[Editor’s Note: The review below contains spoilers for “Fargo” Season 3, Episode 8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”]
“My name is Emmit Stussey. I want to confess.”
“Well, Mr. Stussey, it’s a little too late, but we’ll hear you out.”
No, you didn’t miss an after-credits sequence where Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) responded to the corrupt Stussey brother’s abrupt announcement. That’s just what we imagine she’d say, if she was being as honest as we’re about to be.
Even if Emmit can finally fess up and say an honest goodbye to Ray, “Fargo” remains in a bit of a pickle. Emmit’s list of moral crimes are as lengthy as his most atrocious legal foley is serious. He already stood by while his consigliere and friend was drugged into a coma; he helped frame an innocent woman for murdering his brother, when he, in fact, was the one responsible for the accident; he let the wolf into the garden. Granted, if we’re sticking to the Peter and the Wolf analogy introduced in Episode 4, then Emmit (Ewan McGregor) is the bird and Gloria is Peter, which means Emmit is going to help Gloria trap Varga (the wolf). But the point remains: Emmit has done some bad stuff.
Yet the bigger problem with the ending to Episode 8, as well as the state of “Fargo” overall, isn’t based in Emmit’s disappointing virtue. It’s that we’ve been here before. The impact of the above line is significantly lessened because we’ve been teased with similar promising insinuations before. When Gloria Burgle whipped her cruiser around at the end of Episode 6, that was the moment she’d make a breakthrough. The episode prior, Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) surviving a brutal beating felt like a major shift. Before that, it was Gloria and Winnie (Olivia Sandoval) putting the pieces together that felt like that moment.
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We’ve been waiting all season for the good to rival the bad, but so far the fight has been nonexistent. We’ve just been teased with the idea that there will be a fight, and — like the exhausting two week wait between the league championship games and the Super Bowl — we’re beyond tired of waiting to actually see one.
Remembering where Season 3 started — with a story about a German citizen unfairly held accountable for the sins of someone else — we’ve been prepared to witness the dark beat back the light. But eight hours is too long to be trying to light a match.
Continue reading for the performance highlight, best quotes, and episode grade.