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‘Fargo’ Review: A Brutal Episode 8 Brings a Character Back From the Dead for Two Very Different Goodbyes

An unlikely escape combined with a familiar finish made for an eighth episode more confounding than rewarding — except for that kitten.

FARGO -- “The Law of Inevitability” – Year 3, Episode 7 (Airs May 31, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured (l-r): Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nikki Swango, Russell Harvard as Mr. Wrench. CR: Chris Large/FX

Chris Large/FX

MVP (Most Valuable Performer)

Considering last week we couldn’t even identify Goran Bogdan as Yuri Gurka under that wolf’s skin, now is a good time to praise the imposing power of his subtle turn. Aside from his speech to Nikki before beating her senseless, Goran doesn’t talk much. He’s someone who knows what he needs to do, and does it without question. He’s the ideal enforcer and the opposite of Sy (Michael Stuhlbarg) in that way. For all Sy’s emotional blubbering and aimless flailing about — everything that makes him human, really — Yuri is a stone cold killer. We don’t know why he’s doing what he does, outside of it being his job.

READ MORE: Summer TV Preview: 20 New and Returning Dramas That You Need to Watch

And yet the look on Gurka’s face when Paul said he was carrying a message from Hannah Albrecht and a rabbi, well, that said quite a bit about the guilty man’s character. It was as though he’d been caught for something he’d long repressed, but never forgotten. And even though he’d just been trying to kill not one, but two of our favorite characters, there was a momentary twinge of sympathy for Yuri. Had he made a poor, horrible choice many years ago? Is that what fueled his emotionless current state? Could he not bear to look back on what he’d done, so he simply pushed forward doing more horrible things? And is he gone for good, since Emmit mentioned he never returned from the bowling alley? That’s a lot of speculation to be drawn from just a look, and Bogdan earned it quickly — even though we’re still hoping Yuri is dead. (Oh, and a quick shout-out to Russell Harvard as Mr. Wrench, who featured prominently in Season 1 and whose younger self was played by another actor in the Season 2 finale.)

FARGO “Who Rules the Land of Denial?” – Year 3, Episode 8 (Airs June 7, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured (l-r): Goran Bogdan as Yuri Gurka, Andy Yu as Meemo, DJ Qualls as Golem. CR: Chris Large/FX

Aces Quotes for Everyday Use

“Have you been here before?”
“The bowling alley?”
“Is that what you see?”
– Paul Marrane (Ray Wise) and Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), in a delightful exchange where the kicker can be used to throw off any conversation you see fit

“They have logs at the front desk — for the comings and goings — and cameras!”
– Emmit Stussey, for when you need to explain the function of a well-known object

“Napkins. And some vodka.”
– Yuri Gurka (Goran Bogdan), for when you’re bleeding to death but don’t want to make a big deal out of it.

READ MORE: The Best Dual Roles on TV, Ranked

An Important Quote to Think On

FARGO -- “The Law of Non‐ Contradiction” – Year 3, Episode 3 (Airs May 3, 10:00 pm e/p) Pictured (l-r): Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle, Ray Wise as Paul Marrane. CR: Chris Large/FX

“I’m afraid you have to leave the cat.”
– Paul Marrane (Ray Wise)

OK, now is the time in the review when we address the omnipresent fairy godfather of “Fargo” Season 3, Paul Marrane. Played by Ray Wise of “Twin Peaks” (and “Fresh Off the Boat”) fame, his introduction as Gloria’s intriguing L.A. barroom companion in Episode 3 didn’t demand a follow-up, but we were certainly glad to see him back, at another bar, helping out another distressed protagonist.

Marrane, holding a kitten he just-so-happened-to name Ray, tells Nikki a story, gives her a means to escape, and all he asks in return is that she tell “the wicked” a message from the Lord. This appearance is far more influential than when he conversed with Gloria about soldiers granting divorce from beyond the grave.

But… who is this guy? Who just waits in a bar to hand over a car to a bloodied, hobbling stranger? Is he an equally malicious competitor of Varga’s? Is he an FBI agent working to bring down the criminal enterprise? Is he a magical being meant to restore balance to an unjust world?

We don’t know, but he was carrying a cat “coincidentally” named after Nikki’s dead boyfriend (which graciously gave her the opportunity to say goodbye), he knew everyone’s names, and he had a deeper understanding of their situations than they did. He’s not there by chance, no matter how eerie his appearance seemed. Plus, he’s been there to provide comfort, insight, or instruction to the two characters we’re rooting for the most: Gloria and Nikki. He’s very likable — chivalrous, even.

And yet, it doesn’t seem overly important we find out the true purpose of Paul Marrane. It feels like we’ll be told, considering there are only two episodes left, but we’re either so charmed by his kitten-carrying hospitality or so in need of a win that explaining how Nikki got so lucky doesn’t seem that important. It’s a depressing thought to believe it takes such incredible luck for the good people in life to survive, but we’ll take whatever we can get as “Fargo” spins toward a gloomy ending.

Grade: B-

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

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