Fargo Season 3 Episode 4 Review: The Narrow Escape Problem

A familiar voice tells us a story and our main characters all get unexpected visitors in a packed new Fargo!

This Fargo review contains spoilers.

Fargo Season 3 Episode 4

Everyone knows the story of Peter and the Wolf. It’s one of the most frequently performed pieces of classical music and a mainstay in early education to teach young students about the instruments used in an orchestra. In the story, a duck and bird quarrel about the duck being unable to fly and the bird being unable to swim while a cat stalks them both. Peter, the young owner of the cat, warns the birds while ignoring the warnings of his grandfather to stay out of the meadow, for there are wolves in the forest. Sure enough, a wolf comes along and swallows the duck whole, but Peter, with the help of the other animals captures the wolf, persuades some hunters not to kill the vulnerable wolf, then takes the wolf to a zoo to live out his days.

With the help of guest narrator Billy Bob Thornton (who played Season 1’s big bad Lorne Malvo, who I hope somehow returns), this season of Fargo’s main players are cast in the fable; Emmit is the bird, Ray is the Duck, Nikki is the Cat, Gloria is Peter, Sy is the Grandfather, and Varga is the Wolf. I wouldn’t expect Noah Hawley to follow the plot of Peter and the Wolf exactly, but it’s plausible that this story could follow a similar structure. Gloria, like Peter, is told by her new boss not to pursue Ennis’ death any further, but isn’t afraid of the consequences, just like Peter isn’t afraid of wolves. Sy is withholding from police officers in fear that they find the wolf, the shadowy and dangerous Varga, in his meadow and Emmit and Ray continue to fight about what one of them has that the other does not, while Nikki may just be playing them both against each other. It’s a fun little comparison tying together a sprawling, impactful episode that hinges on several unexpected meetings.

After spending quality time with Gloria on the coast last week, we catch up with all of our principal players as the plot begins to thicken. First off, Ray shaves the stache and cops a wig to finally try to access the safety deposit box that Nikki learned of when she broke into Emmit’s house. Taking Nikki’s advice that the “richest guy in the room is always the boss,” Ray has fun acting way more aggressive than his smarmy, but ultimately friendly brother ever would to Buck the banker. It’s amazing that Ewan McGregor is able to make Ray still feel like Ray even when he looks like Emmit. Anyway, the safety deposit box ends up a bust, only bizarrely containing the remains of Sy’s dog, but Ray is still able to withdrawal $10,000 of his brother’s money and chalks it up as a win.

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That victory is short-lived, as Ray is hit up with three unfortunate encounters at work. First, St. Cloud policewoman Winnie Lopez comes to investigate Rays’ car getting smashed up by Sy, but Ray quickly dismisses her and says he will not be pressing charges. Then, Gloria visits Ray after learning that he was Maurice’s parole officer. Right away, Gloria is transfixed on the “coincidence” that Ray and Ennis have the same last name. Following the Fargo trend, Ray (and for that matter, everyone questioned by a person of authority this episode) flounders awkwardly during questioning, keeping Gloria’s suspicion alive. Finally, Ray is then called into his boss’ office, where he is shown pictures of himself and Nikki together, which is strictly against protocol for parole officers and their parolees. Instead of taking the out and a suspension, Ray confesses his love passionately, if not in his own simple way, and is promptly fired. However, this last scene and Peter and the Wolf got me thinking about Nikki. How do we know she didn’t mark these two brothers just as we later learn Varga did? Isn’t her involvement with Ray just as suspicious as his employers think that it is?

It turns out that Sy, the dweebiest tough guy ever, sent the photos in a clapback for the stolen money, but he returns to his office to find an unfortunate meeting waiting for him as well. Winnie has arrived to investigate Sy’s hit and run and notices that Stussy Lots shares the same name as one of the men involved in the accident she’s investigating, as well as the last name of a murder victim that she learned of after meeting Gloria by chance in a bathroom. Sy spazzes and handles Winnie’s questions about as horribly as possible. Michael Stulhbarg continues to be the overly serious comedic relief in an already zany season.

Getting his own unfortunate visitor, Emmit opens the door of his home to find Varga, who invites himself in for dinner. After an awkward meal, Varga teaches Emmit a thing or two about being rich, just as Nikki had done to Ray earlier. In Varga’s eyes, the real meaning of being rich is being able to make yourself invisible, because when the 99% finally rise up against the wealthy 1%, Emmit won’t be safe in his modest mansion. Evoking class warfare, the Bible, and other powerful imagery, Varga finally seems to bring Emmit around to his way of thinking after Varga tells him that he had his line of credit extended to $25 million. In Varga’s eyes, the only thing that could ruin their partnership is Emmit’s brother Ray causing trouble, or his girlfriend Nikki. Emmit shrugs the worry aside, reasoning that Ray is a loser, “so what could she be?” Yet another warning that Nikki is not all that she seems.

Finally, not to be left out, Gloria gets her own visitor when Winnie shows up at her home unannounced late at night. Connecting the Stussy Lots vehicle with Ray Stussy, Ray Stussy with Maurice, Maurice with Ennis Stussy, and Ennis’ address to Emmit’s similar listing, Winnie puts the whole case together for Gloria. Now with the dots connected, Gloria will be going after Ray and the others involved hard, but something tells me that she should be more afraid than she is of that wolf in the meadow.


4.5 out of 5