Where Is the Vodka? Fargo, “The Principle of Restricted Choice”

In the game of Bridge, “The Principle of Restricted Choice” avers that when a particular card is played, it lessens the probability that the person who held it also holds an equivalent card. This week’s Fargame featured a delightful tit for tattery that proved David Thewlis’ wry wordsmith, Vargas (“Call me V.M.”) is about as many moves ahead of Emmit as a parent in a v toddler round of chess, and Carrie Coon’s sublime Gloria (next in the line of the franchise’s excellent cops) is quickly on the road to winning … er, solving Ennis Stussy’s murder.

With a deep sigh of resignation, Gloria sorted through her dead stepfather’s collection of books; The Planet Wyh, Space Elephants Never Forget, Toronto Cain Psychic Ranger, Organ Fish of Kleus-9, The Plague Monkeys … and the L.A. Times clipping that clues her in to his award-winning alter ego:  Thaddeus Mobley. Though this part of the investigation is a road to nowhere murder-wise, her attention to detail provides fun fan fodder — I’m completely taken with discovering why Ennis/Thaddeus has hidden his intriguing past life.

The new chief, Moe Dammick (Shea Wigham) is a misogynistic dick from the future who’s eager to assert his domination; Gloria can’t be bothered with paying him the attention he craves, and we already know that by the end of this story, his tiny tail’ll be tucked between those macho legs, Burgle firmly back on top … of the department, that is. Meanwhile, Emmit and Sy try to explain their Varga predicament to technically challenged attorney, Irv Blumkin (Hardee T. Lineham) — “I’m just assessing the level of stupidity” — who maybe should have taken a look in the mirror before he hit “download”. In the hour’s most chilling (try not to laughscream) scene, poor Irv pays the ultimate price for a single click, when Yuri and this season’s Hanzee Dent, Meemo (Andy Yu) casually flip him over the parking lot wall.

After Sy presciently (“He doesn’t want the stamp, pal, he wants your life.”) reassures Emmit he wasn’t too hard on Ray, the pair are quickly distracted by Varga’s multiple moves at a complete company takeover, including a big rig full of — “You think its …” “Slave girls?”  — illegally parked on one of the Stussy lots. Varga’s superior hand is fully in view, but it takes a few more rounds before the boys comprehend just how fucked they really are.

Running around like the proverbial headless chicken, Ray’s similar ineptitude is all the more clear as he fumbles with vermin-chewed cords, and his own feelings about the air-conditioner incident. No worries, though; Nikki’s still firmly in charge — though she’s underestimated her honeybear’s emotional side — and has another plan before they skip town:  Why not just steal back Ray’s stamp themselves? With Emmit easily duped (Sy’s right-handery is clearly a necessity) and distracted by Ray’s mismatched shoes, Nikki hunts inside the Stussy mansion, but after her own feelings get the best of her, she again takes bloody (hello, used tampon) revenge … Gotta give Hawley credit here, I’ve never seen that (“Feminine hygiene deployed as a weapon.”) on TV before.

In its final, devastating to Emmit scene, the wealthier (at least on paper) Stussy brother watches helplessly alongside his staff as Varga and Co. move part and parcel into his office building, V.M.’s elocutionary prominence on full display. “You might as well just lie back, as they say, and enjoy yourselves.” And in watching this tale as nuanced as the game rules its episodes are named for, so we shall — immensely, I might add.

Not So Deep Thoughts:

Here are the Thaddeus Mobley books recovered, and the newspaper clippings Ennis saved in his secret, floorboard box. I could watch Carrie Coon contemplating them all day.

There actually is a real life Vivian Lord (jazz singer), but for the purposes of this series, she seems to be a fictional singer/actress, perhaps Ennis’/Mobley’s crush.

David Thewlis is absolutely fantastic as the season’s big bad; I’m very curious if he’ll ever be violent himself, or if Yuri and Meemo handle every situation. Speaking of Varga …

Can anyone who speaks French catch what V.M. said toward the end of the hour?

Emmit and Sy spoke about Stan Grossman, a character from the Coen’s Fargo film.

Varga’s henchman, Yuri Gurka is who that man in the premiere opener claimed to be (not, as the German officer said, Jakob Ungerleider.

Music this hour:

DakhaBrakha, Sho Z-Pod Duba
Bing Crosby,  The Christmas Song
Ural Cossacks Choir, Kalinka
Gogol Bordello, American Wedding (check out these lyrics)

Michael Uppendahl, who also worked on several Legion episodes, directed episode 2, written by Noah Hawley.

Great lines:

Emmit to Irv:  “Unless you got the brains of a monkey, you should be able to friend this cocksucker on Facebook and reel him in.”

Varga in his greeting rant to the frustratingly dim parking lot attendant:  “Surmise. Because we arrived together we are together, Surmise.”

Gloria responding to Donny asking whether she’d be going to Ennis’ autopsy:  “They glued his nose and mouth shut, are we thinking cause of death is somehow a cliffhanger?”

Gloria to Donny when she can’t get another automatic door to open:  “I’m here, right? You see me?” (Donny:  “Is that a trick question?”)

Gloria to Moe:  “Chief, as much as I want to hear about this future you’re from …”

Store clerk to Gloria when she asks why the phone book is chained to to the counter:  “Remember in the 70s? People used to steal ’em.”

Nikki to Ray:  “What possible solve is there besides unfathomable pinheadery?”
Nikki to Ray:  Gotta find some sort of psychic Draino.”
Nikki to Ray:  “This is a blood [*snort*] feud.”
Nikki to Ray:  “You didn’t see it, Ray. He moved the stamp … So he hung up — if you saw what he hung up — a donkey is what. You see the symbolism? It’s like I said, he’s got the physical and the mental game.”

Varga to Emmit:  “Putin’s done some great things in Russia, you just have to know which palms to grease.”

Varga to Emmit:  “You’re trapped. Don’t look so sad.”

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over seven years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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  • Nadiney

    So, I’m thinking Sy is hella suspicious. He may just be fiercely loyal but I also think he’s sold he stamp or is embezzling money or something. SOMETHING.