Fargo: 3.10 Somebody to Love
The following review contains full spoilers for Fargo's season three finale.
When it comes to TV finales, death can seem like an easy way out. When you have characters doing bad things, in situations with high stakes, their demise is obviously a valid option. But more often than not, death can be a cop out of sorts. I would rather prefer shows close character arcs with their lives intact, left to deal with their actions. That being said, Fargo's finale leaves a lot of characters in body bags, and it does so in surprising, poetic ways.
Somebody to Love sets up the fights that we've been waiting to see all season, only to subvert expectations and end those conflicts in very surprising ways. It seemed like Varga was finally going to bite the dust in that unbearably tense warehouse scene, but it was equally satisfying to see the look of utter fear and defeat on his face as his defenses were stripped away by somebody smarter than him, Nikki Swango.
Nikki's final confrontation with Emmit was definitely sad, but not at all unearned. Their dialogue got to the very essence of what these characters had become: Nikki, a shell of what she once was after losing her true love; Emmit, a man who wants nothing more than to atone for the sins that are tearing him apart. But in getting swept up by Nikki's near-holy quest for vengeance, we sort of forgot that her murderous spree was highly illegal and incredibly dangerous. So of course she would die in a standoff with the cops, with Emmit standing in between them, mercifully (or perhaps mercilessly) unscathed.
And yet, Fargo has never been a completely cynical show, and Emmit most certainly deserved to bite the dust. After a massive leap in time, we find him just as intent as he was in the beginning. He is a man whose self-worth is measured by others, so he apparently decided that since his family accepted him again, he was completely in the clear. It was kind of disgusting to see how guilt-free he was, even as Sy (oh, poor Sy) sat beside him, almost totally crippled by Varga's poisoning. But thankfully, Wrench was there to give Emmit his comeuppance, courtesy of a bullet to the brain. Call it poetic justice.
Last but certainly not least, the polar opposites of the show clashed for a brilliant final scene. Varga, that master of manipulation, played a game of mental acrobatics with firm-footed Gloria, now an agent with the Department of Homeland Security. It's yet another spiel from Varga about how reality is not as concrete as we are meant to believe, but it's as effective and intriguing as ever. He says that the past is unpredictable and the future is certain, and, perhaps because of David Thewlis's magnetic performance, I almost believe him.
But Gloria remains confident in her "you'll get what's coming to you" philosophy. That final question -- will Varga go to jail or be set free? -- is the perfect culmination of the truth vs. perception conflict that defined Fargo season three. And smartly, creator Noah Hawley doesn't presume to know the answer to any of the questions he poses, choosing instead to leave the ending very open. Is Varga's reach truly enough to shape reality, or will he finally be brought down by Gloria's law and justice? That's for you, the viewer, to decide.
If this is the end of Fargo, then it's a great way to go into that long dark night. While it didn't quite reach the near-untouchable heights of the second season, this was a very effective story made truly great by the brilliant payoff of its final hours. Carrie Coon and Mary Elizabeth Winstead give fantastic turns and with Varga, Hawley has created a villain worthy of being in the same conversation as Lorne Malvo. And while I'll miss this unique TV setting, at least Fargo can brag about a three-season run with nary a misstep. In the immortal words of Gloria Burgle: Okay then.