Before getting into the actual review, I will summarize my feelings on the overall season as well as the previous two seasons considering this is the first episode review for Fargo posted on this site. I got into Fargo shortly after Season 2 had ended and I finally decided to give it a shot as I continued to see nothing but high praise for it. The Fargo film is one of my all-time favs, so it goes without saying that there was a strong skepticism that went into the show. My worries were immediately hushed when I saw Martin Freeman and Billy-Bob Thornton act their ASSES off though (Lorne Malvo may be one of the best villains I’ve seen in any form of media) and Season 2 kept the rhythm going, despite feeling a little less solid in my opinion.
And now we have gotten to Season 3 after almost a two-year break in between seasons (typically for FX shows sadly) and my verdict is a little mixed. As I stated previously, I thought Season 2 was a little below the quality of Season 1, but still an exceptional piece of television. I want to say the same for Season 3, but there is something off about it. The writing has become less engaging, the stakes aren’t as high, and we currently only have 3 episodes left and the body count isn’t close to the amounts that the first two seasons set. But with May 31st episode “The Law of Inevitability”, it seems the wheels are finally beginning to turn and the countdown to the finale may up the ante for our characters.
To the actual episode, we open to Varga (David Thewlis) happily opening Christmas presents in an eerie montage. When we first see him draw his switchblade, I was expecting something far worse, but Varga has been shown to be quite the enigma thus far, so I can’t put this scene past him. We see that Varga is indeed in Emmit’s (Ewan McGregor) mansion later in the episode, but I’m not sure if this scene takes place there as well. I’d assume Emmit probably doesn’t mind Varga opening all the presents that were originally meant for his wife and children considering their now separated thanks to Ray’s (Also Ewan McGregor) scheme two episodes ago.
Speaking of Ray, we then pick up right where we left off at the end of the previous episode…you know…where Emmit and Ray argued back and forth over who should have ownership of the Stussy stamp and Emmit accidentally smashed the glass of the frame the stamp resided in into Ray’s face, causing a fragment of the glass to slice into Ray’s neck? If only Ray had listened to Emmit’s plea to not pull the glass out of his neck…but I will say I was expecting Ray’s sudden death to be the event to kick things into high gear and yet, it really didn’t. We saw at the end of last episode that Gloria (Carrie Coon) decided to take one more stop at Ray’s home and brought Winnie (Olivia Sandoval) with her. It’s here where they find Ray’s dead corpse and know the rabbit hole they’ve gotten themselves into just got a little deeper.
Meanwhile, Varga’s plan that was explained to Emmit at the end of the previous episode has seemingly gone into effect as we return to Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) waiting for Ray at their motel. Room service arrives, but Nikki believes something is up and she’d be right as we get a quick cut outside where cops charge in from the outskirts and break down the motel door. Nikki tries to book it out the window, but is subdued by the police before being able to escape. In the distance, Meemo (Andy Yu) is sitting in a car and watching the events unfold, confirming that he was likely the one who alerted the cops to Nikki’s location seeing as he was seconds away from killing her before learning about Ray’s death.
Nikki is then taken to the St. Cloud Police Station where she is interrogated by Moe (Shea Whigham), who seems to fall hook, line, and sinker for Varga’s plan in believe Nikki was responsible for Ray’s death due to domestic abuse, when in fact the bruises on her actually came from Varga’s cronies. What I find interesting is that when Moe questions if Nikki was with Ray just to ease her parole sentence, she doesn’t give a straight answer, though why would she in the situation she’s currently in? Moe does give a great line in describing how he views not only this situation, but his world view with: “Mash a potato, know what you get? Mashed potatoes.”
Gloria and Winnie are revealed to also be occupants of the station and continue to prove that they are the only ones who know what the hell is going on. Gloria basically gives a plot summary of the first six episodes to the St. Cloud police chief and Moe, but they still don’t budge and believe that the case is cut and dry: Nikki killed Ray, that’s it. The police chief commands Winnie to return to her traffic beat, while Moe threatens Gloria to give it up before he fires her once he becomes police chief, but Gloria continues to not submit. She informs Winnie to go find Emmit and let him know of his brother’s death and then heads to try to speak with Nikki to comedic results.
Going to Emmit, he has arrived to the dinner with Sy (Michael Stuhlbarg) to talk business with Ruby Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell) over the purchasing of Stussy Lots. It’s here that we see Emmit is obviously greatly affect by just watching his own brother die in front of him. The dinner quickly turns cynical with Emmit discussing how he believes the poor in the world are destroying it, while the rich are the only ones making it better. Sy detects something is wrong with Emmit and continuously tries to shut him down, but it’s to no avail. Luckily, Winnie arrives just in time to stop the disastrous dinner, but gives the bad news of Ray’s death. Seeing as Emmit is no criminal, he clumsily attempts to give himself an alibi for his whereabouts without being asked for one and even tries to implicate Nikki in Ray’s murder, despite not even being told it WAS a murder. I’m unsure if Winnie catches onto this, but she allows Emmit and Sy to leave and stays to get any info from Goldfarb.
Parked outside Emmit’s mansion, he begins to accuse Sy of betraying him and working with Ray, noting that Sy would’ve made it easier for Ray to get into his safe deposit box and assist with other wrongdoings. This sounds like something Varga planted into Emmit’s head to further isolate him from everyone he cares about and it seems to work with the alliance between Emmit and Sy clearly broken after this conservation by the way Sy returns home to his wife and cries into her arms. He claims “The world. The world is wrong. It looks like my world, but everything’s different.” And that’s Fargo for you. One thing I want to note with the Emmit and Varga scene that precedes this is that I really like the camera placement with Varga sitting on the stairs closest to the taxidermy bear and Emmit sitting on the stairs near the Christmas tree, hinting at their moral alignments. Varga then tells Emmit a nursery rhyme and that’s basically that.
Rewinding a bit into the episode, I glossed over a scene taking place at the Eden Valley Police Station where Donny (Mark Forward) gets a call in the middle of the night and leaves to attend to the vandalism, but returns to get his gun only to find Yuri (Goran Bogdan) has invited himself in to look over some case files. This scene was pretty tense and I fully expected Donny to bite it, but Yuri allows Donny to grab his gun and depart since Yuri got what he needed: all the files relating to the Stussy case.
Returning to Gloria, she has finally managed to get her way into talking with Nikki and arrives just in time to stop a potential Varga associate, disguised as a police officer, from killing Nikki with a syringe. Of course, Gloria not following his orders upsets Moe, but once they arrive in the security room, it seems he may finally somewhat believe her as they learn the footage was hacked and the disguised man can’t be seen. They return to talk with Nikki, but her own advice is to “Follow the money”. Moe decides to have Nikki sent to the state penitentiary, while Gloria promises that they’ll have a talk later over some coconut creme pie to gather more info.
The episode ends with Nikki on a bus heading towards the prison. She’s seated next to a very familiar face that may be the first connection Season 3 has had to the previous two seasons. It’s Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard), the deaf hitman who was last seen in Season 1, which took place four years before this season. Seems he’s gotten into some trouble since then and Nikki might be needing his help soon as the prison bus suddenly flips after trying to dodge a person in the street. It’s a trap. Yuri and Meemo appear out of the woods and Yuri begins to cut open the bus door to get to Nikki. I don’t see Nikki dying just yet, then again I didn’t think Ray would either, so it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next episode.
The Law of Inevitability – 4 out of 5
- Emmit’s continued downfall, especially in dinner scene
- Gloria finally getting the police on her side
- The return of Mr. Wrench
- Impact of Ray’s sudden death not really felt
- Varga didn’t do much in this episode