Warning: Spoilers ahead for the “Somebody to Love” Season 3 finale episode of Fargo.
In which Gloria Burgle finally gets her man.
15 things we learn in “Somebody to Love”:
1. Gloria Burgle has written her resignation letter as a Meeker County Sheriff’s Department Deputy. She signs it and puts it in Chief Dammik’s inbox, and packs up her desk belongings in a box. As she’s on her way out the door, she gets a call from Larue Dollard, IRS agent. He found a card with her name and phone number on it inside the packet of Stussy Lots Ltd. financial documents he received, and he wants to ask her some questions. She didn’t send those docs, she says, but when he mentions $200 million worth of fraud connected to the names Emmit Stussy, Sy Feltz, and V.M. Varga, she tells him she’s on her way to his office, and stops to retrieve her resignation letter from Dammik’s office on the way.
2. Varga and Meemo and lots of gun-toting minions are at Emmit’s house, where Varga is having him sign yet more documents. Varga tells Emmit he should be happy, as his first action item is complete… “the accumulation of wealth.” Emmit says he’s just tired, and puts his head down on the table. “It’s perfectly natural,” V.M. says. “You see it all the time in the wild. The smaller animal going limp in the jaws of the larger… genetic instinct. On some level, food knows it’s food.”
3. Nikki Swango and Wes are in a hotel room, lining up an arsenal of weaponry on the bed. He asks her if they should call “him,” and she says she’ll call in 10 minutes. She does; her call is to Varga, to set up a time to meet for the exchange of cash for hard drives. He tells her he’ll be coming with a “fire team,” so she doesn’t try any funny business. While he’s on the phone with her, Meemo is packing up the signed papers when Emmit lunges at him and steals his gun. “I am not food!” he yells at V.M., who distracts him with fast talk and a spray of breath freshener to the eyes while Meemo sneaks up behind him and knocks him out. He and Meemo head out for the meeting with Nikki, telling the minions to wipe the house clean, as if they’d never been there.
4. Varga, Meemo, and the fire team arrive in an industrial area, where a young boy directs them to the King Midas Storage building. After the minions check out the lobby, Meemo — who’s carrying a briefcase full of, presumably, cash for Nikki — and Varga enter. A sign spray-painted on the floor directs them to take the elevator to the third floor, locker number 327. Up they go, and Meemo and the men slowly make their way to the end of the hall, while Varga hangs out right inside the elevator, holding the door open. Locker 327 contains a table and a note, which further instructs them to leave the money, and retrieve the drives from unit 209. Just then, Varga notices the service elevator opening, as he receives a text message. “IRS has the drives. Get out,” it reads, and while he warns his men to run, he also allows the elevator to close on Meemo, trapping him and the others on the floor as Varga escapes and the service elevator opens. In the elevator, Varga hears gunfire and yelling, then nothing. Down in the lobby, Nikki awaits the descending elevator with a gun, but when it opens, Varga isn’t in it. His trench coat is. Wes soon comes down in the other elevator, carrying Meemo’s now bloodied briefcase. Wes opens it; it’s full of cash. Nikki takes two stacks out of the dozens, then points from the case to Wes. He shakes his head no, but she says, “It’s yours.” She signs to him that all she wants is the brother, then she touches Wes’s arm, and leaves with a shotgun.
5. At his house, Emmit wakes up with a bloody head and the infamous stamp stuck to his forehead. When he notices it in his car window reflection, he takes it off and throws it to the ground. That stamp, at the center of the demise of his relationship with his brother, and directly involved in Ray’s death, is now worth so little to Emmit that he tosses it in the gravel and drives away.
6. At Stussy EQ, Emmit arrives to find his furniture being moved out, and Mrs. Goldfarb sitting at his desk. He gets it: She’s the big bad. “You work for Varga, all this time,” Emmit says. “Like a fire that leads to another fire.” She tells him those documents he signed means he sold all Stussy assets to her company, Realignment, for $100,000. His company, or what’s left of it, is now carrying a debt load of more than $300 million. She advises him to file for Chapter 11 immediately, but to rest assured that his personal wealth has been carefully hidden. Then she snaps her fingers to have her security men escort him from his, er, her office.
7. Gloria is at the IRS, talking to Larue, who explains to her what Varga was up to at Stussy: not money laundering, but a leveraged buyout, or “bleed out.” He explains: “An outside entity acquires a healthy company, borrows millions of dollars in its name, which is pocketed by the partners. Then they sell the company, now laden with debt, for a fraction of the price.” And it’s legal, he says, as long as they pay taxes, which Varga, etc., did not.
8. Winnie calls Gloria to the crime scene at the storage building. Dead Meemo is brought out of the building. Winnie says her chief thinks there was an ambush, and they have elevator security camera photos as evidence. The target, they believe: Varga. The perps: Nikki and a man whose photo they don’t recognize. We do: it’s Wes. Gloria also realizes Nikki is the one who sent the Stussy financials to Larue, because “they killed her man.” Gloria tells Winnie to issue a BOLO, and goes off to warn Emmit about Nikki’s vengeance quest.
9. Emmit’s driving on a deserted highway when his car engine dies. He gets out and tries to make a call, but has no cell reception, and smashes his phone to the ground. Just then, a Ford pickup pulls in behind him on the side of the road, but it’s not help. It’s Nikki, with her shotgun pointed at him. She asks him if he’s as low as he can go, and tells him she’s been watching as “this Varga fella plucked you like a chicken.” She says Varga’s gone now, but she’s there to finish the job. Before she can, a state trooper arrives, and a shootout ensues. Nikki shoots the trooper just as he shoots her, and they both fall dead in the highway. Emmit, of course, is unscathed, and gets in his car, which now starts, and drives off.
10. After his highway trauma, Emmit drives to ex-wife Stella’s house. She opens the door, and he starts crying and falls to his knees, and she rubs his back.
11. Flash forward five years: Emmit, Stella, their child and grandchild, as well as a wheelchair-bound Sy and his wife, are having dinner in that same house. Messages on the screen tell us Emmit declared personal bankruptcy in 2011. He also plead guilty to misdemeanor tax fraud, and received two years of probation. It’s also believed, but cannot be proven, that he has $20 million in an off-shore account. Emmit says grace, acknowledging they’ve had some hard times, made some mistakes, but now those gathered at the table “see the light.”
12. Emmit goes to the kitchen to get the gelatin salad from the refrigerator. After he smiles while looking at a fridge photo of he and the pre-poisoning Sy, he opens the fridge and reaches for the Jell-O, just as Wes sneaks up on him, and, with a silencer-laden gun, shoots and kills him.
13. Three months later, Gloria, wearing a jacket with the letters “DHS” on it, walks into a high security office. A man tells her “he” was recognized via face recognition software as he came in from Brussels. When Gloria enters another room, “he” is sitting at a small table: V.M. Varga. He doesn’t remember her, he says, and he also claims his name is Daniel Rand, an accounting software salesman. Gloria tells him she works for the Department of Homeland Security — the Minneapolis office —– and asks him if he knew Emmit Stussy was murdered three months ago (“Pitchfork peasants,” he mumbles). She also asks him if he did it. After minutes of back-and-forth in which V.M. Varga’s once-charming doublespeak now seems like the pretentious ramblings of a high school philosophy student, Gloria finally cuts to the chase: six people are dead, including a state trooper, and $200 million is missing. Varga is going to be sent to Riker’s Island jail, and will be charged with felony money laundering and six counts of conspiracy to commit murder, while she spends the next day at the Minnesota State Fair with her son. She’ll be eating deep-fried Snickers bars in the colorful fair setting, while he eats “mashed potatoes from a box in a dark room.”
14. “No. That’s not what’s gonna happen next,” he tells her. “What’s gonna happen next is in five minutes that door is going to open and a man you can’t argue with will tell you I’m free to go, and I will stand from this chair and disappear from the world, so help me, God.”
“Rikers and Snickers bars. You’ll see,” Gloria insists.
15. More than five minutes pass. V.M. Varga is still sitting in that chair, and Gloria smiles with visions of crispy Snickers bars dancing in her head.
* The Swango deserved a better ending. And sure, it’d have to be a prequel now, but I’d still watch a Nikki Swango spinoff, so much the better if it could simultaneously unfold the backstories of Gloria Burgle and Winnie Lopez.
* Larue Dollard’s pithy explanation of a leveraged buyout is the best pop culture financial lesson since Trading Places.
* “He’s a kitten now, Ray, in case you were wonderin’,” Nikki tells Emmit. As she raises the gun to shoot him — just before the trooper arrives — she begins to recite Paul Marrane’s words to him: “’Though thy exalt thyself like the eagle, though thy make thy nest in the stars, thence will I bring thee down,’ sayeth the Lord.” She doesn’t get to finish it before the trooper lands one gunshot to her forehead.
* After Gloria sees Nikki dead in the highway, she tries to explain to her son what happened to his grandpa, Ennis. She doesn’t want him to know the goriest of details, telling him, “There’s violence to knowing the world isn’t what you thought.” She also tells him that sometimes the world doesn’t make a lot of sense, and the way we get through it, is by sticking together.
* Gloria, knowing she’s finally got V.M. Varga: “You ever guess a pig’s weight or eat a deep-fried Snickers bar? There’s no better way to spend a Saturday in this, our great American experiment.”