One of Studly Doright’s co-workers recently sent him home with the Netflix series, Godless. We didn’t binge watch the series, but only because things like work and entertaining the Texas grandkids took precedence. Otherwise we might’ve done nothing but watch this one-season series from start to finish.
Godless is an unconventional western featuring an ensemble of strong, independent female characters, non-stereotypical Native Americans, as well as a highly nuanced villain played brilliantly by Jeff Bridges.
This Steven Soderbergh production follows a band of ruthless raiders led by Bridges’s character, Frank Griffin, as they scour the southwest searching for Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell), who has stolen a large sum of money from Griffin’s team and left the group for parts unknown.
The opening scene shows the brutal aftermath of Griffin’s band’s vengeance on a small town where Goode had received shelter while on the run. Every man, woman, and child in the village had been slaughtered and their bodies left in the streets as a warning to anyone who might offer assistance to Roy in the future.
Roy, who’d been shot during an exchange with Griffin’s men is tended to by a widow, Alice Fletcher, played by Michelle Dockery, along with her mother-in-law, Iyovi (Tantoo Cardinal) and her son, Truckee (Samuel Marty). Alice and her family live on a ranch outside the mining town of La Belle, Colorado.
La Belle is populated almost exclusively by women after a mine explosion claimed the lives of most of the town’s males. The women of La Belle have had to rethink their roles and to challenge the ways in which women are viewed and restricted during the period immediately following the Civil War. Their lives aren’t easy, but these females aren’t quitters.
The viewer knows that at some point Griffin and his murderous marauders are going to discover where Roy Goode has taken up residence. The women of La Belle think Roy’s last name is Ward and have no idea that Griffin is on his way to wreak havoc on the community. That is until a newspaperman, (Jeremy Bobb) from another community realizes who Ward is while visiting La Belle in pursuit of a story. Griffin discovers where Goode is even as the ladies of La Belle learn they’ve been harboring the object of Griffin’s wrath. Whew. The climactic scene is intense, and everything leading up to the climax is beautifully crafted.
The casting choices for Godless were impeccable. Merritt Wever plays one of La Belle’s widows who has thrown off the trappings of femininity to lead her “sisters” through an uncertain future. Her brother, played by Scoot McNairy, is the town’s sheriff. He’s also slowly going blind, but doesn’t want anyone to know. One of my favorite actors, Sam Waterston, portrays a federal marshall on the trail of Frank Griffin.
If you enjoy westerns then this one-season series is worth watching. Yes, there’s violence and some nudity and sexuality, but the tale is gripping. The only downside is that Godless consists only of seven episodes. Studly and I are in a funk now that it’s over. We both hope there might be a spin-off series down the line.