‘Fargo’ Season 3: Who Was Right in the End, Varga or Burgle?

FX series ended with ambiguity and competing philosophies at its conclusion — so who was right, the hero or the villain?

(Spoiler alert: Please don’t read on if you haven’t watched the Season 3 finale of “Fargo”)

FX’s “Fargo,” like the movie from which it’s adapted, is all about inept people messing up each other’s lives with their dangerous, crime-ridden plans. The third season of wraps up much like the last two and the movie that came before it, with a pile of bodies and the survivors searching for meaning.

Generally in “Fargo,” though, the bad guys eventually get what’s coming to them, as do the people who stumbled into bad situations without knowing what they were getting themselves mixed up with. That’s mostly the case this season as well. Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) can’t escape the vengeance of Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), for instance. And Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon), the too-competent sheriff’s deputy who has been tracking the season’s criminals for 10 episodes, resigns her post and winds up with a much better job at the Department of Homeland Security.

One loose end, however, is V.M. Varga (David Thewlis). The deadly, cunning villain of Season 3, Varga evaded Nikki, gutted Emmit’s business for his own personal gain, and managed to elude the authorities. Until, that is, he gets picked up on his way to the U.S. from Brussels five years after the events of the rest of the season.

“Fargo” ends Season 3 with a standoff between Agent Burgle and Varga, each contending that their faith in the system will get them through. Burgle believes in law enforcement, and while Varga might have gotten away before, there’s no way he can escape justice now that she’s free of her dumber sheriff’s department bosses from years past.

Varga, meanwhile, believes he’s far too protected to be taken down so easily. He ends Burgle’s interrogation of him by saying that, within five minutes, one of Burgle’s superiors will enter the room and tell her to release Varga.

“Fargo” ends ambiguously, zooming in on the distant wall clock without resolving which of the two is right. It’s an echo of the themes of the show, where often bad people get their comeuppance, but just as often, awful things happen to good people at random and for no reason.

But in trying to guess whether Varga is right that he’ll escape, or Burgle is right that Varga is going to jail, the history of “Fargo” suggests the smart money is with Burgle.

One of the big through-lines of Season 3 has been the way intricate, beautifully formed plans are blasted apart by chance, coincidence, and bad luck. Luck plays a part again and again. It ruined Nikki’s perfect attempt at revenge when a sheriff’s deputy happened up on her and Emmit. It killed Ray (McGregor again) when he and Emmit fought over their father’s stamp, resulting in a one-in-a-milion injury when a shard of glass hit Ray in the neck. It saved Nikki when she happened to be seated next to Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard), which spelled the end of Yuri Gurka’s (Goran Bogdan) intricate attempt to take her out.

In the last moments of the episode, luck is what brings Gloria and Varga together. What are the odds that Burgle would wind up in the Department of Homeland Security, in the right place to intercept Varga, after he was unlucky enough to get himself arrested?

Varga is the one with a careful plan in the last moments of “Fargo,” and Burgle is the bit of randomness that comes along to mess it up.

“Fargo” tends to see the bad guys getting what they deserve eventually. Even as far back as the 1996 film, the cops generally, eventually, stop the criminals, and the murderers usually get what they deserve. It’s true that the show is also full of a lot of innocent people getting hurt, but when things wrap up, justice is usually at least partially served.

Varga never quite got what was coming to him, but he did come extremely close. He’s due for a fall. And if the show has taught us anything, it’s that no amount of preparation or planning survives contact with the random coincidences that take place in Minnesota.

So while there are no guarantees, thematically, it fits with the feel of “Fargo” that Varga’s days are numbered. But the ambiguous conclusion of Season 3 is left for the audience to ponder, and leaving it open is a perfect way for “Fargo” to hit its one big theme for a final time: The suggestion that the circumstances of life, and the stories the show tells, are a lot more complex than we often realize.

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