The series of absurd events from last week’s Fargo appeared to signal a clearer focus, a kind of normalcy settling into its exaggerated mischievery. Naturally, that was yet another feint. I’m not sure if creator Noah Hawley has a master plan that stitches everything together in some epic fashion (over the next two episodes), or he’s just just trying to see how many abnormalities and quirks he can pile-up before a Minnesota blizzard knocks it all down.
If you haven’t seen this week’s episode yet, go change your drawers, because Hawley elevates the weird to an entirely new level… and by that I mean bloody. And surreal. And then bloodier still.
When last we left Fargo, Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) was lying in the back of an upended Minnesota State Prison bus, while a trio of V.M. Varga’s (David Thewlis) crew sawed their way into the secure compartment to finish her off. Things looked very, very bleak. Oh, what a classic misdirection!
By the way, was anyone wondering how that bus flipped over? Just me? In a moment of tradecraft right out of Breaking Bad, we see how Varga’s thugs executed the elaborate accident. After eliminating the surviving guards they work their way to the back of the bus, where Nikki’s still out cold. She’s also chained to another passenger, a deaf mute named Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) — a fantastic character you might recall from Season 1. Mr. Wrench makes the most of a cameo appearance; not only does he fight off Varga’s goons, he buys Nikki enough time to kick open the back door and escape… still chained to Mr. Wrench.
Only in Fargo can a violent, deaf-mute hitman be counted on to save you from a trio of murderers wearing animal masks.
Look, you never know where you’ll find an ally, sometimes it’s the guy you’re handcuffed to — hey, you take your help wherever you can find it. Over nearly two-thirds of the episode we follow Nikki and Mr. Wrench’s flight through the countryside, as they’re doggedly pursued by Varga’s men. The sequence is beautifully shot, mostly at night through the dense snow, ice, and mud. Things get ugly as both groups converge, as you might expect.
The overall bodycount jumped precipitously higher this week. Cops, prisoners, rubberneckers, hunters, and the bad guys too… makes no difference, all were sacrificed on the alter of Noah Hawley — by the way, you are a bad (or sick) guy! Frankly, at times the violence was a little hard to handle. This was a gut-wrenching episode (no guts are actually wrenched, but I did contemplate the quality and quantity of my breakfast). That said, this was pretty gruesome stuff, even for Fargo.
Another interesting development — reaching deep into the Coen Brothers playbook — Hawley brings back Paul Marrane (Ray Wise), the guy Gloria met in a chance encounter on the airplane to L.A., and then later met again at the cop bar later that evening. Marrane now appears at a random Minnesota bowling alley on Christmas morning, where he finds Nikki and Mr. Wrench in dire straits and offers then a way out of their predicament. Marrane is essentially “The Stranger” (Sam Elliot) from The Big Lebowski, a godlike character who injects himself into the narrative — in doing so he kind of turns the whole season on its ear. I have a theory for Marrane’s character, which ties into the animated sequence during Gloria’s visit to L.A. back in week 3, but I want to hold off sharing it until next week (because I’m probably wrong).
This was an insane episode, stuff happened that felt random and cruel for no apparent reason. I keep thinking, all of this will make sense by the end of the episode… some more crazy stuff happened, and then the credits rolled. Time-jumps, quasi-gods, dudes in goat masks, sudden confessions, and a deaf-mute hitman with a heart of gold… there’s truly nothing else remotely like Fargo on TV! So stick around, just two episodes to go this season. See you next week!
Who do you think survives the final two episodes of Fargo Season 3? Let us know in the comments down below!