‘Fargo’ Recap: When a Working Man With Hillbilly Hair Met Miss State Penitentiary

Kimberly Potts
Writer, Yahoo Entertainment
David Thewlis as V.M. Varga in FX’s Fargo.
(Photo: Chris Large/FX)

Warning: This recap for the “The Law of Inevitability” episode of Fargo contains spoilers.

In which Emmit’s world begins to unravel, Nikki’s heart is broken, and Gloria continues to fight against Captain Coincidence.

17 things we learn in “The Law of Inevitability”:

1. Call him Scrooge: it’s Christmas Eve, and maybe a mouse isn’t stirring, but V.M. Varga is. He’s at Emmit’s house, unwrapping all the family’s gifts from under the tree, and putting into a pile the ones he’s keeping for himself. That includes a tie, cologne, and a grilling fork, i.e. all the best dad gifts.

2. Things are less merry for Ray, of course, as his face is marinating in a pool of his own blood when Gloria and Winnie return to his house and find his dead body.

3. And then there’s Nikki Swango, sitting alone in her hotel room, icing her injuries and starting to panic about where Ray is. She picks up the phone, presumably to call him, when a housekeeper knocks on the door. Nikki runs to the bathroom and starts trying to shimmy out of the window, but the hotel room door bursts open as cops come running in, and nab her. She’s taken to a squad car and hauled off to the hoosegow. Meemo sits in his car in the parking lot, watching her perp walk.

4. At a restaurant, Emmit arrives, via the back entrance, just as Varga had advised. He meets with Sy, who’s trying to seal the deal on Mrs. Goldfarb buying the Stussy company. He’s feeling a little loopy, and jokes that maybe he should be buying Mrs. Goldfarb’s business. “You don’t get to where I am by sticking to the plan,” Emmit tells her, in the first of many things he shouldn’t be saying to Mrs. G, or saying aloud at all.

Michael Stuhlbarg as Sy Feltz, Ewan McGregor as Emmit Stussy and Mary McDonnell as Widow Goldfarb in FX’s Fargo. (Photo: Chris Large/FX)

5. In the St. Cloud PD interrogation room, Nikki is handcuffed to a table when Moe Dammik comes in and places a crime scene photo of Ray in front of her. “Dead, if you couldn’t tell,” he says. Nikki tries not to react, certainly doesn’t cry, and pushes the photo away. Dammik tells her her bruises have been noted. “I’m a simple guy. When it snows, I put on boots. Sun comes out, I wear shades,” he tells Nikki. “I see a girl like you and a guy like that, I think, ‘How’s a working man with hillbilly hair and a beer belly land Miss State Penitentiary 2010?’ Then I get the record. I see the girl got 18 months probation… and the guy with his head half cut off was the schlub who signed the forms.” That, plus the bruises, suggest to him that Ray beat her and she killed him, Dammik adds.

Nikki’s only response is to tell him she wants an attorney, which he says will be a mistake. Her history, Ray’s history, their shared domicile and the fact that Ray was a “beer-drinking loser” will doom her, he says. He leaves and tells Nikki he’s leaving the crime scene photo with her, “in case you’re the kind of girl who likes to take pride in her work.” The Swango picks up the photo and examines it… is she noting the tiny pieces of glass surrounding Ray’s body?

6. Gloria and Winnie are called into the office of the St. Cloud PD chief, who’s waiting with Dammik. The SCPD honcho tells the women his homicide squad is taking over the investigation of Ray’s death. Gloria points out she’s the chief of the Eden Valley PD, and wants to talk to Nikki. Moe Dammik says he just did. “Which I’m sure was enlightening for her, without all the proper nuance,” Gloria rebuts. She tells the SCPD chief she has a grid connecting all the players, the victims and the suspects and the Stussys. SCPD chief is unimpressed though, telling Winnie to return to her post in traffic enforcement. Dammik dismisses Gloria, who rushes to catch up with Winnie. She tells her cohort she’s going to stay at the station and try to talk to Nikki, and tells Winnie to go find Emmit and break the news of Ray’s death to him, to gauge his reaction.

Dammik has more harsh words for Gloria: he tells her she’s fired unless she rides out the time until he takes over as chief as vacation time.

7. Hapless Donny is on duty at the Eden Valley PD office, where he’s evaluating potential mates via a cell phone app. It’s Christmas Eve, and his holiday search for love is interrupted by a call from a local resident about a disturbance. He tells the person he’ll be on the scene in a jif, and he gets all the way to his car, cleans the snow off his windshield, and starts to get behind the wheel before he remembers what he forgot: his gun. He goes back into the station (slash town library), where he runs into a guy — Varga’s minion Yuri — reading a book. Don’t worry if you’re picturing Donny all kinds of dead; instead, Yuri convinces Donny he’s seeing things, standing in the station talking to himself. He directs him to pick up his gun and go, which Donny does, followed by Yuri and the Ennis Stussy murder investigation file.

8. Back at the restaurant, Mrs. Goldfarb points out a red spot on Emmit’s shirt. He starts dabbing at it immediately with his napkin and some water, saying it was from the wine he had at lunch. Rattled by the spot, Emmit launches into a rant, telling Mrs. G about Stella leaving him because of a sex tape he was being blackmailed with. He tells her he has enemies, deadbeats with their hands out… “the jackals, laughing in the dark, trying to pick the meat off your bones.”

Sy tries to get Emmit to settle down, or at the least, clam up, but Mrs. G agrees with him. “Money is a blessing and a curse,” she says, which only riles him more. “No, don’t blame money… it’s people,” he says. “Have you heard of the vile maxim? ‘All for ourselves and nothin’ for other people’ is the vile maxim of the masters of mankind. You think a rich man wrote that? No. It was the others, the grubby hands outside the glass, trying to get in, putting their filthy peckers in…”

Mary McDonnell as Widow Goldfarb in FX’s Fargo. (Photo: Chris Large/FX)

9. During Emmit’s meltdown, Sy sees officer Winnie enter the restaurant. He’s angered, saying it feels like she’s stalking them. He approaches her, and after a few seconds of animated conversation, he waves Emmit over.

Winnie: “Mr. Stussy, your brother…”

Emmit: “I been here since six!”

Winnie: “Huh?”

Emmit: “Just been sittin’ here all night gabbin’. Sy’ll tell you. Business, or more social, I guess. I had a few drinks.”

Winnie finally tells him what she came to tell him, that his brother is dead.

Emmit: “It’s that girlfriend, the criminal. You should bring her in, put the cuffs on! If anyone had motive…”

Winnie: “Motive for what, sir? I never said…”

Sy tries to explain that Emmit is just upset, that he’s had some alcohol. Emmit tries to recover by asking if Ray had a heart attack, and Winnie tells him they suspect foul play. Sy refers Winnie to their attorney if she needs a statement, and after describing Ray as a troubled saint, he tells Winnie he needs to get Emmit home. When the fellas leave, Winnie goes to Mrs. Goldfarb’s table to ask her a few questions, and she probably got quite an earful after Mrs. G’s chat with Emmit.

10. Sy and Emmit arrive at the Stussy manse, and Sy immediately goes into helper mode, telling Emmit he’ll arrange to have Ray buried in the family plot, and he’ll talk to Mrs. Goldfarb in case the cops decide to question her (yes, they underestimate the cop skills of Winnie and Gloria at their own peril). Sy asks Emmit if he thinks Varga is behind Ray’s death, given what V.M. did to Irv, and Emmit turns on his friend and business partner. Sparked by the seeds if discord Varga had planted days before, Emmit says it’s funny, the timing of Ray and Nikki coming to his party, when he was in the black, and of Ray accessing his bank account. Maybe Ray and Sy are in cahoots, he’s hinting.

Sy looks hurt, and then he gets angry. He knows this is Varga thinking. “In the face of all logic, that somehow I decided — me! — the partner in a multi-million dollar corporation, that decided to, what, turn on you, join forces with your leptard brother and his syphilitic floozy, so I could turn millions into thousands?! What’s the math there?”

Emmit apologizes to Sy, saying he just doesn’t know who to trust. Sy reminds him, he can trust him, always. And he says he’s more convinced than ever that he and Emmit need to “hit the eject button,” sell the company to Mrs. Goldfarb. Sy says he knows Emmit has reservations about putting Mrs. G in harm’s way, an innocent bystander, but what choice do they have? Hmm, that kind of thinking sounds an awful lot like the vile maxim Emmit spoke of earlier…

Before he goes, Sy offers to call Stella, telling Emmit it could lead to a reconciliation, considering the circumstances. Emmit, surprisingly, says no, he wants to be alone. But when Sy prepares to drive off, he looks up and sees Varga standing in an upstairs window of Emmit’s home.

11. Inside, Varga asks Emmit how he feels. “Free,” Emmit answers. Then V.M. shares a rhyme his mother used to tell him: “There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile. He found a crooked sixpence upon a crooked stile. He bought a crooked cat, which caught a crooked mouse. And they all lived together in a little crooked house.” As he speaks, Emmit breaks into a sob. And at Sy’s home, he falls into his wife’s arms, sobbing, telling her, “It looks like my world, but everything is different.”

12. Gloria’s still at the SCPD station, and she’s been told she needs a form to get in to talk to Nikki. She goes to an office to get the form, only to find out she needs another form, completed and signed, to get the first form. No, actually, she needs yet another form, completed and signed, to get the second form, which she can complete and get signed, so she can get the original form she requested… which she still needs to fill out and get signed.

13. Gloria wisely takes matters into her own hands, which proves to be a lifesaver for Nikki. A man in a police uniform enters the holding cell room and tells Nikki to back up to the cell door and put her hands through the bars. She does, and he cuffs her. He then takes out a giant syringe, and is about to plunge it into The Swango when Gloria comes in and draws her gun on Syringe Guy. She gets him to drop the syringe, but he turns around and disorients her enough to get away. Dammik and two other officers come in and subdue Gloria, while Dammik is yet again doubtful of anything she describes as suspicious. He thinks the syringe could be Nikki’s. Gloria suggests they review the surveillance camera.

14. They review the surveillance footage, and the footage of the exact time Syringe Guy made his attack — and Gloria stopped it — is missing. Gloria is incredulous that Dammik still insists that everything in the Stussy murder universe is a coincidence, even though three people are dead now, and the victims and the suspects are all connected.

15. Dammik agrees to accompany Gloria to talk to Nikki. The first thing Nikki says is that she doesn’t want them to cut open her Ray. She won’t say anything else, so Gloria tells her they both know Syringe Guy was there to kill her for something she saw or something she knows. Gloria then shares a theory with Nikki: that Ray hired a con to rob Emmit, and things went “from bad to worse.” Then, maybe Emmit came back at Ray even harder, Gloria suggests.

“Maybe not the brother,” Nikki quietly tells her.

Gloria: “Meaning?”

Nikki: “Follow the money. That’s all I’ll say.”

Dammik tells Nikki her parole has been revoked, and that she’s being transferred to the state pen. He also tells her the syringe is being tested, but “nutbag with a syringe or no nutbag with a syringe,” he’d bet a jury will convict her

16. Gloria promises to visit Nikki after the holiday, when Nikki can tell her all about Ray. Gloria also says she’ll bring her pie, and, apparently touched by the only kindness she’s been shown in the bewildering time since she found out her beloved is dead, Nikki tells her she likes coconut cream pie with chocolate flakes on top.

17. Gloria heads home and Nikki is loaded onto the prison transport bus, where she’s seated in the back. The bus is rolling along the dark, snowy road, when a man walks into the road in front of it. The driver swerves, and what results is the bus full of convicts being tossed around as the vehicle rolls. Nikki is laying, unconscious, against the side of the bus, as the night walker — Yuri — enters the bus and starts to saw through the cage that separates him from Ms. Swango.

Don’tcha Know:

*Anyone else thinking Mrs. Goldfarb is not the naïve widow Sy and Emmit may think she is? Like maybe she’s playing them? Maybe she’s even an associate of Varga’s?

*Emmit’s “vile maxim” speech to Mrs. Goldfarb is inspired by a quote from economist Adam Smith: “All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.”

*Only three more episodes remain in Season 3: Who do you think will be alive at the end of the season finale?

Fargo airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX