Up until now, we’ve had more or less a bit of everything in this series – the sublime (a lot of that), some unevenness and a bit of the ridiculous. With the end fast approaching there’s a lot to be tied up, but this penultimate episode felt melancholy and reflective in mood and tone; the narrative pyrotechnics that have exploded regularly throughout dialled back to focus on characters and their interactions. Characters were circling and taking stock, trying to understand their place in this world and what it all means. As Gloria Burgle ruminated: “You think the world means something, and then it means something else.”
We’re nearing the end of series three of Fargo, and now, with the Stussy brothers’ feud now over, it’s down to the last men and women standing to wage a battle royale. For what exactly? Like series one, a plain and simple, good, old fashioned battle between good and evil, featuring the flawed but determined Nikki Swango and the verisimilitudinous embodiment of rotting secretion, VM Varga. The question remaining from last week’s stunning episode was: did Nikki Swango survive the bus crash?
I hate to say it – and I feel cruel for saying it – but ever since Ray Stussy bit the dust in last week’s episode, Fargo became excellent. Ray’s unfortunate demise has paved the way for series three’s most interesting characters – VM Varga, Nikki Swango and Gloria Burgle – to emerge, fully-formed, and wage a battle royale until the end. In this way, series three mirrors series one, and this run has got better and better as it has gone along. Now, these three characters are actually sharing screen time together, I’ve no doubt that it’ll get better still if this episode is anything to go by.
I’m using this weekend to catch up on some the things I’ve missed during the week – yes, it has been one of those weeks – and Fargo is one of the things I just will not miss. After last week’s episode, where Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Nikki Swango was hideously beaten by VM Varga’s merciless henchmen, the series turned on its head. No longer was the focus on the feud between the Stussy brothers; now it had become something more poisonous and vengeful. Episode six was extremely tense.
Last week’s opening episode of the third series of Fargo was another fine piece of storytelling, but, for me, it didn’t quite have the same impact as the openers of series one and two had. Why? It looked great and all those Fargo themes and tropes were present and correct and thrown into the mix straight away – coincidence, chance, action and consequence – but there was a sense of repeating itself. There was also the Ewan McGregor factor, too: I was watching McGregor more than I was watching Emmit and Ray Stussy simply as characters. Thankfully, things settled down a bit in episode two.
It didn’t take very long for this second series of Fargo to settle down. When it did, it was evident that this was going to be something special. We’ve had it all – humour, tension, farce, suspense, extreme violence and a cast of characters that you felt truly emotionally connected to. Episode eight might have been the best hour of television this year. That’s not to say there haven’t been times along the road where you were shouting at your TV screen (PEGGY WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST CALL THE COPS WHEN YOU RAN RYE GERHARDT DOWN? WE COULD HAVE AVOIDED ALL THIS BLOODSHED), but I like dramas like that because I trust someone like Noah Hawley to deliver the answers in time. And those answers were delivered in this finale.
For an episode and a half we haven’t seen Ed and Peggy Blumquist, that dysfunctional, mismatched couple who have made bad decision after bad decision. The last we saw of them Peggy had survived Dodd Gerhardt and his gang’s attempt to take her out, while we saw Ed telephone Kansas City’s Mike Milligan to tell them he had Dodd in the boot of his car and wanted to make a deal. Other than that we didn’t really know how Ed and Peggy got to that point. Stand by – all those questions were about to be answered in stunning style.