Godless really took me by surprise! I heard about it when it first came out but I wanted to wait until the hype had died down a bit before sinking my teeth into it. But the series absolutely deserves all the accolades! This one’s for anyone who likes westerns, horse-centred shows, enduring brotherhood, lots of ladies, lgbt+ rep, and fantastic music and cinematography.
The show follows Roy (played by Jack O’Connell), after he shows up at Alice’s (played by Michelle Dockery) house, shot up and bleeding. She also shoots him, and the poor thing is utterly ripped up and falls off his horse and Alice ends up taking care of him.
Alice lives with her son Truckee and her mother-in-law Iyovi just outside of the town of La Belle. It’s a town where the majority of villagers are women after a mining accident killed almost all the men in town. However, the few left are the Sheriff and Deputy, Bill and Whitey, respectively. When Roy wakes up, he turns himself in to the Sheriff, who decides to keep his identity a secret because a gang of terrifying men are after him, led by the ruthless Frank Griffin (played by Jeff Daniels), who raised Roy since he was a teenager and tried to steal Frank’s horse.
Bill agrees to keep Roy’s identity a secret until help comes, and puts him in the jail cell, calling him ‘Mr Ward’ and goes off to catch Frank, leaving his kids with Mary Agnes (played by Merritt Wever). Mary Agnes is a tough-talking lady who is dating the town teacher, and former prostitute, Callie (played by Tess Frazer), and is protective of the townsfolk.
Alice, who is reviled by everyone in the town except Bill and desperate for help with her horses, breaks Roy out of jail and brings him home, despite Whitey’s protests. Roy begins to bond with Alice and Truckee, although Iyovi hates him. Meanwhile, Whitey (played by Thomas Brodie-Sangster) is falling in love with Louise (played by Jessica Sula), which her father, one of the leaders of the real life historical free town of Blackdom, disapproves of immensely. Tensions start to break out when Ed Logan (played by Kim Coates) arrives to lay claim to La Belle, putting him at odds with the women, especially Mary Agnes. And all the while Frank and his gang are cutting their way through the countryside trying to find Roy and kill him, Bill hot on their heels.
Godless is a great character-driven western. It focuses on the relationships between everyone and how brutal and cruel the wild west could be. The flashbacks were gut-wrenching but really added an extra layer to everyone’s emotions: you see how Alice lost her first family, how Roy and his brother went different ways, how Frank raised Roy, etc. I loved Roy’s background with his brother and that storyline tugged at all my heartstrings. The plot is slow and understated, which really works for westerns, and the characters are given plenty to do, while having great moments to grow and shine. I can see why not everyone would be satisfied with the ending, and while there were some things I wish hadn’t happened, I actually did like the way it all wrapped up. The show illustrated the grim realities of the wild west while giving heartfelt endings that are very believable, even when they made me cry. Overall, this is definitely a series to watch!