WOW. This week’s episode of “Fargo” was buoyed by two huge scenes that trebuchet us towards the finale. It was…kind of a shock.
The Lord of No Mercy is the guy that you can’t beat in “WWF No Mercy” for the Nintendo 64.
1) Man of Action
After last week’s parking lot beatdown Ray is full of fire and wants revenge, prepping for action including…grabbing his gun from the fridge?
Who does he think he is, Marion “Cobra” Cobretti?
Ray tending to an injured Nikki is shot with a sensuality that isn’t exactly prevalent in the rest of “Fargo.” These intimate moments will be a lot more meaningful by the end of the episode.
2) Varga Stretch My Hands, Pt. 1
Varga gives the boys a couple quick lessons lessons about truth. The first involves the then-recent Lehman Brothers collapse and how perception can change overnight - which explains why Stussy Corp would get in bed with such a snake…banks weren’t exactly handing out loans in 2010.
3) Varga Stretch My Hands, Pt. 2
Did you know? Archduke Ferdinand’s driver got lost after a failed assassination attempt and during that time was spotted by one of his would-be assassins, drowning his sorrows in a sandwich at the market. The rest is history.
Except what happened to the sandwich??
4) Varga Hretch My Stands
The moon landing happened on a soundstage on the moon.
Sy’s reaction to Varga’s Tales…
Sy and Emmit are in far over their heads this time as evidenced by Sy’s inability to grasp Varga’s rapid expansion program - doubling the size of the company in three months. Those are the kinds of moves that put you on the map for the IRS. Those guys mean business - one year I was audited because my hot sauce budget doubled. They thought I was trying to start an illegal hot sauce business but really I just didn’t like the taste of eggs.
5) Waiting For Go-Duh
Speaking of, the IRS is waiting for Emmit for an informal coffee date but instead in walks a second lawyer who–
Meemo is Varga’s law expert! I hesitate to say lawyer at this point because who knows what but it sounds like Meemo knows law at the least.
Client intake sessions must be annoying. You’re all “I wanna sue for defamation of character!” and he’s all *stands in tracksuit and listens to earbuds*
6) There Are Three Kinds of Tooth
7) “Alleged brother”
There are two incredible moments in this episode. This is the first.
Human bullshit detectors Winnie and Gloria come to Stussy Corp and finally - FINALLY - meet Varga. It’s a taut back-and-forth conversation as the offices know there is some shady business going on. Varga tries to wheel and deal vaguaries around them but Gloria, like a bloodhound on the scent, will have none of them.
It even puts Varga a bit on his heels pushing him into ridiculous shit like referring to Ray as Emmit’s “alleged brother.”
Until this point Varga and the officers are the only character operating at a high proficiency and yet, here’s Gloria clearly dodging Varga like a Heisman trophy winner. To Varga the truth is a malleable object; to Gloria the truth is a fact.
Even Winnie is in awe of Gloria policing all over the G.D. place. Gloria isn’t really a hardass until she has to be and by the end of this scene she has the hardest ass in the room.
And remember: it’s Chief.
Varga…have you met your match?
As he’s said over and over this season one of the keys to Varga’s influence on the world is staying anonymous. Unsearchable, untraceable. The world is run from the shadows.
And here is a woman who bested him in verbal joust, just as unsearchable.
Why is Yuri holding the wolf mask? Is he the wolf now? Were they reenacting the “Thriller” video? IS. THIS. A. THING?
Also this was the scene where I realized this whole operation is happening out of the back of their semi-truck.
In a hilaritense standoff Ray fidgets through his house, gun in tow, as Gloria and Winnie make a visit and try to ask some more questions.
His wild-eyed silent sprint around the house reminded me of another 80s action movie guy: Martin Riggs in “Lethal Weapon.”
I found myself trying to stifle laughs watching Ray panic. Then I realized I was watching this on television and need to get out of my house more.
Gloria and Winnie leave but they clock an old friend–
Ray, why couldn’t ya just let Corvette sleep inside?
11) Go on, take the money and run
If you’re gonna make plans to go on vacation, don’t invite Ray. If you have plans to go out on the town, don’t invite Ray. And if you plan on beating a hasty retreat out of town, definitely don’t invite Ray…BECAUSE HE’LL FORGET THE GODDAMN GETAWAY MONEY.
12) “Whatever ya want.”
This is the second incredible moment of the episode. When Ray returns home Emmit is waiting for him - surprise he co-signed the lease, of course he has a key.
After years of bickering Emmit is done. Mirroring the previous heart-to-heart the brothers had in “The Principle of Restricted Choice” Emmit comes to Ray, stamp in hand, and gives it back. It’s a touching moment, heartfelt as it is sad. With the waters rising all around both men they need each other now more than ever.
When Ray looks at Emmit and says “I’m not less than you” it’s a powerful moment. He’s speaking as much to himself as he is to his brother.
13) Three Truths
This is the third face-to-face scene for Ewan McGregor in the season and, going back to the themes of truth, the first was Emmit’s version of the truth. It was in his study and we viewed Ray through Emmit’s lens - his well-intentioned but self-destructive brother, the victim of his own hard-headedness.
The second was outside Emmit’s house and this time Ray had the upper hand. We saw Emmit through Ray’s lens - scheming, cold, driven only to the top. Remember that “hugshake” moment when Ray got friendzone’d?
Here, in the dark of Ray’s living room, we see them both through reality’s lens and as always the truthy-truth falls somewhere in the middle. Ray is hard headed. Emmit is smug. But they’re more alike than they think and if I were to hazard a guess, the motivation behind each others’ actions.
The beauty of this scene hangs in the air for a moment, lingering…and then comes crashing back down to Earth as Ray’s anger gets the best of him again - lashing out that Emmit can’t give back something that belonged to Ray in the first place. It brings out Emmit’s smugness and after a brief shoving match the stamp is accidentally cracked over Ray’s head and THIS HAPPENS:
14) Shoulda used Stamps.com
15) According to Plan
So now we have a better understanding of the calculated nature of the attack on Nikki last week. Meemo was on his way to kill Ray anyhow and Emmit just accidentally did the work for them. It indebts Emmit to Varga in like an ironclad contract.
Varga, in all his glee, reveals what was probably already the “true” story - Nikki is covered in hidden bruises because Ray, after being fired, took his frustrations out on her. Then Nikki, having had enough, kills him.
The law of consequence hangs all over this scene - even if Varga’s plan falls through there’s no way anyone thinks Ray’s death is an accident; not after that conversation in Emmit’s office earlier. A real truth has died, leaving in its place two new versions of the truth in a war to see which one is accepted at large.
16) “Screw it.”
Gloria, still thinking about that conversation earlier the way I think about “Fargo” after the show, whips her car around and heads back to Ray’s house for some more answers. The episode ends with her speeding back and me screaming for next week’s episode to already be here already.
No music embeds this week since we went a little GIF-crazy but for something as sad as Ray’s death it was worth it.
We will be back next week, where our trip to the snowy north will look like this:
Until then, pour one out for our dear departed Ray. He was a good man who meant well. Until he didn’t.