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‘Fargo’ Review: Carrie Coon Fights the Mashed Potato Theory, and Season 3 Gets Turned Upside Down

The good and not-so-good people of "Fargo" spent Episode 7 in mourning, but a symbolic final scene painted a contrasting picture of the future.

Fargo Season 3 Episode 7 David Thewlis

Chris Large/FX

[Editor’s Note: The review below contains spoilers for “Fargo” Season 3, Episode 7, “The Law of Inevitability.”]

Immediate Reaction

Who the heck is that dude wearing a wolf head?

Pardon our lapse in Minnesotan manners, but the ending of a brief but slow-moving “Fargo” threw us for a bit of a loop. It looks like Yui (Goran Bogdan), Varga’s henchman, but the dark lighting of our computer monitors isn’t the only reason we’re not 100 percent certain. If we hadn’t seen the face of the man who dropped into Nikki Swango’s (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) overturned prisoner transport bus, we would’ve left things at this: The wolf is a symbol repeatedly used for Varga (David Thewlis) throughout Season 5. In Episode 4, Billy Bob Thornton narrated a “symphonic fairy tale” where Varga played the wolf. Episode 5 ended with an ominous shot of a wolf’s head, meant to encapsulate Varga’s looming power as much as it foreshadows what’s to come.

With that in mind, this man is clearly one of Varga’s thugs — likely Yuri — sent to wrench Swango from the arms of the law. Why? Varga’s plan involved Swango getting arrested and accused of killing Ray (Ewan McGregor), which is exactly what’s happened. The fake police officer sent to kill her, played by “Road Trip’s” D.J. Qualls, was likely insurance — if Nikki’s dead, she can’t contradict the story as easily as if she’s alive, and the simple version of Ray’s death plays out as cleanly as Sheriff Moe (Shea Whigham) wants to pretend it actually is.

The wolf-adorned man could then very well be an emergency clause. We saw Meemo (Andy Yu) watching events unfold from his car, as he always does, and he could have easily orchestrated the “accident.” But the scene’s score made it feel more hopeful — romantic, even — than tragic. And if we trace the wolf back to its symbolic origins in Episode 4, the tale of “Peter and the Wolf” ends with a dead duck (Ray) as the cat (Nikki) escapes. More importantly to “Fargo,” this allegory emphasized that we’re supposed to be taking our cues from the music.

LAST WEEK’S REVIEW: ‘Fargo’ Review: A Battle Between Ewan McGregors Has Never Felt So Wretched — And Season 3 Never More Exciting

We assume we still should be, so if this is the end of Nikki Swango, it didn’t feel like it. So again, we return to the man under the wolf’s head. His reveal was a choice: If we ended on the wolf instead of the man — if he never tilted his head up to reveal a face under that headdress — it would have been easier to believe Nikki was in trouble. We would’ve been left with the frightening image, like we were in Episode 5; a symbol of terror and death, not of a human being with a beating heart. We’re made to believe this is the beginning of her freedom, not the end of her life — even though we don’t fully understand how she could escape, especially if that is Yuri.

That, or we’re desperately grasping at straws in an ever-darkening world.

MVP (Most Valuable Performer)

Fargo Season 3 Episode 5 Shea Whigham Carrie Coon

It’s a thankless job to play the character everyone hates, especially when you don’t get to delight in your villainy the way, say, David Thewlis does with V.M. Varga. But Shea Whigham is doing excellent work as the human wall blocking Gloria Burgle’s path to justice. It’s impressive how often his character can muck things up, but it’s more impressive how convincing Whigham makes Sheriff Moe’s positions. You never take his side — that’s not the point — but you chuckle at his pigheadedness in spite of yourself and often sit back in awe at how assured he is in saying nothing. His “mashed potato theory” is a fantastic example of this, and the fact that he stood by it with the utmost conviction shows what this guy is made of: stubborn, lazy, simple stuff. And Whigham is channeling that with various shades of a steady hard-ass attitude.

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