Tonight’s episode brought us back from the surrealism of last week and grounded us into the cold, cold reality of this world of “Fargo.”
Also, tonight’s episode is titled “aporia,” which is a literary device that “is a logical paradox in which the speaker sows seeds of doubts in a subject. This rhetorical strategy can make the audience feel sympathetic about the speaker regarding the dilemma he is in.” That, I, think sums up this episode pretty well. Hell, it sums up this season thus far.
Well, as we know, we are now in March of 2011 and this episode kicks off with Varga’s plan to cast doubt on whatever Emmitt might be telling Gloria by recreating the murders of Ennis Stussy and Ray Stussy with two new victims.
The first is a rather gruesome murder of poor Marvin Stussy, stabbed by Meemo with a shard of glass. Later on, we get the murder of George Stussy via mouth and nose glued shut.
But we have Emmit in Gloria’s custody (he went to her instead of St. Cloud PD because she gave him a card, which is painfully Midwestern of him to do).
Now, Emmitt knows how nefarious Varga is. He tells Gloria to not allow any lawyer or representative come to him, knowing they would be an agent of Varga that will only make things worse.
Ray tells Gloria that he tricked Ray all those years ago out of the stamp (after watching his father collapse and die as a child), playing on Ray’s chubby 15-year-old insecurities with girls. This action began the rivalry that ended with Emmitt accidentally killing Ray, but Emmitt corrects himself says it was murder.
“Thirty-years I’ve been killing him. That was just when he fell,” Ray tells Gloria, which actually makes Ray come off as a sympathetic character here, ala “aporia.”
Now, in one of my earlier recaps this season, I jokingly used the old George Costanza line from “Seinfeld” in which Jerry’s friend tells him “It’s not a lie, if you believe it.” Ray actually comes pretty close to saying this to Gloria verbatim.
Varga has other plans, though. Like I mentioned earlier, he is setting off two other murders so as to cast doubt on whatever Emmitt is telling the police. He is getting the truck out of the lot he has been parked in since the start of this season as he and his gang begin what they call “Stage 4” and sends Meemo off in the semi.
Well, later on at a stoplight, Meemo is waiting for the light to change, staring off into the neon sign of a bar when his window is smashed by Nikki (REDACTED) Swango! She then tosses a grenade into his lap as Mr. Wrench shoots at the other truck with a vicious looking gun (I am not a gun expert).
Well, Meemo pops out of the truck, because he probably doesn’t want to be ripped apart from the grenade exploding and whatnot. We then see Nikki pop into the truck, we find out the grenade was a toy and she and Wrench drive off.
Also, I want to point out that I think Wrench’s theme song from season one is now altered somewhat, because he is now with Nikki. A nice little touch there I must say.
Well, they take the truck to a local dump, where the two break their way into Varga’s lab of computers. And they find Varga’s personal computer in a briefcase, a computer we find that is very important to the man and his jacked-up teeth.
After this, Meemo slinks into Varga’s office at Stussy Lots, not looking well. Varga, a man who prides himself on information, is now losing his damn mind because of these new elements he is not sure of and didn’t take into account for his grand plan.
Another aside, I love how much Varga is seething with uncomfortable rage in this episode, right down to his angrily devouring that carton of Rocky Road ice cream on the toilet with that baffled/angry look on his face.
Well, Varga gets a call from Nikki. She knows his bank accounts, has gotten into his computer (does she and Wrench have assistance here? A new Fargo crime syndicate? Ray Wise’s divine intervention character?) and now is putting it up for ransom on the rationale that while she may not know how to get into his accounts, law enforcement may be interested in these accounts anyway.
Nikki wants $2 million in exchange. And they set up a meet.
Well, Winnie is at the other Stussy murder scene, the one that looks exactly like how Ennis was murdered. And in comes the ever intuitive Chief Dammik, who sees this murder and the other as connected (well, I can excuse him for that, what the murders being identical). And hey, a print is found!
Chief Dammik: The only time he “solves” a case is when all the evidence just plops right down on his (REDACTED) lap. Good job, chief!
Well, Gloria is talking to the widow Goldfarb about Emmitt’s alibi the night Ray was killed. She senses she is covering for him, but then Dammik comes in like a hero, having caught his man: A serial killer whose MO is an irrational hatred of people with the last name “Stussy.”
Gloria tells him that Ray just confessed, but she has a lot going against her: They have a suspect who has confessed and has physical evidence from the two earlier murders on his person.
I love how the suspect they caught looks vaguely like Meemo and the car he drives, going back to the concept of identity and things looking one way, but are the other.
Now, we have (as I mentioned earlier) Varga preparing for his meeting with Nikki by shoveling ice cream down his gullet while sitting on the toilet looking both angry and confused. He is not used to not knowing everything, so this is probably his own personal hell.
He meets Nikki at a symbolic spot for her: Where the Wildcat Regional took place earlier this season with her and Ray. Here Nikki makes a few “Death of a Salesman” jokes at Varga’s expense (I loved this scene), and we see Varga offering her some tea, much in the same way he had poor Sy poisoned. But Nikki is no fool, and Nikki has the upperhand, which must be driving Varga batty.
Varga keeps counter-offering with a job for Nikki (he ups the zeros to her paycheck every time she counters him). She is perhaps the most formidable opponent he has had in a long while. She even points out that if she makes the wrong move, Varga probably has a goon of his to take her out. We then see she is correct, and Meemo has a sniper rifle on her during the meet.
She says Varga won’t kill her there because everyone would see him. This, he challenges her, would not be the case. Like he brought up to Emmitt earlier this season, he blends right in and Nikki sees that. That is one of his advantages here.
But he doesn’t have the upperhand. Because Wrench pulls a gun on Memmo, taking out Varga’s advantage in this really screwed up game of chess (or bridge, if you will). What I like is Varga tells her he hates games, but that’s not true. He relishes in them, as long as he is winning. But like a spoiled child losing his advantage, he becomes surly when he knows he is losing. He looks out the window and sees Meemo is not longer there.
Nikki is now in control. And Varga is getting angry, for the first time we see him no longer the smartest person in the room. He lost this round and he knows it.
And he hates it.
And Nikki threatens to punish him by giving one of the drives to the police. It isn’t about the money to Nikki, she wants to see Varga suffer. And that is so (REDACTED) badass! She tells him she wants the money in 24 hours and walks off with Wrench.
Next we see Emmitt is walked to a room where he has another talk with Gloria. She knows now that the fella who sold women’s shoes at his office earlier this season is behind all of this. She lays down that he is free to go, that another has confessed. Emmitt is frightened beyond everything now, knowing full well that he will be punished by Varga for this transgression.
And he is picked up at the Meeker County Sheriff’s Station by Meemo and Varga, making it all the worst.
In the car, Varga tells Emmitt “The problem is not that there is evil in the world. The problem is there’s good. Because otherwise, who would care?” That is the philosophy of a sociopath right there.
Later, Gloria and Winnie meet at a watering hole to drink the whole bad day away. Gloria is depressed. The bad guys have won. But, Winnie reminds here, Jesus won in the end. This isn’t the end yet.
Then Gloria tells Winnie about her stepfather’s book, “The Planet Wyh” and how she related to the robot who said “I can help,” and never seems able to do so. She reveals how her marriage ended. Gloria, we find out, feels like she is unreal — that she doesn’t exist. She talks about the electronics not recognizing her, her phone never works, all the things that troubled me as a viewer troubled her as a character. She, like us, was puzzled as to why this sort of thing was happening.
And what comes next I just loved. Winnie just lightly pushes Gloria, showing she does exist. She is there. And she gives Gloria a hug. And we find this simple gesture is what Gloria needed: Human contact to tell her she is real and that she does matter to others. She can help.
And following this, while in the bathroom, the faucet and soap dispenser finally recognize our hero.
But that’s not the end. No, we find the IRS agent from earlier this season walk into his office to find a package. Inside the package we see expense reports from Stussy Lots Ltd. that seem to grab the guy’s interest.
Perhaps this is Nikki’s first round of punishment at Varga for not following the rules.
- No Minnesotan is crazy enough to run their sprinklers in March.
- “I killed him.” “You’re dad?” “Ray.”
- “You think there’s a special level of Hell for those who kill their loved ones on Christmas Eve?”
- Kudos to Nikki and Mr. Wrench for tricking Meemo with a plastic grenade.
- Nikki applies green nail polish to her toes when she is calling Varga. Much like Bunny Lebowski in “The Big Lebowski.” All I could think of was Walter saying “You want a toe? I can get you a toe!”
- Chief Dammik is not a good police officer.
- “Loved you in ‘Death of a Salesman,” Nikki tells Varga.
- “That’s OK, I already got a job. Blackmailing you.”
- “Well now, Willy Loman, I’ve got to punish you for not doing what you’re told.”
- “Because I want to hurt you, not be your pet.”
- “You think the world is something. Turns out to be something else.”
- I love how Nikki has shaken Varga. I am also glad I didn’t have to write in my notes this time “NIKKI NEEDS A DOCTOR!”