MVP (Most Valuable Performer)
Let’s talk about Nikki Swango. First, and quickly since the point is so obvious, Mary Elizabeth Winstead owned “Fargo” Season 3. It’s impossible to choose a “best” performance, but if anyone rivaled Gloria Burgle for the crown of fan favorite, it was the woman who brought a paper weight grenade to a carjacking.
And in case last week invited any doubt that she could pull a very real pin when required to, the rampage in Episode 10 certified her badassery. She knew her target was, inside and out, planning a near-perfect ambush on two clown cars full of Varga’s cronies, only to miss Bozo himself.
So satisfying were the past two weeks that Nikki’s tragic end hurt all the more. She was righteous in her quest to avenge Ray’s death — more so than she even knew, considering the sins of both Varga and Emmit — but the symbolic implications of her death carry added complications.
As has been drilled into our minds all season long, Nikki played the cat in the story of “Peter and the Wolf.” And in that story, the cat escapes. She even takes part in the victory parade Peter leads after he captures the wolf. But “Fargo” warned us its story might not play out exactly like the fairy tale it used as framing. Season 3 depicts an unfair world built on alternate facts, and Nikki did, in a way, represent the idea of chosen truths.
Nikki was a killer long before she was an avenging angel. The first major choice she made in Season 3 was to kill Maurice LaFay (Scoot McNairy). But as an audience, we justified it and continued rooting for her. She wasn’t as bad as other characters, and her motivation was of the purest intent: love. How could you not root for Nikki Swango?
Well, because you never saw her from Gloria’s perspective. Sure, Gloria tried to protect Nikki from getting murdered by Varga’s gang of vigilantes, but she would’ve certainly let the law take her away for murdering Maurice. She didn’t deserve to die, but she didn’t deserve to roam freely either. Nikki wasn’t as innocent as the audience wants to believe, so her death — while tragic — is a tricky representation of “Fargo” not playing by the rules of an honest society. Just because it violated the story of “Peter and the Wolf,” did her death represent a world free from absolute truths or simply the ambiguity of the season’s final scene where you can choose your own ending?
Some may argue a criminal and killer dying is in line with their illicit lifestyle. Others may see the humanity in Nikki and hate that she ended up with a bullet in her head. You can choose your own truth, but even being able to make that choice illustrates the indecisiveness at the heart of “Fargo” Season 3.
Aces Quotes for Everyday Use
“Genetic instinct: At some level, food knows it’s food.”
– V.M. Varga (David Thewlis), for pessimistic dads explaining the laws of nature to their kids.
“Like a fire door that leads to another fire.”
– Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor), providing an ideal analogy for when an escape plan goes awry.
“One company buying another and strip-mining it for profit isn’t illegal.
– LaRue Dollard (Hamish Linklater), for when you need to explain the beauty of America’s legal system.
“He’s a kitten now — Ray.”
– Nikki Swango, perhaps the only person who could say this and make us believe it.
“It’s kind of a long story, but in the end of it, we all go home.”
– Nikki Swango, summing up pretty much all stories — except hers.
An Important Quote to Think On
“For now, just know that sometimes the world doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.
But how we get through it is we stick together, OK?”
– Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon)
After 10 hours of a new “Fargo,” color us entertained. While not as ambitious as past seasons or surprising in its weekly entries, Noah Hawley did hone in on a national fear and make us consider its solution closely. Facts may not be facts anymore, but we need to work back toward that world, and the only way to do it is to stick together; to not only find common ground, but to forge it.
Set in 2011, “Fargo” foretells a future we’re living in, but it doesn’t presuppose what’s next. Perhaps the most beautiful interpretation of this ending, seeing hope waiting outside that interrogation room door is a gift we need right now. Would it have been more impactful if we knew it was there (or that it wasn’t)? Maybe, but here we are; we have to power through what doesn’t make sense just to get through it.
Season 3, at times, made us feel like that, too. But between the sterling performances, exquisite direction, and human narrative driving it all, rarely was time spent in “Fargo” difficult. It was usually intriguing, often entertaining, and — mainly in Episodes 3 and 9 — occasionally quite moving. How the season will be remembered overall may not be determined until we find out if there will be more “Fargo” or not, but for now, we’ll remember Gloria Burgle’s words — and Gloria Burgle herself — fondly. She’s an easy one to stick with, no matter what.