The last week or so has been a bit of a "glass-half-empty/glass-half-full" run for Fargo creator Noah Hawley. On the "empty" side, there was the news that his planned "Star Trek" feature film was being put in "stasis" (translation: we'll get a new book from George RR Martin before it ever sees the light of day ever again). On the "full" side, Hawley and series star/EP Chris Rock were finally able to premiere the fourth installment of FX/FX on Hulu's Fargo after weeks of COVID-related delays.
During an interview with Observer last week to promote the newest season of the anthology series, Hawley was given an opportunity to discuss another major franchise whose sandbox he was hoping to play in. In March 2019, reports surfaced that Hawley pitched FX on a series set within the "Alien" universe that would allow for a stronger focus on the people and their stories (alongside the acidic spit).
"'Alien' is on some level the complete opposite of 'Star Trek.' It's sort of about humanity at its worst," Hawley explained. "There's this moment in the second film when Sigourney [Weaver aka Ripley] says, 'I don't know which species is worse. At least they don't screw each other over for a percentage.' If you look at what 'Aliens' tends to be, it's usually a trapped story – trapped in a ship, trapped in a prison, etc. And because the Alien has this life cycle to it, where it goes from egg to chest-burster to xenomorph, there becomes a certain routine to it."
For Hawley, the presence of the Alien species and the threat they bring combined with an episode format lends itself to a series that could offer a closer look at the franchise's universe- and in particular, the humans attempting to survive it. "I thought it would be interesting if you could expand. If you're going to make something for television, you've got 10 hours let's say. Even if you have a lot of action, like two hours, then you're still going to have eight hours left. So what is the show about? That's what I tried to talk to them about," Hawley revealed. "As I did with Legion, the exercise is: Let's take the superhero stuff out of the show and see if it's still a great show. What's the show about? Let's take the Alien out of the show. What's the show about? What are the themes, who are the characters and what is the human drama? Then we drop the aliens back in and we go, 'This is great. Not only is there great human drama, but there's aliens!'"
In 1950, at the end of two great American migrations — that of Southern Europeans from countries like Italy, who came to the US at the turn of the last century and settled in northern cities like New York, Chicago — and African Americans who left the south in great numbers to escape Jim Crow and moved to those same cities — you saw a collision of outsiders, all fighting for a piece of the American dream.
In Kansas City, two criminal syndicates — one Italian, led by Donatello Fadda (Tommaso Ragno), one African American, led by Loy Cannon (Rock) — have struck an uneasy peace, which the heads of both families have cemented by trading their youngest sons.Together they control an alternate economy — that of exploitation, graft and drugs. This too is the history of America.
Cannon is the head of one family, a man who — in order to prosper — has surrendered his oldest boy to his enemy, and who must in turn raise his son's enemy as his own. It's an uneasy peace, but profitable. And then the head of the Kansas City mafia goes into the hospital for routine surgery and dies. And everything changes.
It's a story of immigration and assimilation, and the things we do for money. And as always, a story of basically decent people who are probably in over their heads. You know, Fargo.
FX's fourth installment of Fargo also stars Timothy Olyphant (Mormon U.S. Marshal Dick "Deafy" Wickware) Uzo Aduba (Zelmare Roulette), Jessie Buckley (local nurse Oraetta Mayflower), Salvatore Esposito (Josto's ruthless brother, Gaetano Fadda), Andrew Bird (mortuary owner Thurman Smutney), Jeremie Harris (Leon Bittle), Gaetano Bruon (Constant Calamita), Anji White (mortuary owner Dibrell Smutney), Francesco Acquaroli (Ebal Violante), Emyri Crutchfield (Ethelrida Pearl Smutney), Amber Midthunder (Swanee Capps), Jack Huston (local cop Odis Weff), Jason Schwartzman (Josto Fadda), Ben Whishaw (Rabbi Milligan), Glynn Turman (Doctor Senator), Corey Hendrix (Omie Sparkman), Karen Aldridge (Zelmare Roulette), Kelsey Asbille, and newcomer Matthew Elam.