Gilbert Speaks on “Fargo” S03 E01

23 Apr

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I would love to one day meet with Ethan and Joel, the Coen brothers. They seem to have as much of a twisted mind as I do. I was excited to see what they had cooked up for the third season of their popular Fargo Series as I have been a loyal fan ever since the series premiered on FX. Are you ready to visit the strange world of Fargo? You betcha!

The Law of Vacant Places

If it isn’t snowing or packed with several feet of snow, it’s not Fargo, but season 3 opens in 1988 East Berlin with a German man, Jacob Ungerleider (Fabian Busch)  accused of killing someone. The man adamantly denies that he is Yuri Gurka or that he killed his girlfriend. The steely eyed German officer doesn’t believe his prisoner. If the officer accepts the man’s denial of the crime, then the state is at fault of mistaken identity and bad police work. Did the police go to the wrong address? The state can never be at fault. We don’t know what happened to that poor sucker, but we have learned from experience that the Coen brothers take pleasure in serving their fans a feast made of many layers.

The Stussy Brothers

In Minnesota, 2010, we meet two brothers: Emmit and Ray Stussy (both played by Ewan McGregor). This is just the first episode and I am saying that McGregor should win a Grammy for his performance. Emmit is the suave King of Parking Lots, while Ray is a down-on-his-luck probation officer.

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The background story of the Stussy brother’s relationship begins at a birthday party held at Emmit’s home. It’s his wife’s birthday and Emmit (Ewan McGregor) tells his guests how he met Mrs. Stella Stussy. He lived in the same apartment that she once resided and what a funny coincidence; she still had a key. If you love the way the Coen brothers weave their magic, then you quickly see the similarities between Emmit’s story and that of the poor sucker in Berlin. Didn’t that man claim that he had only recently moved into an apartment once rented by Gurka?

Later during the party, Emmit is speaking with his attorney/business partner, Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) and another colleague about paying back a loan. They are puzzled as to why the lenders are not interested in them repaying the loan even though Emmit’s business is now doing well.

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Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) is at the birthday party with his girlfriend, Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). She is on parole and that means Ray is breaking all the rules by dating her. They need money and Ray needs to get this money from his older brother. As Ray enters Emmit’s office, we quickly notice a stamp mounted in a frame over Emmit’s desk. It’s a vintage stamp, and it’s valuable. The stamp features an image of Sisyphus pushing a boulder up a hill. In all the Fargo seasons, there is this theme of meaningless things meaning something important.

Ray wants to buy Nikki a ring, but he needs money. Ray’s license plate says it all, “Ace Hole.” Yep Ray’s a loser, but he and Nikki are champs at playing competitive Bridge and do the circuit with the hope of raising money for a ring. Emmit is tired of paying out for something that Ray says his brother owes him big time. What secret does Ray hold over Emmit’s head? After Emmit refuses to give Ray money, Ray comes up with a plan to steal the valuable stamp.

Officer Burgle

We finally meet the antagonist of this season in the person of Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) as she enters the Red Owl Market where her son is helping her stepfather Ennis Stussy (Scott Hylands). I guess it has to happen when living in a small town; everyone is related to everyone else.

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At dinner that night over Ennis’s home, he gives his grandson a birthday gift. He carved out a figure of two fishermen. Apparently he’s spent some fishing time with his grandson and wanted to commemorate it. We learn that Glory is divorced, and that the other woman who won hubby’s devotion, is not female. The boy is asking his mother if he should consider his father’s male lover his stepfather. Gloria, over her stepfather’s prejudice remarks, gives the open a very open-minded response to her son…live and let live. They head home after dinner but the boy remembers that he’s left his present at his grandfather’s home in Eden Valley…and this is where the dog doo hits the fan.

Mr. Varga

Emmit and Sy finally meet the man who leant them the money. At first, V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) appears a bit befuddled, clueless, but this is only an illusion as Emmit and Sy realize.

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This is a man who is accustomed to getting what he wants, when he wants, and what Varga wants is to be a silent partner in Emmit’s parking lot business. That collateral-free loan was anything but and it is too late for questions.

Maurice LeFay

One of Ray’s parolees that he has to do weekly drug tests on is Maurice (Scoot McNairy). Maurice is having a hard time passing his pissing test because he is a stoner, and in fact, there is a cloud of weed smoke that permanently surrounds Maurice.

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Right now, Maurice’s only claim to fame is serving time in prison for stealing flat screen TVs. That is soon about to change when Ray offers to overlook the failed drug test if Maurice breaks into Emmit’s house in Eden Prairie and steals the coveted vintage stamp.

Conclusion

Never send a stoner to do a simple job. That should be engraved on a gravestone. Maurice is so incapacitated from his favorite pastime that he loses the address Ray gave him, but Maurice is pretty sure he can remember the address. The road was called Eden or something close to that. Poor Ennis suffered a horrific death, but we only observe the death scene when Gloria and her son return to the home to collect the forgotten birthday gift.

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Gloria tells her son to stay in the car and call for backup after finding the house is disarray. The killer might still be inside with Ennis. Shotgun in hand, she searches, but Maurice is long gone. Gloria does find a hidden compartment under a floor board and a strongbox. Inside are science fiction books. One cover features a drawing of the gift given to her son. Gloria thinks this is what the killer was looking for, but why would Ennis hide books?

Nikki and Ray are celebrating in a bathtub filled with bubbles. They came in third-runner-up in the Wildcat Bridge Regionals. Maurice drops in with a handful of useless postage stamps and tells them that he went to the wrong house and that bad stuff happened. Now, he wants to blackmail Ray for $5,000. Thankfully for the plot, Nikki is one shrewd cookie. After Maurice storms out of the apartment, Nikki takes advantage of her landlord’s slow action to repair her air-conditioner. As Maurice exits onto the street, and the events of the last few hours is quickly wiped from his mind…in fact….the 200 pound air-conditioner that squashes him like a roach, instantly solves Ray’s problem. Nikki reports the death as an accident.

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It’s only the first episode and we already have two mysteries and two deaths. I’m hooked and I can’t wait to find out what Jacob Ungerleider has to do with all this. There aren’t that many series on television (except if you count “The Walking Dead” and it’s season seven premiere of Negan bashing in the brains of two beloved characters) that start off with so much shit happening at one time. We are visiting Coen land and nothing is ever normal…not even stamps or hidden books. See you every Wednesday at 10pm on FX.

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2 Responses to “Gilbert Speaks on “Fargo” S03 E01”

  1. MG WELLS May 30, 2017 at 2:43 pm #

    I liked the 1st season the best. Billy Bob was amazing and the cast was top notch. Seems like the series has slowed down. Thanks for sharing…Cheers!

    • gilbertspeaks May 30, 2017 at 9:45 pm #

      MG, you are right about that. Billy Bob was awesome

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