The ballad of Nikki and Ray continues ambling along toward what seems like inevitable doom. With Maurice’s death labeled “accidental” — for now, at least — the couple seems to be in the clear. There’s just one problem. Ray’s ch’i is all blocked up. Nikki, as a believer in these kinds of things, insists that the brotherly dispute must be settled, one way or another, in order for this whole messy affair to end. That means either making peace with Emmit or finally getting the stamp. Given the choice between the two, Nikki and Ray decide “both.” Well, Nikki decides.
While Ray is off making nice with Emmit, in a moment that was honestly pretty touching, Nikki breaks in through the back. The stamp is gone, and in its place is a painting of a donkey. Ray’s fiancée takes this as a personal attack and deploys feminine hygiene as a weapon. More specifically, she writes a message in period blood on the donkey painting. Armed with a vendetta and the info that Emmit recently rented a safety deposit box, Nikki is ready to start a war, which provides some nice momentum for the season, but the whole story line feels a bit forced. We’re supposed to buy Ray’s ch’i as a compelling motivator for Nikki, who in turn influences Ray. That gets us into Emmit’s house. But then, Nikki takes great offense to a silly mistake. Yes, I understand this is Fargo and that on Fargo, the characters make dumb decisions. Nikki just seems so disconnected from normal human behavior or even her own consistent internal logic (wasn’t she a precise and patient tactician last week?) that she’s taking me out of the show a little.
Where is the show working? Would you be surprised if I said that it’s the part involving TV’s current MVP Carrie Coon? The second episode provided more insight into Gloria and further distinguished her from Marge Gunderson and Molly Solverson. As the new chief — the never not great Shea Whigham, making his first appearance — lays out the plan for integrating the departments, Gloria outs herself as someone stuck in the past. Her struggle against modernity may help her crack the case of Ennis Stussy, a.k.a. Thaddeus Mobley, but it could very well cost her a job. That’s a real, believable struggle that will likely be the heart of the season going forward.
Now, back to reading the new Thaddeus Mobley book, Organ Fish of Kleus 9.