Fargo: Somebody to Love
June 22, 2017 12:12 PM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Gloria follows the money; Nikki plays a game; Emmit learns a lesson about progress from Varga.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (34 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
When it became clear what they were going to do with the ending, I kind of groaned, but it was a lot more effective than I first conceived of it being.

It seemed to me that Varga wasn't confident at all when he came back with his "No, this is what's going to happen" spiel. Like he was more rattled than he'd ever been shown to be. Which suggests that he's wrong. I hope so.
posted by thelonius at 12:16 PM on June 22, 2017

Like he was more rattled than he'd ever been shown to be.

Except on that elevator ride down, in which he looked terrified that things had got so far out of his control.

I liked that Nikki found only Varga's coat: like a snake shedding its skin. But could she not have warned Wrench that, y'know, the guy we lured here to steal from is still in the building?

The ending is a Schrodinger's box: Varga and Gloria in superposition, waiting for the door to open and collapse the waveform. A callback to the story that Paul Marrane tells Gloria at the bar in episode 3:
Before he goes off to war, a soldier gives his wife a bill of divorce. He says, "Dear, this is your bill of divorce. If I don't return within 12 months, it becomes effective from this moment onward." Meaning that, if he dies, they've been divorced the whole time he was gone. If he returns, they were always married. Which means, if you really think about it, for the entire year, she was married and divorced.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:46 PM on June 22, 2017 [8 favorites]

It seems to me the ending is that Varga either gets away immediately or he needs to hire a bunch of lawyers to get away later on. Maybe I'm too pessimistic about these things, but she only had him for a complicated money laundering scheme and tax evasion. He's a billionaire who will have to conduct business while under house arrest for a while. They aren't going to drop him off at Rikers and throw away the key.
posted by Gary at 1:51 PM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

This whole season, aside from ~1.5 episodes, has been such a disappointment, and it's the kind of season where if you complain about it, somebody will reply with "no, you just don't get the point it was trying to make". Yes, yes, I DO get it, I got it the first time Varga opened his filthy mouth. I just don't think that's very interesting. The finale really drove the point home in a way that really yanked the "oomph" out of any threads introduced earlier that might have turned out interesting.
posted by destructive cactus at 5:18 PM on June 22, 2017 [11 favorites]

I would have watched a Nikki Swango spin-off series. She was so trashy, and smart, and tall.
posted by Catblack at 5:24 PM on June 22, 2017 [14 favorites]

Agreed, destructive cactus. This season did not hold my attention at all, and I also thought the tone was inconsistent and confusing. It didn't feel like 2010. It was just all off.

Did I miss how she caught him in the end? Or did he just end up in a Homeland Security prison via some vague unexplained method? Admittedly by this episode I was pretty checked out.
posted by something something at 5:43 PM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

They said it was a facial recognition system that spotted him.
posted by Gary at 5:45 PM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Is there any explanation for how Emmit could drive off in his car that had no gas? I get that Fargo can have magic hand driers and fish falling from the sky, but those seem obvious enough that they are playing with reality. The car felt like sloppy writing or being rushed for time. Plot made him pull over, plot let him drive away.
posted by Gary at 6:00 PM on June 22, 2017 [14 favorites]

There were just so many moments like that this season.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 6:05 PM on June 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Well, it was an ending. I'll give it that.

Overall this season just didn't work for me. I never cared about Emmitt and Ray, and I never cared about Varga -- I neither loved him nor hated him, didn't really care whether he got caught.

I liked Gloria Burgle but she seemed short-changed by the story, I wanted to see more of her and her quirks. I liked Nikki and Mr. Wrench, they seemed like a way better pairing than Nikki and Ray. And they didn't have anything to do in the story until Ray was killed.

I wanted more weirdness, like Gloria's "invisibility" when it came to hand driers and electric doors. I wanted more cool storytelling, like the "Peter and the Wolf" bit and the story about the android.

It didn't feel like 2010. It was just all off.

I agree with that too. It felt more like a "period piece" like S2. It didn't really connect with the present much at all. To the point that I was expecting a bizarre twist involving time travel or something.
posted by mmoncur at 7:01 PM on June 22, 2017 [3 favorites]

"I liked Nikki and Mr. Wrench"

Speaking as someone who desperately soaks in all of the weirdness in seasons 1 and 2, and who is a huge mark for all things Coen Brothers or derivatives thereof:

I would trade every second of season 3 in a heartbeat for the Swango & Wrench spinoff, even if it was derivative formulaic broadcast television nonsense. I loved those two so much.
posted by komara at 7:22 PM on June 22, 2017 [11 favorites]

This was a terrific season for ladies. Here for evil Mastermind Goldfarb, Nikki Swango, Ladycop Friendships, all of it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:28 PM on June 22, 2017 [10 favorites]

Is there any explanation for how Emmit could drive off in his car that had no gas? I get that Fargo can have magic hand driers and fish falling from the sky, but those seem obvious enough that they are playing with reality. The car felt like sloppy writing or being rushed for time. Plot made him pull over, plot let him drive away.

They never say it's gas, it's just unspecified car trouble. Emmit looks at the dash and says "Oh, what now!?" but there's no other real indication.
posted by codacorolla at 8:28 PM on June 22, 2017

They never say it's gas, it's just unspecified car trouble. Emmit looks at the dash and says "Oh, what now!?" but there's no other real indication.

The closed captioning said it was a gas indicator, but maybe the captioner was reading into it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:32 PM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

Season 1 had some really great actors, and a proven story and characters that the writers were strident in trying to be "at least as good as," if not better with. They were successful (a tv season has more time to explore and reveal).

Season 2 had a very ambitious plot and some really great actors to make the story very compelling.

Season 3 had an actor of renown and a gimmick usng them; but they couldn't make the plot compelling. Hell, the only thread of the plot that I found (initially) interesting was the conflict between the brothers over the stamp but, eh.

The exception being Mary Elizabeth Winstead (Nikki) which was a fantastic performance. Aside from the excess of deus ex machinae. Enough writing for her to really shine as an actress, not enough writing to make the character outstanding.

David Thewlis (Varga) was interesting, but ultimately became antipathic for me because I just couldn't relate. The character - to me - was just an agent of chaos and injustice and cruelty, an unsympathetic bully. His "sidekicks" felt like a giant cliche because they didn't show any characteristics that where "of themselves" - the Asian assassin/henchman was just a non-female, non-Japanese, non-lolipop sucking version of a female Japanese lolipop sucking assassin.

Dunst and Plimmons (Peggy and Ed) in season 2 were just as (almost)... worthy of contempt as Varga, but there was an endearing degree of (flawed) humanity in their characters. That, and the WTF bits of the storyline really enhanced their characters.

There is some parallels with the manhunt/UFO thing and the manhunt/most dangerous game thing (with the expected reversal), but, again, meh.
posted by porpoise at 9:26 PM on June 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have had the feeling throughout this entire season that Varga is an embodiment of fake news, and Burgle always right but always ignored. It feels uncomfortably contemporary.
posted by Paragon at 2:49 AM on June 23, 2017 [9 favorites]

My reading was less that Varga was fake news, and is more the power behind it: dispassionate global capitalism that will say and do anything to make money. Fake news (well, selective narrative and outright lies) is a tool in the larger kit, alongside technocracy, mastery of systems, and (ultimately) raw violence.

I think that's an interesting theme for the season, and I actually really enjoyed everything having to do with Varga, but the other elements always felt like stuff that was happening just to point towards the theme. Ultimately, apart from a few highlights, it felt like the show was going through the motions that it expected the audience to expect from a Fargo TV show. It was still entertaining, but there were just too many plot convenient things that happened, and not really enough interesting character moments. I didn't hate it, but it felt like step down from last season.
posted by codacorolla at 8:06 AM on June 23, 2017 [4 favorites]

As others have mentioned, Nikki and Wrench taking on the globalized crime syndicate was really fun and entertaining. The brothers plot ultimately felt unnecessary... I guess ray had to get fridged to give Nikki any motivation at all, but maybe starting the season there instead of having that happen 1/2 way through might have made things work better. Burgle was a great character, and a nice audience perspective to the larger conflict... I guess that without the Stussy connection, she doesn't have a reason to get involved, but once again I feel like that could be rewritten.

It's interesting, because the show basically uses two deaths of close male figures (a husband and a father) as motivations for the female protagonists to become involved in the plot, but even if that idea is gender flipped from how it usually plays out, I don't think that makes it any more compelling. Couldn't there have been other reasons for both Nikki and Gloria to become entangled with Varga and Emmett?
posted by codacorolla at 8:11 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Honestly, I'm kinda happy anytime a show turns into They Just Fucked With The Wrong Mexican.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:28 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

I liked that Nikki found only Varga's coat: like a snake shedding its skin. But could she not have warned Wrench that, y'know, the guy we lured here to steal from is still in the building?

It wasn't just his coat - it was his entire outfit, with shirt still buttoned and tie still tightened beneath his collar. A literal empty suit, with Varga evaporated. Nikki looked up, saw that there was an open top to the elevator, but also no one hanging out in the shaft. Her goal was to entirely destroy Varga, and just leaving at that point would be nonsense... unless she actually believed he was a phantom - the devil, slipping between the winds. And considering everything he seems capable of doing, and the fact that she was strongly convinced that Ray was reincarnated as a kitten being tended to by specters of the White Lodge, that doesn't seem like *that* much of a stretch for her.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:21 AM on June 23, 2017 [6 favorites]

Also: Nikki popping out sign language at the beginning of this ep absolutely cracked me up, and the bottled-up heartbroken look Wrench gives her after he heads off to find Emmet just twisted me.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:22 AM on June 23, 2017 [1 favorite]

Here for evil Mastermind Goldfarb

It's still not clear to me if Varga works for her or she works for Varga. I'm also not clear on her part of the story. They wanted Stussy lots to take out millions of dollars in loans, hide the money, and then go bankrupt. So what's the point of her buying the lots after the fact? Running the same scheme in the same place seems risky, but why else would she want a bunch of parking lots if she's part of this international crime syndicate?
posted by Gary at 3:02 PM on June 23, 2017

Because selling off the assets to an associate at a fire-sale price, leaving the company as a husk holding all the debt, is the last step in Varga's parasitization of Stussy. She got those lots cheap.
"The Stussy Corporation, having sold all its assets this morning to Realignment for $100,000, and may I say, very generous of you, but your company is now carrying a debt load of over three hundred million."
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 5:36 PM on June 23, 2017 [2 favorites]

That makes sense. She's not part of Varga's organization but is someone willing to look the other way and get a good deal in exchange.
posted by Gary at 6:15 PM on June 23, 2017

Plus, as Varga pointed out as well, parking lots are good businesses to launder money through. No telling, really, how many cars parked there today, but our money says it was X. Must have been.
posted by China Grover at 12:52 PM on June 27, 2017

I....actually loved this season. I'm kind of sad that so many of you didn't. It had some spectacular acting, the required really weird bits, some awesome music. I don't think Burgle was used as thoroughly as she could have been, she ended up being a way to get from point a to point b instead of a real character much of the time (which, come to think of it, might explain the weirdness with doors and dryers). And count me in for the Swango and Wrench spinoff (I was convinced Nikki was gonna die from the internal injuries from the beating...wrong), was extremely attached to them.

I still think about my favorite scene in the whole season was the bridge tournament. It was perfect. Perfect camerawork, perfect editing, perfect music, perfect acting. But the scene with McGregor confessing was some incredible acting.
posted by biscotti at 4:24 PM on June 28, 2017 [14 favorites]

Biscotti, my husband and I both loved it, too. It had its flaws, but I thought Burgle was a pretty fantastic character, if underutilized, and this season had more style and atmosphere than pretty much anything on TV right now.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:21 AM on June 30, 2017 [3 favorites]

I liked this season too. I was especially excited to see David Thewlis. Anything I've seen him in he just nails with that wonderfully expressive face.
I couldn't watch the teeth and eating stuff tho, that became laundry folding time.
posted by readery at 8:02 AM on June 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

I am also somebody who loved this season. But I think that is because I loved it for its flaws and ambiguities as much for its certainties and successes. I think many critics believe that great TV drama should be based on a thoroughly thought out framework of characters moving through a plot. To an audience, it is fine that not every thread makes sense at the time - but there is a feeling that everything ought to be tied up for the viewer by the end - perhaps after some careful reflection. Think "Better Call Saul" as an example.

This view contrasts great writing with that where these rules are not met and there are gaping plot holes which are obvious either directly or on reflection. Most TV sits in this category because, in the final wash, the producers are primarily interested in the already extremely hard challenge of something out the door which is entertaining and "good enough" . Think "24" for example - technically innovative but chewing gum tv in the final analysis.

Fargo is flawed but a little different: sometimes the flaws are there because of oversight or laziness - but sometimes they are these because the writers and producers are enjoying playing about with the storytelling: the notion of relative versus absolute truth, the techniques of narrative, the appeal of ambiguity and of mystery. From a commercial point of view, this is a divisive tactic - one that will probably repel more than it attracts. But Fargo comes from an art-house tradition - with French and Japanese roots - where it is considered poor form to leave a plot too "pre-chewed" for the audience; far better to leave in the imperfections and get the viewers to make their own conclusions about the loose ends.
posted by rongorongo at 12:59 AM on July 12, 2017 [7 favorites]

I liked this season but didn't love it. I think my biggest issue was that the villains in previous seasons had something appealing about them. Varga was just a slimy toad through-and-through.

One thing I really enjoyed about this season was how much it seems to be reflecting what is going on with the nation as a whole. A hostile takeover that we aren't ready for and don't want.

Gloria, Nikki and Winnie were a delight.
posted by drezdn at 5:57 AM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

The URL is a casting spoiler, but Season 4 is happening. Doesn't go into production until Fall 2019.
posted by Gary at 2:02 PM on August 3, 2018

Gloria says to her son, "There's violence to knowing the world isn't what you thought."

If I had to pick a single line to summarize the series so far this might be the one I would choose. It's also a magnificent thought in its own right, but.
posted by Tevin at 7:27 AM on August 17, 2018 [3 favorites]

Some thoughts on Season 3.

Season 3 was good, entertaining, creative, beautiful television, with many great characters and writing, but I did have some issues with it. I don't like the idea of only focusing on the faults of season 3, but they only stand out to me because the rest of the show is so good. Maybe I'm wrong about something, and someone can help me see things differently. Seasons 1 and 2 are some of the best television ever created, and it would be difficult for anything to be compared with them.

1. The air conditioner murder was contrived, silly, and unrealistic. Almost a good idea.

2. In the 1975 scenes involving Thaddeus Mobley, he was supposed to be about 47 years old, but the actor playing him looked like he was about 20 years old. At first I thought this was reminiscent of the opening scene of episode 1, but I wonder if they made a casting error.

3. The Nikki/Meemo/motel/Ray's death sequence was confusing. At first I thought Meemo backed off because they wanted Nikki to take the fall for Ray's death, but it turns out Meemo only backed off in order to go assist Varga and Yuri at Ray's apartment. When he returns to kill Nikki, the police are there. I had to figure out myself how to police knew where to find Nikki (the police must have found the motel room key on Ray, because Nikki didn't have the key, which is why she had to leave the motel room door open ajar when she went to the ice machine).

4. The fight in the forest between Nikki, Wrench, Yuri and Golem had some logistical and tactical issues. Yuri and Golem are both armed with crossbows, and have the trees for cover. Nikki and Wrench have only 1 hand axe, a tree stump for cover, and are chained together at the wrist. Golem completely abandons his crossbow in favor for risky, non-fatal knife attacks. Yuri remains in the trees, in one spot, rather than advancing or moving to the side or behind Nikki and Wrench for a clear shot. Even when Nikki is shot in the leg and can't run, which means Wrench can't run either because of the chains, neither Yuri or Golem rush Nikki and Wrench with a crossbow. Yuri had a lot of opportunities at a clear shot, but didn't shoot very many arrows. The scene plays out as if they are just playing with Nikki and Wrench in an over-confident and sloppy manner. Not what I would expect from a formidable hunter.

5. Nikki was a killer, but I didn't think she would kill a police officer. I thought she was supposed to be a punisher of evil-doers.

6. How was Ray able to drive away after the shootout with Nikki and the police officer? His car just broke down, due to what seemed to be running out of gas. He should of had to take Nikki's truck.

Also, this is a smaller thing, but while Emmit is not a good person, he isn't a killer, and he didn't kill Ray. Ray's death was completely accidental, and Emmit even told Ray, twice, not to remove the shard of glass from his neck. I almost feel kind of bad for Emmit. He didn't deserve to die.
posted by Stan Spadowski at 10:34 AM on February 19, 2020

One more thing I forgot to include in my previous post...

When Nikki was in jail, and Gloria wanted to talk to her, the show established that it was very difficult, or impossible, for Gloria to be allowed to talk to Nikki. Golem then manages to get into the holding cell area, then so does Gloria, just in the nick of time, without any explanation as to how.
posted by Stan Spadowski at 2:12 PM on February 19, 2020

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