Fargo: season 3 finale review – Somebody to Love
The review contains spoilers.
Watching television provides us with the opportunity for catharsis where none exists in real life – things make sense there, there is clear structure to the lives of the people we’re watching. There is plot development. There is build-up. And then upon each season finale there is some sort of climax and resolution, where things suddenly make sense, and loose threads tie into knots.
Fargo season 3 had all the elements of a television season except for the last one. The catharsis that comes with the finale isn’t cathartic at all, and while the subtle hints suggest the possibility of a resolution, subtlety is not always the best way to go. The television viewers are only human, and it is in our very nature to expect some kind of release after watching 10 episodes filled with build-up, hints and clues. So sometimes, just sometimes, it’s fine to just give a climactic season finale that throws all subtlety to the bin and do away with pretentiousness. To put it simply, television is still a medium of entertainment.
Now, it’s not all as bad as I’m making it out to be. The third season still had its moments, and the ride was still okay, for lack of a better word. Characters like Gloria, Nikki, Ray, Emmit and Varga were well-crafted and made us invest in them and their fates. We had beautiful little moments, like Gloria reading the book about the little robot that struggled to do the job it was made for, or Nikki and Mr. Numbers running through the woods at night from the people hunting them before ending up at an otherworldly bowling alley. And looking at each episode individually, there’s not much to complain about either.
It’s when it comes to looking back on the season as a whole that the faults come to the surface. In the end, the overarching storyline simply wasn’t that engaging. Season 1 drew us in with an accidental murder and a vile and manipulative man corrupting a seemingly decent citizen into committing a series of murders. Season 2 gave us the murder of a member of an influential crime family and a vast array of characters and situations that arose from it. Season 3 gave us a story about a 2 cent stamp and borrowing money. I am exaggerating, of course, as there was much more to the story than that, but the fact remains that a whole season based around financial troubles is not something that’s going to keep us guessing at what’s going to happen next.
And then, coming to the final episode, we still expect that the finale to redeem the slow burn that came before and deliver a spectacular hour that will seal the fates of the characters we invested in. It kind of does that with some characters: Nikki and Emmit meet their fates at the barrel of a gun, although Nikki’s death seems hollow somehow, as if we’re supposed to be upset about it, but there’s no dramatic meaning to it. But maybe that’s the point, I don’t know. Maybe the point is that there is no point. But then you have to question what Nikki’s character development meant, if anything at all.
It’s more complicated with Gloria and Varga. Gloria, it seems, has indeed undergone character development, going from a cop that’s about to retire to a worker of Department of Homeland Security. It is actually logical enough, considering her character, and it’s gladdening to see Gloria come out of the season unscathed. Or so it seems. Varga, on the other hand… he remains the same disgusting son of a bitch that we knew, and that’s where the lack of catharsis really shows – after spending the season with a villain like that, we want him to pay at the end. And he doesn’t, really. Not on screen anyway. Instead we’re left with an open ending that’s supposed to make us ponder on whether Varga will go free or if Gloria will have some Snickers and Rikers.
And open endings aren’t always that bad. It is what we choose to believe in that matters, then. And I choose to believe in Snickers and Rikers. Simply because I waited ten episodes and five in-series years for Varga to receive payback. And every decent person will probably want the same.
This review went nowhere specific in the end, but that’s probably fitting considering the content it’s reviewing. It’s still unclear if Fargo is getting a fourth season, but after season 3, I do have a lot of doubts about that. Noah Hawley is a brilliant TV-maker, as he has already demonstrated in the first two seasons of Fargo and the first one of Legion, and many have even called him ahead of his time. But maybe that is why it’s so much easier to be judgmental about a weaker season – because we expect much more from this showrunner at this point. Or maybe he’s so ahead of his time that we, as an audience, haven’t even caught up yet. But for this day and age, it is sad to say that Fargo season 3 is probably not what this series will be remembered for.
Image credit: FX