Fargo: Who Rules the Land of Denial?
June 9, 2017 5:59 AM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

Nikki struggles to survive; Emmit gets spooked; Sy joins Varga for tea.
posted by LizBoBiz (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I liked the episode, but it also feels like they are rushing the wrap-up. With only one episode to go either everything is going to bundle up nicely, or it's just going to end with a "well, there you go" and a fade to black.

I agree with the AV Club review - the first half was amazing, and I loved the Bowling Alley in the middle of nowhere. I'm glad Nikki and Wrench are off together, maybe playing Bridge, maybe doing crimes.

The second half is where it felt rushed - Emmit falls apart, hands off all the answers to the police; Varga cashes out and moves on to his next victim.

Now that I think about it, maybe it's like the animated story from episode 3 - we'll trundle along like the robot, observing things and events, and in the end we'll just be turned off with no real wrap up or conclusion.
posted by jazon at 10:07 AM on June 9 [1 favorite]


Yeah, as much as I like the crazy events that happened in the first half of this episode, the second half just reminded me of what I don't like about this season. That first half was definitely one of the highlights, though.

Also, and this is off-topic, but what's going on with the AV Club reviews of this season? Last week, no mention of Wrench; this week, not understanding the irony of the VW bug...
posted by destructive cactus at 10:32 AM on June 9


The AV Club review was bizarre. That was one of the most riveting episodes of any television show that I've ever seen.
posted by raysmj at 11:49 AM on June 9 [2 favorites]


Deadspin: Fargo Remains The Best, Most Inexplicable Show On TV. The author errs badly right off the bat by saying that the three seasons share no characters, however. I mean, lordy, just look at this episode. I'm thinking that TV writers might be a bit overloaded these days, what with all the better TV shows and a demand for recaps (and here's Sepinwall on this ep, btw) and such.

Meanwhile, a Variety podcast on "Fargo" featuring Hawley, MEW, and executive producer Warren Littlefield.

I'd love to see more insight into all the Jewish folklore/myth/legend and Ukrainian pogrom references, and the "why" of them, if there is any. Sepinwall has surely been overloaded with BCS and the end of his beloved "Leftovers," but he still was somehow able to pick up that the Ray Wise character (seen earlier on a plane and then at a bar in Los Angeles in Ep. 3) has one of the names of the Wandering Jew legend.
posted by raysmj at 12:07 PM on June 9


Deadspin, wait:

The three seasons of Fargo do not share any of the same characters, timelines, or even locales.

Lou Solverson was in seasons one and two!
posted by maxsparber at 1:06 PM on June 9 [4 favorites]


I really didn't like this episode. It's the first one I've not loved.

The chase through the woods stuff was pretty good, but I didn't think it was great. And then the bowling alley thing threw me, but I decided to just go with it.

What really bothers me is the three-month jump in time and all that's unexplained that happened during that time. I had thought that the last exchange she had with her boss meant that she was going to be fired (because she didn't take a vacation until the handover, like he insisted) and somehow the two of them are still out there investigating, The stuff with Emmett and Varga felt like it wasn't real and neither did the idea that presumably Nikki managed the photos/stamp replacement at the office nor the mustache thing at the house. At that point I thought that whole episode was going to be some kind of unreal thing ("land of denial") that would reset at the end of the episode, but no.

For me, this disrupts the pacing, the way the show had just built to a time when everything was going to happen at once.

I dunno. I was very unhappy with this episode. I'm surprised that I'm in the minority.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 7:20 PM on June 9


not understanding the irony of the VW bug...

Can someone tell me what the significance of the VW bug is?

I'm not a TV reviewer, so I guess it's OK if I don't understand...
posted by mmoncur at 12:11 AM on June 10


Maybe the VW bug is a blood simple reference.

Chiming in to say that I'm also a bit disappointed in this season -- while also acknowledging that this is my favorite show on television. It's audacious, and artistic, and thrilling, and emotional. And the music supervisor should win all of the awards for that sort of a thing. This is a tremendous team of talented people making something truly unique. And yet, and yet. You don't ever really want to think about anything too much, or else it all falls apart. The entire Varga subplot and everything that his team does is stupid and fumbling and obvious and not at all logically what they would do. Maybe they are physical embodiments of Emmit's conscience -- which, no, Hawley is not that basic.

I think this season might be suffering from a similar problem to True Detective Season 2. Too many interesting ideas, too little time to put it all together in a way that makes sense.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:31 AM on June 10


Er, maybe the VW is ironic because its the car of the third reich, and yet the guy delivering salvation is spouting Jewish folktales?

I choose to believe it's a call back to M Emmet Walsh :)
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:45 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


Ivan Fyodorovich: The stuff with Emmett and Varga felt like it wasn't real and neither did the idea that presumably Nikki managed the photos/stamp replacement at the office nor the mustache thing at the house.

I thought that was Varga gaslighting him? Make him seem crazy while they pull all the borrowed money out of the company, then no one bats an eye when Emmet dies (made to look like a suicide) or gets committed to a mental hospital? The henchman seemed surprised about the moustache, but I assumed they were acting. Did I misread that whole scene?
posted by bluecore at 8:43 AM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I can't be the only one who is just plain bored by Varga at this point, he starts to speak and I just tune it out as the details of what he says never seem to have particular consequence. sure he's had an effect on Emmit, but it's not like the writers have made him prophetic, or made callbacks to any of his lengthy soliloquies, his words are just there for tone, and they're dull.

I loved the bowling alley scene, am also confused by the jump forward, and wonder how Burgle can still be a deputy after the discovery of a headless corpse in the woods that just happens to be the guy who attacked her outside of Nikki's jail cell....surely this would have been vindication for her suspicions that the events are connected to broader criminal activity and not just mashed potatoes.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:34 AM on June 10 [1 favorite]


Interesting to see the variety of reactions to this season and this show, though of course such variety is common I find it a bit more fascinating in regard to Fargo.

I did watch Season 1 but I can't say I cared for it much. I found it boring, cold (which I have to say was one of the larger objectives of that season, I simply couldn't take that level of coldness) and too Force Awakens like in it's repeat of elements of the Fargo film (I found Force Awakens an utter bore as well).

As a result, I didn't even bother with Season 2 until I heard from some friends that I was making a mistake. So I started to watch it and it now sets second on my list of all time great television series behind The Wire. I thought it was a masterpiece.

With Season 3, for the first 2 episodes, I found myself in a Season 1 reaction. Well done, well acted, somewhat interesting but not captivating. Since episode 3 I've absolutely loved it and I loved this episode as well, despite the numerous call backs that I found so middling in Season 1.

I've long regarded Breaking Bad, Deustchland 83, and the Fargo television series as sort of the equivalent of great graphic novels for television, with varying degrees of realism and fantastic and this season is no different. I feel it's difficult to create something like this successfully so I'm not at all surprised by the lack of consensus.

Great thing about FanFare is how are reactions can be so varied. I still take a gander at the Doctor Who threads even though I dropped the show (finally). I can read posts from people who loved things about episode that to me tell me the show is still terrible and I can no longer expose myself to Moffat disappointment.

Some of the reactions of others to this season remind me of my own reaction to Season 1, which a lot of people liked far more than I did.

I have heard that this may be the last season, at least for awhile. I wish it were otherwise.
posted by juiceCake at 12:35 PM on June 10 [2 favorites]


I didn't like Season 1 much either, but I've been meaning to rewatch it since I consider Season 2 a masterpiece.

As for this episode, it was the second one this season that felt like a proper episode of Fargo. The first being the one in California with the animated robots and Ray Wise.

I liked the chase through the woods, although you certainly can't cut off a human head that way, and I LOVED the bowling alley.

Are we to assume the bowling alley was just some sort of enchanted waystation? Or an actual bowling alley? I assumed it was meant to be a gateway to the afterlife, meaning Nikki and Mr. Wrench are dead. But then Yuri walked in, and I don't think losing an ear would be fatal.

I liked the gaslighting of Emmett too. I assume Varga's doing it.

As for this season in general, I feel like it's just smaller than Season 2. S2 had the great criminal couple, Peggy and Ed, and the entire gangster Gerhardt family, and Hanzee Dent with his own story arc, and the rival Kansas City crime family, and the cops, and Ted Danson and his crazy symbols, and UFOs, and a whole subplot about Ronald Reagan, and a fake old movie, and EST...

I feel like we've had nearly the same number of episodes in S3 and hardly anything has happened.
And now it's all being wrapped up already. Varga and his henchmen aren't all that interesting, and the weird elements have been pretty well confined to two episodes.
posted by mmoncur at 4:46 AM on June 11


Are we to assume the bowling alley was just some sort of enchanted waystation? Or an actual bowling alley? I assumed it was meant to be a gateway to the afterlife, meaning Nikki and Mr. Wrench are dead. But then Yuri walked in, and I don't think losing an ear would be fatal.

I read that as a gateway to the afterlife, but that Nikki and Mr. Wrench were granted a reprieve whereas Yuri was not. Especially seeing as his ancestors were apparently the perpetrators of the Ukrainian massacre described earlier in the episode. It looked like he was bleeding from the neck as well, which usually doesn't bode well for one's chances.
posted by Paragon at 4:29 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Er, maybe the VW is ironic because its the car of the third reich, and yet the guy delivering salvation is spouting Jewish folktales?

That's exactly it. The hidden subtext of this season is antisemitism. In fact, Swango may be Jewish -- it's a German name, but not unheard of among Jews. It's largely Jews that get the bulk of the mistreatment this season, and a lot of it, thanks to the Cossack, is unambiguously antisemitic.

Noah Hawley is Jewish, and has encoded a lot into this season that is subtly Jewish, including a man with the Jewish name Ungerlieder taking the fall for someone else's crime, a muderous cop called The Golem, our science fiction writer responding to being swindled by almost murdering the Jewish con artist who swindled him, and businesspeople Sy and Ruby Goldfarb acting as hapless witnesses to crime.

The theme of previous seasons was the crime spreads out, hurting people far removed from the original misdeed. This scene, in particular, focus on it hurting Jews.
posted by maxsparber at 4:41 PM on June 11 [7 favorites]


Wasn't there also a VW Beetle in The Big Lebowski? And speaking of, mysterious older guy at a bowling alley...
posted by kirkaracha at 2:05 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


It looked like he was bleeding from the neck as well, which usually doesn't bode well for one's chances.

I'm pretty sure he was bleeding from the ear that Mr. Wrench cut off when he threw the axe.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:06 PM on June 12 [1 favorite]


Wasn't there also a VW Beetle in The Big Lebowski? And speaking of, mysterious older guy at a bowling alley...

There was. It's what the Irish monk drives.
posted by maxsparber at 2:06 PM on June 12


For my part, I absolutely loved this episode. Reading the comments in Fanfare - on this series in particular- I am struck by the variety of interpretations that people have drawn from the same material. For example we can - at this point debate whether Nikki is alive or not, whether it is Varga or somebody else who is pulling the strings, whether Varga and the police are in collaboration, and so on. These are pretty major divergences of interpretation of the plot - and normally an analysis would give a right or wrong answer. Not here - and I choose to think that all that ambiguity is there by design rather than laziness.
posted by rongorongo at 3:30 PM on July 10


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