Fargo: “The House of Special Purpose” Season 3 Episode 5 Review

Photo Credit:http://www.ign.com/articles/2017/05/18/fargo-the-house-of-special-purpose-review

Fargo needed something big to happen in “The House of Special Purpose.” Aside from one astounding episode, I don’t think there’s a viewer out there who would argue that season three isn’t at least a little bit of a disappointment so far. As cheeky as it is to have the central conflict initiate around two brothers fighting over a stamp, so little has happened in the past four episodes that the show’s formula had grown stale. That’s true for most of this episode as well, with most character movements just inching us toward seemingly inevitable conflicts down the line. But then there’s the last 15 minutes.

One of this series’ greatest strengths is how it crosses circumstances into a cohesive whole. That’s what happens when Nikki and Sy’s clandestine meeting is interrupted by Varga’s goons. Suddenly, storylines that had nothing to do with each other essentially duel. Who’s to play Sy more and overcome the other? For now, for the season to continue for five more episodes, it’s Nikki who has to lose. But boy does director Dearbhla Walsh make it seem like she loses everything. There’s a moment when we watch Sy’s face as Varga’s men beat her that the show intends for us to think she’s dead, a moment that would have stirred controversy far and wide tomorrow morning. But Walsh has the camera linger afterward, and we see Nikki crawl back to her car. Dead or alive, what they did to Nikki changes the whole momentum of the season, something the show desperately needed. But killing her would have meant that Nikki’s only purpose to the story was to do just that, something much lesser shows might have done just a few years ago without an ounce of bad press. But Nikki’s persistence manages to subvert this disturbing cliche while also keeping her part of this massive shift in the story, as well as its future.

Sadly, the rest of the episode leading up to this is something of a bore. The most entertaining bit probably comes from Ray and Nikki’s sex tape ruining Emmit’s marriage. This was a smartly kooky way to fuel the fire of the brothers’ rivalry, even if it tests our suspension of disbelief. Later on, an auditor comes into Emmit’s office, the exact opposite thing he and Varga need right now, adding tension to their partnership beyond Varga’s mighty swoop into the company.

Otherwise, Gloria gets a chance to question Ray, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. But with Nikki and Ray now more directly connected to the larger puzzle, it’s hopefully only a matter of time before Gloria finds her way to the center. But that doesn’t change the fact that season three’s slowness still pervades 90% of this episode. A stellar closing scene isn’t enough to save an entry too bogged down by the season’s so-far lackluster plot. But it does at least point to a more exciting second half of the season. Grade: B

By Matt Dougherty

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