The penultimate episode of Fargo season 3 is here and it was mostly a set-up episode for the grand finale, but that’s alright as we got some pretty damn good moments from it, mostly on the continued front of the Nikki Swango/Mr. Wrench combo that was established last episode. But first, let’s start from the beginning…
We open to a elderly man grabbing the morning paper while his garden sprinklers go off. Upon entering inside, Meemo can be seen hidden in the background while the man searches his fridge for any food. We don’t know why Meemo is there, but after he murders the man in cold blood, the camera pans to the newspaper and shows the man’s name was Marvin Stussy. Seems Varga has a plan to get Emmit off the hook for the conspiracy regarding Ennis Stussy’s death by having Meemo kill other Stussys.
At the end of last episode, Emmit had arrived at Gloria’s precinct ready to fully confess to the mess that he has gotten himself into. Now we didn’t know if that just meant confessing his involvement in Ray’s death or the entire tango with Varga as well, but we see now that it was just about Ray. I liked that we got a little more backstory into the Stussy brothers’ past as Emmit recounts the death of their father and how they ended up splitting the stamp and Corvette. Emmit insisted that whoever had the Corvette would have no problem hooking up with girls, so Ray jumped at the opportunity, completely unaware at the value that the stamps held. But Emmit knew and now he blames himself for the whole mess as it wound up costing Ray his life. Thus, he confesses everything to Gloria, seemingly wrapping up the Stussy case for good.
Elsewhere, Varga and Meemo have some plans to get Emmit out of the precinct. After some bantering on what to do, Varga tells Meemo to process to “Stage 4. No mistakes.” What they don’t account for is that very thing to end up happening. While stopped at a red light near a bar, it seems Meemo feels something off…and suddenly the passenger window is broke through. Nikki is revealed to be the assailant as she throws a grenade into the cabin of the truck, forcing Meemo and another Varga goon to jump out. Mr. Wrench appears to shoot down the backup vehicle and upon disabling it, Nikki and Mr. Wrench take off with Varga’s truck, which basically functioned as his home base. Meemo sees the grenade was only a fake and stares on in the distance of the truck, surprised that he was caught off guard.
What exactly were Nikki and Wrench after? Well, it seems they need some dirt on Varga and planned to take anything they could from the truck, which they do once they find a briefcase full of files and hard drives. In the next scene, in which Nikki makes a call to Varga, it’s revealed that these items contain basically the entire infrastructure of Varga’s operation, including foreign bank account and more. Nikki has become more cold and calculated over the three month time skip it seems as she doesn’t flinch to any of Varga’s tactics, opting to blackmail him for two million in exchange for his items back. She tells him to meet her at the Clarion Hotel at 4pm and hangs up. The look on Varga’s face afterwards is probably the first glimpse we have this season of him looking somewhat distressed. He’s finally met his match in Nikki.
Winnie arrives at the crime scene of Marvin Stussy and calls Gloria to let her know that another Stussy has been taken out. Gloria continues to insist that Emmit confessed and that her case is wrapped up, but we then see that a second murder has been committed on a Stussy. While the first was done in the same way that Ray was killed (glass stabbing), the new Stussy was killed via asphyxiation, the same way Maurice killed Ennis. Gloria’s police chief, Moe, is once again dumb enough to believe that all four murders are connected, which is exactly what Varga was hoping for. A manhunt commences and Donald Wu is found at a gas station in a outfit similar to Meemo’s. Varga and Meemo made it easy for the police to believe in the ploy as his truck contains mail from Ennis’ home, a photo of Ray and Nikki, and random assortments of glass, glue, and blood. Gloria doesn’t believe it for a second, but she can’t afford to stand up to Moe again and risk her job, so she backs down and gives up on trying to get Goldfarb to give Emmit up and recant her given alibi for him.
In a rather disturbing scene, Varga is sitting in a bathroom stall and forcing Rocky Road ice cream down his throat as the camera slowly pans into the menace in his eyes. We’ve seen Varga force feed himself before and then proceed to throw it up, a metaphor for his hunger and greed to have everything he can get his hands on, but this image was a lot more haunting. Seems that when Varga is on the edge, his hunger grows even stronger than usual. Maybe it’s also a way to prepare himself for the meeting with Nikki, which is the following scene this episode and probably my favorite.
Varga and Nikki meet in the lobby of the Clarion Hotel and exchange formalities and some insults. I love that Nikki doesn’t fall for any tricks that we’ve seen Varga pull on others, like the poisoned tea that got Sy in the previous episode. It also seems that Varga is equally as impressed with Nikki as he continually offers her a job to work for him since Yuri is out of the picture and he needs a new hand. Each time she calls a bluff on him, he insists that he’ll increase her salary by another zero, but Nikki plays coy. She knows Varga has Meemo on standby waiting to kill her, she knows he didn’t bring the two million they agreed on, and she knew not to bring the blackmail as well. Varga attempts to gain the upper hand on her by revealed he has hired others to impersonate him in the lobby, so that it would be hard to identify him once they kill Nikki, but Nikki has a trump card for Varga as well. We see Mr. Wrench appear from behind Meemo and point a gun to his head, taking him out of commission. Wrench relays to Nikki that the job is done and tells Varga that he has until tomorrow to give up the money or the police get the blackmail.
Gloria calls Emmit into the interrogation room and recounts her life story to him. She married young to a person she thought would always be there for her, only to later learn he was actually gay and didn’t love her in the way she needed. “You think the world is something, then it turns out to be something else” she tells Emmit, which mirrors Sy’s statement on his world turning upside down just a few episodes ago. The events that Varga has unfolded has affected all of them now and there’s no way to fix it. Emmit pleas with Gloria that he is the one she wants, but she explains there’s nothing she can do about it now, but ponders to Emmit if Varga is the one behind it all. The question shakes Emmit and he then backs down, unsure of what will come of him if he rats Varga out. He departs with Meemo as Gloria watches on, knowing that she was on the right trail, but has lost.
After work, Gloria and Winnie meet at a bar and discuss the events that have unfolded. Gloria has a interesting self-reflection that I’ve seen viewers already comment on after episode 3 aired. Ennis’ book, The Planet Wyh, featured an android who roamed the Earth for two million years after his master died, only able to say the words “I can help”, despite the fact that he never was able to. Gloria sees herself in the android, as she shares his failures to do anything, even though she desperately wants to. She also comments on the fact that she feels invisible at times, due to the fact that sensors on things like automatic doors, faucets, and soap dispensers never respond to her. This was originally predicted by theorists to possibly be the supernatural element of this season and, while it still could be a part of it, it seems to just be a device to play into Gloria’s self-doubt about herself and her life. Winnie is moved by her story and offers Gloria a hug and tells her to get freshened up before they drink the night away. Surprisingly, once Gloria gets to the restroom, she comes to realize that sensors now do detect her presence. Maybe knowing that she has people who believe in her like Winnie has cured some of her insecurities.
The episode ends with an interesting scene with a character we haven’t seen in awhile. Larue Dollard, the IRS agent who was previously seen attempting to look into Stussy Lots, is at his office and sees that he has a package on his chair. Upon opening it, he sees that the contents are files on Stussy Lots’ expenses and a thumb drive that probably contains a lot more dirt on Varga’s operations. Seems Nikki doesn’t care to play fair against Varga and has made sure that even if she fails in whatever she has planned, there is another option to take down Varga’s grasp on Emmit.
So as I said, Aporia was more of a set-up episode, which is perfectly fine to have after such a explosive episode like the last. Now all the cards are on the table and we can head into the finale. It now seems that Nikki and Mr. Wrench are the main adversaries to Varga, but I’m sure that Emmit and Gloria will have a hand in his downfall, that is to say IF Varga even ends up losing. Villains have survived previous seasons, like Mike Milligan, though they don’t always get the futures they want, so either way it’ll be a treat to see where everyone’s fate ends up.
Aporia – 4 out of 5
- Nikki Swango becoming even more of a badass
- Gloria’s doubts in herself seemingly being erased
- Emmit’s story about his and Ray’s past
- Seems Sy may really be out of the picture, unless he gets better next episode
- No Paul Marrane and we still don’t really know the final fate of Yuri