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‘Fargo’ Review: The Danger Lurking in Season 3 Becomes Very, Very Real as Ewan McGregor’s Brothers Go to War

Noah Hawley masterfully wields offscreen space in a new episode that starts off darkly comic and slowly turns pitch black.

FARGO -- “The House of Special Purpose” – Year 3, Episode 5 (Airs May 17, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured: Michael Stuhlbarg as Sy Feltz

Chris Large/FX

Aces Quotes for Everyday Use

“Enemies are at the gates — inside our gates — fornicating with our cookware!”
– Sy (Michael Stuhlbarg), for literally only this exact circumstance

“Ass hole. … Ass hole!”
– Sy (Michael Stuhlbarg), for when you can’t think of a better insult than the one you just said.

“My mom.”
– Ray (Ewan McGregor), giving what is apparently a valid excuse no matter how intense the nature of your public phone call.

“I’m not sure we can trust the Jew.”
– Varga (David Thewlis), providing an ideal example of what you’d say if you want to come off as a anti-semitic, villainous ass hole

READ MORE: ‘Fargo’ and ‘The Leftovers’ Collide as Damon Lindelof Interviews Noah Hawley, Ewan McGregor and Carrie Coon

An Important Quote to Think On, Ya Know?

FARGO “The House of Special Purpose” – Year 3, Episode 5 (Airs May 17, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured (l-r): Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle, Olivia Sandoval as Winnie Lopez, Ewan McGregor as Ray Stussy. CR: Chris Large/FX

“It never happened.”
“That doesn’t make it any less of a fact.”
– Ray (Ewan McGregor) and Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead)

Now seems like as good a time as any to revisit the very first scene in “Fargo” Year 3. From our Episode 1 review:

When we watched a German man being held responsible for a murder he didn’t commit, for a woman he didn’t know, under a name that wasn’t his, the connection between “truth” and “stories” was made quite clear. Well, perhaps “clear” is a poor choice of words. The ambiguous nature of the seemingly disconnected mini-narrative points us in a direction, but it doesn’t hold any evident truths itself. It’s just a true story.

Our original takeaway was that Season 3 wouldn’t abide by the same rules as the two previous installments; that those responsible for violent transgressions might not be punished. Truth, it seems, is flexible. Five episodes in and the delicate blend of truth and fiction, of responsibility and results, became even more complicated.

As painful as it was to not watch Nikki Swango get beaten unconscious — and it was so painful I couldn’t bring myself to watch the scene more than once — she was responsible for putting herself in that situation. More so even that Ray, Nikki is running the con on Emmit, and now Emmit is running with some truly dangerous men. That she didn’t realize the latter, (rightfully) thinking she could handle Sy, doesn’t absolve her from fanning the flames of a war between brothers.

That being said, what happened was far from fair. She went there to have a talk with Sy, not the Stussy Inc. henchmen. Even Sy stuttered out that she had nothing to do with them, but that didn’t stop Varga’s men from doing what they did. Nikki, at least, isn’t dead; not that she deserved to die — not for leaving her tampon in Emmit’s desk or letting her fake sex tape be seen by his wife.

At a recent screening of the episode and panel discussion following, we were given an indication of what Nikki will do next: Ms. Winstead was asked if Nikki was “dangerous.” The whole cast just laughed. Winstead said, “Yes,” and we moved on. That kind of knowledge and commitment — of going after an unstoppable killing machine — would invite a worse result than before, but we can’t be sure that’s what will happen.

Hawley, for his part, said he always described “Fargo” as a “tragedy about people’s inability to communicate.” This was certainly the case this week, as Nikki and Sy’s disagreement over their respective situations — and how they communicated their side — led to a brutal end for Nikki (and a terrifying realization for Sy). Whether that’s the worst that happens to both remains to be seen, but we’re still living in a fact-less world. Consequences don’t have to be justified. What happens is the only fact that matters, whether it should have happened or not.

Grade: A-

Fargo” Season 3 airs new episodes every Wednesday at 10 p.m. on FX. 

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