Fargo S3E6 “The Lord of No Mercy”
One of the defining features of Fargo throughout its run on television is violence. The first half of the season was a bit lacking in that department but “The House of Special Purpose” put an end to that with the brutal beating of Nikki by Varga’s henchmen. Even still, the death count has been pretty low this season. While the count didn’t go super high, the person who did die in this episode was extremely important. In a shocking twist, “The Lord of No Mercy” sees Ray become the first of our starring cast to bite the dust and it happens at the hands of his own brother, Emmit. One can’t deny that was the big moment of the episode but there were plenty of other things that happened in the episode including Ray and Nikki planning revenge for Nikki’s beating, Gloria continuing her investigation and meeting Varga for the first time, and Varga’s attempt to control the aftermath of the episodes most critical scene. Let’s talk about it all.
We pick things up shortly after the ending of “The House of Special Purpose”. Ray is sitting anxiously in his house, deciding how he’s going to get revenge for what happened to his fiancé. Nikki is recovering decently enough and is able to recall who beat her so Ray is armed with the knowledge of who he is looking for. When Nikki is good enough to go, Ray pulls his gun out of the refrigerator and the two of them hit the road, looking to find Yuri and Meemo.
Meanwhile, Varga makes his pitch to Emmit and Sy to double the size of Stussy Lots over the course of three months. Sy is incredulous about making the whole thing look real but at this point, that’s really what Varga does best. Before making his pitch, he further proved this point by telling Sy of three stories, one of a bank losing nearly all its worth in one day, another about how a sandwich started World War I and one about how the moon landing was fake and filmed in a sound studio in New Mexico. Much like his reaction to the expansion, Sy’s reaction to these stories is one of incredible disbelief. Varga tells him truth comes down to what the speaker says is the truth and no one is better than Varga at that. Who knows how much of what he ever says is actually true, the important part is that he makes it believable. Sy’s still not quite on board with this though, thinking the IRS will immediately think something is up if they expand so rapidly and quickly. He looks to Emmit to back him up but Emmit seems to already be all in. Sy then asks Varga what exactly he plans to do with the IRS investigator that’s currently on them and Varga assures Sy that he’s already on it.
Our investigator is waiting at an office over at Stussy Lots headquarters when his investigation hits a screeching halt. Meemo comes in, playing the part of a lawyer (he might actually be one for all we know) and cites some legal information that promptly makes the investigator leave and delays the investigation for a good chunk of time. Having done his part, Meemo departs from the building and enters his car where Yuri was waiting all along. They head off back to the lot with Varga’s truck to tell their boss of the success, unbeknownst to them that Ray and Nikki have been following them the whole time.
Yuri and Meemo make it over to the lot while Nikki and Ray keep up while also keeping their distance. Nikki confirms that they are the two who beat her but she advises Ray to take a more cautious approach when she sees a third man that wasn’t there for the beating, Varga. We don’t know a whole lot about Nikki other than she is an ex-convict but she seems to be pretty smart. She’s pieced together Emmit’s involvement with a sketchy company and even correctly cited the reason as financial problems. She deduces that Varga is the head of the operation and she and Ray head on home, not wanting to make their move with the boss around.
Back at Stussy Lots, Gloria and Winnie stop by looking to talk to Emmit and see if the brotherly feud angle they’ve got going has merit to it. Varga was watching from afar and in a surprise move, decides to make his presence known to the police and enters the room. Varga listens at first to the conversation between Emmit and the two officers and steps in to sidetrack the conversation when he doesn’t like where it’s going. Much like new chief Moe, he reasons that Gloria’s whole story is just made up of happenstances that she’s stretching to fit her story. He even has his fun fact ready for his defense, saying that there were twenty four Hitler’s in a German phone book during the war, should they all be responsible for the Hitler’s actions? For the first time all series, Varga isn’t able to confuse and bring doubt to someone as Gloria sees right through it. Impressed, Varga lets them ask a couple more questions and then asks them leave. While there is nothing incriminating on Varga just yet, there probably will be down the road, meaning these two would have to meet eventually. Varga vs Gloria part one was great to watch.
Varga heads on back home to his truck and comes to two realizations. The first is that Gloria and her entire police department are off line as he gets zero results from searching her on the internet, and second, her story about Ray trying to rob Emmit only for it go tragically wrong is true. He sends Yuri to the police department to find out more about Gloria and he sends Meemo with an order to kill Ray and Nikki.
Back at Ray and Nikki’s house, the couple are deciding on their next course of action, only for there to be a change of plans. Gloria and Winnie comes knocking by the house but Ray and Nikki don’t know who it is as Ray tensely walks around the house, trying to see who it is without giving away his presence. Gloria and Winnie decide to head on home after a few minutes and that’s when Ray decides that they have to leave. Ray and Nikki pack their things and drive off to a motel, Meemo sneakily behind them the entire time.
The two get comfortable in their room but then come to the terrible realization that Ray left the money they took from Emmit’s bank account back at the house. Ray decides to head on back, taking the gun and insisting Nikki stay in the hotel room to get some rest. When Ray leaves his crippled girlfriend in a motel room and takes the only weapon they have, you just assumed that Nikki was the one who was going to die, especially with Meemo right around the corner waiting for the right moment, which makes what happens next, a major surprise.
Ray heads into his house only to find that his brother is waiting there for him. After hearing Gloria’s story, he was shocked to think that his own brother would want to rob him and it resulted in a dead body, so he’s ready to finally end their brotherly feud. Emmit has probably been the less fleshed out brother up to this point but here we finally get to see what drives him. Emmit wants to be a good person and he wants other people to think of him as a good person. Everyone in the community sees him like this, except his own brother, and it eats him up on the inside. Ready to end it once and for all, he gives Ray the stamp. You think this would be the moment they make up, but no. Ray is too prideful. He thinks that stamp was his birthright. Emmit shouldn’t be able to gift him something that’s supposed to be his. The two get into a shoving match with the stamp and things turn sour real quick as Emmit hits the framed stamp against Ray’s head. One of the glass shards gets dislodged in Ray’s neck and when he pulls it out, he bleeds out and dies.
Emmit stands there in shock for a few moments as the reality of the situation hits him. His brother is dead and he has to take some action now. With Varga as his business partner now, he knows he can’t afford to get the police involved when he’s at the scene of the crime so he does the only thing he can really do, call Varga. Ray’s death saves Nikki’s life as Nikki heads into the suspiciously opened door to her room to find nothing! Meemo had to leave to go clean up the death scene at Ray’s house. Varga quickly thereafter makes his arrival to the house and talks Emmit through their version of the truth. Varga really is two steps ahead of things here as we learn that the exclusive body blow beating of Nikki was deliberate. They plan to frame Nikki, saying that her relationship with Ray was filled with domestic abuse and after one especially bad beating, Nikki fights back and kills Ray. Varga tells Emmit to go to dinner with Sy that he had originally planned and to go through the back entrance so that no potential witness can identify a time of arrival for him. Before sending him on his way, Varga does something surprising. He comforts Emmit. Emmit insists that he didn’t mean to kill his brother and Varga consoles him, “no one does”. This whole framing job of theirs is completely up in the air though as the end scene shows Gloria heading back to Ray’s house looking to try and talk to him again. What she will find there, is something she couldn’t possibly imagine.
We get yet another close up on Varga’s abhorrent set of teeth in the episode. It’s kind of fitting that he’s got a crappy set of teeth given the amount of crap that comes out of his mouth.
Sy might be the next one to bite the dust. That little speech Varga gave to Emmit last episode about Sy potentially conspiring against them seemed to get to Emmit. I’ve got little doubt Emmit would agree with Sy’s concerns about the expansion back at the beginning of the show. Now Sy is all on his own.
Yuri was holding the wolf head that faded out to end “The House of Special Purpose”. Interesting.
True or false (most likely false), a sandwich starting one of the biggest and bloodiest wars in the history of mankind is an incredible story.
The IRS investigator has quite the setup for his supplies. Meemo coming in and not saying a word until he perfectly placed his identical supplies on the table in a symmetrical fashion was hilarious.
Quote of the day comes from Varga, crudely telling us that if you’re going to do something, go all in. “The shallow end of the pool is where the turds float”.
“The Lord of No Mercy” pulls a brilliantly executed bait and switch as we get our first big death, leaving the back end of the season in a state of chaos.