‘Fargo’ Season Three, Episode Two: The Principle of Restricted Choice

Wow, it sure looks like the gloves are off in regard to the Stussy sibling rivalry in this episode of “Fargo.” In fact, it looks like all sorts of aspects are escalating for almost everyone involved. There is quite a bit to chew on with this episode, so let’s dig right into it.

First, as Gloria is investigating the murder of her stepfather Ennis (his nose and mouth were glued shut, thus causing him to suffocate. Pretty cruel there, Maurice), she is starting to believe that prior to his moving to Minnesota, he was an Golden Planet award winning science fiction writer named Thaddeus Mobley. How? Well, that mysterious hidden box he had had all sorts of pulp sci-fi in it by Mobley, as well as a press clipping with a photo that sort of resembles him. Who exactly was Ennis prior to his cranky life in Minnesota? Was he “Fargo’s” answer to Kilgore Trout (showrunner Noah Hawley is producing an adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Cat’s Cradle,” so I couldn’t be surprised if there was a Vonnegut nod)? I am sure this will be answered at some point.

But that is not all of Gloria’s problems. Meeker County is absorbing the Eden Valley Police Department and with that, there is a new chief in town. And let’s just say, Sheriff Moe Dammik (another “Boardwalk Empire” alumnus, Shea Whigham) is not amused by Gloria’s disdain for technology. Also, the journalist in me enjoyed the fact Gloria has kept all the computers in their boxes, preferring to actually speak to people to get information rather than rely on email.

Now, Emmit and Sy go to their attorney Irv Blumkin to see what they can do, and what he can find out about, regarding VM Vargas. I just got to say, the fact their ancient attorney saw red flags in the brief description of their dealings with Vargas shows just how idiotic they were to go to an alternative source for a loan than, say, a bank.

FARGO — “The Law of Vacant Places” – Year 3, Episode 1 (Airs April 19, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle. CR: Chris Large/FX

Irv’s struggles with figuring out how to do a Google search is the least of his worries because it appears that searching “V.M. Vargas” on a search engine leads to your computer being hacked. Even worse, it leads to Irv being shoved off a parking lot garage by some of Vargas’ henchmen.

As this is happening, Vargas is busy expanding into Emmit’s business, parking a rig in a little known parking lot of his. This gets Sy nervous when he catches wind of it.

Next we see Emmit is reading The St. Cloud Times Herald in his office (the refer on the front page says “Baby penguins born at St. Cloud Zoo.” There is no zoo in St. Cloud) with the main story being the grizzly murder of Ennis Stussy. Emmit is upset by the news, and claims this is not the Minnesota he grew up in (no, the Minnesota you grew up in had the Massacre at the Waffle Hut in Luverne, Minn. that lead to the Massacre of Sioux Falls in our neighboring state). Sy tells him that Vargas has a big rig parked in a lot that they bought, more in the idea of later building it into a condo.

A little aside here. It seems Emmit and Sy do business dealings with Stan Grossman, who was  Wade Gustafson’s right hand man in the film “Fargo.” Nice link there with the show and film.

What does Vargas have in that rig? It could be anything. Sy thinks it may be “slave girls,” which just came out of left field. Emmit thinks it could be drugs. But they really do not want to know.

Back in Eden Valley, Gloria gets a lead when she interviews the gas station attendant that Maurice menaced. The guy was already having a long night the night Ennis was murdered, what with the Gopher game and a jittery fella who bought frozen juice concentrate for what he assumed was meth production, when Maurice just tore a page out of his public phone book. Gloria sees the page torn was the one that had Ennis’ information on it. Connections are being placed.

Meanwhile, Ray’s chi is all out of whack. At least, that’s what Nikki tells him. Because some vermin ate through the cords in his office, he uses his boss’ office to see what is going on with Maurice’s death. It is labeled as “accidental.” Which, should be a win for him, but because Ray has some moral fiber in his being, he feels paranoid and bad about how poor Maurice was cut down in his prime by a 200 pound AC unit falling on his noggin.

FARGO — Year 3 — Pictured (l-r): Goran Bogdan as Yuri Gurka, David Thewlis as V.M. Vargas, Andy Yu as Meemo. CR: Chris Large/FX

Nikki is upset because Ray’s chi is all clogged up, which might cost them the championship Bridge tournament. She deduces that the bad chi is from his battle with his brother Emmit, and says to clear it he either has to make amends with his twin or steal the priceless tamp. Why not double down on bad decisions at this point, Ray?

So Ray does the always terrible pop-in (at this point in my life, if you do not call ahead and let me know you are coming over and choose the pop-in, I will not answer my door. I find the pop-in pretty rude) at his brother’s place. He is there to “make amends” as Nikki sneaks into the house to grab the stamp. But alas, instead of where the stamp once was placed on the wall is now taken up by a painting of a donkey. She digs deeper and finds some nefarious paperwork about deposits, and leaves a little surprise for the affluent Stussy brother.

Ray and Emmit finally have an authentic heart-to-heart, putting the past behind them, which makes both feel great. This feeling is shortly lived, for when Emmit goes back into his house, he finds his office was broken into. He sees the donkey painting with a message smeared in blood saying “Who’s the ass now?” Then he sees the source of the blood in his desk — Nikki’s used tampon.


Well, as Ray and Nikki are parked and discussing what happened, Ray is euphoric about finally burying the hatchet with his estranged brother. Nikki didn’t get the stamp? No problem. Except she left the message for Emmit. She also thinks Emmit put the donkey painting up as an elaborate plan to mock Ray (she’s really jumping to a conclusion there).

Emmit and Sy are pissed to say the least. This has gone too far, and the line has been crossed, gosh darn it. Sy will take care of Ray for Emmit.

How does he do that? Well, he finds Ray eating breakfast at a diner and has a little chat. He drops a $20 bill and tells Ray that is the last dime he will get from the Parking Lot King of Minnesota! He then takes his obnoxiously yellow painted Hummer and smashes it into Ray’s sweet, sweet Corvette.

I’m guessing this will not be the end of the Stussy Brothers rivalry.

As this is all going on, Vargas shows up at Emmit’s office, where he is ready to set up some space for his employees. Vargas is muscling in on Emmit, threatening and putting fear into him. Emmit and Ray are trapped with this nefarious European with jacked up teeth. Their business and cash flow are hard to verify, making money laundering a little more easy for this criminal element.


  • Will the Stan Grossman reference bring more elements from the film? Wade Gustafson, like Emmit Stussy, dealt in real estate. Maybe it was just a nod to the film, but I enjoyed it.
  • The guy at the funeral home, when Gloria asks if he new Ennis: “I did. Horrible man.”
  • I like that once again, Gloria has trouble with a motion sensor opening the door. Her troubles with technology are an aspect I really enjoy.
  • “Everytime I make a call, it’s like I’m in a silent film,” Gloria on cellphones.
  • I liked how it almost looked black and white outside of Gloria’s house.
  • “Friend this c***sucker on Facebook and reel him in.” Why does Emmit think a shady character like Vargas would be on social media?
  • Irv struggling with a Google search was one of the highlights of the entire series.
  • Lesson: Do not type “V.M. Vargas” in a Google search.
  • As someone who designs newspapers, the main headline on the St. Cloud Herald “Home Invasion!” bothered me. Never use exclamation points in headlines!
  • “You see this bulls*** in the paper?” Working in the industry, I hear this way too often from people.
  • Why did Sy jump straight to “slave girls” as to what Vargas might have in the truck?
  • “Who uses Telexes anymore?” “So that’s why no one writes me back.”
  • “Hey hun, I didn’t hire him. I was blackmailing him.”
  • Ray, because of his job, wears different brand shoes on each foot.
  • Why wasn’t the stamp on the wall? Cleaning lady broke the frame and it was getting fixed.
  • The ruse of Vargas’ henchmen moving in is that they are expanding their IT department. I always knew there was something nefarious with IT people.

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