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'Fargo' Fans Will Enjoy 'Briarpatch'
February 6, 2020  | By David Hinckley

Let's get this out of the way right up front: USA's new anthology drama, Briarpatch, is going to remind many folks of Fargo, and in making that association, they will not be wrong.

Briarpatch, created by Andy Greenwald from a Ross Thomas novel, starts its 10-episode first season run Thursday at 10 p.m. ET.

It's a murder mystery in the course of which weird things go on, and we meet small-town characters who are certifiably odd.

You maybe see the Fargo connection here.

Our protagonist, Allegra Dill (Rosario Dawson, top), has returned to her small Texas hometown to find out who blew up her sister, Felicity, an officer on the local police force.

Allegra doesn't really want to be in San Bonifacio. Her goal growing up was to get out, and she's done that, landing an interesting and apparently lucrative gig as an investigator and fixer for a U.S. senator.

Still, she comes to San Bonifacio with some background knowledge and some sleuthing credibility. What she lacks includes much insight into the life of her sister, with whom she seems to have had minimal recent contact.

Allegra quickly senses that the local police force, including Captain Gene Colder (Brian Geraghty), doesn't have many leads as to who might have placed that bomb in the trunk of Felicity's car.

She's partway through explaining why this may render the police useless when Colder breaks in to mention that he and Felicity were planning to be married.

This adds a new dimension to the investigation, and not surprisingly, it turns out that neither Allegra nor Gene knew everything about Felicity's life.

None of this makes Briarpatch much different from other anthology series about strange crimes where the giveaway clue lies buried in places where someone was sure no one would ever look.

Soon, however, Briarpatch hacks out its own path as the characters battle toward a potential solution.  
Allegra also gets pressured to incorporate a little work into her leave of absence from the senator's office, which leads us to a couple of startling secrets about the incidentals of that day job.

We meet some town officials and characters who line up more than a little off-center. The local newspaper editor, from whom Allegra seeks possible off-the-record clues, has stepped right out of the Diamond Jim Brady impersonator's contest.

Perhaps most importantly, it turns out Felicity had an attorney, A.D. Singh (Edi Gathegi), who dresses in Hawaiian shirts and says he doesn't have any clues about Felicity's murder but does have a will saying that Felicity left Allegra a sum of money inconsistent with a police officer's paycheck.

Meanwhile, the weird stuff starts showing up, one oddity at a time.

Allegra gets a room on the ninth floor of the local hotel – yes, that's a lot of floors for a hotel in a small town – and while there doesn't seem to be anyone else in the hotel, she finds a persistent, ongoing quirk related to room service.

Structures also sometimes shake in this town, which might be the weirdest thing about it if it weren't for the fact that someone apparently let all the animals out of the local zoo, so it's possible to walk around a corner and run into, say, a tiger.

Nor does rounding up these four-legged fugitives seem to be much of a priority.

All in all, you can see why you might think you just walked into Fargo South.

Weirdness can work, of course. It just can't overwhelm the more interesting part of the show, which is watching Allegra try to figure out the who and why of her sister's murder.

If the focus stays on that tale, it's worth wading into this Briarpatch.

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