But He Refused to Answer Because He’s Naked and Ashamed: Fargo, “The Lord of No Mercy”

About three quarters through Fargo‘s sixth episode, over the frantic piano piece V.M. Varga is about to reference, the rambling, nihilistic, merciless “could-be-the-head-honcho” relays one of his many “true” stories to Emmit Stussy, adding a little Lenin to his desk-side Stalin, and shouting out a fella you might remember from the Coen’s The Big Lebowski (Walter Sobchak). As a stunned Stussy stands over his fallen brother, having given himself completely over to Varga’s cause, it’s time to contemplate whether we’re witnessing complete destruction — or metamorphosis.

As directed by Dearbhla Walsh (Penny Dreadful, The Tudors, Little Dorrit), the surrender of night to bright sunlight through a door’s window shade brings no relief to Ray, up all night and contemplating war against those who laid a finger on Nikki; nor do ice baths and aspirin abate her pain. Hunting down his hidden gun (fridge drawer) and ammo (spice cabinet), the couple flee Gloria and Winnie’s endless questions to a cash motel, pausing at Emmit’s office to follow a suited shark trail.

While Varga fruitlessly pontificates to Sy, with stories of Lehman Brothers’ financial collapse, Gavrilo Princip‘s fortuitous, second attempt assassination of Franz Ferdinand and WWI kickoff, and Apollo moon landing conspiracy theories, Meemo, admirably and with precision, handles the IRS’ “baseless and cockeyed inquiry”… Larue Dollars, that is. The Stussy Lots growth plan is already too far gone (“Whether you step off the boat with one foot or two, you still end up in the water.”), but so is Gloria — “Chief. Not Detective” — and Winnie’s crack investigation, and thus the seeds are sown for a little bird’s singing reward (Sing, Sy! Sing!).

Soaking in ice baths, Nikki, having accurately narrated events thus far to Ray, is so ahead of the game she deserves a place on the squad; Meemo lurks nearby, but she’s smart enough to realize her danger after sending her beau back home to fetch the getaway money they need. As the audience breathlessly waits for the attacks that never come (Where is Meemo? Is Yuri lurking at Ray’s house?), the brothers Stussy have a heartwarming reunion that ends in unexpectedly terrible death. Unable to process Emmit’s genuine remorse, his anger building in unavoidable crescendo, Ray fulfill’s his role in the ranks of feuding brothers and bleeds out on his dirty carpeted floor. Watching, not helping, Emmit calls his now, not-blood (and yet …) brother and to the sounds of Sonata 23, receives Varga’s putrid philosophy, paltry platitudes at his shameful moment of shock and sorrow. One half down, one to go, or will this student surpass his teacher?


Not So Deep Thoughts:

Why didn’t Emmit try to save his brother, just stand there and accept his death? That’s part of his transformation into the Varga edition of himself, I believe. Though it’s the Fargo way for the stupid folks to end up dead or in prison, I have this very strong feeling that Emmit’s going to turn on Varga and Co., and — even if he does end up in jail over his hand in Ray’s death — take out, at the very least, Varga. There’s something simmering in Emmit (similar to Varga’s observation that Ray did have some backbone). I believe Emmit will avenge his brother.

Similarly, we see that Varga has weaknesses, and punishes (purges) — hurts (gah, that metal picking at his gums made me wince) himself — on the regular. His outward attitude (no mercy) belies something underneath that he hasn’t been able to overcome. He quotes cruel and merciless dictators; in certain ways, would emulate them, but there’s also something unconvincing about his whole persona. Perhaps we’ll get the backstory of how he became …

Yuri holds and pets a bear head for comfort? Are bears his weakness?

I’m worried for Gloria going back to the house; then again, not worried, because it is Gloria. She’s smart, she’s careful, and she did call Winnie. If anything does happen, I’m confident Winnie will save the day.

I love that Gloria’s refusal to convert to a technological department basically saved her from Varga’s prying.

Nikki has a brilliant, if criminal, mind. Let’s hope that carries her through the season and beyond.

Kudos to Ewan McGregor for that final scene between Ray and Emmit. The subtle differences in his brothers has been a pleasure to watch, and I’ll miss Ray as much as Nikki. Genuinely sad that we didn’t get to see the couple find a little patch of happiness.

Andy Yu continues to carry the mantel as –passed on by Zahn McClarnon’s Hanzee Dent — (mostly) wordlessly wonderful and silently terrifying, Meemo. Nikki’s gonna git you sucka (I hope).


Speaking of, that little bit with Hamish Linklater’s Larue perfectly placing his pad and pens, then Meemo walking in and copying his setup exactly, was hilarious. Anal, table for two?

Songs this hour:

Alexandrov Ensemble, Cossack’s Song
Son House, John the Revelator
Beethoven Sonata 23 in F Minor, Op. 57

Great lines:

Sy responding to Varga’s faked moon landing story:  “Wait, what? [“It was a soundstage in New Mexico.”] That’s not! That never happened!”

Varga to Sy:  “Let each man say what he deems truth, and let truth itself be commended unto god.” (A quote attributable to German philosopher, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing [“Jeder sage, was ihn Wahrheit dünkt, und die Wahrheit selbst sei Gott empfohlen!”]

Varga explaining the money from huge loans “their” company is taking will be used to buy 16 mall lots: “… after paying some healthy bonuses to the partners, of course.”

Sy to Varga:  “Shouldn’t we use a more cautious approach?”

Varga to Sy:  “Because the shallow end of the pool is where the turds float.”

Emmit clarifying to Sy:  “No one ever got anywhere staying home. Means we’re either doing this or we’re not doing it.”

Varga to Sy about the fake books Larue’s been given to peruse:  “For testimonial purposes, it’s better that you don’t know … I’m beginning to think that finance is more of a hobby with you.”

Varga to Emmit:  “I’m so rarely seen, maybe I don’t even exist.”

Varga to Gloria about her Stussy mixup theory:  “In 1932 there were 24 Hitlers; are you suggesting they were all responsible for the Final Solution?

Gloria to Varga:  “Are we leaving? … We got a Tastee-Freez and a Dairy Queen.”

Varga’s reply:  “Will wonders never cease?”

Varga to Emmit:  “Seems like your brother’s got a backbone after all.”

Nikki to Ray:  “A suited shark is still a shark.”

Emmit to Ray about the safety deposit box ashes:  “You poured her in the trash, the dog Laverne (dalmation). I got her for Grace when she was 7.”

Ray to Emmit:  “I’m not less than you. Some child that needs.”

Varga to Emmit:  “Do you know what Lenin said about Beethoven’s Sonata No. 23 (in F. Minor Op 57) — Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov — not the bloody walrus. [The Big Lebowski reference, here — Lenin, not Lennon.] He said I know nothing that is greater than the Appassionata, but I cannot listen too often; it affects one’s nerves and makes one want to say kind, stupid things, and stroke the heads of those who, living in such a foul hell, can create such beauty. Better to beat the person unmercifully over the head.”

Varga to Emmit saying, “There’s been an accident::  “Things of consequence rarely happen on accident.”

Emmit to Varga:  “I didn’t mean to.”

Varga to Emmit:  “No one ever does.”





Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over ten years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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