No Man’s Land

My husband and I just came across a Netflix miniseries we hadn’t heard of before, called Godless. And we are hooked. It’s a western, set in New Mexico in the late 19th century. I don’t remember the last time I watched a western, but this one is extremely well done.

For one thing, the cast is wonderful. Surprisingly, it stars several British actors: Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary Crawley), Thomas Brodie-Sangster (Jojen in Game of Thrones and Benny Watts in Queen’s Gambit), as well as Sam Waterston, Jeff Daniels, Tantoo Cardinal (Black Shawl in Dances with Wolves) and others.

The action takes place around a mining town whose residents are mostly women, after a mine cave-in killed almost all of the men. Michelle Dockery plays Alice, a widow who owns a ranch outside of town, where she lives with her mother-in-law, who is a Paiute Indian, and her teenage son. A man, Roy, shows up on horseback one night and doesn’t respond to her question about who he is and what he wants, so she shoots him. (What ever would Lord Grantham say???) It turns out that he didn’t respond because he had already been shot and could not; her bullet only added to his injuries. She lets him stay in the barn, and tends to him while he recovers. He turns out to be an expert with horses, a skill she really needs on the ranch since her husband’s death.

But Roy is on the run from Frank (Jeff Daniels, in a chilling performance), an outlaw who feels Roy betrayed him. Frank wants him dead, badly enough that he has threatened to kill every person in any town found to be sheltering Roy. He and his gang already murdered all the inhabitants of one town where Roy had stopped. And now they are on Roy’s trail again. And Sam Waterston is a U.S. Marshall who is on the trail of Frank and his posse.

That’s just a brief description of the set-up, and the twists and turns of the plot will keep you guessing. But one of the things that stands out about this program, besides the stellar cast, is the level of detail. The architecture and landscape are so evocative, and the sets and costumes look realistically gritty.

Season 1 has seven episodes (I’m on number four). And a second season is expected to release this fall.

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