The various plots are beginning to condense and intertwine on Fargo Season 3 Episode 5, the midway point of the season.
In particular, Nikki and Ray's harebrained schemes against Emmit have finally caught the notice of Varga and his men. And things aren't looking pretty for them as a result of it.
As per usual, Nikki was still bent on her get-rich-quick schemes. Surprisingly, she wasn't too visibly miffed at Ray for having missed their meeting with the bridge sponsor and costing them that sponsorship money.
It was all onwards and upwards for Ray's former parolee. She had the idea to create a sex tape, with Ray posing as Emmit and herself as an anonymous secretary, and use it to blackmail Emmit into giving them $100,000 in hush money.
Does anyone else find it hilarious that all Ray has to do is put on a curly wig and cover his potbelly in order to seamlessly pass as Emmit? But they aren't even supposed to be twins!
You have made me the happiest woman ever. Now let's make a sex tape.Nikki
Unfortunately, the sex tape scheme blew up in everybody's face. Unexpectedly, Stella found the tape first and watched it, afterwards leaving Emmit in a huff. Based on the video, Emmit knew exactly who had framed him for infidelity.
For whatever reason, Stella didn't even consider the fact that it was Ray posing as Emmit, which struck me as a little odd.
Everything was hunky-dory between Emmit and his wife during their anniversary party on the Fargo Season 3 Premiere, and Emmit himself insisted he'd never so much as looked at another woman sideways in their quarter-century together – why was she so immediately willing to believe the worst of him?
In any event, Stella left, and things just continued to get worse for the Parking Lot King from there.
There's now a substantial amount of tension between Emmit and his right-hand man, Sy – tension that Varga is expertly using to manipulate Emmit.
Emmit lashed out at Sy for not having "taken care of" the Ray/Nikki situation before they launched the faux sex tape bomb into his life.
Immediately after, Varga cornered Emmit in the office parking garage to insinuate that Sy and Ray might be working together to double-cross Emmit. He wasn't too convinced, but he did seem to be doubting Sy for the first time.
Varga's reasoning for not trusting "the Jew" (as he derisively referred to Sy repeatedly) has to do with Yuri and Meemo seeing Sy talking to Winnie Lopez on Fargo Season 3 Episode 4.
Sy tried explaining that his meeting with Winnie was entirely unrelated (which is true), but Varga wasn't having any of it.
That led to the completely bizarre but admittedly intimidating scene where Varga rubbed his penis in Sy's Best Dad cup and had Yuri force him to drink it.
Hilarious and menacing, but also just straight-up gross.
Varga also threw in a random insult about Sy's wife and got a little disgusting about "fat women's" propensity for deli meat sandwiches. This guy is just the absolute worst, and I kind of love it.
Varga: You have a fat wife.
Sy: Excuse me?
Varga: Which part of what I just said is giving you trouble?
Emmit was also visited by a man from the IRS with a terrible sense of humor. Much like Stella leaving him, Ray and Nikki's actions had caused a ripple effect, complicating both his personal and work lives.
Ray withdrawing $10,000 of Emmit's money caught the IRS' attention, inspiring them to do a kind of pre-audit. Obviously, there's now a real danger that the authorities will find out what kind of illegal activity Varga is using the parking lot company as a cover for.
Between the IRS issue and Stella's departure, it's clear that Emmit is just about done with Ray. But it remains to be seen how he'll react when he hears that Varga's men viciously beat Nikki.
Following yet another menacing monologue about Russia from Yuri (seriously, how many more of these is this guy going to do?), Nikki was savagely hit with a tire iron.
This came after she secretly agreed to meet with Sy, intending to talk him into giving her and Ray $200,000 in exchange for telling Stella that the sex tape was fake.
I'd be remiss if I didn't point out what seemed to be extremely clever meta-commentary on the whole "fake news" nonsense going on in the world today –
Nikki: We got video evidence of Emmit screwing a secretary. It's a fact.
Sy: It never happened!
Nikki: That doesn't make it any less of a fact.
It sounds funny, but when you really think about it, it's so depressing and enraging.
Sy was visibly horrified to see what Yuri and Meemo did to Nikki, but he was too much of a chicken to intervene.
He gave a half-hearted attempt at telling them that he'd take care of the Nikki problem, but didn't actually move to help her when they took her aside and began beating her.
In fact, he drove away and left her for dead. Not cool, Sy.
For a second, I really thought that Nikki might be a goner. It was a very shocking and brutal moment. I cheered when she slowly pulled herself up and into her car, though I have no idea how she managed to get all the way home and into the bath, waiting to be found by Ray.
Michael Stuhlbarg did a phenomenal job with that scene, especially given that what was happening to Nikki was all off-screen – the extended shot of just his horrified facial expression was how the horror of it was translated to the audience.
Finally, we checked in briefly with Gloria and Winnie, who have now officially teamed up to solve Ennis' murder – with no help whatsoever from the new chief.
We're only halfway through the season, but Gloria and Winnie have already pieced together exactly what happened – Ray hired Maurice to rob Emmit, and Maurice robbed the wrong house, killing Ennis in the process.
To say they're connecting the dots isn't really accurate – it's more like, the dots are connected and they just need to explain to a group of bull-headed men what the connected dots picture is exactly.
The chief could clearly care less about the case, given that he forced the two officers to stop interrogating Ray.
His mindset? Gloria's theory about what happened can't be proven, so it's better to just chuck the case in the trash, I guess.
Basically, this dude is a terrible chief. He's also quite possibly Fargo's most one-dimensional and uninteresting character ever. The guy's just the worst.
- Meemo finally spoke, to translate Yuri's grossly sexist comment in Russian to Nikki. Was this the first time we've heard him say anything?
- Ray and Nikki are engaged now. But will she be able to walk down the aisle after her horrific beating by Varga's men?
- That scene where Ray and Emmit were yelling at one another over the phone was priceless. I particularly loved the looks the other bus passengers were giving Ray, especially after he tried to say he'd been talking to his mom.
- Ruby Goldfarb was weirdly transfixing, despite the brevity of her one scene with Sy. I wonder how long she'll stick around; I do want to see more of her and her ice-cold businesswoman attitude.
- Speaking of Ruby, I especially loved her little story about the similarities between mortuaries and self-storage units:
My husband made his first million in mortuaries. "Everybody dies, Ruby," he told me. "You can't just leave them on the sofa." One night, he was eating a three-pound lobster and he had a stroke and with it a revelation. Self-storage. That was the future. The two businesses are surprisingly similar when you think about it — a place to put the things you'll never use again.Mrs. Goldfarb
What did you think of "The House of Special Purpose"? Share your thoughts by commenting below, and remember that you can watch Fargo online here at TV Fanatic anytime.
Caralynn Lippo is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.