'Fargo' Review: Who Made The Biggest Mistake In 'Who Rules The Land Of Denial?'

(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?)

Talk about an opening scene. This week's episode of Fargo, "Who Rules the Land of Denial?" begins with one suspenseful attention grabber. A great opening scene is then followed by the addition of two character who have sense on Fargo: an unknown man and woman who knew just to keep on driving. No questions asked. Things still didn't work out too well for them, but the world is again cruel and unfair on the FX series – just how V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) likes it.

Nikki Swango Tangos with Evil

"Assassin Dressed as a Cop," played by DJ Qualls, toyed with expectations. He entered the story as a mysterious and silent force of evil – a character familiar to the Coenverse – and that's how he's leaving it. The Helga tattoo is a nice touch, something to humanise him, but the killer had the sort of entrance that suggested he'd raise a lot of hell. He did a little, but not as much as expected, considering his head gets severed off by the force of a chain and all. It's a creative, horrific death.

Director Mike Barker brings the blood, too. It's one eye-opening death. You share in the criminals' horror and surprise. Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Wes Wrench (Russell Harvard) – parents really should name their kids after Fargo characters more often – are survivors, so they don't go down like their hunters likely imagined. When the duo take cover, it's the kind of exciting sequence in which the characters are miles ahead of the audience. You can't figure out their next move. It's always great to be along for the ride and not ahead of it. That's almost always the case with Fargo.

The goons' chase after Swango and Wrench is thrilling and personal. Swango feels the loss of Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) during her fight. Some of that pain is softened, at least for a moment, when she finds a safe haven in a bowling alley, where she encounters a friendly traveller, Paul Marrane (Ray Wise). In maybe season 3's most dramatic episode, "In The Law of Contradiction," he appeared when Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) was feeling lost. Here, he does the same for Swango. Their conversation unfolds in only a few pivotal shots, which lets us focus on every word and feel the peculiar heaviness of the exchange. By giving her a car washed of sin, he's (possibly) sending Swango – a character we know has good in her – on a more righteous path. Hopefully, Wrench joins her for it until the end.

The Ghost of Sweet Ray Stussy

Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor), all alone and haunted on Christmas Day, doesn't have a huge presence in "Who Rules The Land of Denial?" With his panic, regret, solitude, the reminders of Ray, and Varga, a villain who "does odd things sometimes," as a house guest he can't get rid of – it's believable when he chooses to confess. When he breaks down about the boy Ray was and the relationship they once had, his guilt is more palpable than ever. It's a dangerous decision that probably won't lead to much good, and he's flushing possibly millions of dollars down the drain, but he's finally seeing that his brother is more important than money. Too bad he realizes this too late.

A Bit of Sugar to Make the Poison Go Down

Sy, who's my favourite character of season 3, continues to get pummelled by showrunner Noah Hawley. He hasn't murdered anybody, but he suffers the wrath more than most on Fargo. After what Varga did to his "World's Greatest Dad" mug, he probably should've known better to not drink anything from Varga. Blinded by the money, he drinks the poison. Once again, wonderful close-ups of Stuhlbarg's lips spell trouble. It's not the only shot of Stulhbarg that sells his pain. When he waves empathetically to Emmit, they're silent but powerful shots of two friends torn apart. Even though Sy's been cut out of the picture, he still cares deeply about the Parking Lot King. At the beginning of the season, they could complete each other's sentences, but now, they don't (and can't) even speak. The fall of Sy Feltz is one of the greatest tragedies of Fargo season 3.