Warning: Spoilers ahead for the “Aporia” episode of Fargo.
In which Varga meets the Swango, Stussys are dropping like flies, and Gloria goes full Velveteen Rabbit.
10 things we learn in “Aporia”:
1. After fetching his paper from outside his home, a man returns inside and goes to the refrigerator for some milk. As he does, Meemo sneaks up behind him and stabs him to death with a shard of glass. His name, we learn from the subscription label on the paper: Marvin Stussy.
2. Emmit is in the police interview room, where Gloria offers him some pop — a Sprite perhaps? — and prepares to record his confession. He tells her he drove all the way to her station, instead of one of the several closer to his office because she had given him her business card. He tells her if anyone comes looking for him, anyone claiming to be his attorney, for instance, to turn them away. Don’t trust anyone, he says. Then he admits to everything: tricking Ray out of the stamps after their dad dropped dead in their driveway when they were teens, then killing him, unintentionally (in “one of those ‘what are the odds’ moments”). “Do you think there’s a special level of Hell for people who kill their loved ones on Christmas Eve?” he asks her.
Emmit says he knew it was “like a stick in the eye” every time Ray would later see the stamp hanging in Emmit’s office. “Thirty years I been killing him; that was just when he fell,” he tells Gloria.
3. V.M. Varga tells Meemo it’s time to move their operation to “Stage 4,” which means moving their semi/business center/home. “No mistakes,” Varga urges, but when semi driver Meemo stops at a red light, Nikki Swango surprises him, breaking the window on the passenger side of the semi and tossing a grenade into the cab. Meemo and the passenger, another Varga minion, run out, and Mr. Wrench and Nikki hop in the semi and drive away. The grenade? It never explodes, because, as Meemo discovers when he picks it up, it’s a novelty paperweight. Nikki drives the semi to a junkyard, where she and Wrench take business documents and hard drives from inside the truck’s trailer, and leave the semi behind while they flee in a car.
4. Meemo heads to Stussy HQ, and Varga knows immediately from the look on his face that there’s bad news. Nikki calls at that moment and tells Varga she hopes he has his checkbook ready. He guesses it’s Nikki. She asks him his name, and when he won’t answer, she recites some of his bank account numbers to him. That info will do her no good without a password and the answer to six security questions, he says. She asks again what his name is; when he answers, she wants to know what the V.M. stands for. “How much and where?” he answers, tired of the gameplay.
“I’m not sure that tracks alphabetically,” Nikki continues, and then tells him she wants $2 million, delivered to her at the Clarion Hotel.
5. Gloria calls Winnie, who’s at a crime scene, to ask about Mrs. Goldfarb’s alibi for Emmit, given that Emmit just confessed. Winnie, meanwhile, has a surprise for Gloria: another Stussy male has bitten the dust, stabbed with glass. “OK then,” says Gloria. “OK then,” Winnie agrees, advising Gloria to call Mrs. Goldfarb in for a follow-up Q&A.
6. Chief Moe Dammik and Donny are at another crime scene: a man has been asphyxiated and tied to a chair, “like Burgle’s dad,” Dammik says. The new victim’s name? What else: Stussy, George Stussy. A witness saw someone “haul a**” away from George’s house, and a manhunt ensues for the perp. When Moe and the gang catch up to him, he surrenders immediately.
Back at the station, Gloria is chatting with Mrs. Goldfarb when she sees commotion outside her office. She goes into the hallway to investigate and finds everyone congratulating Chief Moe. He tells her he solved the murders: Ennis and Ray, and two new ones, copycats of Ennis and Ray’s deaths. The murderer is a guy who was molested by his stepdad — named Stussy — when he was a kid. He has letters from Ennis’s house in his trunk, along with a photo from Ray’s house, Moe says, and he confessed to killing Marvin and George, too.
Gloria tells her boss Emmit is in a jail cell now, having confessed himself to killing Ray, but Dammik pooh-poohs it. He says Emmit only confessed because he feels guilty about his relationship with Ray. And Gloria only believes him because she wants him to be guilty, he claims. He orders her to release Emmit.
7. Varga, stressed from recent Swango-related events, is sitting on the toilet in an office bathroom stall, scarfing a pint of rocky road ice cream. He leaves for the meeting with Nikki and arrives at the hotel carrying a metal briefcase and wearing a long, tan raincoat.
“Loved you in Death of a Salesman,” Nikki greets him.
“Hilarious,” he replies, and offers her some tea. She wisely declines, a decision, regrettably, not made by Sy in last week’s episode. Varga tells her he brought the money, but wants to offer her an alternative: a job with him.
“I already got a job: blackmailing you,” Swango says, telling him she also knows he probably has someone, out of sight, pointing a gun at her, instructed to take a shot if she has the books and hard drives with her. She says he can’t do that, though, since they’re in a public place. Not so fast, says he; look around… there are several men dressed similarly, with similar looks, and with a couple of them accompanied by women who look similar to Nikki.
“Nice,” she admits, but tells him he got cocky, and didn’t count all the pieces on the board. We see Wrench sneak up on a rifle-toting Meemo, and put his gun to Meemo’s head. Varga offers her an even bigger salary to work for him, but Nikki says maybe she should turn one of the drives over to the police instead. “Because I want to hurt you,” she adds, “not be your pet. I wanna look you in the face, and rip out something you love.”
He points out he’s not the one who killed Ray, Emmit did. Nikki points out he is the one who ordered a hit on her at the jail, and the one who had the transport bus flipped. He has one more day to come up with the cash, she warns, before walking like the swaggering Swango boss she is out of the Clarion.
8. Emmit is taken back to the police interview room, where Gloria tells him about her marriage. That she married someone she had known since elementary school. Then last year, he called her at work and told her he had a boyfriend named Dale. They were going to live together. He still loved her, he told Gloria, just not in “that way.”
“You think the world is something, and it turns out to be something else,” she says, before telling Emmit he can go. He argues, pointing out what he confessed to. She tells him someone else confessed, after a pair of copycat murders of two other men named Stussy. Emmit realizes Varga is behind it all, but when Gloria tries to get him to ‘fess up to that, and to who Varga is and all that he’s done, a frightened Emmit says nothing. She walks him out the front door of the station, where Meemo and Varga are waiting for him. Gloria watches as they drive away, and Varga tells Emmit, “The problem is not that there is evil in the world. The problem is that there is good. Because otherwise, who would care?”
9. Gloria is sitting in a bar, knocking back some hooch, when Winnie arrives. She’s glad Gloria called her, she says, because, even though she’s not supposed to drink while she’s ovulating, if she has to look “that thing” in the eye one more time while sober, she’s going to jump out the window. She orders a Moscow mule, and tells the bartender to make it “ornery.”
A dejected Gloria tells her pal the good guys lost. Winnie says Jesus wins in the end, and they toast, but the Stussy case, cases, are weighing on Gloria, who tells Winnie she feels invisible most days. Or rather, unreal, like the android in The Planet Wyh, who keeps saying, “I can help!” but never does. Gloria’s theory, she shares, is that she doesn’t actually exist. Evidence: automatic doors won’t open for her, motion-detection soap dispensers don’t dispense to her, and when she makes cell phone calls, people can’t hear her.
Winnie pokes her, proving she exists. She says she has a big speech she could make, too — Gloria pleads with her not to — but Winnie says she knows what Gloria really needs. She tells her to stand up. When she does, Winnie hugs her. Gloria finally reciprocates and becomes teary at the affection.
“OK?” Winnie asks. Gloria nods and says thanks.
“We got the bond of the uniform,” Winnie says. “Plus, I like you.”
“I like you, too,” Gloria says, before heading into the ladies’ room to freshen up. Inside, she sighs when she sees the motion-activated faucet and soap dispenser. But she gives them a try… and the water pours out into her hand, as does the soap. Gloria is real. Just like The Velveteen Rabbit, she just needed a little love to make it so.
10. Nikki doesn’t make good on her threat to send one of Varga’s hard drives to the police. But she does send a packet full of incriminating Stussy Lots Ltd. accounts payable documents to one Larue Dollard, IRS agent.
* One of Emmit’s funniest lines of the season: when he’s put into a jail cell, a rather large gentleman approaches him and says, “Nice sweater.”
“It’s a cardigan,” Emmit helpfully tells him.
The Fargo Season 3 finale airs Wednesday, June 21 at 10 p.m. on FX.
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