The fifth episode of “Fargo,” “The House of Special Purpose,” ends with the most harrowing scene to come out of Season 3 so far. Though the show has already had a couple of murders, it’s the first time the menace of Varga (David Thewlis) and his goons, Yuri (Goran Bogdan) and Meemo (Andy Yu), has become really frightening.
Halfway through Season 3 of “Fargo,” things are shifting from a series of coincidences and misunderstandings into something much more dangerous for all involved. And no single image sells that more than the last thing we see in “The House of Special Purpose”: the face of a black wolf.
That last shot can be a bit confusing, though, especially if you don’t remember last week’s episode. But it’s likely a pointed reference to the growing danger posed by Varga — and the fact that things likely are about to get a lot worse for everyone else.
The wolf image calls back to Episode 4, “The Narrow Escape Problem.” That episode started with voiceover narration delivered by “Fargo” alumnus Billy Bob Thornton, borrowed from the 1936 children’s musical fairy tale “Peter and the Wolf.” In the musical, the narrator introduces several animals who will serve as characters in the story, and indicates which instruments of the orchestra will represent them.
Juxtaposed over the beginning of “The Narrow Escape Problem,” the “Peter and the Wolf” narration (and the orchestra to go with it) link the fairy tale’s characters to the characters in the show. Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) becomes the bird, Ray Stussy (also Ewan McGregor) is the duck, Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is the cat, and Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg) is the grandfather of Peter.
But most notable is the wolf of “Peter and the Wolf”: That role is assigned to none other than “Fargo” Season 3’s most major villain, V.M. Varga.
The wolf image, then, feels like a pretty big helping of foreshadowing. The fearsome creature is dark and frightening in that last shot, and follows the fallout of Yuri and Meemo’s encounter with Nikki. With Varga’s threats against Sy, his offers to do something about Ray, and his goons getting worse and worse, it seems the best way to interpret that last shot is that the wolf is about to attack.
Another point of interest: In “Peter and the Wolf,” the wolf actually eats one animal before Peter manages to capture it: the duck. In the opening of Episode 4, the duck’s instruments get assigned to Ray — and Varga has already indicated he thinks Ray is a problem for Emmit’s business who needs to be dealt with. With the lingering image of Episode 5 being the dark visage of a wolf, that doesn’t seem like a coincidence.
Scroll down to check out our ranking of the various bumblers, detectives and evil-doers of “Fargo” Season 3.