Time to finish the job and tie up all loose ends. Perhaps. Let’s finish off Fargo’s third season with “Somebody to Love.”
The episode begins with signatures and paperwork: Gloria is resigning as deputy at the sheriff’s department, Emmit signs forms for Varga, and Agent Dollard goes through the many papers on Stussy Lots.
One of the slips in the envelope contains Gloria’s number, so Dollard calls her and she gets a call just as she’s packing up and preparing to leave. Dollard identifies himself and states that he received the envelope Gloria apparently sent. He asks if she’s working a case involving Emmit Stussy, but Gloria considers the case closed
Dollard, though, sees this as blatant tax fraud and it looks like Emmit has borrowed upwards of $200 million. When Dollard mentions V.M. Varga by name, Gloria decides that she’ll pay Dollard a visit.
Meanwhile, Nikki and Mr. Wrench go through their assortment of guns. Wrench signs if they should call Varga, but Nikki signs back that they’ll wait 10 more minutes. Hey, Nikki knows sign language.
Back at the mansion, Emmit signs the last bit of paperwork. Varga feels Emmit should be happy since the first action item- the accumulation of wealth- is complete. Varga, noting how tired Emmit is, says that this happens all the time in the wild- the small animal going limp. At some level, food knows that it’s food. But then Varga gets a call from Nikki, who tells him where the two will meet.
Emmit sees an opening when he grabs Meemo’s gun. He rails against Varga for lying to him, but a calm Varga tells everyone to give Emmit some room. Emmit wants his papers and demands that Varga leave, but Varga asks Emmit if he’s a fan of progress and technology. Some guns may not be usable by anyone but their owner. Varga then sprays Emmit in the face and Meemo knocks him out. Never take your eyes off of Meemo.
Varga tells his crew to wipe everything clean, as if they were never there.
The team arrives at the drop spot and Meemo senses this is a mistake. A young boy approaches Varga’s car, repeats the word ‘Swango,’ and beckons Varga to follow him. The boy leads the entourage to a building, where some of Varga’s men enter. After the all-clear sign, Varga enters and sees a sign on the floor telling him to head to the third floor. The team awaits one of the two elevators, and when one arrives, they enter.
When they arrive upstairs, they make their way through the hallway with care until an alarm is triggered. The group rounds the bend and finds a note telling them to leave the money. Varga then gets a text telling him that the IRS has the drives. As another door opens, Varga shuts the elevator door, leaving everyone else frozen out, and is just in time as he hears the sound of gunfire rain from the other side.
But when the elevator arrives on the first floor, a waiting Nikki finds nothing but Varga’s overcoat. Mr. Wrench arrives from the other elevator with the suitcase of money. Nikki takes a few wads of cash and leaves the rest to Wrench, signing to him that all she wants is the brother.
Emmit finally awakens, now with the stamp on his forehead, and finds the mansion empty. When he heads to his car, he discards the stamp on the ground before driving off.
He arrives at the office to find men reassembling everything under the leadership of Ruby Goldfarb, who Varga now believes is working for Varga. Ruby tells him that the organization is now in debt and Emmit should file for Chapter 11. But Emmit’s profits that he made as a partner have been hidden, so it’s not all bad. He’s then escorted off by two officers.
Dollard explains to Gloria that he’s been looking at the Stussy Lots books and noticed new loans popping up, not to mention papers filed that added V.M. Varga as a partner. It’s not money laundering, but a leverage buy-out or bleed-out where an outside company infiltrates a healthy one, and then leaves it in debt.
But it’s not a crime when done properly and if taxes are paid. Funny how details like that tend to work. Morality aside, one company buying another is legal as long as the rules are followed. But Emmit didn’t, as money was funneled into offshore accounts under the name of Emmit, Sy, and Varga. Gloria then receives a call.
She arrives at the crime scene, where Winnie informs her about the body count. She then shows the surveillance photos of Mr. Wrench, Nikki, and Varga, and figures that this is all Nikki’s doing. Realizing what Nikki is capable of, Gloria leaves to warn Emmit.
Speaking of, we join Emmit on a lonely road when, as luck would have it, his car breaks down. He tries to make a call, but gets no service, so he tosses his phone to the ground in anger. But then another vehicle approaches- of course, it’s Nikki and her shotgun. She asks Emmit if he’s as low as he can go. If Emmit had been asked that yesterday, he couldn’t go lower as he stared at a life behind bars. But now, he’s still lower.
And Nikki has been watching Varga play Emmit, so now she’s here to finish him off, as she doesn’t believe that Emmit has anyone left. As his last request, Emmit asks if he can call his wife, but hey, he did just smash his phone.
Also, Nikki informs Emmit that Ray is now a kitten. She’s upset that she never got to say goodbye, while Emmit left him bleeding on the floor to die. Emmit, ready to die, tells Nikki to go ahead and shoot him.
As Nikki starts repeating the verse Paul told her, a state trooper pulls up in his cruiser and tells Nikki to step away from her car. He then asks her and Emmit for their licenses and registration, but has to tell Nikki to stay put, as she’s slowly edging away from Emmit’s vehicle.
But when Nikki goes for her gun and attempts to shoot Emmit, she and the officer end up shooting and killing each other instead. Emmit, stunned by what he’s seen, drives away from the crime scene- his vehicle now works, apparently- while officers arrive later to clean up the scene. As Nikki’s body is loaded up and taken away, Gloria gives a simple ‘Okay then’ and heads off. Also, hello Fargo theme.
She then pulls over a school bus to tell Nathan all about Ennis and how what happened to him shouldn’t happen to anyone. The world isn’t what you think it is, and Nathan only has a few more years to be young. We get through this senseless world by sticking together.
Emmit, meanwhile, arrives at the home where Stella is staying and collapses in tears when they reunite. Some five years later, we learn that that Emmit declared bankruptcy in 2011. He plead guilty to misdemeanor tax fraud and was placed on two years’ probation. He might still have $20 million hidden in an off-shore account. We rejoin Emmit as he and the family, plus Sy, dine together.
But all good things must come to an end. When Emmit heads to the kitchen to grab a Jello salad from the refrigerator, he’s killed by an assassin’s bullet as Mr. Wrench approaches him from behind and shoots him in the back of the head.
Gloria, now a DHS agent, arrives for work and meets with who else but Varga, who was picked up in Brussels. Now named Rand, he’s just a moving citizen. Gloria asks if Varga remembers her, but because he never greeted her, he claims to not remember her. She shows him the photo of her and states the unaccounted $200 million and dead bodies, with Varga at the heart of it.
And the supposed assassin who killed four men with the last name Stussy still happened. She asks if Varga knew that Emmit was killed a few months ago, but Varga figures that this is a dangerous world and people have no inherent value outside of their money. Emmit’s death is tragic, no doubt. She then asks if Varga killed Emmit, even though Varga was in Brussels. To be fair, Brussels still has methods of communication.
As far as Gloria is concerned, three DHS agents will enter to arrest Varga and he will be charged. Gloria, meanwhile, will go be with Nathan, as it’s his birthday tomorrow. Though Varga doesn’t believe that’s going to happen. He believes that a man Gloria can’t argue with will enter and tell Varga that he’s free to go.
Though Gloria is confident that Varga is headed for Rikers, Varga knows the future is certain. When it comes, Gloria will know, without question, her place in the world. Further debate would be a waste of their breath, and Varga cannot have that With that, Varga bids Gloria farewell, he enters the shadows, and Gloria watches the clock and as the third season of Fargo comes to a close.
Throughout the films and this series, a constant of Fargo is that no matter how disturbing or dark things become, no matter how big a force of evil blows through a quiet, Minnesota town, and regardless of impossible odds, good will win out in the end. Whether with Marge, Molly, Hank and Lou, and now Gloria, they still hold out the belief that good triumphs over evil.
That doesn’t mean bad things won’t happen and that your fragility won’t still be shattered, like Gloria telling Nathan that what happened to Ennis shouldn’t happen to anyone, but these small town folks refuse to give up.
But sometimes it’s not just in the hands of Minnesota officers. For all their ingenuity and smarts, there are some things you can’t explain. In the first season, you had fish raining from the sky. Second season, a flying saucer flew overhead the scene of a motel shootout. This time, you have another walking personification of evil in Varga, the optimist in folks like Winnie and Gloria, and perhaps divine intervention in a man like Paul.
Sticking with that, consider the notion of divine intervention, even if you don’t believe in any sort of higher power. There’s something mystical about the idea of a greater force setting things in motion without the help of us peons.
And in that regard, perhaps we’ve outlived our usefulness. Where do we go from there? Do we act like Minsky and insist we can help, give in as Gloria intended to do, or do like Nikki and go all-in, putting everything you’ve got on the table, and attempting to force things to go your way? What’s great about this season is that it doesn’t answer that question, but let us decide.
We see the consequences of some of those options, sure, but we’re still not told that we need to lean one way or accept a certain outlook in favor of another. Remember, a constant of this season has been about the truth, fiction, and what we believe. You can believe it’s your duty to intervene or play a part in some bigger picture, but that may not be the truth.
Think about it. Sure, it could’ve been Nikki’s mission to bring vengeance down on Varga and Emmit. Perhaps a higher power intervened and kept her from being killed, allowed her to meet an ally in Mr. Wrench, and deliver everything the IRS needed on Varga’s criminal empire. After all, she never got to say goodbye to Ray, so what better revenge than by eliminating the men responsible for his death?
The whole sequence of Varga and company walking into Nikki and Mr. Wrench’s trap was very tense and left me unsure who would come out on top because, again, even though Varga underestimated Nikki, he’s still crafty. While the confrontation here has nothing on the motel shootout from Season Two- not a fair comparison, I know- it was still cathartic to watch Varga outmatched again and for his followers to fall victim to a silent assassin.
While not having it doesn’t hamper his appearance at all, I’m still curious about why Mr. Wrench stayed at Nikki’s side, if not just part of that divine intervention. Given that we met him en route to be taken to prison again, we can assume he’s still on the run and he’s just kept out of sight.
Now if you’re watching this without seeing Season One, chances are none of this matters, but I think it makes even less sense that way because if you’re coming into this fresh, whose to say that this deaf, unnamed character wouldn’t just turn on Nikki? There’s no indication that he would, and his first few acts involve saving her life, but I’m just trying to think up reasons behind Mr. Wrench’s return, even if I’m fine seeing him again.
I’m also curious what Mr. Wrench did in the intervening years before the time skip. Was he just looking for Emmit and got lucky? He seemed to find him no problem, so maybe he’s just been keeping Emmit under surveillance. But why, though? Emmit got probation- he wasn’t locked away in some maximum security facility, so it’s not like Mr. Wrench lacked opportunities to kill him.
While neither is 100 percent innocent, coming into this finale, I thought that either Nikki or Emmit would die, but didn’t expect both to kick it. And yet, it all fits. Nikki started off as a bridge player in love with her probation officer, but she’s evolved into a cunning badass who is craftier and than one would expect. It’s a credit to both her changes over time and Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s performance that I found myself actively rooting for an ex-con.
But then she dies. And this is where Nikki loses a few points, in my opinion. She’s got every reason to want Emmit dead, but she got too in over her head when the trooper arrived. Or maybe it was a desperation tactic and Nikki knew she was in trouble again, so she’d at least try to take out Emmit as a consolation prize. But rather than comply and wait, she took the reckless, nay, stupid option.
It’s unfortunate because Nikki had turned a new leaf. She still loved Ray, even in his cat form, helped take down Varga’s enterprise, and she wasn’t money hungry- proving that when she left the bulk of Varga’s cash to Mr. Wrench. So it’s a sad day that she brought about her own downfall. But then, Fargo isn’t about sunshine and happy endings, and Nikki was still technically a criminal, so perhaps this is more cosmic justice.
While I’m sure that Nikki was probably willing to die if it meant justice had been delivered, Emmit was just ready, well, to die. His revelation last week that he’d been killing Ray all this time showed how wrong he had been in his treatment of his brother. He might’ve accepted a jail sentence because it would be what he deserved, but after all he’s done, he was willing to let Nikki finish him. And he would’ve deserved it.
He’s already signed over his company, so Varga has no further use of him and instead of being the hunter when he was parking lot king, he became the food. With his company in Ruby Goldfarb’s hands and his family still far from him, he had nothing left. If anything, this would be the moment where Emmit would invite death.
And somehow, he managed to live to see a few more years. It’s nice that he got to spend a bit more time with Sy and his family before his death, but what a sudden way to go. He’d managed to somewhat get his life back together, and even looked at piece while admiring the family photos, but Mr. Wrench never forgot. Even in death, Nikki had one more hand to play.
I suppose Gloria being recognized by electronics didn’t turn into her getting a second wind with the investigation since she still decided to pack up and leave, but through Nikki sending Agent Dollard her number and learning more about Varga’s shady dealings, she stayed to put this case to rest in her mind, despite many declaring the case closed.
It’s funny. Despite how invested Gloria has been in this investigation, she’s mostly playing catch-up in the finale. She learns about the depths of Varga’s work through Dollard, and by the time she catches up to Nikki, she’s already gotten herself killed. She knows all too well that the world isn’t as simple as she thought it was, but she doesn’t become hardened by it.
Her relationship with Nathan remains intact and while she acknowledged that he’s getting older and can’t be sheltered forever, she’s not about to fully expose him to the ugliness of the world around him. She’s not mollycoddling him, to be sure, but she’s still going to be by his side as he navigates this ugly world.
And, despite her superiors keeping her down, she ends up with a promotion at the DHS. Good for her. And now I can get to that ending scene because wow, what a great way to end things. First off, I love the callback to the season premiere. The room is lit in a similar fashion and you’ve got two characters squaring off in a battle over truth versus fiction.
In a way, this scene feels stronger because Varga and Gloria have only had one encounter prior to this. It feels like everything has built to this confrontation since they’re on polar opposites. Compared to previous seasons, Molly never met Malvo in Season One, and while Hank and Lou dealt with the Gerhardt family on several occasions, combined they only had three encounters with Mike Milligan in Season Two.
At the end of the day, which version wins out? Do Gloria’s optimistic and outlook guarantee that Varga will meet justice because he has it coming? Or maybe an undeterred Varga will walk out, free to go while everyone besides Gloria considers this matter closed? It’s a battle of ideals and I’m glad that Hawley doesn’t spell it out for the audience.
We’re allowed to come to our own conclusion about who wins in the end. With no word yet on whether Fargo will return for a fourth season since Noah Hawley is becoming an increasingly busy man, this is a great way to avoid a clear-cut conclusion, but also keep the conversation going. And I think it’s less about who comes out on top, but the greater ideals of good and evil, truth and fiction, and perception versus reality locked in battle.
Will there be a Season Four? And if so, will there be another wait between seasons? Noah Hawley’s workload isn’t getting lighter and as far as FX is concerned, he’s pulling double duty between this and Legion, so the man will be quite busy, but he’s given us plenty to digest here.
With all that said, “Somebody to Love” is a great finale and finish on another fantastic season of Fargo. With some strong, standout performances throughout, great storytelling, and great themes at play, it was engaging watch from start to finish. While I can’t say where I stack this compared to the first two seasons, this was still stellar television from the mind of Noah Hawley.
So all in all, was this a good season? Well, yeah, it was a good one. Okay, then?