Fargo Aporia Review
Aporia, the penultimate episode in Fargo’s third season, brings to light one of the best, well-acted scenes in the show’s history.
Written by Noah Hawley, Bob DeLaurentis
Directed By Keith Gordon
Emmit Stussy/Ray Stussy: Ewan McGregor
Gloria Burgle: Carrie Coon
VM Varga: David Thewlis
Nicki Swango: Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Meemo: Andy Yu
Yuri: Goran Bogdan
Officer Lopez: Olivia Sandoval
Sy Feltz: Michael Stuhlbarg
Maurice LeFay: Scoot McNairy
Mr. Wrench: Russell Harvard
Ruby Goldfarb: Mary McDonnell
Chief Dammick: Shea Whigham
Larue Dollars: Hamish Linklater
“The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.” Emmit’s admission to Gloria. By killing two other people, surnamed Stussy, Varga was able to author a different story, one that clears Emmit of any wrongdoing. Despite overwhelming, contradictory evidence, Chief Dammick feels confident, cocky even, to close the case of the Stussy murders. Aporia, the episode’s title, is the logical understanding that something is presented as truth with contradictory evidence. Fargo’s world, as we understand it, is wholly contradictory.
“The Problem Is Not That There Is Evil In The World, The Problem Is That There Is Good.”
To Gloria’s dismay, the case she’s been working so hard to piece together, with help from Officer Winnie Lopez, is gone. Taken away due to Chief Dammick’s cocksure attitude he “solved the case” and Varga authoring a new narrative; Gloria’s defeated. Her final words to Ruby Goldfarb exit Gloria’s mouth like the staggered breath of a boxer with his back against the ropes. Even her final moments with Emmit at the tail end of the episode exude that same defeated tone.
Gloria has been fighting opposition since the first episode this season with news of her small police station getting absorbed by a much larger force, to her butting heads with (new) Chief Dammick. Consistently, Gloria is stymied, mainly by men. Her failed relationship with an otherwise gay man, Dammick constantly brushes her off, and her brief encounter with Varga has lasting effects throughout the series.
She’s given the cold shoulder by anyone who refuses to see Gloria as an equal. Dammick, Vivian Lord (at first), Varga, Officer Hunt, and Ruby Goldfarb just to name a few. Mashman and Lopez view Gloria as someone of authority – Mashman has the issue of calling Gloria ‘Chief’ even when she states, “we’re equals, now.” Gloria’s presence isn’t demanding as Varga’s subtle gravitas. She feels misplaced, dropped into a world occupied by evil.
That opposition is manifested in the malfunction of electronics around her from faucet sensors to automatic doors. It’s part of the reason she’s drawn to the useless box – unable to move forward without a force acting and pushing against her. Fargo hasn’t shown the box since episode three, but I wouldn’t put it past the writers to reintroduce it back into the finale as some visual metaphor for Gloria.
“Because Otherwise, Who Would Care?”
Drawing parallels between herself and Minski, the useless robot from The Planet Wyh, Gloria sees herself as wandering the earth as a ghost, effecting no change. It’s a theory brought up by fans in forums but it never really stuck out to me as representing Gloria. Where in The Planet Wyh Minski’s plea for help is met with no response, Gloria’s plea is met with hostility and pushback. Minski closely resembles Mashman, coasting through his career as a police officer, doing nothing of significance, offering no real help.
Swango has quickly become one of my favorite characters in the show’s short three-season history. She was too out of place from the beginning of the season and felt like an obstacle for Ray to hurdle over. She’s come a long way from calling herself a wimp to hijacking Varga’s truck. Her stand-off against Varga isn’t flashy but is the antithesis of great dialog pushing forward narrative without trying too hard. It also shows just how much Varga gets agitated, a state that is rarely ever seen by the trenchcoat-wearing villain.
Superbly acted by both Winstead and Thewlis, both actors share points of high and low, ending in tamed frustration for Thewlis’s Varga. This scene reminds me of scenes in season one with Billy Bob Thornton acting against Martin Freeman. Tight, thoughtful editing adds to the rising tension of the scene; short quips from Winstead provides small bits of levity but never deflates tension.
Ending with the return of Larue Dollars coming in contact with Stussy Lots’ cooked books, it hangs on a tease for what’s to come for the season finale.