Christmas music greets Fargo fans as season three episode seven begins. Varga (David Thewlis) cuts open gifts while kneeling in front of a gorgeous Christmas tree. He tries out – or on – the contents of each present as a massive taxidermied bear watches over the unwrapping.
Chief Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) arrives at Ray’s house and finds him dead on the floor, face down in a pool of blood. Officer Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) looks over her shoulder and Gloria says, appropriately, “Sh*.”
Nikki (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is back in her hotel room, alone and glancing occasionally at the room’s phone. Housekeeping knocks on the door and Nikki tentatively approaches the window when suddenly two officers with guns drawn crash through the door. Chief Moe Dammik (Shea Whigham) hauls Nikki back into the bathroom after finding her attempting to crawl out the window. Nikki’s placed in a squad car as officers gather the contents of her room.
Next, we catch up with Emmit (Ewan McGregor) who’s fresh off of murdering his brother. Following Varga’s instructions, Emmit has kept his dinner date with Sy (Michael Stuhlbarg) and potential investor Ruby Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell). Emmit attempts to act normal as he orders a drink and makes a toast to new friends.
Meanwhile, Chief Dammik has Nikki in an interrogation room and shows her a photo of Ray, dead. He wonders if she has cuts and bruises, and why a girl like her was with a guy like Ray. He goes over her criminal record and he’s sure she was with Ray only because he was her parolee officer. She asks for a lawyer but he advises her to push the “tearjerker” story that Ray was a monster. Nikki doesn’t answer and Moe leaves her alone with the photo of Ray, just in case she wants to admire her handiwork. She picks up the photo and notices something the police probably missed.
Gloria and Winnie are called into speak with Chief Dammik and St. Cloud’s Police Chief. The St. Cloud Chief tells Winnie and Gloria to go back to their normal assignments as St. Cloud’s homicide unit is taking over. Gloria blows this off, asking to speak to Nikki. She’s not impressed with Dammik when he reveals he’s already spoken with Nikki, and she tells the St. Cloud Police Chief she has a detailed account of the homicides and how they’re connected. He has no idea she’s working on multiple murders, and Dammik again tries to shut her down. She ignores him and lays out the three murder victims. She explains they’ve deduced it all stems from a rivalry between Emmit and the newly deceased Ray Stussy.
The St. Cloud Police Chief is just as dismissive as Chief Dammik, despite Gloria’s quick recap of the three homicides. Gloria and Winnie are sent out of the room and while Dammik and the St. Cloud Police Chief talk, Gloria tells Winnie they have to find Emmit and gauge his reaction to the news Ray’s been murdered. She sends Winnie off as Dammik confronts her with two choices: take time off and grieve until she’s no longer officially a police chief or quit.
Gloria signals she’s taking time off but then sneaks back into a restricted area and asks to see Nikki Swango. Unfortunately, she’s stopped by an officer who needs to see her interview request form before he can allow her to speak with Nikki.
Over in Eden Valley, Officer Donny Mashman (Mark Forward) is called to investigate a case of vandalism and he locks up the station and hangs a sign indicating he’ll be back in 15 minutes. As he’s about to get into his car, he notices he forgot his gun and walks back to the station. The door’s unlocked and at first he just thinks he forgot to lock it, but as he heads into his office he sees a chair in another room swiveling on its own. He calls out but no one answers. He cautiously looks around the office/library and finds Yuri (Goran Bogdan) leaning against a shelf, reading something.
Donny asks him to leave and Yuri says he’s gone. He claims he’s not really there anymore and Donny’s now completely confused. Donny’s frightened when Yuri approaches him, telling him he’s talking to himself. Yuri instructs Donny to pick up his gun and after he does, Yuri tells him to leave. For some reason Donny obeys and rushes outside to his car.
After Donny pulls away, Yuri puts the Ennis Stussy file back where he found it.
Returning to Emmit’s story, he’s still at the restaurant with Ruby and Sy. They talk about retirement and Sy’s ready to get their attorney started on the paperwork. Emmit changes the subject to talk about marriages, sex tapes, and deadbeats who want money from rich people. When Ruby concedes that money is a blessing and a curse, Emmit says sore losers are to blame – not the money. Sy’s uncomfortable during all this and then he spots Officer Winnie Lopez in the restaurant lobby.
Sy thinks she’s there to harass them and heads over to confront her before she can make it to their table. She delivers the bad news about Ray and then Sy motions Emmit to meet with Winnie. Emmit walks over as they stare at him, and before Winnie can say anything about Ray, Emmit blurts out that he’s been at the restaurant since 6pm. He’s talking too much and it appears Winnie doesn’t know what to make of it and neither does Sy. Winnie finally tells Emmit Ray is dead and Emmit simply stares at her and says, “Raymond.” He doesn’t ask how or why and instead immediately jumps to blaming it on Nikki, suggesting the cops should bring her in.
Sy tries to cover for Emmit and blames the loose talk on the alcohol they’ve had over dinner, and Emmit calls Nikki a black widow who used his brother. Emmit doesn’t cry and isn’t doing a convincing job of looking upset, and Sy suggests Winnie talk to their lawyer if she needs a statement. When she asks Emmit about the last time he saw Ray, Emmit says he was there all night and Sy repeats that she needs to call their attorney. Sy calls Ray a saint who meant well as Emmit does a horrible job of looking upset.
After Emmit and Sy leave, Winnie asks Ruby if she can ask her a few questions.
Sy and Emmit arrive back at Emmit’s place, and Sy is ready to make funeral arrangements. He also assures Emmit he’ll talk to Ruby and make sure she backs up their story. Sy asks if Emmit thinks Varga killed Ray, but Emmit’s got his own theory. He believes Sy and Ray were working together, citing the odd timing of Ray’s request for money after the company is finally in the black plus Ray’s entry into his safe deposit box.
Sy wonders if Varga is feeding Emmit this conspiracy theory, explaining it makes no sense for him to team up with Ray because that would literally be turning millions of dollars into thousands of dollars which doesn’t make sense. Emmit apologizes, saying he’s under a lot of pressure and doesn’t know who to trust. Sy says he can always trust him and thinks they need to take the money from Ruby Goldfarb and run. It’s their only way out of this horrible situation.
Inside his house, Emmit sits on the stairs leading to the second floor. He’s right next to the Christmas tree and the presents Varga had been going through earlier. Varga takes a seat on the opposite set of stairs and asks Emmit how he feels. His answer: “Free.” Emmit begins crying as Varga recites the “There was a Crooked Man” nursery rhyme.
Sy makes it to his house and as his wife makes small talk, he just stands there as she takes off his jacket. She talks about their kids and butterscotch pudding and only then does he break down, crying. When she asks what’s wrong, he replies, “The world. The world is wrong.” He says everything in his world is now different. She hugs him, holding him close as he cries.
Back at the St. Cloud police station, Gloria hasn’t given up on trying to speak with Nikki. She requests a blue interview form but since she’s not from St. Cloud, she must get her superior officer to sign the form. When she asks to sign it herself because she’s Chief of Eden Valley, the officers tell her that’s not allowed. First, she has to get the St. Cloud Police Chief’s signature, then there are two more forms to fill out.
Stymied, Gloria contemplates her situation while alone in the bathroom.
Nikki, meanwhile, looks around the holding cell for a way to escape. An officer arrives and tells her to turn around and put her hands through the bars because he has to check her cell for contraband. Nikki figures out something’s going on but not until after she’s handcuffed and can’t escape. The officer is about to inject her with a syringe when Gloria arrives and holds him at gunpoint. She tells him to put the syringe on the floor and he makes like he’s going to obey before knocking her down. She gets one shot off before the man flees, and the gunshot brings in cops who restrain her. Chief Dammik also appears and both Gloria and Nikki say the syringe on the floor is a murder weapon.
Dammik picks up the syringe and demands to know why he should believe it’s not Nikki’s. Gloria tells him to check the tape, and they all look at the surveillance cameras.
The St. Cloud Police Chief, Chief Dammik, Gloria, and the officer in charge of surveillance watch the video but it freezes moments before the incident took place. Dammik thinks it’s a glitch but Gloria believes it was going to be the fourth murder of the series she’s investigating. Gloria is frustrated and says they should talk to Nikki, even if this is all one big coincidence. They need to get to the bottom of this murder spree, if possible. Finally, the chiefs agree.
Gloria and Chief Dammik talk to Nikki and she makes it clear she doesn’t want Ray cut open. Gloria asks the identity of the man with the syringe, revealing her theory that Ray hired Maurice LeFay to rob Emmit and it’s just snowballed from there. Gloria also says she thinks Emmit came back at Ray hard, and Nikki finally adds to the conversation, telling her it wasn’t the brother and to follow the money. When Gloria asks what money, Nikki doesn’t answer. Gloria says her son is at home worried someone’s coming for him next since they murdered his grandfather, but Nikki still won’t talk.
Chief Dammik revokes Nikki’s probation and is going to transfer her to the state penitentiary where she’ll be in protective custody. As he’s leaving, he adds that a jury will convict her even if there was a nutbag with a syringe.
Gloria asks if Nikki likes pie and says she’ll visit her after the holidays to talk about Ray. As she’s about to close the door, Nikki says she likes coconut cream pie with chocolate flakes.
Gloria watches as Nikki’s escorted from the station by two officers. She makes it onto the transport bus and is handcuffed into the last seat at the back of the bus. The full bus heads to the state pen, but the trip comes to a sudden halt when a man walks in front of the bus and it swerves to avoid hitting him. The bus crashes and flips onto its side, with the prisoners tossed about inside. Nikki’s knocked out and as the episode ends, Yuri (wearing a bear head), begins cutting through the metal cage to get to the area holding the prisoners.
More on Fargo:
– Fargo Season 3 Episode 1 ‘The Law of Vacant Places’ Recap
– Fargo Season 3 Episode 2 ‘The Principle of Restricted Choice’ Recap
– Fargo Season 3 Episode 3 ‘The Law of Non-Contradiction’ Recap
– Fargo Season 3 Episode 4 ‘The Narrow Escape’ Recap
– Fargo Season 3 Episode 5 ‘The House of Special Purpose’ Recap
– Fargo Season 3 Episode 6 ‘The Lord of No Mercy’ Recap