Posted on Thursday, April 20th, 2017 by Jack Giroux
The season 3 premiere of Fargo doesn’t disappoint. After two acclaimed seasons, creator Noah Hawley introduces a new ensemble in an intimate and very contained season 3 premiere. Hawley, who wrote and directed the episode, focuses on a small group at the start: Emmitt and Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor), Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), and to a lesser extent, Police Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon).
Long before the premiere even concludes, Hawley establishes all of their personalities and troubles. Like the two previous seasons of Fargo, every one of them is compelling enough to star in their own series. And just like the Coen Brothers’ 1996 film, there remains no such thing as small parts in Fargo.
The Dead Guys: Grandpa and the Dirty Little Stoner
Okay, two characters die in the premiere, but why spoil that in the headline for people who haven’t watched it yet?
Maurice (Scoot McNairy) is doomed from his first scene. High and barely present, he passively agrees to Ray’s poorly conceived plan: sending a character who wreaks of weed and unreliability into his older brother Emmitt’s home to steal a stamp that helped ignite their feud. Maurice asks a few questions, but beyond a few nitpicks, it sounds cool to him.
He’s not such a harmless pothead, we discover. The character is on parole for a reason. After going to the wrong address, he glues the nose and mouth of an elderly man shut. Maurice kills the man who happens to be Police Chief Gloria Burgle’s stepdad.
In the end, Hawley goes for more than an eye for an eye with Maurice: he crushes his skull with an air conditioner.
The death scene is another example of Hawley finding humor in horror, as he did beautifully with Legion. Maurice’s time is over in Season 3 of Fargo, but by the end, he won’t be forgotten. Not too many other great dramas on television right now have air conditioners killing their characters off.
Plus, McNairy’s performance will be hard to forget, especially the part where he’s walking out of Ray and Nikki’s apartment and acting so nonchalant and unfazed by his night. It was one of the biggest laughs of the episode and a terrific way to build to the character’s inevitable demise.
The Killers: A Parole Officer and a Bridge Player
Hawley is already testing our empathy for these characters. Not long before Ray and Nikki kill a man, Hawley shows how in love they are – laughing and enjoying other’s company after a great night at the bridge tables. Shortly after their night out, they go from underdogs to killers. Ray didn’t seem like the murderous type at the start, but Swango, on the other hand, has a presence that suggests she’s a survivor.
Ray? Not so much. Would he have killed Maurice on his own? Doubtful, but maybe the bitter man has always had it in him. He sure did kick that air conditioner without much hesitation.
The parole officer’s life is piss. Somedays, literally. Not to sound vulgar, but Hawley does show a lot of urine to fully illustrate Ray’s state of life. It’s a funny and sad enough montage to make us empathize with him early on. Even in his first scene you can’t help but feel a little bad for – seeing his brother, Emmitt, living a dream in a house filled with people who make him feel small, like his brother’s lawyer, Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg).
Ray and the somewhat mysterious and questionable Nikki Swango may help shatter Emmitt’s perfect life unless he pulls that off himself. Ray and Nikki’s relationship is off to a great start. They have some of the most intimate scenes in the episode. How Swango looks at him in the Corvette helps make their love feel genuine. They want the best for each other, but by the end, they bring out the worst in each other.
Caught in the Middle: A Parking Lot King and His BFF Lawyer
A real problem for Emmitt doesn’t arrive until he forgets to take off his house shoes off before leaving for a foreboding meeting. Then a much bigger problem comes in the form of V.M. Varga (David Thewlis), whose soul is likely as rotten as his teeth. They’re a stark contrast to Emmitt’s pearly whites, which he shows off even at the worst of times, like during his encounter with Varga.
A year or two before the events of the premiere the Parking Lot King made a mistake. In typical Fargo fashion, he’s probably going to pay for it. Seldom do characters come across as safe in the show’s wildly unpredictable narrative. With how much trouble coincidence and fate cause, who knows when and where a character will suffer another unimaginably painful death?
Firmly stuck in the middle of it all with Emmitt is Sy, who’s practically sewn to his hip. The Parking Lot King of Minnesota shares significantly more screentime with Feltz than he does with his wife of 25 years or his faceless kids. They even complete each other’s sentences, which they use as a weapon against Ray at the start. In this scene, it’s not only impressive how much compelling drama Hawley has mined out of a stamp, but also how much plot, backstory, and telling character moments he can naturally communicate in one scene.
The successful business partners are now are in hot water, thanks to asking the wrong folks for a loan and not doing right by Ray. If they simply helped him out at the very beginning, Gloria’s stepdad and Maurice wouldn’t have died. Their greedy decision has set the wheels of season 3 in motion. Once again, greed is the disease on Fargo.
The Hero? Probably the Nice One
Gloria’s future as Police Chief is uncertain, but she seems certain of what she’s going to do next in Hawley’s final shot. The episode ends with what feels like Gloria ready to go up against the modern world, which is what we see literally in her first shot with the shoddy automatic door. While nearly everyone else has their eyes glued to their phone, Gloria is keeping her eyes wide open for all the bloodshed, coincidences, and laughs approaching in Fargo season 3.Cool Posts From Around the Web: