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On 1/2/2018 at 12:05 PM, iMonrey said:

Narratively, that felt like it was building to something but led nowhere. 

There was a lot of that in this series, a lot of building to something that went nowhere. The Buffalo Soldiers’ storyline for one, as many others have mentioned. The show invested a lot of time setting up the idea of some sort of reconciliation between them and the townsfolk in service of getting to see some serious badassery on their part. It was fun to see ladies who had never so much as shot a gun before kick some ass, but not very realistic. The folks from Blackdom were billed as being more than a match for Frank and his gang, the only real countervailing force against the seemingly unstoppable bad guys . I submit that it would have been more realistic AND more satisfying for the Buffalo Soldiers to have substantially reduced Frank’s forces, with some of their own people surviving to help the women of La Belle in the final showdown.

And also as others have mentioned, Bill’s trek served absolutely no narrative purpose whatsoever. It seemed like it was going to, but it sure didn’t. The dude with the dog following Bill around was definitely built up to have some sort of significance – enough so that for some reason we were given the scene where his mere presence was enough to cause Frank to let Bill go (only so Bill could go back to tracking him all the way back to where Bill started – a literally circular storyline). And this happened because... Magical Indian who might also be a ghost? With a ghost dog? Who wants to look out for him for some reason? And inexplicably deters Frank from being Frank for a minute?

And these are simply the worst of several abortive narrative threads that all seemed to be leading somewhere but were suddenly cut in the last two episodes, trailing off like so many roads to nowhere.

Subverting expectations can be an excellent narrative tool. This was used to great effect in the first few moments of one of the greatest gun battles ever in the now classic western Open Range, where the character played by Kim Coates (Ed Logan in Godless) meets a fate very different from the one he does in this series. But oftentimes, as in this case, subverting expectations is just bad storytelling. So much so that I really do wonder if they just ran out of money, leading them cripple or compress storylines that were originally written to take the series to two or three more episodes.

That’s a series I would have loved to have seen. As it was, I really, really, enjoyed this one up through episode four or five. A lot of missed opportunities here.

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I loved this, and thought it was sensational, except... I felt like the screenwriter was oblivious to the real great story here -- the women. Why give me a story about Roy -- a story that was old when John Ford was doing it -- when I could've had a real story about Mary Agnes, Alice, and the women of the town? It just feels like such a missed opportunity to me. Despite the fact that the show was so well done.

A few thoughts:

  • Like others, I was disappointed in the outcome at Blackdom. I also didn't understand why Griffin (who seemed genuinely distraught at the carnage of the one family) ended up -- after that moment -- again, slaughtering every man, woman and child in the town, except for Louise and her little brother (who barely made it out, so I don't blame them for not saving more people)...? I mean, it wasn't as if people wouldn't still know it was his gang that did it, either way. 
  • And I disliked that Griffin wiped out a town of badass soldiers and people of color -- while white La Belle survives with a majority of characters who never held a gun before... there are some icky racial undertones there.
  • I was also a little bummed at the Sheriff and Roy Goode saving the day in the end, right in the middle of main street. I wish like hell it had been Mary Agnes and Alice instead. I've seen the movie where the two men walk down main street to save the day (magically, of course, impervious to bullets). I would give anything to see the movie where Mary Agnes and Alice did that instead.
  • Merritt Wever was amazing. But then again, she always is. I've adored her since her absolutely amazing (deceptively adorable) days on "Nurse Jackie." At this point, if she's in it, I will watch it. Period.
  • I was really impressed with all of the actors -- Wever, Dockery, and Daniels as a complex and really interesting villain. I loved that his final words to Roy before the duel were "I love you, son." It was crazy and fucked-up but also kind of weirdly moving.
  • I loved that the score evolved from the (minor) opening credits theme into a soaring major version of the theme as Roy completed his journey and saw the Pacific. It was a nice ending, even if a little frustrating for me.

A few details in case it helps anyone:

  • Chiming in that for me, "primer" was always pronounced with a long "i." So it definitely varies.
  • It appeared that Frank did in fact stay to nurse (and bury, via the awful twins) all the sick people with smallpox. There were no signs of violence when Bill was there, and I thought it was an interesting character note for Frank (more of that angel/devil thing he had going -- he could kill you or spare you, you never knew which).
  • As far as the final duel, historically in formal duels, the combatants often opened or removed their shirts, because it made a cleaner (and more survivable) wound if shot.
  • I loved the echoes of classic Westerns in the townspeople assuming Bill was a coward when in fact he was the opposite. Reminded me of stuff like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. (I don't think his blindness was cured though, just temporarily aided by the glasses for the short term.)
  • I was frustrated to discover that Roy's point of no return was being teased by the twins about his letter (versus, um, massacring the entire town of Creede).
  • The miners who died standing up basically died of instant asphyxiation, so fast they didn't even have time to fall down. This is evidently something that actually happens.
  • I loved the echoes of fathers and sons throughout the story and the ongoing metaphor of 'wearing your father's clothes' to embrace his morality or his evil. I wish however we'd see more about mothers and daughters, given La Belle, dammit.
  • I was so pleased the women didn't do the stupid thing of putting their shooters on two sides of the street (which would have resulted in a ton of friendly fire). But I still felt the final shootout wasn't presented all that well logistically.
On 12/26/2017 at 7:44 AM, Joimiaroxeu said:

It's a wonder to me anyone survived the days of the Old West. It was pretty easy to go around shooting people on a whim but it was also pretty easy to get shot out of the blue.

I love that this exact scenario -- a stray bullet traveling farther than expected -- is the inciting incident for "Lonesome Dove."

On 12/27/2017 at 7:48 PM, Kel Varnsen said:

I imagine that assuming a new identity in the 1880s wasn't too difficult. It is not like photo ID was a thing back then. The best they could do was those poorly drawn wanted posters.  And Roy was an orphan who didn't really have a real job or fixed address so records of his life would be minimal. On top of that newspaper accounts quote a lawman saying he is dead. So who would make any kind of assumption that the person they meet might be Roy Goode?

Yeah, and the telegraph had been around for 50+ years at this point, and which was  instantaneous, plus there were widely circulated national and regional/local newspapers. If Roy was reported dead by a lawman (in addition to a nationally read reporter), word would get out within a day or two and his wanted posters would come down from post offices, jails, government offices, etc. Further, since I'm assuming Roy was nursed out of sight back at Alice's before departing, the townspeople may genuinely have been told by Bill that he died in the duel. Alice's place is pretty isolated.

On 1/1/2018 at 8:45 AM, iMonrey said:

I didn't get the thing with the arm and the bees. Was that Frank's arm? How did it get there? If it wasn't his then whose arm was it? Why bees and not flies?

The "bees" in the scene with the arm were apparently drone flies, which look like bees according to Jeff Daniels, but which are attracted to decomposition. I loved the way they seemed to follow Frank around and that one landed on his face in the moments before the shootout at the end.

On 1/2/2018 at 9:05 AM, iMonrey said:

I also found it very unsatisfying that we spent seven hours listening to Frank say he'd seen his own death and knew how it would go just to have no payoff with that. "You saw wrong." Narratively, that felt like it was building to something but led nowhere. 

To echo @Kel Varnsen, I loved the fakeout with "I've seen my death and this ain't it." All that time Frank thought he was hearing the voice of God and he was just a deluded homicidal asshole. 


The Blackdom storyline also felt like a subplot that went nowhere. On reflection, it almost seems like they started writing this thing with the intention of making a multi-season series out of it, and about halfway through decided or were told this had to be a one-and-done. That would explain why they stuffed the front end so full with so many characters and subplots that ultimately went nowhere.

Scott Frank originally wrote "Godless" as a two-hour screenplay about 10 years earlier, couldn't get it produced, then Steven Soderbergh suggested that he pitch it as a limited series/miniseries instead (and ended up executive-producing it). Rumor also has it that it was originally more about the women of La Belle, but that he was told it was unsellable that way.

On 1/5/2018 at 10:19 AM, Bec said:

It's true that hiding his identity from new people wouldn't be much trouble at all. I just have some lingering concerns about people who already know who he is and have a bone to pick with him. Those Quicksilver Mining Company guys, for instance. Let's hope none of them ever happen to see him again or get wind of the fact he's not really dead.

If the Sheriff gave the official story that Goode died in that last duel with Frank, the townspeople would have no reason not to believe him (or for the few who suspect anything else to betray the truth to Grigg or the slimy mining jerks). As Roy ends up several states away in a tiny town on the Pacific, he's probably in the clear. The authorities may not have known about his brother at all, which means if he lives a quiet life he's probably fine. The only people who know he lived may in fact just be Bill, Alice, Truckee, and Iyovi.

On 1/17/2018 at 8:54 AM, Danny Franks said:

It took me a while to recognise Scoot McNairy, but he seems to be playing another man searching for himself. Emasculated by something, and in danger of being pushed out by his own people. And by his dashing deputy, a grown up Thomas Brodie-Sangster.

I've loved Scoot ever since the wonderful and underrated "Halt and Catch Fire," and thought he was superb here, although his character arc frustrated me a bit. I love Brodie-Sangster (even if I cannot stand Love, Actually) and he was heartbreaking and sweet as Whitey. This was a different kind of role for him than his "Game of Thrones" role, and he did a great job.

On 1/17/2018 at 9:13 AM, Danny Franks said:

I didn't care for the assumption that Bill would now step in and take Alice for himself. What, just because he has a crush on her, she has to reciprocate?

That irked me too. Like, he's practically gift-wrapping Alice for Bill there, forget whether or not she is interested in Bill that way (and she ain't, not as far as we've been shown), so I did roll my eyes at that.

On 2/28/2018 at 3:33 AM, BasilSeal said:

I think there also may have been a wider metaphor in the relationship between the men and the horses as outlined by both Frank and Roy, and the way Frank has essentially groomed young men to be his chosen son (in the same way he was 'adopted' by the Mormon killers who slaughtered his family). The way the outlaws unquestioningly follow frank into doing some pretty unspeakable things mirrors the way Frank/Roy's horse whispering technique for breaking horses engenders the animal to have blind trust in the rider: "he'll know you're going to protect him and look after him".

I agree with you that the parallels are deliberate. Frank even gives young Roy that speech about how it's better to tame a horse than to 'break' it because it will be loyal forever.

On 3/2/2018 at 11:07 AM, Hanahope said:

I was a bit confused on the timeline of Roy giving Sister Lucy the money.  I thought he gave her the money from the Creede attack, or at least one of the other times Roy stole money from Frank after he left the gang.  But apparently it was before he left the gang.  So was that Roy's cut that he'd saved up?  Seemed like a huge amount.

It appeared to me to go this way:

  • Frank and the gang robbed a train for big loot, the twins got caught in Creede and were going to be hanged, Frank brings the gang in and kills every last man, woman and child in retribution.
  • Roy goes and sees Lucy and gives her the money, unbeknownst to Griffin and the men. Already guilty from Lucy's assumptions that he is a good man, when the twins tease him about his letter, Roy loses his temper and rides off for good, with Griffin surprised and angry (especially when he realizes Roy took the loot).
  • The gang almost catches Roy, but he manages to shoot his way out (and cost Frank an arm), then makes his way to his father's grave, where he digs up his father's clothes and puts them on (ew) in penance.
  • He makes his way to La Belle and then meets/gets shot by Alice, etc.
  • Frank goes on his mission of vengeance until the final shootout and duel.
  • Roy leaves the rest of the loot for Alice (although I hope he took a few stacks with him for the trip/bro reunion).

The thing is, this bothered me and felt unnecessary to me. Why have Roy be shamed by Lucy THEN go back and leave for such a BS reason? Why not have his shame at her pride in his growing up to be a good man (with maybe some flashbacks of Creede) be why he left, never to return? As it is, he leaves because the twins tease him, not for any big "good vs evil" reason.

Like I said, I loved it overall, but I do feel like it zigged hard for the men when I really wanted the story to zag to the women (who were far more interesting and less cliched).

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Just started watching. Don't recall hearing about this, but Netflix shoved it in my face last night.

Love the great Tantoo Cardinal and Merritt Wever.

I spend a lot of time in southern CO and northern NM, so I love these locations and the care taken with the cinematography.

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Just watched this, yes, much later to the party. Well, party is a strong word. Not sure about the praise for it.

Good God(less), this was dull. An endless delivery of bearded dusty dudes arguing and fighting and shooting. Yes, I know its a western but it can be done way better than this.

There were some good small moments, most of them with the women, but not enough to recommend this to anyone.

And can I just say to the writers that linear storytelling is not a bad thing.  

And finally, what a waste of a good cast and a unique story idea. A show about a western town that has to survive after all the able-bodied men are killed in one day? How the women carry on (or don’t), how the few able-bodied men who weren’t miners deal with survivor guilt and carrying the load. They could still include a travelling outlaw and his vengeful adversary ending up in the town, but have the women carry the tale.

Where was that show? That’s one I’d watch. 

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