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'Fargo' season 3 recap: The most Minnesota fight ever ends in tragedy

Chris Large/FX

Chris Large/FX

The sun rises slowly but surely in Raymond Stussy's house, streaming sinisterly through the blinds on his front door. He's clearly been up all night stewing after putting Nikki to bed and learning about her injuries. Ray's not going to let anyone get away with hurting his woman: He's a new man: a man of action, someone who's not letting someone else call the shots.

And so, he digs around in the cupboard for a box of full metal jacket bullets, fishes in the fridge crisper drawer for a handgun, and gets ready to go on a stakeout with Nikki.

"You ready?" she asks.

"Oh, you betcha," Ray says.

Meanwhile, Varga is telling the other Stussy brother some "true stories." He starts with the 2008 stock market crash, then about how World War I was started by Gavrilo Princip's hankering for a sandwich, and how the moon landing was faked on a soundstage in New Mexico. Varga's weaving together tales of when "perception becomes reality," and how it's time for Stussy Lots to step it up. Varga says he's arranged for the company to secure another $50 million in loans (before sharing some of that with "the Partners") and acquire 16 more lots, effectively doubling the size of the company in three months.

Sy, as you can imagine, is freaking out.

Chris Large/FX

Chris Large/FX

"The shallow end of the pool is where the turds float," Varga explains. Emmit chimes in, slowly but surely beginning his journey to the dark side: "No one ever got anywhere staying on one side... Whether you step off the board with one foot or two — you end up in the water."

Emmit's jumping in, head first.

Varga explains that he'll take care of the IRS threat. His solution? Sending a suited-up Meemo to mimic the IRS guy's tendency to arrange his personal and professional space like he's living in an accounting-driven Wes Anderson movie. After bringing up Section 41C of the U.S. Tax Code and spewing plenty of jargon, Meemo concludes: "We demand you vacate our offices."

A moment later Meemo, too, leaves and rides back to the big-rig parking lot with Yuri.

Little do the henchmen know that Ray and Nikki are in hot pursuit, starting a deadly game of cat-and-mouse this episode. For now, though, Nikki urges Ray to wait before offing her assailants: "I want payback — maybe even more than you — but we gotta wait."

Later, back at the Stussy offices, Varga is digging deep into his maw with a metal pick, drawing blood and sucking it away as he sees Gloria and Winnie arrive at Emmit's office. The two have stitched together most of the patches in the mysterious death of Ennis Stussy, but they need to hear from Emmit. Varga's not too keen on the law enforcement ladies in the office and tries to intimidate them out of the premises, only telling them that he's "an associate of Mr. Stussy's."

Gloria's in charge and does most of the talking here (Winnie observes silently), asking Emmit questions and verbally sparring with Varga until he kicks them out. "It's your story detective," Varga says after declaring that the connections they're drawing are alleged. "I'm merely looking for clarification."

Here, Gloria takes a stand, clarifying that she's "Chief," not a detective. This is huge for her. After half a season of mostly just accepting her demotion, she's had enough.

Varga's had enough of the cops in the office, so he ushers them out, just as Meemo got rid of the IRS guy. Too bad Gloria's visit has also turned Varga on Ray, too. "Seems like your brother's got a backbone after all," he muses to Emmit after Gloria and Winnie leave.

Later, Gloria's aversion to all things technological comes in handy: Varga can't Facebook stalk her, can't Google her, can't even hack into the computers at the Eden Valley Police Station (because there are none!). Score one for the technophobes!

That minor victory is short lived, however, because Varga sends Yuri to dig up physical files from the station... and he sends Meemo to execute Ray. Little does Meemo know, he won't have to after all. (But more on that later.)

For now, Ray and Nikki are holed up at Ray's house, recouping and planning their next moves when it looks like they're surrounded from the outside. The two duck down and try to figure out who's there before the figures walk off. Was it Meemo and Yuri? No, just Gloria and Winnie taking a look at the house, trying to see if anyone's home since Ray's dirty red Corvette is clearly parked outside.

Paranoid, the couple decides to relocate to a motel. There are two problems: 1) Meemo's trailing them, and 2) they forgot their cash. When Nikki realizes she's out of aspirin and they also forgot the remaining sum of their bank money, Ray decides to go back to his house and grab it.

There, Emmit's waiting on Ray's couch ("I cosigned the mortgage. You think I don't have a key?"), the Sisyphus stamp in hand. "You win. I'm done. Whatever you want," Emmit concedes to Ray. "I can't think of a single person that doesn't like me except you."

"I'm not less than you," Ray retorts, his pride dangerously on the line.

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Emmit refuses to give up, thrusting the stamp into Ray's hands. "Well, you're not giving it to me. You can't give me what was mine from the start," Ray says.

The two engage in what at first seems like the most Minnesotan of fights ("Take the damn stamp!") before suddenly, Emmit bashes the frame over Ray's head in a fit of generosity rage. The two stop for a moment, and it becomes clear that Ray's not doing so hot after that: There's a large piece of glass sticking out of his jugular. Emmit urges him not to pull the shard out, but Ray doesn't listen... and then there's blood everywhere.

Emmit has no idea what to do besides watch his little brother bleed out on the floor. And after it's done, he does what he does best: Rely on someone else to help him out. But he doesn't call Sy this time. He calls Varga to come clean up the mess. Varga calls off Meemo's side mission; he's been waiting for Nikki to come back to her motel room after a very slow and paranoid trip fill up her ice bucket.

Emmit, in shock, tries to say that he didn't mean to kill Ray, but Varga says knowingly: "No one ever does." Varga has Meemo take the stamp and the frame, leaving the glass and effectively setting Nikki up for murder: Finally, the parole officer's ex-con girlfriend snaps after he beats her kidneys black and blue... and she murders him. Or so Varga surmises before he sends a trembling Emmit off to a previously scheduled dinner date with Sy.

As night falls — literally (and metaphorically for poor Ray) — Gloria's tooling down a deserted road toward home when she has a fuck-it moment. She radios the St. Cloud police and arranges for Winnie to meet her at Ray's house. Go get 'em, Gloria.

Choice quotes:

"A shark in a suit is still a shark."

“I’m so rarely seen. Maybe I don’t exist.”

Death count:

Ray. Now we're down two Stussys (sort of). Bummed to see this sad sack go, but thrilled to see what kind of vengeance Nikki Swango’s got up those incredible fur sleeves.