver who played the fan favorite Dr. Denise from The Walking Dead. Whitey, the deputy sheriff, is played by Thomas Brodie Sangster, who fans of Game of Thrones will remember as Jojen Reed who befriended Bran and helped save his life from the White Walkers in season 4 and has had starring roles in teen films such as The Maze Runner. Sons of Anarchy fans will recognize Quicksilver strongman Ed Logan as the freaky but loveable Tigg. And of course, Jeff Daniels and Sam Waterson, Waterson known for Law and Order and Grace and Frankie, also starred with Daniels in the Newsroom on HBO.
The series questions gender politics, especially of the time, but given today’s climate, is an important question to ask. Could a town of women survive on their own? The question is, hell yes. Not only do they survive, they thrive, even though they face different hardships of their own. Most of the men are weak, show offs, cowards, or criminals, including Roy, the man Alice saves. He does good deeds, yes, but do the things he’s done in the past under Frank’s tutelage overshadow what he’s trying to do now?
The women still have their own prejudices, against each other and those they consider outsiders, like Alice Fletcher and Mary Agnes. Alice was widowed long before the accident at the mine, twice in fact. Once by a flash flood, and then when her second husband, an Indian, is shot in the back by the townspeople. The women consider her bad luck and want nothing to do with her.
Mary Agnes is the gun slinging, hunting, pantsuit wearing, F-bomb dropping sister of the sheriff and the women think she’s become more man than woman at this point, and they might be right, but only out of necessity considering her brothers’ going blind and won’t shoot his guns. They’ve labeled him a coward because of that. So while the women have banded together out of necessity, they still have their own issues and the mean girl mentality does still exist. However, for their own protection and the good of the town, they find a way to overcome their differences and work together.
I hope you watch the show with an open mind and take some serious notes, because you’ll definitely want to discuss what happens on the series. Take your time, enjoy it, savor the artistry of the camera work and the poetry of the writing. I don’t recommend binging it, but savoring it, one episode at a time, maybe during the break watch two. Watch the series and let me know what you think about it. Leave your comments down below and lets discuss.