FARGO Review: “The Principle of Restricted Choice”

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’s third season is just starting to heat up out in the cold of the midwest with some pivotal moments in its second episode that lay groundwork for the season ahead. The Stussy twins are already in over their heads, and just when you thought they had made up and were going to live happily ever after, a bloody tampon goes and mucks everything up. It happens every damn time.

Ray Stussy is fussing to his fiance Nikki about how they, you know, murdered one of his parolees with a two hundred pound air conditioner in the season opener. While Nikki is calm and ready to move on as though it had never happened, Ray lets her know that they aren’t out of the woods just yet. Though it is encouraging that Ray checks in on his ex-parolee Maurice’s file at work to find it says he’s deceased due to an accident. But when Nikki tells him that his “chi is all backed up” they know they have to act. Nikki suggests one of two things: either make peace with his brother, or do what they set out to do: get that stamp.

Ray pays a late night visit to Emmit at his home and asks him outside to have a heart to heart. Ray tells him that he hates that their relationship has been ruined because of money and wants to let his brother know that Emmit doesn’t owe him anything and that he’s proud of him. Emmit is touch. Too bad while Ray is chatting him up, Nikki is inside Emmit’s home searching for the stamp. She doesn’t find it where it was supposed to be: framed and hanging on the wall behind Emmit’s desk. What she finds in its place is a framed picture of a donkey, which she takes as a personal slight against her fiance. She also discovers a receipt in the desk drawer for a safety deposit box.

Welp, mission foiled, time to move on, right? Wrong. See, it’s that time of the month for Nikki, and she decides to leave a little message, bloody horse-head in a bed style, for Emmit. Except she leaves her bloody tampon in the desk drawer and writes “Who’s the ass now?” on the donkey picture. Emmit discovers it almost immediately, and is furious. He says he’s done with his brother once and for all, much to the delight of his second hand man Sy Feltz, who earlier in the episode called Ray a loser and let it be known he doesn’t like him.

Sy takes it upon himself to find Ray at a local diner where he tells him he and his little fiance’s stunt just cost him his relationship with his brother; he’ll never talk to Emmit again. Ray calls B.S. but Sy places a twenty dollar bill on the table, telling him it’s the last cent he’ll ever get from Emmit, then leaves. When Ray gives him the finger out the window, Sy backs his hummer into Ray’s old Corvette (twice) and takes off the bumper of an innocent by-parker.

Sy is perhaps a little more irritable than usual because he and Emmit are having a tough week. After V.M. Varga showed up last week telling them that million dollars they borrowed a couple years ago wasn’t a loan but an investment and he’d now be laundering money through their parking lot business, Emmit and Sy understandably wants answers. First they go to their attorney, who clearly doesn’t know what to tell them. But Emmit demands he do some diving and pinpoint just who this Varga guy is.

The old attorney isn’t the savviest computer buff (he doesn’t even know how to press enter on his Google search) and when he gets a result for his V. M. Varga search he downloads the “information” without a second thought. Once downloaded, the computer’s camera opens, snaps a photo, and dies. Later the attorney meets a couple of Varga’s boys in a parking garage, and he takes a dive head first over the railing. It’s ruled a suicide. Late in the episode when Varga’s people start rolling in boxes of paperwork and he tells Emmit to show his men their new office, Varga reveals that it was him who killed their attorney. He says the real tragedy was that it was so avoidable. But he was digging where he shouldn’t have been digging. This scares the bejeezus out of Sy and Emmit. Who knows what they’ll do next.

Meanwhile, former chief Gloria is investigating the murder of her step-dad Ennis. She interviews the gas station attendant who Maurice stole the page of his phonebook from. He shows Gloria and she discovers that the page is in fact the page that had her step-dad’s address on it. So she knows the killer did not know the address. But how does that get her closer to solving this thing? I’m not sure. What’s worse is she’s got a clear demotion, already butting heads with the new chief, who’s giving her time off to grieve and then expecting that they have a talk when she gets back. In the meantime she’s asking around about the name Thaddeus Mobley, the author of the novels she found underneath the floorboards in Ennis’ house. It sounds like she suspects that Ennis was Thaddeus and changed his name. How that will tie into anything, again, I’m not sure.

Overall all the actors are killing it, particularly David Thewlist as V.M. Varga. When he’s on screen I can’t take my eyes away for a moment.

TB-TV-Grade-A-Season 3, Episode 2 (S03E02)
Fargo airs Wednesday at 10PM on FX

Read all of our reviews of Fargo here. 
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Paul didn’t write this review. It is a fateful case of mistaken identity.
Follow Paul on Twitter: @paulgulyas
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Still quiet here.sas

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