‘Fargo’ Season Three, Episode Five: The House of Special Purpose

Well, things are getting much more dark as Ray and Nikki seem to have bitten off more than they could chew. And the consequences of that hubris is grave.

The episode starts off with a mysterious package on the doorstep of Emmitt’s home, with a note demanding $100,000 and a threat to show the contents to Emmitt’s wife if the ransom is not paid.

This trick fails since Stella finds the package first, and sees a sex tape of what she thinks is Emmitt screwing someone — but it is actually Ray and Nikki barely disguised.

We then cut to prior to this, with Nikki and Ray about to make the sex tape to extort Emmitt with. Ray is back in the goofy wig as Nikki is trying to figure out if they should bang on the bed or couch. In this moment of awkwardness, Ray dials it up to 11 by proposing to his jailbird love. It is awkwardly sweet, I must admit.

But the sex tape fiasco is a bust, since the leverage of showing it to the wife has disappeared now, because let’s face it: Ray and Nikki are clever, but big game extortion is out of their league.

And Emmitt is pissed. His wife has left him with, as well as taking the kids. Between his good-for-nothing brother and Varga weaseling his way into his business, Emmitt’s world is crumbling before his eyes.

Sy is also having a terrible day, as he walks into the office to see Varga is now occupying his desk. Varga, we find out in this episode, it pretty much an anti-Semite and he really does not like or trust Sy.

After a lively conversation where Varga explains how fat he thinks Sy’s wife is, he pulls a power play I can only imagine has happened in some white collar prison: Intimidate someone by shoving your dork into their coffee mug.

And then make them drink from it.

At first I thought it was urine, but I am not so sure. I heard a faucet go off in the background before he is forced to drink.  It was pretty disgusting either way. Sy now has a new office, since Varga is now a partner in Stussy Lots, Ltd. Something that is news to Sy.

Sy, rightfully, wants some answers. Things are getting way out of control.

FARGO — “The House of Special Purpose” – Year 3, Episode 5 (Airs May 17, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Michael Stuhlbarg as Sy Feltz. CR: FX

But Sy has a meeting that might, might get them out of this mess. A meeting with the widow Goldfarb (played by Mary McDonnell), who seems to be the Storage Queen of Minnesota. She wants to buy Stussy Lots. She doesn’t want to partner or anything like that. She wants the whole thing. She even tells Sy one doesn’t want a Goldfarb as competition. “You don’t want a Goldfarb for an enemy,” she says.

Good grief, threats are coming in every direction for this poor guy. This episode could have been called “Just How Much (REDACTED) Can Sy Take In This Life?”

But Sy hears from Emmitt, who wants to talk with him. Things are unraveling at breakneck speed here.

But we see that wherever Sy goes, Yuri Gurka is following him. Like in “1984,” there is no privacy from our villains.

At Emmitt’s house, Sy’s day gets worse as Emmitt blames him for not doing enough about Ray. He was supposed to take care of his brother. Also, Sy is the one who made the connection to Ehrmantraut, who was the in-between for them and Varga.

Basically, Sy has to fix everything. The whole world is on his shoulders now. But when it comes to Ray, Sy wants to know if the “shackles are off” now.

They are, Ray lets him know.

Gloria is having issues of her own with the new chief, who is not happy she and Winnie are following the leads with the Stussy brothers, Maurice and the death of Ennis. As we see later on, he is especially peeved when they start bringing witnesses in.

Ray and Nikki are now wedding clothes shopping, where Ray isn’t sure blackmailing his brother for $100 grand is a great idea. Nikki, always a source of bad ideas, keeps reminding Ray he was screwed out of a fortune by his greedy brother. Ray once again falls for this way of thinking. As Ray is trying on tuxedos, Nikki gets a call from Sy, who mocks her for no longer having leverage because Stella got the tape before Emmitt. Nikki now ups the price to $200 grand to offer another side of the story.

Nikki is doubling down on a terrible idea. Hubris has gotten the better of her at this point. She and Sy arrange to meet up later for the payoff.

For an episode that has almost no comic relief, Ray on the bus is our one moment to collect ourselves from the overwhelming bleakness of this episode.

Ray is on the bus (his Corvette probably still has blocks on them) gets a call from a super ticked off Emmitt. After a heated exchange, Emmitt says “REDACTED) you!” Which sets Ray on an expletive-ridden rant in front of everyone on his bus. He tries to cover it up by saying he was talking to his mother.

Once off the bus, Ray sees Gloria and Winnie, who want to talk to him about Maurice.

FARGO — “The House of Special Purpose” – Year 3, Episode 5 (Airs May 17, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured (l-r): Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle, Olivia Sandoval as Winnie Lopez, Ewan McGregor as Ray Stussy. CR: Chris Large/FX

As he is being questioned, Ray is obviously not comfortable. He is saved when Chief Dammik shows up and it not happy that they are continuing the investigation. He chalks it up to random coincidences. Gloria, amazingly, sets him straight with her (correct) theory of what happened.

Emmitt’s day is getting worse as Varga is waiting for him in the parking lot of his office. Varga is not happy about Sy, even planting ideas that Sy and Ray are colluding to take down Emmitt. It is all pure fantasy, but Varga sees Sy as an issue for him. He wants Sy out of the picture.

Things only get worse when Emmitt finds someone from the IRS in his office, wondering about a $10,000 deposit (Ray’s theft the previous episode). Because it exceed $9,999.99, the IRS has to look into the books and make sure everything is on the up-and-up. This, obviously with everything going on, is the last thing Emmitt needs in his life.

The agent will be setting up in an office and says the routine check of the books won’t take too long. A look of the books would see some very illegal shenanigans going on with Stussy Lots, Ltd.

Varga is not as worried. He suggest they just show the IRS the fake books. This is not Varga’s first rodeo it appears.

Nikki and Sy meet up in a remote looking area, which Sy wants to go even more remote. The whole time, I was thinking “what is Sy going to do to her? And because I think Nikki is tougher, how bad will Sy get his ass kicked?”

Well, Sy counter-offers $40,000 to get Nikki and Ray out of his hair. Nikki, obviously, is not interested in this offer.

Enter Sy’s trails: Yuri Gurka and Meemo. Knowing that Varga listens to all their conversations and all, they probably know Nikki is trying to blackmail the company.

Sy might want to avoid confrontation, but these two have no problems with it.

As Nikki says she’s out of there, these two goons grab her, take her off camera, and we hear the gruesome beatdown of her. We don’t need to see it, because the sounds alone are horrifying as Sy looks on with tears in his eyes. He may think of himself as a tough guy fixer, but he isn’t when it comes to real criminals. Yuri and Meemo are brutal killers.

Thank goodness, though, that Nikki didn’t die. She is beaten, to the point that she can’t walk, but is able to pull herself into her truck. With as grim an episode this was, I am glad Nikki survived.

Ray comes home, to find his fiancee in the bathtube, passed out. He sees the really bad looking bruises on her.

Then we cut to an ominous outline of a wolf before the credits roll.


  • Nikki wants Ray to keep the shirt on in the tape to “obscure the differences.”
  • “You’ve made me the happiest woman ever. Now, let’s make a sex tape.”
  • Varga just straight up tells Sy he has a fat wife. Pretty damn rude.
  • Also, Varga is really an anti-Semite in this episode.
  • Sy describes his meeting with Varga to Emmitt with “fornication with our cookwear.” I love that line.
  • Ray accidentaly admits Sy was the driver that smashed his car and the waitress’ car.
  • Ray was really impressed with the wedding invitation that said “no shoes.”
  • Yuri describes Nikki’s impending beatdown as “what comes after the cup.”
  • This was perhaps one of the darkest episodes of “Fargo” I have seen.

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