Fargo: “The Principle of Restricted Choice” Season 3 Episode 2 Review

Photo Credit:http://www.ibtimes.com/fargo-season-3-episode-2-synopsis-released-what-happens-principle-restricted-choice-2529201

The brilliance of Fargo has long been the value it places on every character’s perspective. That was true of the movie, the first two season’s of Noah Hawley’s version, and now the third, which now has both Stussys circling each other and their right hand man/woman like sharks after they finally reconnect. “The Principle of Restricted Choice” takes great pleasure in building its unfortunate misunderstanding, the likes of which might just be the branching off point for the rest of the season.

But one mystery that remains to be seen, and I’m sure season three will delightfully roll out the details for in future episodes, is how Gloria will come into contact with the Stussy brothers. Of all these new characters, and within the show’s constantly winking tone, it’s Carrie Coon’s Gloria who’s found the most pathos. But she’s not an effortless, simple heroine, instead bringing a rawer edge than we’re used to with Fargo‘s pillar protagonists. Unlike most people on the show, and Minnesota in general, she really doesn’t like her time to be wasted, not even to learn how to use a computer in 2010. But it’s Coon’s unwavering commitment to Gloria’s every move that sets her apart. But it’s not like we’ve seen the actress do that on another series airing right now that I definitely don’t also cover.

Yet it’s Ewan McGregor who’s so far walking away with the showier (and practically just as good) dual performances. As Ray, his naive responses to Nikki’s brand of insanity are a joy to watch. As Emmit, his reactions as his life slowly fumbles out of his control, and into V.M.’s, is delightful. But in this second episode, Ray and Emmit share an extended scene together, one written and acted well enough that it passes a very important test: having two Ewan McGregors on screen together isn’t distracting special effects or editing wise because his characters are unique and fleshed out, and their drama is rich. While Nikki breaks and enters to steal the stamp, which Emmit is merely having reframed, the brothers reconcile, a ploy Ray agrees to that seems to work better on him than it does his brother. The comedy in Fargo‘s irony comes after we see what Nikki wrote, with menstrual blood no less, in Emmit’s home when she sees the stamp replaced with a picture of a donkey. We know the brotherly relationship is done, but Ray confesses that he thought it was nice just to talk to his brother again. Too little too late. Sy agrees to deal with Ray, which involves empty threats at a restaurant, purposefully rear-ending his Hummer into Ray’s car, and then losing control taking the bumper off a waitress’ car. Can’t imagine how that’s going to come back and bite him.

But Ray is just the beginning of Emmit’s problems. V.M. is moving into his office building with his two Russian henchmen. David Thewlis is terrific as this truly vile villain, never separating the moronic nature of the show’s characters from V.M. but still making us believe that he can outsmart Emmit and Sy. Which he does, all but taking over their parking lot business and scheming out loud to take the profits for himself.

All in all, with the pieces firmly in place after the premiere, “The Principle of Restricted Choice” moved Fargo season three in the right direction. I can’t wait to see how the entire cast collides and how ridiculous things end up getting. But for now, this entry moved those pieces in way that, while typical of this series, deepened season three’s conflicts in a way that breathed some new energy into them. Grade: B+

Some Other Notes:

  • Forget Ewan McGregor, the most successful double-time an actor is pulling on TV right now is Carrie Coon, warming our hearts here on Wednesdays and then breaking them all over again as Nora on The Leftovers.
  • Speaking of that show, one gag on this week’s Carrie Coon-centric episode was her failures with technology, which hysterically carried over to Fargo.
  • According to Nikki, all you need to clear up your chakras is some “psychic Drano.”

By Matt Dougherty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *