'Fargo' recap: I got different facts

The dream team: Nikki Swango and Mr. Wrench on 'Fargo.'
The dream team: Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) on 'Fargo.'
Chris Large | FX

The penultimate episode of "Fargo" has come and gone: The body count's rising, the emotions are pouring, but we still don't know what "V.M." stands for.

We opened with yet another murder of an unsuspecting St. Cloud resident. His only sin appears to have been running his sprinklers when there was still snow on the ground, but he was dispatched by Meemo with a shard of glass. (His blood mixes with the milk — a nod to the "Fargo" penchant for blood and snow.) The real reason for his death? His last name: Stussy.

Varga and Meemo, in an attempt to sabotage Emmit's surrender to the police, are murdering any Stussy they can find.

They're not working fast enough, though. Emmit is singing his woes to Gloria, starting with his ultimate moment of guilt — his betrayal of Ray after their father's death. Ray's grudge over Emmit tricking him out of the stamps turns out to have been justified all along. Emmit also confesses to the struggle that led to Ray's death.

Gloria just sits back and let him talk.

Gloria Burgle finally gets the full story from Emmit Stussy on 'Fargo.'
Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) finally gets the full story from Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) on 'Fargo.'
Chris Large | FX

Varga and Meemo, though, are on the move. They pack up the semi-truck headquarters and Meemo pilots it through the dark streets of St. Cloud. At a red light, though, fate catches up to him in the form of a very-much-alive Nikki Swango, who smashes the passenger window and tosses in a grenade.

Our hopeful theory about her partnership with Wrench is confirmed when we see our fringed-jacket vigilante open fire on the Varga henchmen in the follow car.

As Meemo and his co-pilot abandon the semi to escape the grenade, Nikki hops right in. The grenade? It was only a paperweight. (Never underestimate office supplies.)

Nikki and Wrench drive off in Varga's semi, parking it in a desolate junkyard where a crane is making quick work of abandoned cars. After searching Varga's files and computers in back, they leave the semi to be scrapped and head off again into the night. These are people with a plan long in the making.

Meanwhile, Varga is dismayed to see an unusually disheveled Meemo arrive at the Stussy Lots office. Clearly, things have gone awry. As confirmation, Varga gets a call at that moment from Nikki.

She's relaxed, painting her toenails on a hotel bedspread, demanding a cool $2 million in exchange for the files she's pilfered from the semi.

"Swango," he greets her. "Our recidivist."

But Nikki is all business. She knows his bank account numbers. She wants a meeting: Clarion Hotel, 4 p.m. Come alone.

Meanwhile, Emmit's confession has only sparked more questions for Gloria, like: Why did the Widow Goldfarb provide a false alibi for him at the Bear's Den? What skin does she have in the game?

So Gloria summons the widow to the police station, and she arrives in style — hair, car, coat, the works. In the exchange between the women, the Widow Goldfarb gives off heavy Varga-vibes. She's dropping foreign expressions ("Quelle domage!") and playing coy about where she's from ("Does it matter?").

Gloria Burgle greets the Widow Goldfarb, who arrives in style on 'Fargo.'
Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) greets the Widow Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell), who arrives in style at the sheriff's station on 'Fargo.'
Chris Large | FX

Gloria gets no closer to unraveling her motives because the cavalry arrives at this point. There's been another murder — another Stussy murder — but Chief Moe Dammik is all over it. Not only did he surmise that there was a serial killer on the loose killing people with the surname Stussy, but he even caught the guy — a poor man's Meemo impersonator. Clearly, Varga and Meemo have been busy.

When Gloria tries to interrupt Dammik's moment of victorious police work, they have a bit of a verbal showdown. "Those are facts," Dammik tells her, about his case against the man they caught.

"Hold on. I got different facts," Gloria says. But her facts are useless here, as we've seen all season. Cases closed — Ennis' murder, Ray's murder, plus the two new ones. All closed.

Varga is relieved to hear his plan is working splendidly. He's hiding out in a public bathroom downing a carton of Rocky Road when he gets the news.

The next step? His meeting with Nikki.

She's chosen the Clarion Hotel, we learn, because it was the site of her moment of triumph with Ray. This was where the Wildcat Regionals for bridge were held, when they were the third runners-up. (It all comes back to bridge, apparently.)

Nikki and Varga go head-to-head in their plotting. Varga has packed the hotel with trench-coated lookalikes, so he won't be noticeable. He's also stationed Meemo with a sniper rifle in a neighboring tower. But Nikki is always one step ahead, with Wrench as her secret weapon.

Varga is so impressed by her strategy, he tries to offer her a job in his organization instead of the blackmail money. But she's not interested — and she's correctly surmised that he didn't even bring the 2 million.

Nikki wants to hurt Varga, she says, not be his pet. She walks out triumphantly with Wrench at her side: "I'll give you till tomorrow to get my money."

Nikki Swango has a shown with V.M. Varga on 'Fargo'
Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) has a showdown with V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) on 'Fargo'
Chris Large | FX

Back at the police station, it's a heart-wrenching moment when Gloria is forced to let Emmit go, even after his confession. Neither wants this to happen. Emmit is reluctantly released into the waiting grasp of Meemo, who is idling at the curb when Gloria walks him outside.

Varga's waiting inside the car with more philosophizing: "The problem is not that there is evil in the world, the problem is that there is good. Because otherwise, who would care?"

For Gloria, there's not much she can do after watching her detective work be destroyed once again, other than go get a drink.

She meets Winnie Lopez at the bar to drown their sorrows with a "Moscow mule — and make it ornery." Here, Gloria unburdens herself of all the anxiety we've heard all season. Does she even really exist? Why doesn't technology seem to recognize her? Is she just the human version of Ennis' sad robot character that wandered the earth saying "I can help"?

She really exists, Winnie tells her, and they hug. That seems to be the magic trick: acknowledgement. After that, Gloria's able to wash her hands like a normal person when the faucet and soap dispenser recognize her presence.

Winnie Lopez and Gloria Burgle drown their sorrows on 'Fargo.'
Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval) and Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) drown their sorrows on 'Fargo.'
Chris Large | FX

The episode closes out with a trip back to the IRS, to our aptly named agent, LaRue Dollard. Someone has deposited a package on his chair containing the real books for Stussy Lots.

The jig is up, Varga. If that is your real name.

One episode to go.

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