'Fargo' Season 3 finale recap: A mostly satisfying, but ambiguous ending

Season 3 of "Fargo" came to a satisfying and poignant close with its finale episode, "Somebody to Love." Justice is exacted, stories are told, death is doled and we get a frustratingly ambiguous, yet narratively inevitable ending.

The episode begins with Gloria Burgle submitting her resignation from the sheriff's department. Then we are taken to the IRS agent outlining the litany of transgressions the Stussy company has participated in.


Next, we see Emmit signing papers with Varga peering over his shoulder, making another deal with the devil, as it were.

The IRS agent gets a note from Burgle requesting to talk. Burgle accepts that the case is closed, but the IRS agent tells Burgle of the mass conspiracy he is close to cracking.


"Don't move, I'll be right there," Burgle says enthusiastically, "Wait, what's your address?"

She then removes her resignation notice and takes off.

Nikki, meanwhile, is planning her revenge like a game of bridge. It is revealed that this shrewd woman has already picked up a little sign language.

Things are ramping up in a very welcome way in the penultimate episode of “Fargo” Season 3.

After we see the title card, Emmit finishes signing V.M.'s documents — he is simply worn down.


"It's perfectly natural, you see it all the time in the wild — the smaller animal going limp in the jaws of the larger," Varga says. "Food knows it's food."

Varga fields a call from Nikki about the next meeting while Emmit eyes the gun in Meemo's chest. He grabs the gun in a rage because he was called food. Varga distracts Emmit by giving a monologue about the evolution of technology and says the gun has a fingerprint scanner. He blasts his breath spray in Emmit's eyes and Meemo blasts him with a fire poker.

Meemo and Varga go to meet up with Nikki. Their small army follows a Latino boy into an abandoned building, where they follow directions written on the ground up to the third floor. They are playing Nikki's game now. With each direction, they lose more men in their army.

Varga, the coward, hangs back in the elevator while the army checks out the storage hallway. They come to an open storage unit that reads: "Leave the money, the drives are in unit 207."

Varga recieves a text from an unknown number that reads: "IRS has the drivers. Get Out."

As Varga closes the elevator door on his men with a genuine look of fear on his face, a storage locker door opens. Meemo and the others are gunned down and Varga listens in horror. Nikki is waiting for him at the bottom of the elevator, but she finds an empty coat on the floor and the roof panel taken off. The weasel got away.

A bloodied Mr. Wrench comes down the adjacent elevator with the money, which Nikki gives him for his help. Nikki runs off in search of Emmit.

Speaking of Emmit, he wakes up to an empty house with a stamp stuck on his forehead. He throws the stamp, worth $10,000, on the floor and drives off. He arrives at his offices to find Ms. Goldfarb has taken over.

"You work for Varga, all this time. Like a fire door that leads to another fire," Stussy says.

It's a twist that I do not care about at all. But Emmit is instructed to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy because he is $300 million dollars in debt.

We then get an explanation from the IRS agent to Burgle of what Varga did to Stussy lots. He calls it a bleed out. "Narwhal" acquired Stussy, borrowed millions of dollars, then sold the company for a fraction of the price while it was drowning in debt. The money borrowed is pocketed by Varga and all working in his operation while Emmit has to take care of the debt.

This whole time it was easy to assume Varga was working for some kind of criminal organization laundering money, as Burgle said, but it turns out he is simply a shrewd, ruthless businessman. The only illegal action he took was that he didn't pay taxes; he put all of the money they borrowed into offshore accounts.

Burgle is called to the scene of the massacre Nikki enacted. Burgle, with the knowledge that Nikki is out for revenge, goes to warn Emmit.

Emmit, having a terrible day, continues his unlucky streak as his car breaks down on the side of the highway. Frustrated by his lack of service, as well as the death of his car, company and brother, Emmit smashes his phone on the ground.

Nikki rolls up in a truck with her shotgun in tow.

"Are you as low as you can go?" she asks.

Emmit thought he couldn't go lower when he turned himself in the day before, but it turned out that wasn't the case, so he is unable to answer her question. Nikki reminds Emmit before she blasts him that he has no one who loves him. Emmit then begs Nikki to shoot him. She starts to give Emmit the quote she got from the stranger at the bowling alley before, in the coincidence of all coincidences, a cop car rolls by to interrupt the line.

"It's a long story, but at the end of it we all go home," Nikki says with misplaced optimism.

This are starting to get pretty existential and weird on "Fargo."

Emmit apparently changes his mind about wanting to die, as he is quick to whisper to the officer that Nikki has a gun. The officer tries to diffuse the situation and draws his firearm as Nikki creeps back toward her gun. Nikki grabs the shotgun and shots ring out, dropping the officer and Nikki to the floor, leaving Emmit still standing between them.

The officer was shot in the chest. Nikki was shot in the head. With our rogue warrior killed, it is up to Burgle to exact justice the legal way.

Burgle and her son sit on the trunk of her car licking popsicles. Burgle explains what happened to Ennis to her son.

"There's violence to knowing the world isn't what you want," Burgle said.

It's a short but sweet scene, in which Burgle espouses the value of teamwork and friendship as being guiding lights in an absurd, dark world.

Elsewhere, Emmit takes his new lease on life to his wife and immediately begins crying in her arms.

We then get a move very reminiscent of the first season as the show jumps five years later. Emmit has filed for bankruptcy and pleaded guilty to tax fraud. On probation, he was welcomed back to his family. It's very sweet — he is praying with his family and everything is happy. Even a recovering Sy is there! I mean, we find out he might have $20 million hidden in an offshore account, but besides that, everything is on the up and up for Emmit Stussy.

Emmit looks over the pictures of his friends and family on the fridge He opens the fridge to get the salad, and the ever-loyal Mr. Wrench shoots him in the back of the head. Is it fair? Who knows. But, as Burgle said, not everything is.

Burgle, now working for the Department of Homeland Security, enters an interrogation room to none other than Varga, now under the name Daniel Rand and the guise of a salesman. The name may be a tribute to Ayn Rand, but I like to think it is an homage to Marvel superhero Iron Fist.

The Grim Reaper looms over this episode of "Fargo," which features dark humor and miscommunication.

"Oh that this was my salvation, a weary traveler I am," Varga says.

Varga gives Burgle a series of vague statements essentially amounting to, "You haven't got a thing on me." Gloria informs Varga of the Stussy murder.


"It is a dangerous world for men of standing," Varga says. "Human beings, you see have no inherent value other than the money they earn."


Burgle asks Varga if he killed Emmit. He refuses. Burgle informs Varga that he is going to prison on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit murder. She, meanwhile, will go home to her son and prepare for the state fair the next day.

Varga counters her story with one of his own: That a man will come in and tell him he's free to go. And he will leave.

"Trust me. The future is certain. And when it comes you will know your place in the world," Varga says.

The lights go down on Varga, Burgle smiles, we see the door and the clock above it, and the episode ends.

The season of "Fargo" ends the way it began: two people in a room with differing stories, both believing theirs to be the truth. While at the beginning, the two people were debating over what already happened, now they are debating what is going to happen.

As Varga made clear: The past is unpredictable, but the future is certain.

This season finale was strong, as each character gets their own story wrapped neatly — but not predictably — into a bow.

Nikki is on a path of redemption, but on the way she kills a dutiful police officer, cutting that path short.

Emmit is on his own redemptive path but keeps a lot of his ill-gotten money to himself, so his is also cut short.

Burgle knows her place in the world and is confident that she has triumphed over the devil.

Varga believes he will escape and fade into the world yet again.

My only wish is that Varga got his comeuppance and, depending on how one interprets the show, who's to say he doesn't? His power, money and standing have been stripped from him and he might be headed to prison.

As is typical in "Fargo" and in many Coen brothers films, the mystical storylines and themes are left open for interpretation.

Season 3 of "Fargo" may not be the best of the series, but was inventive, took risks and definitely came close to the heights the previous two stories reached.

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