Fargo Season 3, Episode 7: ‘The Law of Inevitability’ (RECAP)

David Thewlis as V.M. Varga. in Fargo
Spoiler Alert
Chris Large/FX
David Thewlis as V.M. Varga.

It’s Christmastime on Fargo, where the festivities include jurisdictional bureaucracy, bungled murder cover-up, attempted assassination and the reappearance of an unexpected old friend.

With all of this season’s exposition finally having been exposed last week, “The Law of Inevitability” continues to streamline the story, moving it swiftly in the direction of its now fast-approaching terminus. Aside from a few flourishes of signature Fargo wit, surreal intimidation and quick esoteric ponderings on the nature of truth, this week’s episode focuses on plot, with an emphasis on the ineffectiveness of a few of Varga’s schemes.

Things open with Varga doing his best Grinch, meticulously gutting the presents under Emmit’s Christmas tree with a switchblade. Emmit himself is away having dinner with Sy and the widow Goldfarb, making a decidedly uneven attempt to look like he didn’t just come from killing his little brother. The extra polka dot of Ray’s blood on his shirt doesn’t help.

Meanwhile, Varga’s plan for Nikki is coming to fruition, and Gloria’s toxically macho and determinedly simplistic boss, who presumably has never had an epiphany of coincidence in Los Angeles, is falling for the ruse. He’s all too happy to believe that mashing a potato will make mashed potatoes and that Ray’s death is a direct result of his alleged abusive relationship with his parolee.

With what has just happened to Ray, it’s easy to forget that Nikki is a legitimate murderer who absolutely deserves to be in custody. When she sees the crime scene photo, she doesn’t have much of a reaction, but still, there’s a nuance to Winstead’s performance that belies Nikki’s tough front. Luckily for Nikki, Varga’s plan didn’t seem to account for the functionally invisible Gloria.

Gloria, staunch opponent of Occam’s razor, wants to speak to Nikki herself to confirm her multi-Stussy theory, but first she has to deal with level upon level of red tape. She sends her partner in competence, Winnie, to question Ray while she tries to navigate it all.

No-nonsense Gloria’s affectation while trying to charm her way past the interrogation room guard is good for a chuckle, but it doesn’t do her any good. Without permission from her commanding officer she can’t get in to talk to Nikki; that is, until she rushes in at the last minute to save her from a uniformed would-be assassin (DJ Qualls). Only after this attempt on Nikki’s life do the boys at the top of the chain of command agree to investigate Gloria’s farfetched but undeniably plausible version of events.

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Emmit, who’s been understandably on edge throughout his dinner with Goldfarb, loses his grip completely when Winnie arrives at the restaurant. His eagerness to offer alibis and suspects for an as yet undisclosed killing piques Winnie’s curiosity, and after Sy spirits Emmit away, she goes to have a chat with Goldfarb.

Fargo, Season 3, Mary McDonnell

Mary McDonnell as Widow Goldfarb (Chris Large/FX)

Aside from the Nikki’s incarceration, others of Varga’s plans are also taking shape, most notably Yuri’s infiltration of the Eden Valley police department and theft of the Ennis Stussy case file. Varga had asked Yuri to do this quietly, but that didn’t stop him from terrorizing poor Donny with an aggressive variant on the truth. “You asked, and I left,” Yuri says to an incredulous Donny, “I’m not here.” Gloria may take issue with that kind of quiet.

The seed of doubt Varga planted in Emmit regarding Sy in episode 5 also finally sprouts this week, but it doesn’t seem to survive long above ground. Arriving home from his dinner with Goldfarb, Emmit questions Sy about his loyalty and his possible collusion with Ray. Sy’s genuine distaste for Ray is enough to quickly convince Emmit that that idea is ludicrous, but the damage to Sy’s sensibilities has been done.

Sy, for his part, has been a faux tough guy and a faux business negotiator throughout most of the season, but after his trying night with Emmit, he shows what he’s like as a real person, breaking down in a wrenching scene and explaining to his wife that his world isn’t what it appears to.

Speaking of “wrenching” scenes, guess who Nikki is seated next to on her prison bus. It appears to be none other than Season 1’s deaf hitman, Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard), who has now become the only character to make an appearance in all three seasons of Fargo. Season 1’s pulsing drum soundtrack heralds Mr. Wrench’s return for just a moment until Yuri runs the prison bus off the road and starts in on the lock separating his wolf-cloaked self from his prey. Mr. Wrench didn’t seem to fare too well in the crash, but who knows? Maybe episode 8 will kick off with a hitman vs hitman brawl and Nikki will manage to escape.

Miscellaneous Thoughts

-When Varga asks Emmit how he feels, Emmit says he feels “free,” despite the fact that he has less control over his life than possibly ever before.

Fargo, Wednesdays, 10/9c, FX