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Fargo Moves Briskly Into the Finale

Last week’s cliffhanger all but guaranteed things would hit the fan for Fargo’s latest episode. And as expected, “Aporia” rocketed forward towards the season 3 finale, with a heavy focus on moving both the plot and its characters into their final states. Some saw satisfying resolution this week, while others were placed well for their resolutions heading into the finale. Along the way Fargo gave its fans about as satisfying a hand-washing scene as you could ever expect to see.

Spoilers for 3×09 “Aporia” below

Recap

Fargo kicks off this week with a bad day for men named Stussy, as Meemo kills a man with the last name. Meanwhile a guilt-ridden Emmit confesses to Gloria about murdering Ray. He also talks about seeing his father die and how he tricked Ray into trading the stamps for the Corvette. He is clearly desperate to face consequences for his crimes.

Over in his truck, Varga and his men begin carrying out various plans. However, Nikki and Mr. Wrench surprise Meemo and use a fake grenade to steal the surveillance semi-truck. They take it to a hidden spot and take a briefcase from inside. I love this so much. Nikki is the new Numbers and it’s perfect. Meemo hurries to report what happened to Varga, and Varga gets a call from Nikki. Turns out the briefcase contained account numbers for his various worldwide bank accounts.

She sets up a meeting for him to deliver 2 million dollars in exchange for the briefcase.

While Emmit sits in a holding cell, Gloria makes a call of her own to Winnie about Goldfarb and the alibi she gave for Emmit. Gloria also tells Winnie about the confession and plans to bring Goldfarb in for questioning. Winnie tells Gloria about the Stussy murdered in the opening scene. Afterwards, Gloria eats lunch with her son and appears hopeful about solving the case. My poor baby.

Turns out another Stussy is murdered, this one the same way Gloria’s stepfather was. Chief Dammik assumes it’s a single person who just hates Stussys. The man responsible was spotted fleeing the scene and his car is tracked to a gas station, where they arrest him. Only it’s obvious he meant to be caught and works for Varga.

He arrives at Gloria’s precinct while she talks to Goldfarb, and Dammik considers the case closed despite Emmit’s confession. Mail from Ennis’s house and a picture from Ray’s house were in the suspect’s trunk and the suspect also says he had a stepfather named Stussy who molested him. Gloria demands she release Emmit. Gloria also lets Goldfarb leave, but makes clear she knows Goldfarb is covering for Emmit.

Varga arrives for his meeting with Nikki, where he offers her a job. She quickly recognizes and thwarts his backup plans to take her out (with Wrench’s help) and refuses his job because she wants revenge. She gives Varga until the next day to deliver the money. Later, Gloria releases Emmit but not before questioning who his “master” is. Emmit can’t bring himself to tell her, though. When he leaves the precinct, Varga waits outside.

Afterwards, Gloria calls up Winnie to hit the bar together. Gloria thinks they’ve lost but Winnie remains optimistic. Gloria also spills her soul a bit about her helplessness and feelings of nonexistence. Winnie gives her a hug to make her feel better. Gloria hits the washroom afterwards and hey, the automatic faucet and soap dispenser work! Yes! I’m so happy for her.

And finally, Fargo ends its latest episode with the IRS agent who visited Emmit’s company coming across a manila envelope in his office that contains financial records for Emmit’s company. Who placed them there? Tune in next week to (maybe) find out!

Review

Go figure that one week after I fully accept Gloria’s relative absence from this season, Fargo gives me a lot of Gloria. And what do you know, it was excellent! The lesson learned: when you have Carrie Coon on your show, using her will probably make your show better than without her.

“Aporia” went a long way in delivering resolution for season 3 as a whole. It was packed with fantastic scenes a season in the making. Emmit’s confession, Gloria’s remorse as she let him go, Nikki’s confrontation with Varga, and Gloria and Winnie in the bar all stood out among just about anything Fargo has offered this season.

In the process the finale took shape. Nikki has blackmailed Varga. The IRS now has Stussy’s real financial records. Ennis and Ray’s murders were “solved”. The episode also moved its characters either into their final states or just short. Gloria appears ready to move forward with her life. Nikki is the new Numbers to Wrench. Emmit’s guilt over 30 years of antagonistic interactions with Ray came to a head.

After the slightly frustrating slow burn of season 3’s first half, things have set up very well going into the finale. It’s moved briskly and confidently ahead, for better or worse, since Ray’s death.

Tempted as I am to complain about the resolution of the Stussy murder case, it fit the theme of the season very well. There was more than enough evidence to support letting Emmit go in favor of the man who killed the two Stussys in this episode. Fargo has discussed the nature of truth and stories all season and with Gloria still scrambling for something concrete, a better option with just as much evidence presented itself.

Does this make the complete dismissal of Emmit’s confession any less frustrating? Of course not, but it is what it is. And while you could probably tear the procedures apart, the focus is ultimately on telling a certain kind of story rather than strictly following realistic police procedures. Now the focus of the finale has shifted from those murders to Varga.

This has me slightly worried because of how wholly uninteresting Varga is. I’m imagining a finale filled with scenes where he stands around spouting nonsense while better characters get the shaft. I feel Fargo will do better than that, though. This second half of the season has improved drastically on the first half and mostly done right by these characters.

I also worry Gloria’s final scene served as full resolution for her character and she will play little part in an episode focused instead on Varga and Nikki. If so, I can at least take heart in this episode. While disheartening to see all her efforts fall apart so quickly, at least it served as the catalyst for that terrific final scene in the bar.

So much of Gloria’s character this season has been resistance towards the changing world. She resisted her new boss (rightfully, the guy sucks). She resists technology and is ignored by it. Every scene with her son has some focus on her resisting him maturing. While not quite resistant of her ex-husband’s sexuality and their failed marriage, this episode showed how it almost seemed to spark a changing world she does not understand and tried to fight.

As she tells Emmit before letting him go, “You think the world is something then it turns out to be something else.”

Something as simple as a faucet sensor finally working for her turned into a strong character moment. Maybe now Gloria has finally accepted the changing world and is ready to move forward within it. I hope this results in a free, capable, confident Gloria playing a central role in the finale. If not, this episode wasn’t so bad a consolation prize.

Whatever the case, I’m looking forward to Fargo’s season 3 finale. Nikki and Wrench will face off with Varga, the IRS has the books, hopefully Gloria and Winnie will remain on the case, and Emmit remains a massive wild card. It feels like a lot to cover in one episode, but covering a lot has never been a problem for Fargo. You need only look at this episode to see that.

See you next week, where we’ll talk both the finale and season 3 as a whole.

Other Thoughts:

  • Hmm, where have I seen a Carrie Coon character desperately in need of a hug before?
  • If Nikki and Wrench don’t have their themes combined next week, I will be very upset.
  • Moe Dammik may have better reason to be an idiot this week, but he’s still an insufferable idiot.
  • “Manhunt’s over.” “There was a manhunt?” “Yeah, for like 30 minutes. Real exciting!” Love Gloria’s cop friend.
  • Nikki sets the meeting with Varga, where she seeks revenge on him, at the hotel where she placed third in the bridge tournament with Ray. And people still question whether she loved him?
  • Winnie sounds awfully unenthused with the baby-making process. Now obviously this seems to mean her husband is just lame in the sack, but the shipper in mean is struggling to hold back after the bar scene with Gloria.

Images Courtesy of FX

Bo
Written By

Bo relaxes after long days of staring at computers by staring at computers some more, and feels slightly guilty over his love for Villanelle.

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