Fargo: season 3 episode 4 review – The Narrow Escape Problem
The review contains spoilers.
This episode of Fargo begins with a narration that promises us that each of the characters will be accompanied by a respective musical instrument, and, apparently they all represent a character – a bird, a duck, a cat, a wolf and a grandfather. Upon googling if this has any significance or if it’s a reference to anything, I’ve found that this is indeed a callback to a 1936 ‘symphonic fairy tale for children’ by Sergei Prokofiev.
Fargo has always been ambitious and brave enough to introduce little tidbits like this one to the show in order to spice up the storytelling, and by now it really is becoming Noah Hawley’s signature – the feeling where the watcher can expect something new every episode. With last week’s animated narrative for Thaddeus’ book Gloria was reading on her trip, and this week’s orchestrated characters, it’s not hard to get used to originality every week.
While last week took a break from the main storyline of the show involving the Stussy brothers and the mysterious Varga to focus on Gloria and her lonely search, this time it’s as if we’re thrown back out from that dream into the cruel reality. Here, the hungry wolves prey on unsuspecting birds and Gloria is getting compared to dead soldiers. So, in a sense, it’s all back to normal in the Fargo world.
The feud between the twin brothers moves forward again this week, as we see Ray pretending to be his brother. Which, somehow, Ewan McGregor pulls off and makes believable. I mean, when you’re capable of playing twin brothers, and then playing one of the twin brothers pretending to be the other brother, you know you were the right casting decision.
You can see Ray’s nervousness while playing Emmit, which makes it so obvious to us, the viewers, that Emmit here isn’t Emmit at all. And then when he collects himself and reminds himself of Nikki’s advice that the richest man in the room has the most power, we see him threaten the bank manager with taking his job away. Works like a charm.
Varga gets a certain kind of character development this time, too. As a villain, he is menacing, eerie, but there’s a certain gross quality about him as well. We see him suffering from what seems to be bulimia, or binging and purging. When he shows up at Emmit’s house unannounced for dinner, we can only suspect why and where that’s going.
It seems to mirror Varga’s predatory nature, where he uses other people to gain something for himself, while appearing seemingly with the offer of help. This time, Varga announces to Emmit that he is extending Emmit’s credit by $25 million. But since he’s the wolf in this fairy tale, it is clear that his intentions are not exactly charitable.
As season 3 of Fargo spaces the introductions of new characters out rather than throwing them all at once in the first episode like season 2 did, episode 4 gives us a new character once again. This time, it’s Winnie Lopez, a traffic officer whom Gloria first meets in the bathroom. While her first scene is comedic, her second one adds the much-needed tension to the episode.
Her questioning of Sy made me recall the original Coen brothers’ movie, and its Jerry, a squirmish, nervous character that barely manages to talk his way of trouble. That’s what Sy seemed like when Winnie showed up to do some routine police questioning – the dynamic between a friendly, nosy Winnie and an anxious Sy made for the closest thing this week’s episode got to intensity. It again show’s Hawley’s intuition and knowledge of how to turn a mundane conversation into a tense television moment – something that Fargo holds as its very own trademark since 1996.
While after last week’s unique hour this episode seems more like a transitional one and is rather unexciting at times, it still serves as an important installment to the season, and will hopefully bring more fascinating things in the future.
Image credits: FX