Fargo recap: 'The Law of Inevitability'
That shard of glass in Ray’s neck might be the best thing to happen to Fargo season 3. Sure, it was very, very bad for Ray, but saying farewell to one half of Ewan McGregor’s paycheck seems to have poured some fuel onto this year’s low-burning fire. The stakes are higher. The emotions seem more real. And there’s a central crime that hasn’t already been solved by Gloria.
The hour opened with the kind of evocative image that Fargo has specialized in: V.M. Varga opens presents under Emmit’s Christmas tree with a switchblade. If the show was purposefully trying to capture the ethos of the series in one shot, I don’t know if they could have done better. What is a little disappointing — and also kind of illustrative of the show itself — is that the image doesn’t actually connect to the story. We later see Varga and Emmit sitting opposite each other with the tree between them, but no one mentions the presents. And the presents don’t seem to be opened.
What we get instead of a confrontation about Christmas presents — which is truly unforgivable — is Varga sharing a nursery rhyme that his mother used to recite to him, which I’ve kindly copied and pasted here:
There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile.
He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile.
He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse,
And they all lived together in a little crooked house.
In addition to being another example of the kind of storytelling Fargo loves to do — which I wrote (probably too much) about a couple weeks ago — the poem does capture the worldview of the show and the many crooked people populating it. Each season of the show essentially has one character that’s purely evil, while everyone else is just kind of hapless and stumbles into their trouble — because that’s pretty much how the world is. If you’re like me and are constantly looking at the state of things, wondering whether maliciousness or incompetence caused some of the more unbelievable headlines, this is a familiar concept to you. Fargo‘s outlook on the world is that it’s made up of both malicious and incompetent people. The show’s DNA is how those two meet and then clash with forces of good.
This time around, that clash has been more or less what we’ve come to expect from Fargo. The only difference with season 3 is that the police — Gloria and Winnie, at least — have figured things out rather quickly. As labyrinthian as the Stussy plot is, Gloria cracked it right around the halfway point of the season. So what’s the big hold up?
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As we see with her attempts to interview the incarcerated Nikki Swango, Gloria runs into that age-old villain bureaucracy. She’s a short conversation away from piecing together an insane web of lies, murder, and parking lots, and a blue sheet of paper (and a yellow one that needs her SO’s signature) are standing in the way.
There’s also Moe Dammick. Something isn’t quite right with the new chief; what at first seemed like stubbornness is looking more and more like collusion. The first tell came during his interview with Nikki, in which he echoes V.M. Varga nearly word-for-word in his explanation for Ray’s murder. The second comes when he’s quick to dismiss the security cam hack as a glitch. We know that Varga’s influence can seem almost godlike at times. What would keep him from buying a small-town police chief?
That little “glitch” brought about two very significant moments for the season and possibly the series as a whole. First, it gave my man DJ Qualls some work, which I can always support. He shows up as Nikki’s would-be syringe-wielding jailhouse assassin. Second, unless my eyes are deceiving me, that was Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) as the convict next to Nikki on the bus. If that is, in fact, the deaf hitman from season 1, that would mark the first big connection to another season of the show? I can only hope that he survives the crash and bring some of that season 1 magic back to Fargo.