Fargo The Lord of No Mercy Review
Fargo’s The Lord of No Mercy shows the expert writing of Noah Hawley and the heart-stopping, anxiety-inducing pace by director Dearbhla Walsh.
Written by Noah Hawley
Directed by Dearbhla Walsh
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
Larue Dollars: Hamish Linklater
Officer Lopez: Olivia Sandoval
Sy Feltz: Michael Stuhlbarg
Maurice LeFay: Scoot McNairy
Vladimir Lenin once stated, “A lie told often enough becomes the truth.” What you perceive to be the truth, so shall it be. It doesn’t matter what the truth is if you make everyone believe what you want them to. Fargo’s opening title makes more sense knowing Varga’s sensibility about perception, a trait he shares with Lenin. The story we have been following for six weeks is a true story, but whose truth are we witnessing? The victors in any war would be the one to write the history books.
Fargo creator Noah Hawley writes one of the season’s best episodes in The Lord of No Mercy. Hawley’s writing, mixed with Dearbhla Walsh’s direction make for a great combination of storytelling. Paced like a Hitchcock noir, The Lord of No Mercy subverts expectations with twists and blends in smart, female characters, sharp dialog, and characteristic nuances that keep Fargo near the very top of great television, period.
The Yin Yang of Burgle and Vargo
Varga’s character is one laden in mystery. Hiding behind the cloak of the internet, he stalks his prey like a wolf, gathering intelligence from social media, and strikes, when he feels, is most devastating. Gloria Burgle is the person Varga fears the most. She has no public identity, no digital footprint. Facebook has been a motif in Fargo up to this point, almost like a hammer hitting a nail on the head to remind us of Gloria’s absence from the world wide web.
Varga’s opening lines about what is truth reminded back to the first episode. Jakob Ungerleider, the man interrogated by a German officer, is told to tell the truth and confess to a murder he didn’t commit. It’s the introduction to the season and the first introduction to Yuri.
That opening scene perfectly sets up the motif of the season and Varga’s speech perfectly drives it further. Chief Dammick’s and Varga’s critique of Gloria’s story is the same: it’s merely a story that she cobbled together; it’s a baseless, factless story in their eyes.
Initially, I thought Varga suffered from bulimia, punishing himself for his greed. While I still think that might be the case, he might also have an oral fixation, cutting his gums with his metal toothpick. Another form of penance, perhaps?
The Lord of No Mercy
Nicki and Ray’s relationship shows a bond that felt absent these past weeks. Her character felt distant and came across as using Ray for ulterior motives. She always came across as manipulative, using Ray to get money and leave him for broke. Except, whether it’s purely out of revenge, Ray’s and Nicki’s relationship with one another is much tighter. Also, this brings out Nicki’s sense of awareness. She’s keen on Sy’s body language when he comes into contact with Meemo and Yuri, and quickly assess the group dynamic when scouting both men and Varga.
With Ray dead, Nicki going after Meemo and Yuri seems far-fetched but could spell some poetic justice for Yuri – getting killed at the hands of someone he let live who also happens to be a woman.
Ray’s death shook me, not because he was a likable character, but because he was redemptive. Through all his faults, Ray tried to make his life better, even if that did mean doing vile things to get there. There might have been a rivalry between both Stussy brothers, there was still some love lingering in that tumultuous relationship. Emmit met those same requirements.
Emmit letting Ray bleed out while Ray calls out his brother’s name is a heart-breaking moment wrapped in tension. “No, Ray, I’m a fair man. I treat people honestly. Help them when they’re down.” Emmit’s final words to Ray strike deep, contradicting his actions when Ray is on the ground. Room for redemption is scarce for Emmit. Watching Ray die may have been conflicting for him. Watching another family member leave him, but a family member responsible for financial anguish benefits him in the short term. Emmit is not the type of person to keep this secret bottled up.
Creating the Narrative
Getting rid of Ray’s body is an easy solution – just paint the picture of his ex-con girlfriend killing him. Varga’s solution is to create the illusion of truth. One problem stands in the way: Gloria. I predict Gloria killing Meemo in Ray’s house and pinning him for the murder of Ray, which ultimately gets put on Emmit’s hands.
As for Nicki, it’s difficult to tell what exactly is going to happen. Her story of getting beat up by Meemo and Yuri is credible if Sy were to come forward. Threatened by Varga already, I don’t see that happening. Yet, she is still on the hook for the death of Maurice LeFay and could strike a deal with Gloria and Officer Lopez to get her sentence reduced.
Varga’s decision to speak with Gloria was a bad one. Speaking with Gloria is like witnessing a great sword fight with parry after parry from both sides. This is the first time Varga looked vulnerable, which is further cemented by his fruitless internet search of her name. Carrie Coon’s demeanor in that scene, remaining calm and collected, shows a side to her character that we’ve only seen snippets. Despite being pushed away from everyone from Sy, Ray, Emmit, and Dammick, she remains strong and maintains control of the situation.
With scattered talking points, it really came across as though Varga met someone he might consider his equal. Like Varga, Gloria is focused, determined, and invisible. Gloria and Varga are the perfect foil to each other – highlights of the same traits but contrasted in their goals.