Wow, there is a lot to unpack here from this episode. And like last week, this week we are left on quite the cliffhanger.
Well, it is near Christmas time and in the open of this episode we see Emmitt’s house with all the holiday lights and tree up. Contrasting this is Varga, cutting open the presents under the tree like a mischievous child too eager to wait for Christmas Day to arrive. What I like with this is that contrast of a pure holiday being ransacked by probably the most impure, disgusting character we have seen in the “Fargo” universe thus far. Adding to this is the stuffed bear looming over Varga and the tree. One could probably write an essay on the symbolism of that alone.
Following this Christmas from Hell is Gloria finding the body of Ray Stussy and the arrest of his jailbird love Nikki at the hotel.
This episode, the world is closing in on many of our characters. Especially poor Sy, which again I would name his arc this season “How Much (REDACTED) Can Sy Feltz Take?”
Now, Chief Dammik is brought in the interview Nikki, playing along with the theme that Varga came up with last episode: Ray was an abusive drunk who beat Nikki, and she finally snapped.
I am not sure what to think with Dammik: He seems just too stupid to be a police officer (to a frustrating level for me the viewer), leading me to believe either he might be on the take from Varga or he truly somehow succeeded in his career by refusing critical thinking in any way. I propose this because he comes to the Nikki-killing-Ray story going in, and that is the story Varga came up with. Even with his “mashed potatoes” analogy to approaching a problem, it would seem shocking to have jumped to a conclusion like that out of the gate — to a “T” of Varga’s plot. He is also almost going out of his way to kill this investigation. Suspiciously so, to me. I’ll probably be wrong on this, I just wanted to put down my thoughts at this point.
I was glad Nikki asked for a lawyer. I also like how she stared at the photo of Ray’s body, looking for clues.
We also have Emmitt bungling his alibi at the restaurant meeting with Sy and the widow Goldfarb about selling off Stussy Lots, Ltd. It is obvious why Sy wants to go through with this: Sell it off and Varga and his crew will be her problem from now on.
Emmitt is a hot mess here, and who can blame him? He just killed his brother via stamp collection and has a lot on his plate here. He’s sweating bullets and saying all the wrong things.
Back at the station, Gloria and Winnie seem to be in some hot water. With Ray’s body in St. Cloud, it falls on St. Cloud Homicide to take the case. And Winnie is back to dealing with traffic.
Now, I enjoy the back-and-forth here between Gloria and Dammik: Gloria is obviously done with his near-comic inability to connect the dots. She lays down her theory, and she will continue working her case since she is still the Eden Valley chief for eight more days. So she has time to do the job right, before Dammik can bungle it beyond hope.
He even threatens her job, which if I were Gloria I would hit up right away. Dammik and her are not meant to get along.
But to move forward, Gloria needs to interview Nikki.
Next up is at the Eden Valley Public Library/Police Station where Donny Mashman is about to head out for something, walks out the door, locks it and remembers he once again has forgotten his gun (I love this little ongoing joke with him). The problem is when he walks back, the door is unlocked. He finds Yuri going through files and books, and we get an intense, somewhat existential standoff between the two. Yuri gets the case file on Ennis Stussy’s murder and poor Mashman runs of with his tail between his legs.
We then get back to Emmitt’s awkward dinner with Sy and Goldfarb. And it is off the rails awkward, with Emmitt talking about the sex tape and his wife leaving and Sy probably having the panic attack of the century as this all unfolds before his eyes. There is even an odd stain of Emmitt’s shirt. And as if things could not get more awkward, they do as Winnie pops in to talk to Emmitt and let him know his brother is dead.
And Emmitt would only look more guilty if he had “I KILLED MY BROTHER” tattooed on his forehead.
Here is the first exchange, from what I remember:
Winnie: Mr. Stussy, your brother…
Emmitt: I’ve been here since six! Sitting over there just gabbing!
This, my friends, was the wrong way for Emmitt to respond. Making it worse is when he doubles-down and says it was probably Nikki, she’s got a motive!
Winnie hadn’t even told Emmitt it was murder at this point.
Well, Sy comes and gets Emmitt out of this situation and drives him home. Emmitt is really, really off his rocker now. As they sit in the Hummer, Ray accuses Sy of colluding with Ray the whole time to screw him over. These are, as we know, Varga’s words coming out of Emmitt’s mouth. He is Richard Nixon level paranoid now.
And I love Sy’s response. “In the face of all logic … I would turn millions into thousands! What’s the math there!”
Things are rocky between these two old friends. As Emmitt goes into his house, Sy sees Varga in a window. Sy knows now that Varga is trying to push him out. His world is crumbling before his eyes.
We then see Varga and Emmitt on the stairs of the house, and Varga asks him how he feels. “Free,” Emmitt says.
You know who isn’t feeling free? Poor Sy Feltz, who goes home to his loving wife and just breaks down. I like this, because in “Fargo” even the unsympathetic characters are human and you truly feel for Sy and his desperation at this point.
Back at the St. Cloud Police Department, Gloria is going through the living hell of government bureaucracy in her attempt to interview Nikki.
Gloria needs to blue slip, but since she is not SCPD, she needs the yellow slip first. But since they need her supervisor’s sign-off on this, she needs to get the white form signed-off by her boss, which then gets her the yellow one, which will result in the blue one she really needs.
It is truly maddening.
Now to Nikki in her jail cell.
She is in the cell, looking around, sees the camera watching her. Suddenly a mysterious officer whose face is obscured asks to cuff her so he can check her cell for contraband. When she declines, she is threatened with a stun gun of a sort. As she is cuffed, we see a syringe in the guy’s hand (the actor I believe is DJ Qualls). As I scrawled “DON’T KILL NIKKI!” in my notes, Gloria shows up and draws her gun, seeing this as not a normal situation. They have a brief scuffle and her gun goes off and that squirrelly weirdo runs off as the police attack Gloria.
This proves Varga has someone on the inside to me.
Gloria demands to see the video of what happened. As they watch, the whole time from when this squirrelly fella entered the cell and his encounter with Gloria is gone, is all glitched out.
And Dammik, ever the Patron Saint of Idiocy, chalks it up to a simple glitch like he has with the TV at home.
This, again, is throwing red flags to me. He is going out of his way in trying to prevent Gloria from connecting these very obvious dots.
Gloria does get to interview Nikki, before she is sent upstate on parole violations. I really liked seeing these two together. Both the smartest characters this season, both polar opposites in life, but I like how Nikki feels OK to give some info to Gloria: Follow the money. Also, maybe it is not the brother, Emmitt, that’s in charge of all this chaos.
Well, Nikki gets on her bus to upstate with other prisoners.
And this is where my prediction about the season came true: When Noah Hawley said one character from season one would appear, I predicted it would be the one criminal who got away — Mr. Wrench!
And Nikki sits next to Mr. Wrench, a little more weathered from the last time we saw him, but it is him and his theme music from season one plays.
This was (REDACTED) awesome!
Now, as they are traveling and Nikki finally feels comfortable to close her eyes, we see Yuri with his weird bear head/hat walk into the road, causing the bus to crash. He and his goons break into the bus and last we see is Yuri with a torch trying to get to Nikki.
My prediction: Mr. Wrench will take out Yuri before he can kill Nikki. I don’t see him killing Nikki, but this is “Fargo” so anything can happen.
- NIKKI NEEDS A DOCTOR!
- “Heck, you don’t get to where I am by sticking to the plan.”
- Dammik’s philosophy on investigating a crime: “You mash a potato, what do you get? Mashed potatoes.”
- “You asked and I left. I’m no longer here.”
- “If you love it, let it go,” Sy says. Goldfarb responds with “If it comes back, it’s yours.” Emmitt chimes in “If it doesn’t, hunt it down and kill it.”
- “For Pete’s sake, what’s wrong?” Sy’s wife asks. “The world. The world is wrong,” Sy tearfully replies.
- Nikki’s favorite pie is coconut cream pie with chocolate flakes. I hope she makes it so Gloria and her can have the pie.
- Mr. Wrench is back! Making him the only character so far to appear in all three seasons (we saw him as a little child at the end of season two).