Fargo: 3.09 Aporia
This review contains spoilers for the ninth episode of Fargo's third season.
In a show filled with murder and amoral shenanigans, Aporia opens with what may be the most ethically questionable act so far: a man turned on his sprinklers to wet his lawn that was already covered in snow. This man definitely deserved, at the most, a mean scolding. He probably didn't deserve to have his throat slit. But alas, Meemo's dirty work was completed, and Varga's latest plot was unleashed as Fargo nears its swan song.
The plasticity of truth is the calling card of this (reportedly final) season, and all of Varga's philosophical speeches about reality and perception culminated in a very physical sense as Meemo struck out to find and murder anyone named Stussy. The endgame, as we find out, is to make it seem like a string of serial killings, leaving a candy trail for the cops that leads to a man with evidence from all four killings and a confession.
Thanks to this, Emmit's confession to Gloria becomes completely irrelevant. It's so interesting to see these two people -- a guilt-ridden murderer and a no-nonsense policewoman -- finding company in their mutual disappointment over the state of everything. For most of the season, the Stussy brothers were, in my opinion, the least interesting of the major players. But in the fallout since Ray's death, Ewan McGregor has really stepped up and made the most of meatier material. Watching Emmit slink, hopeless and defeated, into Varga's grasp near the end of the episode was one of that character's best moments: even though he's not a perfect man, his attempted atonement has been valiant, and he definitely doesn't deserve to be controlled by Varga.
Speaking of taking advantage of meatier material, props to Carrie Coon for giving a simply stellar performance. There have been moments this season when Gloria felt neglected, but Aporia featured some major moments of vulnerability and intimacy for her. Hats off to Gloria's bar scene with Winnie (a character whose necessity I questioned until this point) was easily the most emotionally resonant of the season. If you had told me earlier this year that watching a person run their hand under an automatic sink would've given me the feels, I would've called you crazy. Such is the magic of Fargo.
But the standout scene of this episode was Nikki's showdown with Varga. It was a perfectly paced confrontation with impeccably-written dialogue and nail-biting tension. Mary Elizabeth Winstead is triumphant as the confident Nikki, and it's both terrifying and satisfying to see Varga's facade crumbling. It's funny: going into this season, Ewan McGregor looked like the clear front runner for this year's favorite Fargo actor, but Winstead, Coon, and David Thewlis have all put in marvelous, award-worthy performances.
Fargo's creators promised a cinematic approach to this final season, and everything is tying up accordingly. While the earlier episodes had their faults (or, if not faults, then a lack of standout moments), this penultimate hour was immensely moving and satisfying. Will the finale live up to all the promise Aporia shows? Knowing this show's track record, my guess is a resounding "you betcha."