When Ray Stussy explains his mismatched shoes by citing occupational urinary hazards, his brother asks “Why not just put on both the other pair?” But in Fargo, the only people that wear matching footwear are capital-C Criminals like Varga. Folks like Ray are always trying to convince themselves that they aren’t killers or criminals, but just people who happen to have killed and crimed. He and Nikki don’t think of themselves as crooks (she hates the term “con”, as it’s just so darn negative), but rather a long-suffering victim and bridge superstar-in-waiting. While at the same time, Emmit is resisting the idea that one of his shoes was changed permanently when he took money from a shadowy man whose first name he didn’t know.
The brothers have more in common than they realize, even after they reach a short-lived détente. The sibling rivalry could almost have been ended in the course of one conversation, were their respective partners less intent on escalating things with tampon and Hummer attacks. For her part, Nikki is extremely quick to shrug off the Ennis/Maurice fiasco, setting sights on winning the sponsorship of the superbly-named Burt Lurgsman, vacuum filter magnate. She just wants to wear the shoes of a bridge champion, but she is easily derailed from that goal by a coincidence she takes as a deliberate taunt, taking the “blood feud” she spoke of earlier to a very literal level.
On the other end, Sy likes to think of himself as the hardcase half of the Stussy Parking Lot empire, counseling unwavering austerity with Ray and affecting a tough guy scowl when dealing with him that he never tries on anyone else. He tells Emmit that his brother’s jealousy is not about stamps, but his life, and that if he were to give an inch, it would quickly become a mile. It’s an astute observation, but he doesn’t seem to be able to apply it to the special enmity he bears Ray, as it’s clear that despite having long since taken pride of place in Emmit’s business and family functions, on some level he still envies Ray’s blood tie as an actual Stussy. Sy’s hardass pose with Ray is also no doubt heightened by his helplessness in fending off an actual bad dude in Varga. There, the best plan he can manage is one of strategic ignorance as to the precise contents of the trucks and files that are being quartered with his business. It’s a plan that, at best, offers a meager defense to the felony charges that it guarantees are going to keep piling up.
"I didn't know it was slave girls. I just knew it
could be slave girls. The defense rests."
Varga explains that he targeted the parking lot business because its minimal reliance on technology makes it easier to remain invisible. He should perhaps consult Gloria, who still can’t get technology to recognize her, perhaps because she refuses to recognize it. She gets an earful about her old-fashioned ways from her new boss, played by television’s go-to for ineffective chiefs of law enforcement, Shea Wigham. He somewhat unfairly blames character, when clearly the problem lies with the actress playing her, as Coon’s character on The Leftovers struggled with the exact same issue just last weekend. Poor Gloria doesn’t even have the heady combination of the Wu-Tang Clan and a trampoline to lift her through her period of grieving.
My biggest reservation about the season so far is how isolated Gloria has been in the early going. Fargo plotlines are always sprawling creatures that wind up less shaggy than they initially appear, but after two episodes that weigh in at over an hour apiece, she has conducted exactly one witness interview, which does not represent much progress in connecting her to the Stussy/Swango/Varga show. She does gain evidence from that interview, but she’s still a ways from knowing who she is looking for, much less that he is already dead, much less what he was trying to do when he wound up at Ennis’s house. Oddly enough, it may be a false lead that is most promising. The gas station clerk, who is definitely puffing up the extent to which he fought back in the retelling, also seems genuinely convinced that Maurice was Russian. As he didn’t put on an accent or anything, I can only assume this was a result of mishearing him slur “Stussy”, but the interesting thing is that we do have a Russian with a connection to a Stussy introduced this week in Yuri the Cossack. Whether he has a literal connection to the Yuri Gurka who was the subject of the mistaken identity in the premiere’s opening is still in the air, but it could lead officer Burgle to some real Criminals. That searching for the wrong Russian might put Gloria on the trail of wrong Stussy, while investigating the murder that took place because someone was trying to rob the wrong Stussy…well, that sure seems like something Fargo would do.
Okay then, not much Coen Bingo this week but some other random shit:
- Ray has trouble with waitresses ignoring his protestations that he is still working on his breakfast. I don't know if was meant to echo Gloria's trouble with automatic doors, but it crossed my mind.
- Also, Ray moves his lips when he reads.
- I didn't realize this was a Fargo trope until just now, but Yuri and Mr. Earbuds appear make the third pairing of partly-mute foot soldiers, following the Kitchen Bros and Wrench and Numbers.
- The parolee muttering about eating tears in fallow times recalls HI’s bunkmate musing about eating sand in Raising Arizona. And it’s a stretch, but the gas station attendant saying “if singular means just one” reminded me of the attendant in that film noting that his balloons don’t blow up into funny shapes “unless round is funny”. Hawley has a knack for recreating the rhythm of Coen dialogue, even when he's not lifting direct quotes.
- Gloria’s dimbulb partner is very reminiscent of Marge’s in the film. He was apparently supposed to be played by Jim Gaffigan at some point, but that would have been too perfect, I guess.
- Nikki’s visualization and Chi-clearing nonsense would find a receptive audience in Peggy Blumquist, methinks.
Season Body Count (3): Ennis Stussy, Maurice Lafey, Irv Blumpkin