Ethelrida is just a kid, but she becomes the investigator, the one who faces down all the various crimes and threats. That’s different this time around, isn’t it? Usually you can trust the law in Fargo, but you took a different approach this time.
There’s always this moral scale in Fargo where you have characters who are all good, which is Francis McDormand in the  movie, and characters who are evil, which is Peter Stormare. And you’ve got someone like [William H. Macy’s] Jerry Lundegaard, who’s in the middle and it could go either way. In our first three series seasons, the all-good character was always a cop. [Alison Tolman in Season One, Patrick Wilson in Season Two, and Carrie Coon in Season Three.] I thought, well, if I’m telling a story about Black characters and characters who are immigrants, that’s not their experience with the police, primarily, you know?
So how do you work around that?
This is where Ethelrida came in, who served the role of a cop on some level, but she wasn’t an actual cop. It’s this Rear Window scenario in which she was suspicious about this nurse [Jessie Buckley’s Oraetta Mayflower] who lived across the street, who kept coming to funerals for her patients. And that started her down the path, which ultimately led to some justice being done.
The police characters are actually in need of some justice, too. Timothy Olyphant’s merciless U.S. marshal and Jack Huston as a PTSD-afflicted local cop.
That allowed me to say, all right, well, now I can have these law enforcement characters who are morally compromised, and really explore that. You had Jack Huston’s character who was clearly corrupt, right? He was taking money from the crime family. And then you had Tim Olyphant’s character, the U.S. marshal, who who very quickly realize was totally racist.
No good choices there.
Your empathy has to go with one of them or the other, so the audience had to work through that idea of who’s a good guy in this car? The answer is neither of them on some level, but as an audience, we’re never objective. Stories that make you ask yourself, “Where’s my morality?” can be very powerful stories.