A recurring motif for the series Fargo is someone getting in way over their head, or mistakenly getting involved in something sinister. Season one saw the menace that was Lorne Malvo insidiously creeping his way into the life of lowly Lester Nygaard. Season two saw the couple Blumquist get in way over their heads with a series of misfortunes and stupid decisions. Season three has introduced us to Ray Stussy and Nicki Swango (Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead), the unlikeliest couple with a taking to Bridge and trying to make it rich. Two episodes into the new season and Fargo is proving once again why it’s one of the best dramas on TV.
David Thewlis’s V.M. Varga, with his rotted teeth and propensity to change languages mid-sentence, is quickly becoming one of the most menacing villains in the series. A mere Google search of his name is enough to get you killed. Varga, unlike the outward appearance of Lorne Malvo or Mike Milligan or Hanzee Dent, shows the sliminess and grime of his personality through to his cold, blank stares, hunched over stance, and grotesque teeth. Hawley’s obsession with silent characters also seems to find its way here in the form of one half of Varga’s muscle, Meemo (Andy Yu).
The premiere episode, The Law of Vacant Cases, saw an epilog taking place in East Berlin in 1988. A motif running through season three is ties with the Cold War. A fresh outlook on the state of the world in 1988 and 2010, sure, but Hawley’s intentions could cut a bit deeper with the state of the world as we know it now. Or, the Cold War could take double meaning: three factions – the Stussy’s, Varga, and a third party (possibly the police) – ready for war that ultimately never comes. The brothers Stussy share the same trait of not being able to completely stand up for themselves, More Ray than Emmit.
The Principle of Restricted Choice plays into the motif of the Cold War. In Bridge, principle of restricted choice means the ability to a particular card decreases if another player is holding an equivalent card. Not quite a stalemate but this would mean either Stussy is at an impasse, both with the stamp and Emmit’s inability to do anything about Varga. For Gloria (Carrie Coon), this means going head-to-head with her chief, Dammick (Shea Whigham).
Like the UFOs in season two, Gloria’s ability to go unnoticed at two electronic doors remains a mystery, for the time being. Another lingering question is why was Ennis (Scott Hylands) hiding away in Eden Valley? Could we see further ties to the second season?
Gloria’s adverse liking of computers and Varga’s technology driven raid on Emmit Stussy’s company may mean they would meet at some point in the season. Gloria’s “technological invisibility” may mean she won’t be easily manipulated by Varga.