There’s a moment in the Fargo finale when the expectedly unexpected happens, a moment that caused worldwide gasps of dismay and in the course of the same millisecond, recognition of its utterly perfectly Fargo-ness. That encapsulation, that twisted feeling; knowing we’re held rapt by an expertly guiding hand is — no matter how (relatively) crushing the narrative experience — inexplicably satisfying. With this third surprisingly emotional season, the gift of Noah Hawley’s storytelling surpasses his source material; the student has become a master at leading us down a road of ruin. And even in his open-ended invitation to interpretation, the story is complete. Excluding the cigarette from days past, there’s nothing left but to heave a final sigh and sit back in ponderous admiration.
Just as his boisterously boastful brother (by another mother), Moe, verbose Varga’s confidence overruns; as he seals the devilish deal with Emmit, gloated ramblings pave the way for a last minute revolt — “I am not food!”. Alas, the last (relevant) Stussy is easily outmaneuvered, left with nothing but the stamp on his head and an emptied out … everything; “Wipe everything, we were never here”. Summoned by the Strategist (aka Nikki), VM — “Not sure what it stands for” — and crew head to the disclosed location just as Agent Dollard gets in a last minute call to Gloria as she’s walking out on that dummy, Dammick.
In a terrifically tense ten or more minutes — “This is a bad idea” — Varga, Meemo and their merry men are led like lambs to the slaughter; Varga’s true cowardice is quickly revealed at a cost of millions, and the lives of everyone else in his group. The ship (of fools) is sunk; the rat escapes. Nikki and Mr. Wrench share a poignant parting over their stash of cash (“All I want is the brother”), and she heads out after Emmit to deliver a message or two. As Gloria and Larue piece the last bits of a puzzle together — “They killed her man” — Nikki’s final hand unfolds. Broken down in the middle of nowhere, Stussy struggles to answer a question, “Are you as low as you can go?”; for a flash, he’s ready to face his fate. Nikki prepares him with promised prose: “Though thou exalt thyself like the eagle …” Interrupted by a would-be savior, the second trapped rat is likewise freed when, in her beautifully badass, definitive, deadly deal, Nikki grabs her gun and shoots at the very same second as the state trooper, leaving a tragic twosome lying on the tarmac … and the audience broken.
At the end of a long day, there’s not much better than a cool popsicle and some one on one time with a loved one; Gloria takes a time out from all the death and madness to remind her kid he’s just a kid (enjoy it). Emmit runs to his for a second chance, and five years on, Mr. Wrench finally comes to collect that unpaid debt on behalf of Nikki (so sweet). Those new starts don’t always work out well, as fresh from Brussels, a rebranded Varga — “Daniel Rand” (Iron Fist?!) — meets up with Agent Burgle (DHS) one last time. Bookended by circular conversations in a dimly lit interrogation room, a man with dueling identities calmly states his version of the truth. Each confident in their predictive outcome — “The future is certain” — our protagonists pay their parting respects against a ticking clock … it is only the audience who is left to fade away uncertainty,
Not So Deep Thoughts:
This is about as perfect a season, and a closeout as I’ve ever seen. Despite being bummed over Nikki’s shocker death, it felt exactly right. It was as Fargo as Fargo can and should be, though at the moment I screeched out (on Twitter),”That’s too Fargo, Fargo!”
Likewise, as much as I might have liked to see her strike up something with Mr. Wrench, I knew in my heart that Nikki hadn’t had time to deal with her feelings about Ray, and she clearly was madly in love. I do think Wrench was crushing on her, poor dude. Love that she got all that money just to give it to him (and to make Varga pay, of course).
Also love that there’s this one survivalist carrying through the seasons, and I love knowing that if when Noah Hawley gets his idea for a fourth season, Mr. Wrench will be back.
Speaking of, the showrunner says he’s required to concentrate on Legion for now, but he remains optimistic there will be an idea for a fourth season.
I adored Nikki rehearsing her play as a bridge hand — “Two hearts, three clubs four spades; five notrump“. I don’t know bridge and therefore, don’t know what the play means, exactly, but if you have time I’m sure it’s to be found in here.
That thing Gloria said to Nathan, in raising my kids, I have often thought that very way. Holding back the world’s truths, or sometimes shielding, is an instinctive thing. I love that Gloria’s mothering felt so honest and real (as was Nathan’s response to her “You’re still a kid” — “I’m 13!”)
SY! Oh, poor Sy. I know he was a dick, but there was something still lovable about him. I credit Michael Stuhlbarg, because I really shouldn’t like Sy.
Emmit was such a curious character; I couldn’t exactly pin him down. At times he seemed genuinely remorseful about things he’d done, but then he’d revert back to blaming others; he never truly took responsibility somewhere deep down inside himself. And he honestly believed he’d “paid” enough to start life over again. I can’t say that any of us, given the opportunity for a new start, would turn it down, but I’d like to think I would somehow be a different person. It never felt like Emmit learned anything from his mistakes, or would change.
What a damned coward Varga turned out to be. That moment he got into the elevator, watched (alarmed, blindsided) Meemo get shut out, and the faces he made as he listened to all the men being killed. COWARD.
Oh Meemo, we hardly knew ye! What a fun character, well done by Andy Wu. Overall, his instincts were always on, and what more could you want in a hit man than for him to double as an attorney. Could he have once been/was he a real lawyer? I’ll never forget that scene when he met with Larue Dollard and set up all his stuff on the table exactly as Larue’s.
Speaking of Larue; dude Rust Cohle-d the fork out of his office. Grand shots of the walls, those were. I had a fleeting desire, and thought for a hot second he and Gloria might hit it off, but she’s just right on her own, isn’t she?
These gorgeous shots with the sky and the clouds took away my breath.
I really wanted Varga to pee his pants at the end. Now, that would have been a brilliant bookend.
Music This Hour:
Plamena Mangova, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 23 in F Minor, Op. 57 Apassionata
Great Lines (so many, I should just post a transcript):
Emmit to Varga: “Excuse me, I’ll shoot. I am not food. There are no hordes coming, no mongrel hordes, it’s you.”
Varga talking money to Emmit: “In the old days, only the strong were rich; it was all a question of how much you could carry. But then the Medicis invented banks, and wealth and pornography. This is what drives innovation.”
Varga to young boy outside building: “Vamanos.”
Boy’s reply: “Swango.”
Emmit to Ruby Goldfarb as she’s having his offices cleared out: “You worked with Varga the whole time?”
Ruby to Emmit: “You need to file for bankruptcy. The money you made as partner was carefully hidden, so not to worry.”
Larue to Gloria’s question whether Stussy and Varga were laundering money: “No, something different, more of a leveraged buyout or bleedout …
Gloria: “That’s a crime?”
Larue: “Not if it’s done correctly.”
Gloria upon hearing about all the dead people: “It was her, Nikki Swango. They killed her man.”
Emmit to Nikki’s question if he’s as low as he can go: “Honestly, if you’d have asked me yesterday … But now, here we are, today, lower still.”
Nikki to Emmit: “Oh, I’ve been watchin’ This Varga fella plucked you like a chicken … I have to finish the job.”
… Type of man who would poison his best friend, kill his brother.”
“Oh, you didn’t mean to then, see you later.”
“He’s a kitten now, in case you were wondering. I looked in his eyes.”
Nikki to the trooper: “It’s kind of a long story, but at the end of it, we all go home.
Thanks for stoppin’ it’s real Christian of you.”
Emmit to the trooper: “She’s the one … I’m harmless.”
Gloria: “Okay, then.”
Varga to Gloria: “I’m a citizen of the air, madam.”
Gloria to Varga: “You don’t remember me, do you?”
Which of us can say with certainty what has actually occurred , and what is simply rumor, misinformation, opinion?
We see what we believe, not the other way around.
… if evidence is collected, if confessions are made, if a verdict of guilty is entered in a court of law, then its happening becomes as the rocks and rivers, and to argue that it didn’t happen is to argue with reality itself.”
Varga in response to hearing Emmit was murdered: “Pitchfork? Peasants?
I said, it’s a dangerous world for men of standing. Human beings have no inherent value other than the money they earn. Cats have value, for example, because they provide pleasure for the humans. But a deadbeat on welfare, well, they have negative value. So, ipso facto Emmit’s death is more tragic than the death of a wasteling.”
Gloria: “That’s … you can’t believe that.”
Varga: “Oh, it’s true, it’s true whether I believe it or not.”
Gloria: “So, while you’re eating mashed potatoes from a box in a dark room, think of me among the amber waves of grain.”
Varga: “No, that’s not what’s going to happen. In five minutes that door is going to open, and a man you can’t argue with will tell me I am free to go, and I’ll stand from this chair, and disappear into the world, so help me, god.”
Gloria: “Rikers and Snickers bars, you’ll see.”
Varga: “Agent Burgle. Gloria. Trust me. The future is certain. And when it comes, you will know without question, your place in the world. Until then, we’ve said all there is to say. Any further debate would be simply wasting our breath. And if there’s one thing I can’t abide, it’s waste.
Gloria to Nathan: “There’s a violence to knowing the world’s not what you thought.”