Who's Having The Worst Week On Fargo?
Folks up north can cram a lot of misery into just a few hours of daylight.
Days are pretty short during late December in Minnesota. It's just gotten light out at 8 in the morning, and it starts to go dark again at around 4:30. Last week, we saw Emmit at home getting dressed during full daylight -- which, combined with the hour-plus commute from his Eden Prairie home to his St. Cloud office, meant he was unlikely to reach work before 10 AM. Of course, there are advantages to being the boss, but for the rest of us, those precious hours of daytime are barely enough to accommodate a day's work. Or, measured another way, about five episodes of Fargo.
During this week's episode, we got a glimpse of Sy's cell phone display indicating that the date is December 22, which is not quite our shortest day of the year but it's close enough not to matter. Yet despite the scarcity of those sunlight hours, this must have seemed like a mighty long day to those Fargo characters who had to live through them -- some of them more than others, so here is a ranking of how the day went for the show's lead characters, from first to worst.
Gloria's had a break in the case of her stepdad's murder, and now she's sweating her suspect! Which is good. But then her stubborn new know-nothing boss Moe orders her to cut said suspect loose, so her investigation is at a dead end. On the other hand, she and Officer Lopez might be at the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Even better, Gloria doesn't have to tangle with any motion detectors. On balance, that's a win.
The wolf in this story must have thought he'd found easy prey with Stussy Lots, but he still needs the company's cooperation, and he's starting to realize that he's stumbled into an endless amateur hour. Sure, Emmit wants to play ball, but he's in over his head, and Varga has to worry about his feud with "Raymond" and now scrutiny from the IRS. Plus, while it may look like great fun to intimidate and humiliate people, it's the dead of winter. That's no time of year to be standing in the middle of drafty parking ramps waiting to Emmit to drive in, or to squeegee one's dingus around the inside of someone else's empty coffee mug. Once your man-meat touches that cold surface, shrinkage sets right in, and it takes some hip action to get your dick-helmet all the way to the bottom. So undignified. Finally, it's only 2010, which means Varga's brand of casual anti-Semitism won't start coming back into vogue for another six years or so.
Things aren't going great for Ray. The fight with his brother keeps escalating; he's questioned by the cops when he knows he's guilty; and he comes home at the end of the day to find his new fiancée unconscious in his tub with what looks like internal injuries. On the other hand, he's got a new fiancée, so that's a plus. And if he also happens to be the kind of guy who's into sexual roleplaying in front of a video camera, that's icing. Of course, the closest she'll get to returning his declarations of love is telling him, "You're sweet," but he's in no position to be picky.
Emmit's had problems on two fronts for a while -- with his brother, and with Varga. But right now I'm sure he'd much rather get it back down to that much more manageable number. After the fake sex tape showed up at his house, his relationship with his family is in jeopardy. And now he's also in deep shit with the IRS thanks to Ray's unauthorized bank withdrawal on his behalf. Even his longstanding relationship with Sy is dissolving into recriminations and mistrust. "Everything's broken!" Emmit whines. Which seems like an exaggeration. Sure, his home, personal, and professional lives are spinning out of his control, but he still has nice clothes and a nice house and a nice car. At least until he has to exchange them all for an orange jumpsuit and a cell at St. Cloud Correctional.
The high point of Sy's day is getting to do a scene with Mary McDonnell, but then that would be the high point of anyone's day, any day. As for Sy, his morning starts out with insult and mortification that's so comprehensive he later cops to feeling like he's "left the known world." Varga hijacks his office, puts down his wife, defiles Sy's "World's Greatest Dad" mug with his own dad-organ, forces him to drink from it, and reveals that Emmit has made Varga a partner. Sy's only exit strategy now is to try to sell the company outright to the widow Goldfarb. She would at least be a more worthy opponent to the invading barbarian than the carload of Despicable Me Minions Varga is dealing with now. But Sy can't even pursue that avenue without being interrupted by the fallout from Emmit's latest skirmish with Ray and Nikki, which culminates in a whole breakdown between the two in which Emmit demands of Sy, "What is the point of you?" Sy's ready to buy Nikki off, which must be bitter pill to swallow even at the discount he's demanding, and then the whole negotiation is derailed when Yuri and Meemo show up to escalate their intimidation campaign. It's pretty awful how the direction makes Nikki's subsequent beating all about Sy, focusing on his face as her screams and grunts trail off into silence under the kicks and blows, as if he's the one with the problem right now. Let's hope that as much as he hates her, he at least feels like an asshole for doing nothing to protect or help a woman he led to this location, and for abandoning her there for dead after she takes a savage punishment that should have been his. On Stussy property, no less.
Unfortunately for Emmit, Nikki is a dangerous kind of opponent: the kind who is capable of exaggerating her enemy's misdeeds in order to justify doing anything she wants. Unfortunately for Nikki, she has no way of knowing that she's not just facing off against Emmit and Sy anymore. We know that when Yuri starts talking to somebody he just met about the barbarism of the old country, violence is only seconds away. And sadly, so does Nikki now. Sy's day may have been a near-uniform wall of suck, whereas Nikki had a marriage proposal, a fun shopping trip, and a sign that Sy's resolve is wavering. But if your day ends with you getting beaten to within an inch of your life, that day is automatically worse than the day of someone who didn't.