After writing last week that previously unknown star of The Leftovers, Carrie Coon was criminally underused in Fargo, the penultimate episode of Noah Hawley’s brilliant anthology series finally gathered its stars in a series of one-on-one scenes which allowed them to shine…
After another cold Minnesota open which saw a third man with the surname Stussy murdered, Ewan McGregor’s Emmit finally got to sit down with Carrie Coon’s Gloria Burgle to confess to his brother, Ray’s accidental “what are the odds?” murder in an incredibly well written and performed scene which took in their tennis-playing father’s death and the 2 cent stamp and ending with the stonking line “Thirty years I’d been killing him, that was just when he fell.”
Unmitigated writing heaven.
Then, one of the most lip-lickingly delicious things imaginable – Nikki Swango shows up throwing a grenade into Varga’s truck. Only thing was – it wasn’t a real grenade, it was a paperweight, so she and Mr Wrench steal the truck from Meemo, then set up a meeting and demand $2 million for the safe return of Varga’s off-shore bank account papers.
Seems Nikki hadn’t “done the sensible thing and run off to Canada” and was the one gaslighting Emmit after all.
I’ve loved David Thewlis as an actor since Mike Leigh’s Naked and Life is Sweet in the early nineties and here, he plays bulimic V.M. Varga, an even more putrid character than Shameless’ Frank Gallagher, to perfection. As he sits on his public toilet porcelain throne (and before he no doubt throws it all up) he eats a whole tub of rocky road ice-cream with disgusting glee.
The charm of a snivelling civil servant mixed with the world-conquering business acumen of Genghis Khan.
This was the first time we’ve seen this Grima Wormtongue meets Reggie Perrin via a mid-1990’s Blur B-side look rattled or not completely in control for the first time in the whole series. And so he should, he’s dealing with Nikki Swango, and hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Across town, another dead Stussy shows up and a culprit is immediately arrested and Varga heads to the hotel lobby where Nikki and Ray won the bridge tournament (in case it was in any doubt she did love Ray.)
Seconds out… Round one!
In the episode’s best scene, Nikki Swango had her face-to-face with Varga. Mary Elizabeth Winstead versus David Thewlis face off in something both worthy and reminiscent of Hitchcock; the advantage switching tennis-like between expert cat and naive mouse.
Newsflash Varga – this mouse has come to burn down your house. Always one step ahead, Nikki had Mr Wrench disarm Meemo from his sniper’s rifle and gives her blackmailee 24hrs to get her the money.
What are the odds?
Back at the ranch, even though she doesn’t believe the four-body-murder-patsy, his confession meant Gloria had to release Emmit from the sanctity of the police station into Varga’s waiting arms just in time for next week’s unmissable finalé.
I’m totally excited and dreading the last episode because I just know it’s all gonna go wrong. Then right. Then wrong again, but I’m getting ahead of myself…
After meeting up with her only real friend in the world, Officer Winnie Lopez in a bar, Gloria explains that she feels invisible to the rest of the world; that even electronic doors, faucets soap dispensers don’t even see her. Winnie holds her tight.
The series’ best episode ended with two beautifully nuanced, wordless scenes. The first saw Gloria clean herself up in the restroom (before a night of heavy drinking with Winnie) where the invisibility spell she was under immediately broken – both faucet and soap dispenser worked. Winnie had hugged her back into existence, you see.
Though Winnie and her hubby are trying for a baby, there seems to be an unspoken spark between these two.
The second saw Larue Dollard, OCD neat-freak and, more importantly, the Inland Revenue Agent who’s investigating Emmit Stussy’s Parking Lot accounts finds a brown paper envelope on his office chair, containing Varga’s cooked books.
Seems Nikki Swango is always two steps ahead.
The Fargo season three finalé lands next Wednesday at 9/8c on FX. Miss it at your peril!