Fargo: 3.02 The Principle of Restricted Chaos

This review contains full spoilers for the latest episode of Fargo.

If you need any evidence that this new Fargo is trying its best to be just different enough from the two Fargo's before it, just look at our newest police heroine, Gloria Burgle. Played brilliantly by The Leftover's Carrie Coon, Gloria differs from both Lou and Molly Solverson in that her family is broken. Where the Solversons were a tight-knit group, with the matriarch's cancer serving as the group's only real rough patch, Gloria has to juggle child custody with her recently outed ex-husband, and is now coping with the loss of her not-at-all-friendly step father. She lives in a world that ignores her like those pesky automatic doors, where her pen-and-paper ways are getting her in trouble with her tech-savvy superiors. And yet, her can-do attitude and ability to express a lot of emotion with few words make her worthy to root for.

The Principle of Restricted Chaos is most effective when giving its side characters like Gloria room to grow. In fact, the most exciting and entertaining faces are those not played by the season's biggest thespian, Ewan McGregor.

Fresh off of a homicide-by-appliance, the dangerous vixen Nikki Swango plays things cool and collected. Her disregard for Maurice's life is alarming, and the charisma and confidence she emits while Ray's nerves are frayed make her one of the season's most interesting players. Just two episodes in, and she's already broken TV ground twice: I've never seen somebody murder someone with an AC unit and then turn around and commit vandalism with a tampon and period blood. That strange scene had the show's most pitch-black humor to date. Plus, it was a great way to escalate the tension between the Stussy brothers.

Speaking of escalation: Emmit's right-hand man Sy fancies himself Emmit's voice of reason, but his disgust at the tampon fiasco and obvious dislike for Ray led to another huge scene, as he confronted Ray and completely wrecked the red Corvette. Talk about irony: Emmit has now taken both the vintage stamps and the car from Ray. Surely, nothing good will come of that.

As if there wasn't enough conflict in this episode, Varga continues to haunt Emmit by setting up camp in his offices and using his lots for some nefarious transporting. I was kind of nervous for this character -- would he be able to stand out from the show's past philosophical, crazy baddies, played by Billy Bob Thornton and Bokeem Woodbine? -- but David Thewlis puts his own sinister spin on what has become a Fargo trope. The rotten teeth and his nonchalant attitude are chilling... oh, and the fact that he will send his goons to murder a man simply for Google searching his name.

With a fifth of the show now finished, what we have are a lot of characters, each facing several huge conflicts. I'm already sensing that the tension will reach crazy heights by the season's end, which will hopefully be accompanied by a worthy climax. My only trepidation comes from Ewan McGregor. His characters are juicy enough, but his performances are just not up to par with the incredible people surrounding him. The two brothers don't seem as different as their distinct makeup would have them seem. But that is more of a grievance than a bump in the road. So far, Fargo is full speed ahead.

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