Fargo (season 3)
The third season of Fargo, an American anthology black comedy–crime drama television series created by Noah Hawley, premiered on April 19, 2017, on the basic cable network FX. The season had ten episodes, and its initial airing concluded on June 21, 2017. As an anthology, each Fargo season possesses its own self-contained narrative, following a disparate set of characters in various settings, albeit in a connected shared universe.
|Fargo (season 3)|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||10|
|Original release||April 19 –|
June 21, 2017
The third season is set primarily between December 2010 and March 2011, in three Minnesota towns: St. Cloud, Eden Valley, and Eden Prairie, and is the only season to not feature the titular Fargo, North Dakota. It follows the lives of a couple, Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), who, after unsuccessfully trying to rob Ray's brother Emmit (also played by McGregor), become involved in a double murder case. One of the victims is an old man with a mysterious past whose stepdaughter, Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), is a policewoman. Meanwhile, Emmit tries to cut his ties with a shady organization he borrowed money from a year before, but the company, represented by V. M. Varga (David Thewlis) has other plans.
Michael Stuhlbarg, Hamish Linklater, Olivia Sandoval, Shea Whigham, Mark Forward, Mary McDonnell, and Scoot McNairy make recurring appearances. Sylvester Groth, Ray Wise, Fred Melamed, Frances Fisher, DJ Qualls and Rob McElhenney guest star.
- Ewan McGregor as brothers Emmit and Raymond "Ray" Stussy. Emmit is a financially successful, happily married man and the self-proclaimed "Parking Lot King of Minnesota." Younger brother Ray is a financially struggling probation officer who feels betrayed by Emmit over the way their father's inheritance was divided between them, when Ray got his father's Corvette and Emmit got a valuable stamp collection. McGregor also voiced the Captain, the android MNSKY's scientist companion.
- Carrie Coon as Gloria Burgle, a dedicated police officer and police chief of Eden Valley until the department is absorbed by the county. She is trying to solve her stepfather's murder.
- Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nikki Swango, a crafty and alluring young woman with a passion for competitive bridge. She is a recent parolee and Ray's fiancée.
- Goran Bogdan as Yuri Gurka, a Ukrainian man working for V. M. Varga.
- David Thewlis as V. M. Varga, an unscrupulous British businessman with whom Emmit unwillingly finds himself in a partnership.
- Michael Stuhlbarg as Sy Feltz, Emmit's loyal and dedicated business partner.
- Shea Whigham as Chief Moe Dammik, the Meeker County Sheriff, who becomes Gloria's boss when the Eden Valley police are absorbed by the county.
- Scoot McNairy as Maurice LeFay, a drug addict and another parolee of Ray's.
- Andy Yu as Meemo, one of Varga's henchmen.
- Mark Forward as Donny Mashman, Gloria's partner.
- Graham Verchere as Nathan Burgle, Gloria's son.
- Olivia Sandoval as Winnie Lopez, a St. Cloud police officer.
- Russell Harvard as Mr. Wrench, a deaf assassin who helps Nikki. Harvard reprises the role from Season 1.
- Mary McDonnell as Ruby Goldfarb, a wealthy widow who attempts to buy out Stussy Lots.
- Hamish Linklater as Larue Dollard, an IRS agent investigating Stussy Lots.
- Scott Hylands as Ennis Stussy, Gloria's stepfather, who LeFay confuses with Emmit.
- Linda Kash as Stella Stussy, Emmit's wife.
- Caitlynne Medrek as Grace Stussy, Emmit's daughter.
- Sylvester Groth as Colonel Horst Lagerfeld
- Fabian Busch as Jakob Ungerleider
- Thomas Mann as Thaddeus Mobley
- Fred Melamed as Howard Zimmerman
- Roger V. Burton as the elderly Howard Zimmerman
- Rob McElhenney as Officer Oscar Hunt
- Francesca Eastwood as Vivian Lord
- Frances Fisher as the older Vivian Lord
- Nikolai Nikolaeff as Drug Dealer
- Ray Wise as Paul Marrane
- DJ Qualls as Golem
|Title||Directed by||Written by||Original air date||Prod.|
|21||1||"The Law of Vacant Places"||Noah Hawley||Noah Hawley||April 19, 2017||XFO03001||1.42|
|In 1988 East Berlin, Jacob Ungerleider is questioned about the death of a woman, whose boyfriend is listed as the inhabitant of Ungerleider's apartment. Ungerleider claims it is a case of mistaken identity. In 2010 Minnesota, St. Cloud parole officer Ray Stussy (Ewan McGregor) wants to marry his parolee girlfriend Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and asks to borrow some money from his brother Emmit (also McGregor) to pay for a ring. Emmit refuses, and the brothers argue over their father's inheritance that they had traded each other: Emmit traded the Corvette left to him with Ray, in exchange for a valuable stamp collection. Ray later blackmails another parolee, Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy), who has failed a drug test, and coerces him into stealing Emmit's remaining stamp. However, Maurice loses the address and only partially remembers it. So instead of visiting Emmit Stussy in Eden Prairie, he goes to the home of Ennis Stussy in Eden Valley. Meanwhile, Emmit seeks to repay a business loan from two years ago, only to be informed by a shady businessman named V. M. Varga (David Thewlis) that the loan was actually a partnership agreement from a shady corporation. In Eden Valley, police chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) and her teenage son Nathan (Graham Verchere) leave the house of her stepfather Ennis (Scott Hylands), but return for a forgotten gift to find him dead and the house ransacked. Because of the name and address mix-up, Maurice has mistakenly robbed the wrong Stussy, and killed him. Shaken by the crime, he demands money of Ray to keep quiet about it, but Nikki and Ray kill him by dropping an air conditioner on him as he leaves.|
|22||2||"The Principle of Restricted Choice"||Michael Uppendahl||Noah Hawley||April 26, 2017||XFO03002||1.06|
|Concerned for his business, Emmit asks his lawyer to investigate Varga. An Internet search causes the lawyer's computer to crash and Varga's men to toss him off a parking garage. Varga then takes ownership of an unused wing of Emmit's offices. While coping with the introduction of a new police chief (Shea Whigham) and Ennis' funeral arrangements, Gloria learns that her stepfather wrote science-fiction novels under, what she believes to be, a pseudonym: "Thaddeus Mobley". She also investigates the gas station that Maurice stopped in on the night of the murder and discovers he took a page from a phone book with Ennis' contact information, arousing her suspicions. Nikki suggests Ray make peace with his brother while she steals the stamp. He cordially visits Emmit and the two make peace, which gives Nikki enough time to search his home office. However, Emmit had already moved the stamp, replacing it with a picture of a donkey. Enraged due to believing this was a message to Ray, she leaves a used tampon in one of his desk drawers (where she also finds details of a safety deposit box Emmit holds). Emmit later tells his business partner Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) that he sent the stamp away to have the frame replaced after a cleaner had damaged it. Sy meets with Ray to tell him he can no longer have contact with his brother and then rams Ray's Corvette twice and accidentally hits another car as he leaves.|
|23||3||"The Law of Non-Contradiction"||John Cameron||Matt Wolpert & Ben Nedivi||May 3, 2017||XFO03003||1.17|
|In Los Angeles in 1975, Thaddeus Mobley (Thomas Mann) is approached by film producer Howard Zimmerman (Fred Melamed) to adapt his award-winning novel The Planet Wyh. Zimmerman introduces him to actress Vivian Lord (Francesca Eastwood), who seduces him into funding the film, though she and Zimmerman have no intention of actually making it. After learning the two have conned him, Mobley severely beats and cripples Zimmerman. In 2010, Gloria is flying to L.A. and is reading The Planet Wyh. The novel's plot is represented throughout the episode as animated segments featuring the Unit MNSKY (voiced by McGregor): a small robot that can only say, "I can help!", yet can do nothing to help those around him as he roams the constantly changing world. Once in L.A., Gloria unwittingly checks into Mobley's former motel room and tracks down hospital-bound Zimmerman (Roger V. Burton) and a washed-up Vivian (Frances Fisher). Both of them initially deny knowing Mobley, but Vivian ultimately reveals the con to Gloria. Back in the motel room, the dual timelines mirror each other, as Mobley and Gloria prepare to leave town. Mobley vomits in the toilet, Gloria drops some makeup beside it, and both see the toilet manufacturer's name: Dennis Stussy with a faded "D". Back in Eden Valley, Gloria learns from her partner Donny Mashman (Mark Forward) that Maurice's fingerprints were identified, but he is dead. They are both slightly suspicious of the circumstances of his death and resume Ennis' murder investigation.|
|24||4||"The Narrow Escape Problem"||Michael Uppendahl||Monica Beletsky||May 10, 2017||XFO03004||1.05|
|In an effort to steal the stamp, Ray disguises himself as his brother, and convinces Emmit's banker to withdraw $10,000 from Emmit's account and to open Emmit's safety deposit box, where only cremated remains are found. Varga arrives unannounced on Emmit's doorstep and invites himself to dinner. Varga manipulates Emmit into officially signing him on as a partner, promising to make Emmit a billionaire. Meanwhile, Gloria looks further into Maurice's case, discovers that Ray is his parole officer, and goes to question him. She makes the connection that Ennis and Ray share the surname Stussy. After Sy tips off Ray's superiors about the latter's relationship with Nikki, Ray is fired. St. Cloud policewoman Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval), who is investigating the hit-and-run committed by Sy, goes to question him, as the car was registered to Emmit's firm. Sy acts very suspiciously, unnerved as Varga's men are watching. Lopez then encounters Gloria and reveals to her, emphasizing the slight difference in addresses, that Emmit lives in Eden Prairie, the similarities in the two names, and the fact that Emmit and Ray are brothers. Gloria is convinced further investigation is needed.|
|25||5||"The House of Special Purpose"||Dearbhla Walsh||Bob DeLaurentis||May 17, 2017||XFO03005||0.98|
|Ray, again disguised as Emmit, makes a sex tape with Nikki to blackmail his brother for $100,000. However, Emmit's wife Stella sees the video first and angrily leaves him, taking her mother and children with her. Prior to making the video, Ray proposes to Nikki, and she happily accepts. Back at Stussy Lots, Varga takes Sy's office and then urinates into a cup and forces him to drink it as punishment for talking to law enforcement. A worried Sy then has dinner with Ruby Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell), a wealthy widow interested in buying Stussy Lots, but is interrupted by a distraught Emmit, who asks Sy to handle the situation with his brother by any means necessary. While purchasing Ray's tuxedo for the wedding, Nikki gets a call from Sy telling her to meet him at one of Emmit's lots. Ray is interrogated by Gloria and Winnie about the situation with Sy and the Ennis Stussy murder. However, Chief Dammik, chalking up the situation to coincidence, forces the pair to release Ray. Emmit has a meeting with Varga, who voices his distrust of Sy and suggests Sy and Ray may be working together to bring down Emmit. Nikki meets with Sy, but their meeting is interrupted by Yuri and Meemo, who brutally beat Nikki as a traumatized Sy watches before fleeing. Ray returns home to find a badly bruised Nikki collapsed in the bathtub.|
|26||6||"The Lord of No Mercy"||Dearbhla Walsh||Noah Hawley||May 24, 2017||XFO03006||1.04|
|Ray and a still-recovering Nikki plot revenge against Yuri and Meemo, but are forced to use caution when they see them with Varga. Emmit and Sy listen to Varga's plan to expand Stussy Lots by 16 garages within three months; Sy is wary, but Emmit seems eager. Gloria and Winnie want to question Emmit, but Varga curtails the meeting. The two officers then knock on Ray's apartment door, so he and Nikki hide, then check into a motel room, not knowing Varga has ordered a hit on them. Ray forgets the $10,000 and returns to his apartment to retrieve it. There he finds Emmit, who offers to end the feud by giving Ray the framed stamp and offering to give Ray anything else he may want. Ray is leery, and they argue. When the frame accidentally breaks in a shoving match, a shard of glass severs Ray's carotid artery, killing him. A distraught Emmit calls Varga who manages the cleanup, suggesting that Ray abused Nikki, causing her injuries, and she retaliated. Gloria, driving out of St. Cloud, changes her mind and reverses course to go question Ray at his home.|
|27||7||"The Law of Inevitability"||Mike Barker||Noah Hawley & Matt Wolpert & Ben Nedivi||May 31, 2017||XFO03007||1.03|
|Gloria and Winnie find Ray dead at his apartment. Nikki is arrested at her motel room, as Meemo watches from a distance. At St. Cloud's police headquarters, Nikki is questioned by Chief Dammik, who suspects that she killed Ray in retaliation for his abuse. Nikki requests a lawyer. Winnie's supervisor orders her to return to traffic duty and asks Gloria, who is out of her jurisdiction, to leave. Gloria presents her facts before asking Winnie to tell Emmit about his brother and gauge his reaction. Obviously distracted, Emmit arrives late for a dinner meeting with Ruby Goldfarb and Sy. Winnie finds Emmit and, although she doesn't mention how Ray died, Emmit suggests Nikki killed Ray. He and Sy leave, and a suspicious Winnie approaches Ruby. Emmit later asks Sy if he was working with Ray. Sy refutes this, dispelling Emmit's suspicions. As he leaves, he sees Varga inside Emmit's home; when he reaches home he sobs in his wife's arms. Varga asks Emmit how he feels; Emmit responds, "Free", but begins to cry. An attempt is made on Nikki's life in her jail cell, but Gloria saves her. The uniformed assassin, Golem (DJ Qualls), makes a clean getaway. Nikki, thankful for Gloria's saving her life, tells her and Chief Dammik to follow the money. Having violated parole, Nikki is put on a state prison bus and is seated next to a disheveled-looking Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard). Yuri plants a ramp, causing the bus to overturn, and he and two accomplices enter it.|
|28||8||"Who Rules the Land of Denial?"||Mike Barker||Noah Hawley & Monica Beletsky||June 7, 2017||XFO03008||1.14|
|After the prison bus crashes, Yuri, Meemo, and Golem attempt to get to Nikki. However, with the help of Mr. Wrench, Nikki escapes, and the two, shackled together, run into the woods. After a long pursuit, they are discovered, attacked, and wounded by Yuri and Golem, but manage to kill Golem by decapitating him with their chain. Mr. Wrench senses Yuri nearby and wounds him by throwing an ax into the darkness. After breaking their chain, Nikki and Mr. Wrench happen upon a bowling alley where Nikki meets Paul Marrane (Ray Wise). Marrane encourages her to fight the evil in the world. He tells her a car is available, and she and Mr. Wrench flee in it. Yuri reaches the same bowling alley, and Marrane confronts him with the sins of his past. On Christmas morning, Gloria is called to the scene of the bus crime, and Varga poisons Sy, sending him into a coma. Two-and-a-half months later, Nikki and Mr. Wrench are still at large, Yuri has gone missing, Gloria has been officially demoted to deputy, and Varga has expanded Emmit's business after becoming his partner. While visiting Sy, Emmit is approached again by Gloria and Winnie, and is shocked to discover his late brother's car parked in his parking space. Further abnormalities occur when Emmit discovers all the pictures in his office have been replaced by photos of the infamous stamp, and that someone has placed a fake mustache on him while he slept. Emmit starts to feel incredibly guilty about having killed his brother and starts to believe that either Ray is still alive or Nikki is plotting revenge. Varga gives Emmit tranquilizers to calm him, which Emmit feigns taking. Later, Emmit arrives at the police station, where he announces that he has come to confess.|
|29||9||"Aporia"||Keith Gordon||Noah Hawley & Bob DeLaurentis||June 14, 2017||XFO03009||1.19|
|Marvin Stussy, a dentist in St. Cloud, is killed in the same manner as Ray. Emmit is interviewed by Gloria and talks freely about his having manipulated Ray to take the Corvette instead of the stamps upon their father's death as well as confesses to having accidentally killed Ray. Varga instructs Meemo to infiltrate the police station to get Emmit out. However, while Meemo is on the way, Nikki and Mr. Wrench ambush and commandeer his truck using a fake grenade, and they steal financial information from the remote office inside to blackmail Varga for $2 million. Winnie alerts Gloria to the coincidental last name of the earlier assassination victim. George Stussy is also found murdered by asphyxiation in his kitchen, nose and lips glued like Ennis' were. Ex-con Donald Woo is picked up for the murders and deliberately takes the fall, admitting to having committed all four. Ruby, when interviewed at the station by Gloria about her dinner with Sy and Emmit, is vague about the details. The interview is interrupted by Chief Dammik's arrest of Woo, closing the case and resulting in Emmit's release, whose confession Dammik dismisses as Emmit's guilt about his "loser" brother. Varga meets with Nikki, and in order to get out of the blackmailing he repeatedly attempts to both poison and to hire her, but she refuses his tea and his job offer. Wrench neutralizes Varga's sniper, Meemo, and Nikki gives Varga 24 hours to pay her ransom or she'll send his and Emmit's financials to the IRS. Gloria reveals the other Stussy murders to a shocked Emmit and confronts him about Varga's control of the events. Meemo and Varga pick up Emmit when he is released. Grabbing drinks together, Winnie reassures a disheartened Gloria. IRS agent Larue Dollard (Hamish Linklater) finds in his office a seemingly anonymous package containing the Stussy Lots financials.|
|30||10||"Somebody to Love"||Keith Gordon||Noah Hawley||June 21, 2017||XFO03010||1.22|
|IRS agent Dollard finds Gloria's number in the Stussy Lots file. He calls her, and Gloria arranges to meet Dollard, despite insisting that she did not send the file. Dollard explains to Gloria that Varga's takeover of Stussy Lots is intended as a tax fraud scam. After returning from the police station, Emmit is forced to sign many contracts, after which he grabs Meemo's gun and attempts to force Varga to withdraw from his house and business. Varga incapacitates him, and Meemo attacks him from behind. Varga tells his crew to get rid of evidence they were there, and they all leave. Varga, Meemo, and the crew go to meet Nikki and Mr. Wrench to pay ransom for the hard drives, but are ambushed by Wrench. Meemo and his accomplices are killed, but Varga escapes. Nikki gives Wrench most of the ransom money, and the two part ways. Emmit, regaining consciousness, goes to Stussy Lots' offices to find that Goldfarb, who was apparently in league with Varga, has finalized her acquisition of the company for $100,000 and has begun moving her employees into the building. Goldfarb assures Emmit that he holds millions in offshore accounts, but that he is liable for Stussy Lots' large debts and advises him to declare bankruptcy, leaving him distraught. In a remote area, Emmit's car stalls, and Nikki confronts him. She holds him at gunpoint, but when a state trooper intervenes, she hides the shotgun on Emmit's rear bumper. When the trooper asks for documents, Nikki shoots and kills the trooper, who simultaneously shoots Nikki dead. A traumatized Emmit flees the scene and drives to his wife's house, breaks down, and sobs at her feet. Five years pass. Emmit, who has rekindled his marriage, celebrates at a dinner with his family and friends, including a semi-recovered Sy. Emmit goes to the kitchen for the salad and is shot in the back of the head by Mr. Wrench. Three months later, Gloria, now an agent for the Department of Homeland Security, interviews Varga, who is going by the name "Daniel Rand", in a holding cell. She declares that in five minutes he will be going to jail for money laundering and six counts of conspiracy to commit murder. However, Varga asserts that in five minutes Gloria's superior will arrive and let him go free. Gloria scoffs, then starts counting down the minutes on the cell's clock while Varga hums, confident.|
Ewan McGregor was cast in the lead dual role as Emmit Stussy and Ray Stussy, and Carrie Coon plays the lead female role, Gloria Burgle. In September 2016, Mary Elizabeth Winstead was cast in a major role as Nikki Swango and Scoot McNairy in a recurring role. In November 2016, it was announced that Jim Gaffigan had joined the main cast in the role of Donny Mashman, Gloria Burgle's partner. However, it was later announced that Gaffigan would not appear in the season due to scheduling conflicts. Mark Forward was later cast to replace him as Mashman, and Mashman's role in the story was reduced. In December 2016, several new actors joined the cast, including David Thewlis, Michael Stuhlbarg, Shea Whigham, Fred Melamed and Thomas Mann.
Regarding filming with Ewan McGregor while he is portraying dual roles, co-star Mary Elizabeth Winstead stated, "For some takes, I was standing with Ewan's double and for some takes, I was standing with Ewan." She added, "Watching how the doubles interact with him and have to learn his way of walking and his posture and his way of standing was interesting. They make it feel very natural and grounded and real. They're reading the lines and the scenes are existing as they would regularly, just swapping out the people. Which is somewhat strange, but it still doesn't feel like you're doing a trick of any sort."
As with the previous two seasons, the third season had its own distinct visual style, achieved through color grading by removing the blue channel, as Noah Hawley explained: "So you take the blue channel on the digital image and you just dial it out. And what you end up with is a very distinctive look in which colors like red and orange and yellow; they just really pop in a different way. Usually in cold weather you add blue, because blue denotes cold. So it was interesting to take the blue out and see what it did to the image. And once we did that it became clear that it doesn’t look at all like any of the other years, which I really liked."
The third season has received acclaim from critics. On Metacritic, it has a score of 89 out of 100 based on 32 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim." On Rotten Tomatoes, it has a 93% "certified fresh" rating with an average score of 8.56 out of 10 based on 50 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads: "Thanks in part to a memorable dual performance from Ewan McGregor, Fargo mostly maintains the sly wit and off-kilter sensibility it displayed in its first two seasons."
In addition to the six Emmy nominations listed below, the series earned an additional ten nominations in various technical and creative categories.
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