'Fargo' Season 3, Episode 9: 'Aporia' (RECAP)
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nikki Swango, Russell Harvard as Mr. Wrench.
[Spoiler Alert: Do not read ahead unless you have watched "Aporia," the June 14 episode of Fargo. Major plot points are discussed below.]
One episode away from the Fargo season finale, and the dead Stussys continue to pile up, but Varga, Meemo and even Emmit, despite his best efforts, are still at large. Perhaps the most focused episode in the frenetic sprawl of Season 3, and a significant departure from Episode 8’s supernatural obscurity, “Aporia” splits its focus between two major storylines—Gloria’s and Nikki’s—with a few asides of Stussycide thrown in as a distraction for the simpleminded chief of Meeker County’s police.
The first major plotline the episode explores is Emmit’s confession to Gloria at the police station. During his brief incarceration, Emmit manages to both overshare and undershare, shedding light on his teenage relationship with Ray while leaving out some vital details about his more intentional crimes and his criminal overlord, Varga.
Wracked with guilt, Emmit admits to tricking Ray into giving up his stamps for that cherry-red Corvette when the two brothers were 17 and 15 years old. He even acknowledges how keeping the framed 2-cent stamp was a constant sprinkle of salt on the open would that was Ray’s entire life. Even though his killing of Ray was an accident, Emmit insists that it was murder. “Thirty years I’ve been killing him,” Emmit says. “That was just when he fell.”
Meemo meanwhile—when not under assault by Nikki and Mr. Wrench—has been busy cutting the throat of one random Stussy (to replicate the circumstances of Ray’s death) and gluing shut the nose and mouth of another (to replicate Ennis’s death), all to establish a pair of M.O.s for a fabricated anti-Stussy serial killer. The new chief, eager to take credit for solving Gloria’s case, falls hard for the ruse, arresting a professional fall guy on Varga’s payroll.
Interrupting her perplexing interview with the widow Goldfarb, the new chief parades back into the station with the news of the fall guy’s arrest. Faced with an order to cut Emmit loose, despite his confession, it’s Gloria’s turn to overshare.
In the interrogation room with Emmit, she goes through the details of her failed marriage. She got married straight out of high school, and years later she found out her husband had a boyfriend and didn’t love her in a romantic way. “You think the world is something, then it turns out to be something else,” she tells Emmit just before she’s forced to let him go. She also asks Emmit to give up the details on the man pulling the strings, but Emmit is too afraid to give Varga up.
Gloria, at her lowest point of the season, goes to drown her sorrows at the bar, and she calls on the ever-reliable and positive Winnie as backup. With a hug, Winnie is able to convince Gloria that she is neither unhelpful automaton nor non-existent entity. Sure enough, Winnie’s confidence magically imbues Gloria with the ability to activate soap dispensers.
While Varga’s plan to have Emmit released is successful, not everything is going especially well for the villain. Nikki, charged with seeking justice by Paul Marrane, employs all the strategic acumen of a semi-professional bridge player to bring low the mighty crime boss.
First, she busts through Meemo’s window with a faux grenade, and she and Wrench successfully steal Varga’s semi-truck base of operations. Armed with information about Varga’s assets, which he’s generally pretty secretive about, she blackmails him for $2 million. The meeting between Nikki and Varga is certainly the most important scene of the episode, and it’s also one of the most satisfying of the season thus far.
Each time Varga assumes he has the upper hand over Nikki, she proves that she’s thought at least as far ahead as he has. Even Meemo, his trump card, is taken out of commission by Nikki’s new partner in crime, Wrench. Varga is visibly perturbed by the exchange, especially when it becomes obvious that he can’t buy his way out of it. Nikki makes it clear that money is of secondary concern to revenge.
That lust for revenge could explain why, even after Nikki has bested Varga face-to-face, an anonymous tip about Stussy Lots’ books ends up on the desk of Hamish Linklater’s IRS agent, Larue Dollard. It was only a matter of time before the mild-mannered Dollard resurfaced in the plot, and now it seems like the unassuming suit may be the last best hope of bringing down Varga’s empire. Whether it was Nikki, Emmit or another unknown player who left those documents on Dollard’s chair, it could be difficult for Varga to keep up Stussy Lots as a front for whatever it is that he does if the IRS is breathing down his neck.
-Winnie’s bluntness is endearing, even when she’s talking about dry, joyless, procreative sex.
-Nikki and Mr. Wrench seem pretty tight, even after a three-month time jump. Hopefully the finale explains why he’s decided to stick with her for so long.