Fargo Season 3 Kicks off with Double the Fun
Just like the Coens’ A Serious Man, season three of Fargo opens with a parable set in a seemingly unconnected territory – an East Berlin holding facility at the end of the Cold War. When we make it to our familiar snow-caked rural America, we find a new mixture of scheming characters and quietly boiling tensions, although little else carries over from season two.
At the heart of the story, Ewan McGregor takes on the roles of both successful businessman Emmit Stussy and his unfortunate brother Ray, a pair that only sees each other through official business visits. Although the show doesn’t need the two-role gimmick, McGregor hits the two different tones so well that the gimmick fades almost immediately into the story. Despite being pleasant on the surface, the brotherly love of the Stussy brothers is quickly tested over the rights to a vintage stamp collection, reminding of Marge Gunderson’s wise words on the importance of the two-cent stamp.
Meanwhile, the Big Stussy keeps his condescending partner (Michael Stuhlbarg) at his side at all times, ready to undermine the lesser of the brothers whenever possible. Clearly this aggression cannot stand, and we get the feeling that we’ll be chasing some form of retribution for the bulk of the season.
Also wrapped up into the story are a bevy of other characters who feel familiar to the Coen universe. Upbeat Carrie Coon, a high-ranking police officer, has a tough act to follow as she slides into Frances McDormand’s shoes, yet Coon seems to be a terrific fit as she bravely plunges into a slow-burning mystery. Then there is Ray’s headstrong girlfriend Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who appears much better suited for criminal life than her slow-witted other half. We also have mysterious outsider V.M. Varga, played by David Thewlis as an abhorrent import who seems to be controlling at least some of the puppet strings. The Big Lebowski fans will also likely love the very un-Dude version of Jeff Bridges’ famous character in the form of actor Scoot McNairy, who plays a walking disaster who exemplifies the criminal idiocy of the show.
Of course, sprinkling the audience with references to other material can be tiresome, but not when they’re this nuanced and the characters filled with such detail. Instead of stealing directly, Fargo borrows tidbits from the Coens and always finds a way to spin into new territory, combining for an homage that is both a remix of familiar elements and entirely its own creation. All together we end up with another string of ill-conceived plots that could spin out in any number of directions this season, reminding us that absolutely anything can and does happen in the middle of nowhere. More on Fargo The Law of Vacation Places Season 3 Episode 1 Recap
Fargo The Law of Vacant Places Season 3 Episode 1 characters and cast include:
Emmit Stussy/Ray Stussy – Ewan McGregor (Trainspotting, Beauty and the Beast, August: Osage County, The Ghost Writer, Black Hawk Down, Miss Potter, The Impossible, Moulin Rouge)
Gloria Burgle – Carrie Coon (Strange Weather, Gone Girl, Ironside, The Leftovers)
Dale – Joel Labelle (Rupture, Hannibal, Shadowhunters: The Mortal Instruments)
Sy Feltz – Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man, Boardwalk Empire, Miss Sloane, Doctor Strange, Arrival, Hitchcock, Blue Jasmine)
Stella Stussy – Linda Kash (Cinderella Man, Waiting for Guffman, Best in Show, Are We Done Yet?)
Ron Burgle – Andrew Moxham (Hot Rod, 2012, Timeless, White Raven)
V. M. Varga – David Thewlis (The Theory of Everything, Macbeth, The Big Lebowski, Seven Year in Tibet, Timeline, Kingdom of Heaven, Dinotopia, The New World, The Omen, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, War Horse, Anomalisa)
Ennis Stussy – Scott Hylands (Night Heat, Guidestones, V, Beyond the Black Rainbow, Death Hunt)
Maurice LeFay – Scoot McNairy (Monsters, Argo, Halt and Catch Fire, Gone Girl, Bones, 12 Years a Slave, Our Brand is Crisis, Non-Stop)