Fargo: 3.06 The Lord of No Mercy
The following review contains full spoilers for the sixth episode of Fargo season three.
The first major character death of the season has finally arrived, and it was a complete surprise in pretty much every facet: timing, circumstance, execution (pun only slightly intended), and the parties involved. A major factor in this outing has been unforeseen consequences, and there will be plenty of those as one of the season's cruxes is eliminated from the increasingly complex equations.
But first, a quick examination of everything happening around that climactic demise. All things considered, Varga takes center stage in The Lord of No Mercy. It's pretty obvious what he's supposed to represent, given the current political climate: a indescribably influential man who can convince people to follow him through emphatic yet nonsensical "alternate truths" and who has a suspicious fondness for Russian leaders. Anyways, the villain is now living rent-free in Emmit's head. The Stussy brother has even taken Varga's side against Sy, who is now effectively out of commission as far as Varga is concerned.
Now that the rotten-toothed Brit is in control, he takes on the role of the fixer, sending Meemo to kill Emmit's pesky brother and his meddlesome girlfriend. And Emmit's problems don't end there: Gloria and Winnie are more persistent than ever, and Varga's attempt to smooth over any issues is squashed by Gloria's complete immunity to his gibberish. The first scene between the crime lord and police chief is probably the episode's most tense. Here is a woman so salt-of-the-earth that she can't be swayed by Varga, or even tracked down by his ingenious and devious spying method: a search engine. Yes, it looks like Varga has finally met his match, and I look forward to an escalating hostility between them in the few remaining episodes.
While all this was happening, Ray and Nikki decided to go on the run, to avoid both the cops and whatever danger would come from Varga, Yuri, and Meemo. Little did they know, Meemo was hot on their tails. When Ray left a still-injured Nikki in a seedy motel room to retrieve their getaway money, it seemed that Nikki would be gone for good. But, in a dramatic and deeply ironic turn of events, Ray would be the one dead by the end of the night.
Yes, upon returning home, Ray found his brother waiting for him, with a desire to... apologize? Yes, Emmit decided that he should stop saying he's such a good person and actually make up with his brother. Really, Emmit just wants people to think he's a good person, and Ray sees right through that. Emmit wants to give Ray the framed case that caused all of this chaos, but Ray, who's still salty about his brother's attitude, refuses. The resulting shoving match leads to the frame smashing into Ray's neck, and when he pulls out a shard, blood spews everywhere, and that's that.
At first, I found this to be a very dumb and strange way for such a main character to die. Indeed, it is a murder that wears its symbolism right on its sleeve. But after some thought, it was a smart choice for Fargo to take a step back from all the hired killers to remind us that this all began because two brothers were always at odds with each other. Unfortunately, the Stussys were two of the most underdeveloped characters of the show, and this final confrontation between them effectively fleshed them both out some more and ended that conflict once and for all.
Now, the show will have a much different dynamic moving forward. Will Nikki try to take revenge on those responsible for her lover's death? Or will those terrible injuries end up killing her? And who will remain standing once Varga and Gloria finally turn their guns toward each other? Will that even happen at all, or will someone else come out of left field to do them in? It's hard to say, and that's what's making this season's final episodes so interesting.