British statistician and mathematics professor, David J. Hand wrote a book called The Improbability Principle, in which he lays out five laws that make sense of seemingly random coincidences (i.e. lightning strikes the same person twice) that in fact, are very likely to happen. Of these, “The Law of Inevitability” — something must happen — states that given a set of all possible outcomes of a random event, one must occur.
A Grinchy Varga lets out his inner five year old, curiously and carefully slicing open each and every of the gifts under Emmit’s tree, only to return them to their cover and places, Gloria and Winnie make their own gruesome discovery — Ray’s previously opened body, left to bleed out on a dingy carpet. Nikki soothes her broken body with ice and the TV distraction of a female predator who takes out her victims with cyanide — a background detail we’d do well to remember (*coughEpisode7promocough*). Lurking Meemo observes Nikki’s arrest, while Moe’s deduction mirrors Varga’s setup, but Dammick’s boisterous stupidity is no match for Eden Valley’s one true chief (“Eight days, yes sir, including Christmas, which you might be surprised to hear is a pretty busy day for misdemeanor infractions in Eden Valley, mostly surrounding too much egg nog and a Class C motor vehicle”). Gloria forges ahead with her increasingly hampered by friendly fire investigation.
In the hour’s most terrifyingly threatening, worthy of breath-holding scene, a forgotten phone (and gun) necessitate Donnie’s return to the Eden Valley Public Library/Police Station, where he discovers the world’s fastest, bear-head-bearing burglar waiting … offering free psychological diagnoses (“In my country we call such people безумет [crazy]”) and good advice (“Think about what you’re doing … pick it up, your gun … Go”). Ennis’ murder file in paw hand, Yuri leaves for his next rendezvous.
Back at the Bears [sic] Den, Emmit shows up to dinner with Sy and Ruby according to (Varga’s) plan, but after a couple of off-scheme Old Fashioneds, his loose lips threaten to sink all Stussy ships. Sy’s surreptitious smoothing over won’t contain Winnie’s suppositions after Stussy’s suspicious statements when she informs him of his brother’s untimely death (“I’ve been here since six … It’s that girlfriend, the criminal; if anyone had motive …”). Varga’s treasonous seeds sown, Sy fends off Emmit’s soused accusations, calms his partner, then heads home to promptly fall apart in the safety of his wife’s arms, and perhaps be comforted by a nice bowl of butterscotch pudding.
The remaining Stussy returns to the only arms he has left — Varga’s, that is — confesses to a foolish feeling of freedom over V.M.’s not-so-soothing bedtime rhyme about a crooked little house. The audience knows their camaraderie can hardly last, what with undeterrable Gloria hot on the murder trail, despite the moronic men (“The tape, check the tape”) who surround her. Saving Nikki from imminent injection — “Sir, somebody came for that girl. Three murders in, going for a fourth” — the chief promises to visit Swango with her favorite pie (“Coconut. I like Coconut cream pie with chocolate flakes on top.”). But after the inevitability law finds her seated next to Mr. Wrench, on a prison bus about to flip, Nikki’s luck may have just run out.
Not So Deep Thoughts:
We must give mad props to Mary Elizabeth Winstead for her beautiful portrayal of Nikki and especially, her nuanced performance this hour. We can practically see the wheels turning in her head as she reacts — or, as the case may require, doesn’t react — to all the crazy, horrific events she’s endured. The way Nikki restrained herself when that asshole, Moe threw down the pictures of Ray, her heart clearly broken despite the non-expression she showed him, was award-worthy. Nikki is clearly smarter than anyone-not-Gloria, and she knows exactly how to conduct herself without giving away anything she doesn’t want or need to. Somehow, Winstead magically conveys everything, with only a very few carefully chosen words.
Mr. Mothereffin’ Wrench! I knew the second Nikki sat down to the unseen person on the bus it was going to turn out someone we knew, but I definitely didn’t expect Russell Harvard’s Mr. Wrench. Last we saw, in Season 1, he’d escaped custody and was thought to have shot a cop; looks like he got caught again. (Little Wrench was also seen with his childhood buddy, Little Numbers in Season 2 with Hanzee Dent.)
The scene with Yuri and Donnie in the library was ridiculously tense, so brilliantly well done by both actors and just the right placement of a few props. I was shouting at Donnie and Yuri, in between holding my breath, waiting for a terrible something that ,thank the gods, didn’t happen … this time (I was waiting for Meemo to pop out the whole time). This was classic Fargo, as directed by Mike Barker (The Handmaid’s Tale, Outlander, Broadchurch).
Likewise, when Sy spied Varga through the upstairs window of Emmit’s house: It Was So Damned Creepy.
Wonder how much of that drunken spiel Ruby Goldfarb will relate to Winnie, or if she’ll mention that spot of “wine” on Emmit’s shirt.
It’s a very strange mum who soothes a nightmare with There Was a Crooked Man (unknown author), purportedly about Scottish General Sir Alexander Leslie, who helped his country secure religious and political freedom. The rhyme refers to the Scottish and English sharing a border (living together), despite great animosity between the people … hmm, exactly like Emmit and Varga.
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.”
Among Emmit’s drunken ramblings (“Vile maxim of the masters of mankind. You think a rich man wrote that?”) was a reference to Scottish philosopher and “father of modern economics”, Adam Smith, who in Book III of An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations wrote “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”
Wondering who that guy dressed as a cop, trying to inject Nikki was? The unnamed character was played by DJ Qualls (The Man in High Castle, Z Nation, Supernatural).
About next week’s promo: NO. Please don’t kill Sy! Michael Stuhlbarg is killing it as Sy; he’s easily one of my favorite characters.
Music this hour was original soundtrack, with an arrangement of The First Noel.
Emmit to Ruby: Sy tells me you’re in self storage. ["Me and my husband started in mortuaries.”] Just another kind of storage, I suppose.”
Moe about Gloria’s correct assessment of the three (so far) murders: “Only an intellectual would believe something so stupid.”
Donnie and Yuri: “You’re gonna have to leave.”
“I just did. You asked, I left … You think you see me, but your eyes are blind.”
Emmit to Ruby: Money is a blessing and a curse.
Sy to Winnie: Bruce Lipshitz at Green Green and Gruen.
Sy to Emmit: “In the face of all logic, that somehow I decided, me, the partner in a multi-million dollar corporation, that I decided to what, turn on you? Join forces with your leptard brother and his syphilitic floozy so I could turn millions into thousands? What’s the math there?
Gloria to Moe and the St. Cloud chief: “I’m not talking about certainty, I’m talking about doubt. A spree. Even if it is a coincidence, shouldn’t we talk to her? Exhaust all possibilities?”
Gloria to Nikki, knowing just how to connect to her: “You like pie? I’m gonna visit you after the holiday, I’ll bring you some pie. Talk about Ray, who he was.”