This Fargo review contains spoilers.
Fargo Season 3 Episode 10
As a critic, what am I supposed to say when something is just fine? Fargo Season 3 is enjoyable enough in a vacuum but in the context of the other seasons, it just simply is there. I watched ten hours of this season and after its final minutes, all I can do is sigh. It’s not particularly a bad sigh, nor a sigh of satisfaction, but a sigh that belongs to someone resigning to the fact that they must write close to a thousand words about a show that doesn’t inspire passion either way.
Fargo Season 3 wasn’t some disaster. I admired the more intimate feel of the season. Focusing on a war of resentment between two brothers felt like uncharted territory. Instead of a whirlwind, random chain of events in the pilot, this season’s conflict was brewing between these characters their entire lives. I also liked Carrie Coon, the strange appearances by Ray Wise, Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s kinetic performance, and appreciated Ewan McGregor’s double duty. But V.M. Varga and his coup of Stussy Lots, along with most of the cat and mouse between Gloria, Nikki, and Emmit, felt meandering and never really came to a conclusion that I would call satisfying. All the fraud Emmit commits and he only gets probation? Individually, the episodes got by with style, humor, and solid performances, but as a whole, the season’s story lacks focus.
Much was made of this season having a modern setting, but it never really factored in much. If you follow Varga’s endless, bullshit ramblings, the theme seemed to be about perception shaping reality and the existential battle that exists between the Haves and Have Nots, but it was never really presented in a thought-provoking way, and I’m not going to provoke my own thoughts now to dive deeper about it. I really like how the episode ended without a definite conclusion, not knowing whether good or evil prevailed, or maybe I was just relived that I was done listening to Varga rant. Who can be sure?
Action happened in this episode with little to no impact. Varga’s men get wiped out by Nikki and Wrench in a building that reminded me of the location of The Departed’s epic conclusion, but I can’t say the setting delivered the same sort of goods. The baddies are dispatched offscreen and Varga miraculously escapes because of course he does. Nikki then goes on to catch Emmit in her crosshairs, and though the pair delivers a spirited standoff, a cop is thrown into the mix, and his inclusion stops the fun and adds no tension. Soon after, Nikki and the cop both kill each other without much surprise and Emmit drives off in his car that had just broken down, because of course he does. The only element that salvages things is a creative montage of the life of the crime scene. Once again, style coming to the rescue.
Another needless timejump takes us five years into the future, where we learn that everything has turned out peachy keen for Emmit, just before we see him killed by Mr. Wrench. It felt anticlimactic and predictable to me, but your mileage may vary. Part of the fun about Emmit getting involved so heavily with Varga was the seeming inevitability of him getting stuck to the wall by the authorities. Having nothing of consequence happen to him, only to have him hurriedly offed as an afterthought is no fun at all.
Honestly, the most surprising element of the season was the fact that the Widow Goldfarp was behind the entire thing. Too bad the writers didn’t share my opinion, as they downplayed the revelation to the point where I would have forgotten about the scene if it wasn’t written down in my notes. As I said, a bunch of stuff just happens in this finale and none of it really in a meaningful way. Before this episode I wouldn’t have called this season boring and now I’m seriously second-guessing my evaluation of the other episodes. Was I too kind on this season all along? It wasn’t a trainwreck, but could being so thoroughly mediocre be worse?
Fargo may not be back for Season 4, and I wouldn’t be heartbroken if this were the end, but I would be a little disappointed. Sure, I’m sick of the goofy accents and could use a rest on the fake true crime stuff, but Fargo deserves a better swan song than this. Seasons 1 & 2 were electric; this finale was just fine.