‘Fargo’ Season 3 Episode 2 Recap: The Principle of Restricted Choice

Fargo Season 3 Episode 2 Ewan McGregor and Mary Elizabeth Winstead
Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Nikki Swango and Ewan McGregor as Ray Stussy. (Photo Copyright 2017 FX Networks)

FX’s critically acclaimed dramatic series Fargo continues season three with episode two airing on April 26, 2017. The episode titled ‘The Principle of Restricted Choice’ begins with Gloria (Carrie Coon) puzzling over the stash of sci-fi books she found in the secret box hidden under the floorboards in her stepfather’s house. She thumbs through each, looking for anything that might be hidden in the pages but coming up empty. Next, she examines an old newspaper article with the headline “Sci-fi Scribe Wins Golden Planet.”

Gloria’s interrupted by the only other officer in the town’s police department who shows up telling her it’s time to meet with the new police chief who’ll be coordinating their recently combined police department. Officer Donny Mashman (Mark Forward) picks up one of the paperbacks, asking if its author Thaddeus Mobley was involved in Ennis’ murder. Gloria says Thaddeus is Ennis, so there’s definitely a connection.

Gloria and Donny arrive at the Eden Valley Public Library which also serves as the police department. Strangely, Gloria can’t get the electric door to open for her (in episode one the door at her stepdad’s store also refused to open automatically) and she asks if Donny sees her, wondering if she’s somehow invisible. He replies, “Is that a trick question?”

And now we learn Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) are so concerned with V.M. Varga and the people he represents that they’ve turned to their lawyer, Irv, for help. They tell him all about trying to return the money they borrowed and he wonders why they made the shady deal in the first place, offering them the name of a criminal attorney on account of the fact they’ll probably wind up in jail when this is all over. Emmit doesn’t want to be lectured, he just wants his lawyer to find the company and make them take their $1 million loan back.

Emmit and Sy drive home and Emmit’s concerned he was too hard on his twin brother, Ray, at the anniversary party. Sy has no sympathy for Ray, telling Emmit everything he did was for Ray’s own good. Emmit thinks maybe he should give his brother the stamp, but Sy thinks Ray’s just a loser who won’t stop asking for more and more.

Back at the lawyer’s office, Irv is having a horrible time using his computer. He has no idea how to search the internet for info on V.M. Varga. Before his secretary can stop him, he clicks on a link which shuts down his computer. The secretary’s computer is also off, but they determine it’s just the computers and not a power outage. (As Irv’s turned off, it appeared as though a photo was taken of he and his secretary staring at the screen.)

So, what’s V.M. Varga up to? He’s accompanying a large truck into one of Emmit Stussy’s lots. The parking lot attendant doesn’t want to let them through, but V.M. (David Thewlis) assures the attendant – who is slow on the uptake – that the attendant’s employer gave him permission despite the fact it’s against the law to park an 18-wheeler on this particular property. V.M. has them drive to a spot against the attendant’s orders, and while that’s happening the attendant gives Sy a call and he confirms V.M. has permission.

Sy strolls into Emmit’s office and Emmit’s concerned about crime in his sleepy little town. He’s reading a newspaper article about 82-year-old Ennis Stussy’s death and he’s disappointed this is no longer the Minnesota he knows. Sy finally reveals what he came into Emmit’s office to share – the news about the semi-truck and V.M. Varga. Emmit’s concerned the truck is parked there against code, but Sy’s more concerned about what could possibly be in the truck. Sy thinks it might be harboring slave girls while Emmit thinks maybe it contains drugs. Either way, it’s bad news. Emmit suggests they drive over to the lot, but Sy prefers plausible deniability, which means they should stay far, far away. They decide to wait and see what Irv the lawyer discovers.

To say Chief Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham) is underwhelmed by Chief Gloria Burgle’s police station would be a gross understatement. The only holding cell is a closet where they store paper towels and the department’s computers which are still in their boxes. Moe’s dumbfounded to learn Gloria doesn’t like/use computers, preferring to type reports and send them by telex. She just calls someone if she needs a record researched, and Moe is over this attitude. He’s going to let her interview her potential witness at the gas station and take a few days off to settle Ennis’ affairs, but then they’ll sit down and discuss how the police department will be run moving forward.

Gloria arrives at the gas station where parolee Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy) stopped on his way to killing Ennis. The attendant recalls it was a weird night and when Maurice came in, he thought he was weird…and Russian. Anyway, he remembers “raising a ruckus” when Maurice tore a page from the phone book and Gloria puts on gloves and looks at the torn edges in the book. She takes the phone book as evidence in case there are fingerprints.

Ray’s busy at work with a newspaper spread out on his desk. The home invasion murder is front and center, but what’s really concerning Ray is a rat ate his computer cord and he needs to look up info on Maurice’s death. He asks his boss, Scotty (Ivan Sherry), if he can use his computer and Scotty begins talking about Nikki Swango’s butt. (Remember, Nikki and Ray aren’t supposed to be dating.) Ray notes that the police list Maurice’s death as accidental and then he announces that Maurice (who his boss doesn’t know is dead) has missed his 9am appointment. Why did he mention this? No idea, but Scotty tells him to issue a BOLO which apparently Ray could have/should have done without asking.

Ray passes by a man scrubbing Maurice’s blood off the sidewalk before entering Nikki’s apartment. He tells Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) Maurice’s death was ruled accidental, but Nikki’s distracted setting the table hoping to impress a new sponsor who’s coming over. When Ray says it’s too soon to be thinking about a sponsor for their bridge team, Nikki slaps him hard twice. She thinks his energy is blocked and he confesses it’s because he’s never killed anyone before. He admits he feels guilty and Nikki calls him her Honey Bear and says he has the soul of a poet. Ray’s concerned they’ll be caught, but Nikki’s sure it’ll all be fine. Nikki even thinks they shouldn’t worry about Ennis’ murder investigation since he was old and no one cares. (Boy, is she wrong!) Nikki says the only thing they’ll find if they do look into it is “unfathomable pinheadery,” which could be one of the best descriptions of a crime in history.

Nikki figures out it’s Ray’s dysfunctional relationship with Emmit that has his chi all messed up. She wants him to end the fight, believing they won’t land a sponsor with Ray in this state. So, Ray has two choices: make peace with his brother or they steal the stamp.

Ray shows up at Emmit’s place and Emmit’s concerned something horrible has happened since it’s 10:30pm. Since Stella’s asleep, he asks Ray to step out to the benches set up outside (in the snow) to talk. While they talk, Nikki sneaks into the house, looking for the stamp. Ray apologizes to his brother and Emmit admits he feels bad about their relationship, too. Ray reveals he wants to bury the hatchet and Emmit seems stunned. Ray tells his brother he’s proud of him, adding Emmit doesn’t owe him anything. The brothers make up, shake on it, and then Ray leaves while Emmit briefly remains outside with a genuinely happy smile on his face.

Meanwhile, inside the house there’s a framed drawing of a donkey hanging where the stamp used to. Nikki uses a flashlight and begins searching through Emmit’s home office desk drawers. She finds a recent receipt for the rental of a safe deposit box and quickly comes to the conclusion Emmit has secured the stamp where Ray can’t get to it.

Emmit heads upstairs and sees a light under the door of his office. Nikki’s gone but she left a message across the donkey reading, “Who’s the ass now?” in what looks like blood. (Earlier she’d mentioned she’s on her period.) Emmit looks into one of his desk drawers and sees a used tampon on top of his papers.

Attorney Irv walks to his car in the parking garage and finds Yuri from the Ukraine leaning against it. Irv talks about the Cossacks and Yuri says he’s one, which confuses Irv. Before allowing Irv to answer when he asks if he was searching for V.M. Varga, Yuri and Meemo toss Irv over the side of the parking garage.

Nikki meets Ray at the pre-arranged spot down the street and tells him Emmit hid the stamp and left a burro in its place. Ray says it felt good talking to his brother, and he thinks they’ve actually made up which forces Nikki into confessing she left a message behind. Nikki’s impressed with Emmit’s game-playing skills and says, “He may have won this round, but two can play at that.” They hear a siren and speed off, with Ray still confused as to what Nikki did at Emmit’s house.

Emmit and Sy stare at Nikki’s message in the drawer and Emmit’s positive his brother tricked him so Nikki could break in and get the stamp. Emmit reveals the stamp isn’t hidden; the maid broke the frame and it’s being fixed. Emmit says the gloves are off and he’s now done with his brother. Sy agrees and he’s going to let Ray know he’s dead to Emmit.

While they’re talking, Emmit gets a call saying Irv jumped off the garage.

Gloria and her son visit the funeral home and the funeral home director was definitely not a friend of Ennis’, calling the deceased a horrible man. He wonders if Gloria has contacted Ennis’ family and she says she has no idea if he has other family or any friends who need to be contacted. The funeral home director’s never heard of the name Thaddeus Mobley, which was a longshot that Gloria tossed out, and the subject turns to picking out the coffin.

Ray’s in a local restaurant eating breakfast when Sy, driving a Hummer, pulls into the parking lot. Sy sits across from him at the table, and Ray says he’s going to call his brother to make things right. Sy squashes that idea, telling him to never speak to Emmit again. Ray can’t believe that’s what his brother really wants and Sy says, “I’m serious. This is non-negotiable after the stunt you pulled…feminine hygiene deployed as a weapon.” Ray looks confused, so apparently Nikki didn’t give him all the details.

Sy pounds the table and Ray warns him to watch his tone, calling him an errand boy. Sy peels off a $20 and tells Ray that’s the last money he’ll get from Emmit. Ray flips him off as Sy leaves the restaurant. He flips him off again just as Sy gets into his car. Ray watches from his booth in the restaurant as Sy backs up into his Corvette, smashing the driver’s side. Sy gains a little speed and backs up again, crunching the driver’s side before driving away flipping the bird through the sunroof. He roars out of the parking lot and swipes another car as he exits to the street.

Back at his office, Emmit can’t raise the receptionist on the phone so he heads out to the reception area only to find V.M. Varga and his crew have claimed an empty office and are bringing in dozens of boxes. Emmit’s upset and can’t believe this is happening and when Sy arrives he joins Emmit and V.M. in Emmit’s office. V.M. tells them he likes Minnesota for its blandness after having traveled all around the globe.

Emmit and Sy reiterate their desire to pay back the loan, but Varga says they are partners and should lie back and enjoy themselves. There’s nothing that can be done at this point. Varga adds that he loves the parking lot industry because it runs on cash, doesn’t use technology, and that means you can’t verify the income. Sy points out if V.M. gooses the numbers, it will make someone pay attention. Varga responds by saying they’ll just buy more properties including some multipurpose ones…maybe even a new stadium. Emmit seems intrigued by the idea and Varga points out they’re trapped. But on the upside, on paper they will be billionaires. V.M. warns them he’s heading out for a few days but is leaving Yuri and Meemo (the men who killed Irv) behind to watch over things. As if that didn’t freak them out, he adds his condolences for the death of their attorney, mentioning that it was avoidable.

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