Casey Silver Productions/765/Flitcraft, Ltd/Netflix

Written and Directed by Scott Frank

Produced by Jessica Levin/Michael Malone

Created by Scott Frank and Steven Soderberg

Music by Carlos Rafael Rivera

Cinematography by Stephen Meizler

Much as I love Westerns I usually keep my eye out for any new ones either being released theatrically or on streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon. But GODLESS snuck up on me and I have to thank my wife Patricia for pulling my coat to this one. If there’s a bigger Western fan than me, it’s her. I hadn’t heard a thing about this one and one of the reasons why I write reviews is to let people know about projects like this one that might fly under the radar. Especially with the sheer number of movies and TV series that Netflix puts out, it’s easy for a limited series like GODLESS to get lost and that would be a shame because it’s well worth your binge-watching.

The premise of GODLESS is an unusual one for a Western. The mining town of La Belle, New Mexico is populated almost entirely by women due to a horrendous accident wiping out most of the men. The women are left to run the town. But even though this is the hook of the series it isn’t what it’s actually about. The female situation in La Belle provides a highly interesting setting and provides some really notable characters such as Bill McNue (Scoot McNairy) the sheriff of La Belle who is losing his sight and despairing of what will become of him and his children when he goes completely blind. His deputy Whitey Winn (Thomas Brodie-Sangster) who is a regular Two-Gun Kid with his matched set of .45’s. And Bill’s sister Mary-Agnes (Merritt Wever) the widow of the town’s mayor who has more or less stepped into that role, wearing her husband’s three-piece suits and despite what Whitey thinks, she is actually the town’s quickdraw artist.


No, the engine that drives the plot of GODLESS is the conflict between two outlaws. Roy Goode (Jack O’Connell) once rode with Frank Griffin (Jeff Daniels) the leader of a band of thirty desperadoes who kill entire populations of frontier towns and burn them to the ground just for fun. Roy stole $50,000 from Frank after Frank stole it from a train he dynamited. Roy then went on the run, ending up working on a ranch just outside of La Belle run by Alice Fletcher (Michelle Dockery) along with her half-Paiute son and her mother-in-law. Frank is tearing up the countryside looking for Roy, not so much for the money but because he feels betrayed by a man he raised up and considers a son.

Roy warns both Bill and Alice that if Frank hears he’s in La Belle he’ll come and slaughter everybody. But Bill doesn’t intend for that to happen as his plan is to team up with the legendary U. S. Marshal John Cook (Sam Waterston) and hunt down Frank and his gang. Meanwhile, the women of La Belle have to contend with the Quicksilver Mining Company looking to take over their mine by means of their chief enforcer Ed Logan (Kim Coates). Due to their being no men in the town Logan figures that it’ll be easy to take over. To say that he underestimates these women is putting it mildly.

If you only know Jeff Daniels from his comedic roles then you’ll be positively scared witless by his performance in GODLESS. Frank Griffin is a character that might have stepped right out the pages of Cormac McCarthy’s “Blood Meridian.” He’s a character who carries within him the capacity for apocalyptic violence and tremendous compassion. The problem is that you never know when or where the violence or the compassion will be ascendant. The series is worth watching just for Jeff Daniels as when he’s on screen you’re never sure what he’s going to do next.


The cinematography is absolutely breathtaking and many of the scenes are truly gorgeous to behold, including one where Frank’s gang ride across a river and cascading drops of water sparkle like diamonds. The flashbacks to the mine accident and a brutal slaughter of a wagon train are bloody and frightening but at the same time they’re shot in such a way that it’s quite beautiful. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Western without shots of vast plains and towering, snowcapped mountains.


In short, GODLESS is excellent entertainment worth your time. I honestly can’t point to a bad performance and while the pacing is a bit slow, that seems to be the norm for dramas these days. So yeah, the story takes it’s time to get up to speed but once it does, it truly does get going. GODLESS is currently streaming on Netflix and it gets my Highest Recommendation. If you’re looking for solid entertainment to binge watch on a weekend, this is it. Enjoy.

Godless 1 small






3 thoughts on “Godless

  1. I think this show is probably based off a Canadian show with much the same premise called Strange Empire whic hcan also be found on Netlfix. I think Strange Empire has a paranormal angle to it that Godless lacks though.

  2. Thank you for reviewing this series, Derrick, as I noticed it advertised prominently on Netflix when I binge-watched “The Punisher” this week, and was intrigued enough that I considered checking it out afterwards. Your review sealed the deal for me.

    One of the reasons, I think, that Netflix series in general seem to have a problem with pacing is that they often commit to too many episodes per season to carry the available plot. The result is varying dosages of rather obvious “filler” material, that are disguised as “character development” but which really do not add to that department too much, and serve more the purpose of padding the time than anything else. This can be a problem for the type of viewer who is impatient and must be blown away by the show within its first episode in order to stick with it, rather than being captivated just enough by the premise and cast that they stick with it for a few episodes to give it a chance to catch its stride. My mother is a notorious example of the former; based on what you mentioned in the review about the pacing, this great show would have lost her as a viewer following the first or second episode tops, since it didn’t show its strength and full entertainment value within the first half hour of the first episode.

    Should we, as viewers, be willing to give a show a chance to catch its stride? I think to be fair to the hard work of the creative crew, yes. But as noted above, not every viewer has that type of patience to carry on until things start getting good. Balancing out the pace has been a persistent problem with Netflix series for this reason, and I suspect they lose many potential viewers as a result. That certainly was the case with “The Punisher,” despite being a terrific series, bar none. You just have to be a devout follower of the proverb “patience is a virtue” in order to fully appreciate with these series have to offer as a viewer.

    1. Yep, I agree with you assessment 100%. There are way too many Netflix series that actually only have six or eight episodes worth of actual stories but insist on having twice that number of episodes. One of the things I like about GODLESS is that it’s only seven episodes long so there’s really no episodes that are just filler.

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