Fargo Recap: Season 3, episode 8, ‘Who Rules the Land of Denial?’


Twin Peaks comes to Minnesota, on Fargo.

Fargo’s eighth episode, ‘Who Rules the Land of Denial?’ begins with something novel for the series: a different perspective. The previous episode ended with the reintroduction of Mr. Wrench and a bus crash, while this episode begins with the point of view of Varga’s goons as they get ready to knock over a bus. It’s unlike Fargo to give details away so readily, but it really doesn’t beat around the bush here.  Within the first five minutes we know that the bus raid is not successful; Nikki and Mr. Wrench are able to get away. It’s a good thing that the boys in animal masks spot a couple driving by to occupy their time.

‘Who Rules the Land of Denial?’ demands your attention immediately – there is no playing around here. Fargo only has a couple of episodes left in order to wrap it all up, after all. As Nikki and Wrench make their way through the woods (she doesn’t know sign language) there is no music, only beautiful landscape. It feels both calm and desperate. While they try to get away, the boys are hunting them, while also being hunted by a father and son who are actually hunting game. And here in lies the lesson as to why you shouldn’t run round the woods wearing animal masks. Either way, the hunters meet their end, ostensibly raising the body count to four within the ten minute mark. There’s no time left to mess around.

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At this point it’s fair to say that Nikki has lost it all. Ray is dead, horrible people are after her, and she’s stuck out in the woods being chased by professional killers. Both her and Wrench end up as target practice, but Wrench is a killer as well. This is some of Fargo’s most tense material ever, and one Nikki and Wrench see purple lights flashing over a hill, we almost expect to see the UFO from season 2. We always knew that Nikki was made of tougher stuff than Ray, but now she’s an actual survivor.

Image Credit: FX

At a bowling alley, Nikki has what can only be described as a Twin Peaks moment. A truly bizarre sequence that involves a kitten named Ray, silence, and the man that Gloria met in the bar back in California. “This is the universe at its most ironic,” he says. As they go outside and take his green car, the world is filled with grays and muted colors. At the same bowling alley bar, Yuri sits, crossbow in hand, and demands napkins and vodka.

The same man sits there beside him and shows him things he does not want to see. Season 3 may not have aliens, but it does have a mighty supernatural element in play now. This man has appeared to three different characters now and offered guidance three different times. But Fargo doesn’t give us any time to ponder what it all means; Gloria is out there now trying to figure out what happened. She now has to catchup to what we know,

Varga seems to have permenantly moved into Emmit’s house. When Sy knocks, he answers the door eating a piece of chicken. Varga functions like a parasite, and now he has achieved much of what he set out to do. He has Emmit’s business, his money, his life. He poisons Sy with a cup of tea, who then collapses at the office. In the hospital, Sy grows a beard, letting us know that there is a time skip. Emmit is the only one left standing, being entirely propped up by the long shadow of Varga.

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Much of ‘Who Rules the Land of Denial?’ is silent, and when there is music it is soft, delicate. Except for when Emmit realizes that his prized stamp is hanging all over his office. It operates in a constant state of unreality, making it difficult to keep track of what’s actually happening. Ray’s car appears at the hospital, tripping Emmit up and convincing him that he’s still alive. This seems to puzzle even Varga, who doesn’t know what to make of Emmit waking up with a glued on mustache, making him look like Ray. Varga has the task of keeping Emmit in one piece, a job which is getting increasingly difficult. To put a bow on it, Emmit shows up at the police station, ready to confess.

It’s difficult to imagine that Emmit, even with his knowledge of Varga, will be able to bring the man down. But it’s possible that the only thing he wants to confess to is the murder of Ray, which might be what Varga was eventually planning on. We’ve very much at the part of the story in which Fargo gets “real,” and frankly, it’s difficult just yet to predict what is going to happen.  There is excitement in that, but also a dark undercurrent – this might be the season on which the villain get away.