Fargo The Lord of No Mercy Review

(Every week, we’re going to kick off a discussion about Fargo season 3 by answering one simple question: who f*cked up the most this week?)

“The Lord of No Mercy” is a more than fitting title for this week’s episode of FargoNoah Hawley‘s FX series got grimmer this week, paying off previous events in an unexpected and tragic fashion. Things are destined to only get worse from here, but the two most recent episodes of Fargo had few laughs to soften some serious blows.

Varga Drops Some Truth Bombs 

What exactly is it V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) wants out of all this? He seems blissfully happy living and listening to music in a truck, doesn’t look as money hungry as Emmitt Stussy (Ewan McGregor), and if he has money, which he presumably does, he doesn’t appear to be spending it. Maybe it’s because the job affords him the life to live, as he says to the Parking Lot King of Minnesota, as if he never existed. He remains a deadly contradiction, a character we simultaneously know a lot about, based on his travels and knowledge, and almost nothing about.

He does somehow know the moon landing was faked, or at least he claims to know it was shot in New Mexico. The transition from footage of the landing to the set was handled splendidly by director Dearbhla Walsh, but it doesn’t matter if Varga truthfully knows it was a sham. All that matters was he made Emmitt and Sy believe it’s the truth. He’s continuing to shake up their world, or at least their perception of it.

Varga turned their lives upside down the moment they first laid eyes on his mouth of horror. When the ghastly creature picked his gums and teeth, it was a revolting image and sound almost out of a Saw movie. Even his breathing created unease. As Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) stepped into Emmitt’s office, he was breathing as heavy as a hungry wolf. Even breathing can put the audience on edge with this show.

Varga’s story of Franz Ferdinand and his assassins suits Fargo‘s questioning over coincidence and fate. A sandwich playing a role in World War I is a way of expressing the unexpected power of the stamp. The stamp, which created a lifetime of bad blood, drew real blood in “The Lord of No Mercy.”

Fargo episode 6 pic

Two Players Ahead of the Game

Varga may have Emmitt and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) under control, but Burgle and Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) are still around to disrupt his plans. Ray, Emmitt, Nikki, and Varga were front and center in the episode, but the presence of Burgle and Lopez’s was important. Coon and Sandoval’s shifting and watchful eyes during the meeting with Emmitt created some palpable tension. How they observed every one of Varga and Emmitt’s moves and questioned their every word was suspenseful and tense. It was a dangerous game of tennis played between doubles. Varga barely won the game, but he has a long way to go before he wins the match – which is starting to appear less and less likely, especially now that Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has even more of a reason to fight back.

Fargo season 3 featurette

The Death of a Dreamer

I hate to point the finger at a dead guy, but Ray forgetting the money in the heat of the moment was a deadly fumble. Noah Hawley, who wrote “The Lord of No Mercy,” pulled the rug right from out under the audience with Ray’s death. It’s not something we saw coming, at least this soon in the season and not after another childish scuffle between the brothers. The build-up to the death felt like another one of their many fights, not the final nail in the coffin.

When Ray finally got what he thought he wanted, the stamp, he rejected it. “You can’t give me what was mine from the start,” Ray said. Until the very end, Ray was a strangely principled and prideful man – unwilling to accept what was his over his brother’s poor word choice and tone. While greed may be Emmitt’s downfall, it was pride that sent Ray to his grave.

The former parole officer reaching out his hand and calling his brother’s name, in fear and shock, was a heartbreaker and maybe one of Fargo‘s most emotional scenes to date. Admittedly, there wasn’t much hope for Ray at the start. He’s almost exclusively dealt in bad luck and poor decisions most of his life, and yet we felt for him. All Ray wanted was more for himself and the woman he loved, who he clearly cared deeply about, which was evident throughout “The Lord of No Mercy” and the rest of the season. Perhaps, unlike Emmitt, there was some good in Ray Stussy.

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