What's On: 'Fargo,' 'The Handmaid's Tale' and Charles Esten from 'Nashville' hosts the 'CMT Music Awards'

Matt Roush
Chris Large/FX

Goran Bogdan as Yuri Gurka, Andy Yu as Meemo, DJ Qualls as Golem

Fargo (10/9c, FX): Trapped in a flipped-over prison van as Varga’s goons plot to finish her off, Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the heroine of a funny-scary chase sequence that occupies the thrilling first half of a pivotal episode that features the return of one of the season’s more enigmatic characters. Meanwhile, surviving brother Emmit (Ewan McGregor) stews in a paranoid guilt trip worthy of Poe’s “Tell-Tale Heart,” egged off by the slimy Varga (David Thewlis).

The Handmaid’s Tale (streaming on Hulu): With only one more episode to go in the first season of this brilliant adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s dystopian classic, the stakes escalate for Offred (Elisabeth Moss, sublime) when she is tasked to return to the Jezebels brothel on a secret mission—which means seducing the Commander (Joseph Fiennes) for a risky “encore” performance. IF that wasn’t enough, she’s also called in to counsel the very disturbed Janine (Madeline Brewer), who suffers a breakdown when forced to hand over her infant daughter to her hosts. Hard to imagine a more appropriately named resistance movement than “Mayday.”

CMT Music Awards (8/7c, CMT): Charles Esten moonlights from his central role as Deacon on Nashville to host yet another awards night in the country-music capital, this one voted by fans. Joining him on the Music City Center stage will be some intriguing pairings: Lady Antebellum with Earth, Wind & Fire, The Chainsmokers and Florida Georgia Line, Peter Frampton and Brothers Osborne, Jason Derulo and Lyke Bryan (reprising their CMT Crossroads duet), Keith Urban and Carrie Underwood. Gregg Allman will be remembered in a special tribute featuring former Allman Brothers Band member Derek Trucks, joining Jason Aldean, Darius Rucker and Charles Kelley. And the roster of performers also includes Blake Shelton, Brett Eldredge, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Kelsea Ballerini and Little Big Town. During pauses in the musical action, some awards are expected to be given out. But that’s not why we watch.

Inside Wednesday TV: Pop’s late-night behind-the-scenes spoof Nightcap (8/7c) returns with back-to-back episodes, introducing Jason Tottenham as a new talent consultant who gets on booker Staci’s (Alexandra Wentworth) bad side when he tells her to bump Julianna Margulies for a YouTube star. Alec and Hilaria Baldwin appear in the second episode. … Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons) guests on a bold episode of NBC’s The Carmichael Show (9/8c) as Grandma Francis, who shocks son Joe (David Alan Grier) and grandsons Jerrod (Jerrod Carmichael) and Bobby (Lil Rel Howery) with a proposition that somehow finds rollicking laughter in the least likely of circumstances. Think Night Mother with snickerdoodles.