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‘Fargo’ Recap: “The Law of Vacant Places”

Cameron Lee ’20 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

Spoiler Alert: This recap contains spoilers for the season 3 premiere of Fargo.

It’s rare for a showrunner to juggle two vastly different shows at once. But the season 3 premiere of Fargo proves that Noah Hawley can do just that. Coming off of Legion, which wrapped its first season barely a month ago, Mr. Hawley, who wrote and directed the premiere, continues to employ his signature style to the world of Fargo. Fargo premiere episodes in the past have centered around an inciting incident that propels the story into motion. This premiere was no different but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable to watch.

Ewan McGregor in Fargo. Photo Credit: FX
Ewan McGregor in ‘Fargo’. Photo Credit: FX

The season begins in typical Fargo fashion: with a scene that has nothing to do with the story but will probably tie back into the storyline later on in the season. It’s 1988 in East Berlin, and a man named Jacob Ungerleider is being questioned for a murder of a woman. The man tells the interrogator that they have the wrong man and that he has no idea who the women is. We then transition to 2010 in good old Minnesota ya! Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) is a successful parking lot businessman who frequently butts heads with his parole officer brother Ray (also Ewan McGregor, with a great mustache). Ray wants to marry his once-parole-now-girlfriend Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). But he’s low on cash and asks his brother to loan him some money to pay for a ring. Emmit refuses to loan Ray the money, causing them to argue over their father’s inheritance. Emmit got a very valuable stamp collection while Ray got a beaten down Corvette (seems fair). After getting rejected by his brother, Ray formulates a plan to steal a stamp from Emmit. He hires one of his parolee’s Maurice (Scoot McNairy) to steal the stamp for him (even by Fargo standards, this scheme is a really bad idea). Ewan McGregor has had a great year so far from playing Lumiere in Beauty in the Beast to Trainspotting 2. This is by his best performance of the bunch; Emmit and Ray have unique personalities and different speaking patterns that makes them two very different characters.

Carrie Coon in 'Fargo'. Photo Credit: FX.
Carrie Coon in ‘Fargo’. Photo Credit: FX.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) is having dinner with her son and her stepfather. Maurice is driving to Emmit’s house but loses the addresses that Ray wrote down. Maurice, who is super high at this point, thinks he remembers the addresses. Burgle leaves her stepfather’s house just as Maurice arrives. Emmit had been given a loan to expand his company two years ago by an unknown third party. A representative from that company comes to Emmit’s office: V.M. Varga, played by a very sinister Professor Lupin (David Thewlis), who is chewing scenery every chance he gets. He tells Emmit that the loan he received was their initial investment and he promises that they will be to follow. Back on the road, Gloria’s son had forgotten his birthday present back at the house. When they arrive to retrieve it they find the house sacked and the stepfather dead.

David Thewlis in Fargo. Photo Credit: FX
David Thewlis in ‘Fargo’. Photo Credit: FX

Maurice arrives at Ray’s apartment to give him the stamp. Ray angrily confronts him for screwing up the job, but Maurice pulls a gun on him. Nikki, who’s also in the tub with Ray, tries to distract Maurice with her body so Ray can snatch the gun away from him. It fails and Maurice threatens to blackmail Ray. He leaves, but Nikki has a plan to stop him. She times his exit from the apartment to the street and quickly unscrews the AC unit. When Maurice is directly below the AC unit, Ray kicks it out of the wall and it falls directly on Maurice’s head smashing his head into bits. Nikki calls the police and instructs Ray on what to do.

Besides the already great performances by the entire cast, great music choices, and Noah Hawley’s signature style, the premiere is just a blast to watch in every way imaginable. Here’s hoping for a strong season that will match the excellent last two seasons.

Episode Grade: A-

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