‘Fargo’ Timeline Explained, From the Coen Brothers Film to the FX Series

     September 28, 2020

fargo-netflix-sliceCreator Noah Hawley’s FX anthology series Fargo, which begins its fourth season on Sept. 27, is a notorious labyrinth of Easter eggs that don’t just reference back to the 1996 Joel and Ethan Coen movie on which it’s based, but to past seasons where character and situations from one can – unexpectedly or not – appear or be mentioned in another.

These overlapping stories, which frequently delve into the office politics of close-knit crime families as much as they do small-time criminals, have delighted fans as much as made them paranoid that they’ll miss something. Even Hawley himself joked “I think so, but I wouldn’t quiz me on it” during FX’s virtual press day earlier this month when we asked him if he could keep it all straight.

“I would like to say that there’s a master plan, but there is no master plan,” he added, explaining that “the brilliance of an anthology series” – particularly one that airs at a network that doesn’t have to adhere to a traditional seasonal schedule – means that he has the time to step away from the series after wrapping a season and then “wake up and go ‘oh, yeah, you can have the two families, and they trade their sons.’” (Which is a major plot point of Season 4.)

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Image via FX

He explained that “when I start that process, then some of it becomes about connections to the larger universe. But that’s not the main goal. That’s sort of secondary” — like when “you could have Mr. Wrench (Russell Harvard) come back in Season 3, sitting on the prison bus” next to Mary Elizabeth Winstead‘s character, Nikki Swango.

Because of this, we’ve attempted to organize the events of Fargo the movie and the TV series ahead of the premiere of the fourth season, which is a prequel of sorts that’s set in 1950s Kansas City, Missouri. In an effort to focus on main events, we’ve collapsed down some plot points and eliminated mentions of some smaller characters (sorry Jordan Peele and Keegan-Michael Key’s Season 1 FBI agents!) and barely made mention of others (again, apologies Elizabeth Marvel‘s Season 2 Sapphic salon employee). Also, again no offense to people like Archduke Franz Ferdinand, we’ve only included bullet points for the characters in the show and avoided noting its occasional historical references.

This is a true story…

1950s

  • Dieter Gerhardt, having built a successful crime syndicate up from a Prohibition-era booze-smuggling ring fronted by a shoe-shine business, retires and bequeaths his empire to son Otto. Deiter’s rival, Kellerman (Kai Lennox) is upset about this news and attempts to prove his ranking by shooting the old man in the head 19 times. Otto retaliates by distracting Kellerman at a movie theater so that his young son Dodd (played here by Victor Hawryluk) can stab him in the head. (S2E3 “The Myth of Sisyphus,” S2E4, “Fear and Trembling.”)

1975

  • Thaddeus “Tad” Mobley (Thomas Mann) is an up-and-coming author living in the Hollywood Premiere Motel in Los Angeles whose novel The Planet Wyh has just won the Singularity Award for best science fiction novel at the Golden Planets. He likes cream soda. He’s also so green that slimy film producer Howard Zimmerman (Fred Melamed) and actress Vivian Lord (Francesca Eastwood) have no trouble conning him into believing they’re going turn his book into a feature film. She gets him hooked on cocaine and maybe also encourages him to grow a ridiculous mustache. When Tad finds out it’s all a lie, he beats Howard with a cane. He stops before he goes after Vivian but still tells her that she’s “a bad person.” Throwing up in the motel later, he sees that the toilet is branded Dennis Stussy & Sons with the “D” worn off. (S3E3, “The Law of Non-Contradiction.”)

1979

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  • Rye Gerhardt (Kieran Culkin) is the hot-headed youngest brother of the Gerhardt crime family, which operates out of Fargo, N.D. He has a penchant for turtlenecks and thin mustaches. And he’s also sick of kowtowing to his older brothers Dodd (Jeffery Donovan) and Bear (Angus Sampson) and decides to branch out on his own. Ultimately, his attempts to threaten a judge at the Luverne, Minn. Waffle Hut result in a multiple homicide. As Rye’s fleeing the scene, he sees what appears to be a UFO in the sky and runs into the street to get a better look. He then gets hit by a car. (S2E1, “Waiting for Dutch.”)
  • Also possibly distracted by the strange occurrence in the sky is Peggy Blumquist (Kirsten Dunst). She’s a small-town beautician with big city dreams, which is made obvious by the glossy magazines that overrun her kitchen and her obsession with attending a Lifespring workshop. She also hit Rye with her car and drove right home to cook dinner, trying in vain to convince her butcher husband Ed (Jesse Plemons) that the noise in the garage is just a deer. He figures it out, though. After some fisticuffs, Ed kills Rye with a gardening tool. (S2E1, “Waiting for Dutch.”)
  • The Blumquists stuff Rye in the deep freezer. Ed takes the next day off of work to clean out the garage (Peggy tells his boss, Bud of Bud’s Meats, that he ate bad clams). He burns his and Rye’s clothes in the fireplace, save for Rye’s belt buckle, which Ed doesn’t notice hasn’t disintegrated. That night, he carves up Rye’s body at the butcher shop and tries not to look spooked when police officer Lou Solverson comes in to pick up an order. (S2E1, “Waiting for Dutch,” S2E2, “Before the Law.”)
  • Solverson (Patrick Wilson) is the appropriately-named Minnesota cop handling the Waffle Hut investigation. He frequently works with his father-in-law, Rock County Sheriff Hank Larsson (Ted Danson). Lou’s wife Betsy (Cristin Milioti) finds a gun at the crime scene and a print scan traces it to Rye. (S2E2, “Before the Law,” S2E3 “The Myth of Sisyphus.”)
  • Gerhardt matriarch Floyd (Jean Smart) and patriarch Otto (Michael Hogan) go over the book-keeping with middle child Bear. They’re going broke and Bear thinks it’s because of a rival moving in on their turf. Otto, a bald man with wide eyes and a fiery temper, gets worked up and has a stroke. (S2E1, “Waiting for Dutch.”)
  • Joe Bulo (Brad Garrett) and other members of Kansas City Mafia Kansas City Mafia has decided Otto’s ill health has left an opening for a takeover, assuming that Floyd – a woman – won’t be equipped to be in charge and her sons will be too busy fighting each other for seniority. Joe, along with his right-hand man Mike Milligan (Bokeem Woodbine) and their muscle, the identical twins Gale and Wayne Kitchen (Brad Mann and Todd Mann) journey to the Gerhardt compound, offering to buy the Gerhardts out for $2 million while still letting them run things. Instead, Floyd tells her crew that she’s running things now and they agree to not attack unless they’re attacked first. (S2E1, “Waiting for Dutch,” S2E2, “Before the Law,” S2E3, “The Myth of Sisyphus.”)
  • Dodd strikes first. He and Bear’s son Charlie (Allan Dobrescu) break some Kansas City Mafia bones during a run-in at a donut shop. (S2E4, “Fear and Trembling.”)
  • Everyone is searching for Rye, including Dodd’s henchman Hanzee Dent (Zahn McClarnon) and Lou, who goes to Fargo for answers about the gun found at the Waffle Hut. At the courthouse, Lou meets Fargo police detective Ben Schmidt (Keir O’Donnell), who fills him in on the Gerhardt family history. Ben’s mother is also friends with Floyd and he is terrified of Bear. (S2E3, “The Myth of Sisyphus.”)
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    Hanzee finds broken glass in the street in front of Waffle Hut, Peggy’s broken car at the mechanic, and Rye’s belt buckle in the Blumquists’ fireplace. Hanzee is very good at his job. (S2E3, “The Myth of Sisyphus,” S2E4, “Fear and Trembling.”)

  • Mike tries another tactic. He begins an affair with Dodd’s daughter Simone (Rachel Keller), who willingly divulges details about her grandfather’s upcoming doctor’s appointment as well as his current state of health. He and the Kitchen brothers ambush Otto’s driver and nurse. (S2E4, “Fear and Trembling.”)
  • Joe rejects Floyd’s counter offer. Fargo and Kansas City are at war. (S2E4, “Fear and Trembling.”)
  • Hanzee gives Rye’s belt buckle to Floyd, saying he was killed by some butcher. In an attempt to sound authoritative and further his desire for war, Dodd jumps in to say it was obviously The Butcher of Luverne, a contract killer and a KC hire. (There is no Butcher of Luverne). Floyd cedes Gerhardt control to Dodd. (S2E5, “The Gift of the Magi.”)
  • The Gerhardt Crime Syndicate ambushes members of the KC Mafia when they are on a hunting trip with an unethical zoning commissioner (Jeff Clarke). Hanzee stabs Wayne in the throat, knocks out Gale and still has time keep Joe from escaping back to the car. Joe will end up decapitated. Mike is fine. (S2E5, “The Gift of the Magi.”)
  • Charlie and Virgil Bauer, a Gerhardt hired gun, head to the butcher shop to take out Ed. Charlie is both a horrible shot and takes a liking to Ed’s philosophy-loving (and brilliantly named) coworker, Noreen Vanderslice (Emily Haine). Their bullets start a fire instead and Ed kills Virgil with a cleaver. Charlie is knocked unconscious and Ed helps Noreen pull Charlie to safety before running away. (S2E5, “The Gift of the Magi.”)
  • The cops arrive to arrest Ed as he attempts to convince Peggy to flee. He’s questioned and given the one lawyer in town, the conspiracy theorist Karl Weathers (Nick Offerman). (S2E5, “The Gift of the Magi,” S2E6, “Rhinoceros.”)
  • After regaining consciousness, Charlie calls his dad from jail. Floyd tells Dodd to go to the Blumquist home and kill Ed. Disastrous hijinks ensue and Dodd electrocutes himself with a cattle prod and knocks himself unconscious. (S2E6, “Rhinoceros.”)
  • Bear and Hanzee come to the jail. Lou takes Ed out the back while Karl tries to dissuade the situation by talking to Bear. Hanzee sees Ed fleeing and prepares to follow. (S2E6, “Rhinoceros.”)
  • Ed and Peggy pack Dodd into the truck of their car and head for a cabin by the lake. Ed calls the Gerhardt compound from a roadside payphone in the hopes of offloading Dodd and ending his and Peggy’s roles in this story. Bear’s too busy to get on the line. Ed instead gets a hold of Mike, who is very eager to know Dodd’s whereabouts. They agree to meet at the Motor Motel in Sioux Falls. (S2E7, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!,” S2, E8 “Loplop.”)
  • Mike and Gale raid the Gerhardt compound, killing Otto and ruining a perfectly lovely heart-to-heart between Floyd and Simone. This dispenses with any potential reconciliations and, suddenly, people are being strangled or shot through the windows of Kansas City high-rises left and right. Mike even shoots The Undertaker (Markus Parillo), a KC hitman sent to clean up Mike and his mistakes. (S2E6, “Rhinoceros,” S2E7, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!.”)
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    Lou and Ben bring Floyd in for questioning. At the station, they’re joined by Hank. The officials ask for her help in ending this bloodshed — specifically “something actionable” against the outsiders, says Hank. (S2E7, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!.”)

  • Bear finds out about Simone’s affair with Mike. He shoots her in the woods. (S2E7, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!.”)
  • Bear also brings in Ricky G (Ryan O’Nan), who is on loan to them from the Buffalo syndicate and thinks he looks good in gold chain necklaces (he does not). (S2E7, “Did You Do This? No, You Did It!.”)
  • Ed returns from his call with Mike to find that Dodd has broken through his restraints and has knocked Peggy unconscious. Dodd begins to lynch Ed as she wakes up. Hanzee — who would have been there sooner had he not followed a red herring to the Lifespring convention in Sioux Falls, S.D. (RIP, Elizabeth Marvel’s Constance) – bursts in. He shoots Dodd and then asks Peggy for a haircut. She obliges and then stabs him in the shoulder with scissors. He runs out the back door as Lou and Hank show up at the cabin. (S2, E8 “Loplop.”)
  • The officials have turned the Motor Hotel operation into a sting operation against the KC Mafia, using Ed and Peggy as bait. Hanzee watches them set up shop and calls the Gerhardts in. Floyd, Bear and their team head out to Sioux Falls. (S2, E9 “The Castle.”)
  • Things don’t go according to anyone’s plans. Hanzee murders Floyd and then goes after more Gerhardts and police (Hank is injured). Ben is supposed to be guarding Peggy and Ed, but she knocks him unconscious. Mike takes one look at the bloodshed says “okay then” and gets right back in the car. (S2, E9 “The Castle.”)
  • A UFO appears when Bear is in the midst of strangling Lou and Hanzee’s heading for Peggy and Ed. The distraction allows Lou to shoot Bear as Peggy encourages her stunned husband to run because “it’s just a flying saucer Ed, we gotta go.” Hanzee shoots at them as they flee, wounding Ed. (S2, E9 “The Castle.”)
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    Peggy and Ed hide out in a grocery store meat locker, where he bleeds to death and Ben and Lou find her and arrest her. On the way back to Minnesota, she asks Lou if she “can be tried federal” in the hopes of being able to serve time “in this penitentiary just north of San Francisco that looks out on the bay.” Maybe she’ll see a pelican? (S2, E10 “Palindrome.”)

  • Mike kills Ricky G when they run into each other at the Gerhardt compound. (S2, E10 “Palindrome.”)
  • Mike returns to Kansas City, expecting to be seen as a conquering hero. He is given a desk job. (S2, E10 “Palindrome.”)
  • Hanzee finds a fixer who gives him a new name: Moses Tripoli. He’ll also need facial reconstruction surgery, as Peggy threw hot water on him when she and Ed were fleeing. He also defends two young boys, one of whom is deaf, from bullies. (S2, E10 “Palindrome.”)
  • Throughout all of this, Betsy Solverson has been battling cancer. Probably on account of the medication she is taking as part of a drug study, she has a fever dream where she sees the future. This includes her little girl, Molly, growing up and becoming a mother of her own with Lou there to watch her major life moments. She also dreams of the Game Boy and big box stores. (S3E10, “Palindrome”).

1980

  • Ennis Stussy (nee Thaddeus Mobley) moves to Eden Valley, Minnesota. He’ll soon marry Gloria Burgle’s previously widowed mother. (S3E2, “The Principle of Restricted Choice.”)

1987

  • Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy) is a mediocre Minneapolis car salesman who plots to kidnap his wife and so that his rich, bald, wide-eyed and easily enraged father-in-law, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell), will pay a hefty ransom. Through dealership mechanic Shep Proudfoot (Steve Reevis), Lundegaard hires the strong and silent Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) and Carl Showalter (Steve Buscemi), a horny loudmouth with a hatred for parking attendants and an affinity for mock turtlenecks and thin mustaches. The trio meet at dive bar King of Clubs in Fargo, N.D. where Jerry’s collateral is a light brown Cutlass Ciera that he’s stolen from his car lot. He also promises half of the $80,000 they’ll ask for the ransom. (1996 film.)
  • The kidnapping goes off with only some minor hiccups. However, you’re darn tootin’ that things quickly escalate when a highway patrol officer and two innocent passers by wind up riddled with bullet holes after the Ciera is caught in a routine traffic stop. (1996 film.)
  • This puts the very pregnant Brainerd, Minn. police chief Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand) on the case, which she solves in a matter of days. You have no call to get snippy with her; she’s just doing her job here. (1996 film.)
  • Unfortunately, Marge isn’t so quick that Carl doesn’t kill Wade during a botched ransom drop at the top of a parking garage. (And he isn’t so quick that Wade doesn’t shoot him in the mouth before his death). (1996 film.)
  • After fleeing the scene with the loot, Carl opens Wade’s briefcase and discovers it contains $1 million. He takes $80,000 out and buries the remaining $920,000 on the side of the road, marking his snow pile with a red ice scraper so that he can find it after he completes his portion of the job. (1996 film.)
  • Carl never comes to collect because Gaear dissolves their partnership. Carl’s remains were last seen being shoved into a wood chipper when Marge follows a hunch to their lakeside cabin/hideout. Gaear attempts to flee when he sees her, but she shoots him in the leg as he runs across a frozen lake. (1996 film.)
  • Gaear may have also killed Jean, who was last seen unconscious and tied to a chair with a bag over her head next to an open oven. (1996 film.)
  • Stavros Milos (played here by Carlos Diaz) and his family are driving to their new home in Minnesota — something his wife is none-too-happy about. He gets out of the car to pray to God for guidance (and to take a break from her nagging). He stumbles upon Carl’s windfall. (S1E4, “Eating the Blame.”)
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    Jerry is apprehended at a motel outside of Bismarck. He blubbers uncontrollably as he’s cuffed. (1996 film.)

  • Marge crawls into bed with her husband Norm (John Carroll Lynch), who is despondent because a painting he made for a stamp contest was only awarded a display on a three-cent stamp instead of a more-used amount of postage. Marge encourages him by saying that “whenever they raise the postage they need the little stamps.” (1996 film.)

1988

  • Jakob Ungerleider (Fabian Busch) of East Berlin, Germany is arrested by Colonel Horst Lagerfeld (Sylvester Groth) for the murder of his girlfriend, Helga Albracht. No, Jakob tries to explain, you’re looking for Yuri Gurka. There’s just some confusion because they both have girlfriends named Helga and Yuri may have previously lived at his house. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)

2006

  • Mild-mannered Bemidji, Minn. insurance salesman Lester Nygaard (Martin Freeman) meets bearded and banged Lorne Malvo (Billy Bob Thorton) at an emergency room. The first is there because he broke his own nose avoiding his long-time bully, Sam Hess (Kevin O’Grady). The second is a hired goon who was just passing through town with a nearly-naked Phil McCormick (Dave Trimble) in his trunk before he hit a deer, allowing his victim to escape. Malvo postulates that Lester might want him to kill Sam and runs with the idea when Lester doesn’t officially say no. (S1E1, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”; S1E3, “A Muddy Road.”)
  • Chief of Police Vern Thurman (Shawn Doyle) and his deputy, Molly Solverson (Allison Tolman), investigate Hess’s death. Molly asks her boss if this could be part of an “organized crime thing.” Perhaps “a hit or the like?” (S1E1, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”).
  • Molly’s dad is retired cop and current diner owner Lou Solverson (now played by Keith Carradine). He’s not keen on current Duluth police lieutenant Ben Schmidt (now played by Peter Breitmayer) on account of that time they worked together on a task force in Sioux Falls. And he walks with a limp, having never fully recovered after being shot in the hip when he was a traffic cop (he pulled over two guys who stole a snow plow). (S1E1 “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”; S1E2, “The Rooster Prince,” S1E3 “A Muddy Road.”)
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    Lester bludgeons his nagging wife with a hammer. He calls Malvo ostensibly for help, but also with an ill-advised plan to shoot the trained assassin and make it look like a robbery. In an impeccable moment of coincidental timing, Vern shows up to question Lester about Sam before Malvo arrives. A shoot-out occurs. Vern dies. Malvo escapes into the night, speeding up to Duluth where he scares local cop Gus Grimly (Colin Hanks) out of giving him a citation. And Lester panics and runs himself into a wall to make it look like he’s another casualty in a break-in. (S1E1, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”).

  • Why Duluth? Malvo’s handler works at Rundle Realty (not a real estate firm). He calls Malvo from one of his many phones in his office in Reno, Nevada to say that there’s another job for him there. That’s where Malvo meets Stavros (now played by Oliver Platt). He’s used Showalter’s cash to become the Supermarket King of Minnesota and is now the victim of blackmailing. It’s probably worth checking with his wife, since she’s divorcing him. (S1E1, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”; S1E2,“The Rooster Prince.”)
  • Malvo quickly deduces that the blackmailer is Stavros’ wife’s personal trainer, the dim-witted Don Chumph (Glenn Howerton). Malvo takes over the operation, eventually instructing Chumph to tell Stavros to make a drop at the Gustafson parking garage. Instead, Stavros returns the money to where he found it and buries it in the snow. (S1E2, “The Rooster Prince”; S1E6, “Buridan’s Ass.”)
  • Hess family attorney Max Gold (Brian Markinson) advises Hess’s widow Gina (Kate Walsh) to “keep it simple” and tell the police she doesn’t need their help investigating her husband’s death. He adds that “I’ve already talked to Fargo and they want to deal with this themselves. They’re sending guys.” (S1E1, “The Crocodile’s Dilemma”).
  • The “guys” are Wes Wrench (Russell Harvard) and Grady Numbers (Adam Goldberg), who are dispatched from a crime syndicate in Fargo because the folks there also believe Sam’s death to be a mob retaliation. Eventually, during a struggle in the midst of a winter white out, Malvo will slit Numbers’ throat and Molly will shoot and wound Wrench — but not before the Fargo duo drop poor, innocent schmo Lenny Potts (Paul Braunstein), who was wrongly fingered as Hess’s possible assassin, into a hole in a frozen lake. (S1E2, “The Rooster Prince;” S1E6 “Buridan’s Ass.”)
  • Malvo is convinced his Rundle handler set him up so he could be taken out by the Fargo syndicate. So he kills him. Then he kills Moses Tripoli (played here by Mark Acheson), Mr. Jergen (Andy King), Mr. Carlyle (James Binkley) and a number of other important members of the Fargo crime family. (S1E7, “Who Shaves the Barber?.”)
  • Malvo does, however, spare Wrench. In fact, he even kills the officer guarding Wrench’s hospital room and gives him the key to the handcuffs that tie him to the bed. He tells Wrench to find him if he chooses to escape. (S1E8, “The Heap.”)

2007

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    Life moves on and Molly is the only living Bemidji police officer who thinks Lester is guilty of anything. Malvo’s now posing as a Kansas City, Mo. dentist as he becomes best buds with Burt Canton (Stephen Root), the brother of a man in witness protection. They’re on vacation in Las Vegas when they run into a more confident Lester, who is irked that Malvo won’t acknowledge that they know each other. Malvo kills Canton and their companions, telling Lester that their deaths are on them. (S1E9, “A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage.”)

  • Lester and his new wife, Linda (Susan Park) high-tail it back to Minnesota, although she’s not sure why. Once there, he convinces her they should leave town even though Molly has come by to say that the Vegas PD think something’s up. But first: Can they make a stop at the office and can she run in and grab something for him? Malvo shoots Linda, thinking she’s Lester. (S1E9, “A Fox, A Rabbit, and A Cabbage.”)
  • Word quickly spreads that Malvo’s in town. Molly, now very pregnant and married to Gus, leaves Lou standing guard on her porch to protect Gus’s daughter Greta (Joey King) as she goes down to the station. Gus happens upon a cabin that serves as Malvo’s hiding place. After waiting Malvo out, Gus shoots him in the chest and head. (S1E10, “Morton’s Fork.”)
  • Lester, having routinely evaded capture, is on his way out of the country via a snowmobile through Montana’s Glacier National Park, the U.S. Border Patrol nipping at his heels. He tries to run across a frozen lake, but the ice isn’t solid and he crashes through to a watery grave. (S1E10, “Morton’s Fork.”)

Christmas Season, 2010

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    Emmit Stussy (Ewan McGregor) of Eden Prairie, Minn. is the Parking Lot King of Minnesota and owner of Stussy Lots. He has a wife named Stella (Linda Kash) and a twin brother named Ray (also played by McGregor). He also took out a loan last year from a company on the recommendation of his banker, Buck Olander (Dan Wilmott). Now he wants to pay it back, but he can’t get a hold of anyone at that company. Emmit and his lawyer, Sy Feltz (Michael Stuhlbarg), want to know what’s up with that. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)

  • Ray Stussy is less successful, and has less hair, than his brother and works at the St. Cloud Parole Board. He’s also engaged to one of his recent parolees, Nikki Swango (Mary Elizabeth Winstead). They are competitive Bridge players. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Ray asks Emmit for a loan to buy Nikki an engagement ring. He argues that Emmit still owes him from the time when they were kids and their dad’s will bequeathed Emmit a Corvette and Ray a two-cent stamp. Emmit tricked Ray into switching, as the stamp was worth more. Emmit and Sy, who was in on the meeting, turn him down. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Ray has a parolee named Maurice LeFay (Scoot McNairy). He has a penchant for thick mustaches and doesn’t seem to have an opinion on turtlenecks. But he did just fail a urine test, so Ray gets him to break into his brother’s house and steal the stamp. He hands him a piece of paper that reads “Emmit Stussy 914 Maiden Lane Eden Prarie.” (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Maurice gets high and drives to Emmit’s while talking to his therapist. He rolls down the window and the paper flies out into the night. Well, at least the phone call was done hands-free. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Maurice can’t find the slip of paper on the road. Instead of ringing Ray for help, he rips a page out of a gas station phone book that lists an E Stussy at 15 Malta Road. This, wouldn’t you know, is Ennis Stussy (Scott Hylandds). He runs the Red Owl Market and lets his step-grandson Nathan Burgle (Graham Verchere) play video games when he works there after school. His stepdaughter Gloria Burgle (Carrie Coon) is also chief of the Eden Valley Police Department. And boy were they surprised to go to Ennis’ place later that night and find him bound to a chair with his mouth and nose glued shut. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Gloria also finds a loose floorboard. Under that, there’s a stack of old sci-fi books written by someone named Thaddeus Mobley. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Maurice shows up at Nikki’s apartment after she and Ray are celebrating a third place win at a Bridge tournament. He brings stamps that Ray doesn’t recognize and blackmails them, threatening to divulge their conflict-of-interest relationship to the police if he doesn’t get $5,000. He storms out and Nikki instructs Ray to kick out her apartment’s air conditioner unit, timing things perfectly for it to fall on Maurice as he lights a cigarette on the sidewalk. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Nikki calls the police to say that someone was accidentally crushed by her air conditioning unit and also tells Ray to leave and to burn the stamps. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places.”)
  • Emmit wasn’t home that night anyway. Sy called him to the office because the person who gave them the loan has shown up. He’s a man named V.M. Varga (David Thewlis) who is very good at spinning stories, like a spicy account of Gavrilo Princip’s murder-that-almost-didn’t-happen of Archduke Franz Ferdinand and that the astronauts on the moon thing is a hoax. He tells Emmit that he doesn’t want to be paid back the $1 million-plus interest because that was an investment, not a loan. Varga’s criminal enterprise Narwhal will now be using Stussy’s company as a front for all their wrongdoings and he wastes little time moving in. (S3E1, “The Law of Vacant Places,” S3E2, “The Principle of Restricted Choice,” S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • Emmit and Sy ask attorney Irv Blumkin (Hardee Lineham) to investigate Varga. Strange things start to happen to Irv. For one, his computer crashes. For another, (the real?) Yuri Gurka (Goran Bogdan) and his accomplice — the silent Meemo, (Andy Yu) — threw him off a parking garage after Yuri tells him he is one of the Cossacks his Russian grandmother warned Irv about. (S3E2, “The Principle of Restricted Choice.”)
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    Gloria learns that her stepdad wrote science fiction novels under the name Thaddeus Mobley and that a stranger stopped at a gas station and tore out the phone book page with Ennis’ info on it. She also gets a new boss named Moe Dammick (Shea Whigham) on account of her department being absorbed by the county. (S3E2, “The Principle of Restricted Choice.”)

  • Nikki tries to steal the stamp from Emmit’s house under the guise of getting the brothers to reconcile. She can’t find it because it’s in a safe deposit box and leaves a bloody tampon in Emmit’s desk drawer. (S3E2, “The Principle of Restricted Choice.”)
  • On this, Sy tells Ray not to bother his brother again and rams his Hummer against Ray’s Corvette two times in the diner parking lot. Ray doesn’t want to press charges, but the waitress whose car was also hit sure does. Winnie Lopez (Olivia Sandoval), the police officer handling the case notices that Sy’s car is registered to Stussy Lots. What a coincidence since she just had a bonding moment in the ladies’ rest room with a cop looking into the murder of a man named Stussy! (S3E2, “The Principle of Restricted Choice,” S3E4, “The Narrow Escape Problem”).
  • This also causes trouble for Sy, as Varga’s goons saw him talking to the police. Varga takes Sy’s office in retaliation. (S3E5, “The House of Special Purpose”).
  • Gloria retraces her step-father’s life in Los Angeles, down to the toilet-inspired name change. Someone steals her luggage, causing her to meet LAPD officer Oscar Hunt (Rob McElhenney), who really wants her to join Facebook, among other things. And she keeps running into Paul Murrane (Ray Wise), whose official career is unclear but whom fans believe to be a mythological figure (he has the same name as “The Wandering Jew” from the book Letters Writ By A Turkish Spy). (S3E3, “The Law of Non-Contradiction.”)
  • Ray poses as Emmit and goes to the bank to steal the stamp. He withdraws $10,001, but finds that the safety deposit box only contains the ashes of a dead dog named Luverne. He also meets a new bank employee named Millie (Nikolina Viskovic), who has just moved to town from Bemidji. She brings him a cream soda. (S3E4, “The Narrow Escape Problem.”)
  • Varga comes to Emmit’s house and uses his exceptionally strong powers of manipulation to become an official partner at Emmit’s company. He also promises to make Emmit a billionaire. (S3E4, “The Narrow Escape Problem.”)
  • Gloria’s investigation into her stepfather’s death leads her to the death of Maurice LeFay, which leads her to his parole office, Ray Stussy — who has the same last name as the departed Ennis! (S3E4, “The Narrow Escape Problem.”)
  • Sy lets Ray’s superiors know that he’s dating his parolee, Nikki. Ray loses his job. (S3E4, “The Narrow Escape Problem.”)
  • Ray properly proposes to Nikki and she accepts. They also make a sex tape with Ray again posing as Emmit in the hopes of blackmailing the more successful twin for $100,000. Stella finds the DVD before Emmit and promptly leaves him. (S3E5, “The House of Special Purpose”).
  • Emmit tells Sy to handle his brother in any means necessary and Varga makes him wonder if Sy and Ray are in cahoots to ruin Emmit. Sy asks Nikki to meet him in a parking garage, where Yuri and Meemo beat her. Sy runs away. (S3E5, “The House of Special Purpose.”)
  • Gloria and Winnie attempt to interrogate Ray about both the diner kerfuffle and Ennis’ murder. Moe says it’s all a big coincidence and forces them to release him. Ray arrives home to find Nikki injured. (S3E5, “The House of Special Purpose).
  • When Ray finds out the culprits, he’s enraged. He grabs a gun and his fiancée and they stake out the attackers. She insists they don’t attack right now because they need a game plan. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • fargo-season-3-episode-4-david-thewlis

    Image via FX

    Varga is still convincing Emmit that this company is a cash cow, saying he wants to double the company in three months by taking out $50 million in loans. Sy says it’ll never get past the IRS. He also tries to wine and dine widow Ruby Goldfarb (Mary McDonnell) in the hopes of unloading the business onto her, eventually bringing Emmit in on this game. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy,” “The Law of Inevitability.”)

  • When IRS agent Larue Dollard (Hamish Linklater) does show up at the office — looking impeccably organized and waiting in the conference room with his pencils and papers aligned just so — Meemo enters in a suit and tie and joins him with the same organizational flourish. Then he says he’s acting as an attorney, as allowed by Section 41C of the U.S. tax code, and that he is demanding Dollard file his requests by mail a 30-day notice with a request to which documents and persons he wants made available. Until then, please leave. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • Gloria and Winnie visit Emmit Stussy at work and ask about the car incident, telling him they think it’s connected to the homicide. Varga insists on being part of the conversation, refusing to give his name (he and Emmit lie that he’s a business associate in regards to women’s shoes). Anyway, Emmit denies there’s a feud between him and his brother. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • Varga tries Googling Gloria and her police station and comes up with nothing. He sends Uri, who is stroking a decapitated bear’s head, to investigate that while instructing Meemo to kill Ray and Nikki. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • Gloria and Winnie attempt to visit Ray’s apartment. He and Nikki don’t answer, but the officers do see Ray’s beat-up Corvette outside. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • Ray and Nikki and then decide to hide out in the Ambassador Motor Inn. Except he forgot the money he stole from Emmit’s bank account. When he leaves her to retrieve it, Meemo comes to finish the job and sneaks into her room when she goes to get ice. They never square off because Varga calls Meemo back to deal with a mess Emmit has created… (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • Emmit is waiting for Ray at the apartment and tries to give him the framed stamp. A scuffle ensues, the frame’s glass breaks and slits Ray’s throat. Emmit watches his brother die and calls Varga for help. Varga gives him the stamp back and says that they’ll make it look like Ray murdered Nikki. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy.”)
  • On her way home, Gloria gets a hunch and radios Winnie that they should return to Ray’s apartment. They find his body and, later, arrest Nikki as Meemo hides out of sight. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy,” S3E7, “The Law of Inevitability.”)
  • Gloria instructs Winnie to tell Emmit about Ray’s demise while she interviews Nikki, despite Moe’s orders not to. She’s there in time to stop another Varga goon, Golem (DJ Qualls), from lethally injecting Nikki. Nikki tells Gloria to “follow the money.” (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy,” S3E7, “The Law of Inevitability.”)
  • Nikki is put on a prison transport bus next to Fargo Season 1 assassin Wrench. He’s not the one she has to worry about though: Yuri, Meemo, and Golem want to flip the bus so that they can nab her and kill her. (S3E6, “The Lord of No Mercy,” S3E7, “The Law of Inevitability.”)
  • The bus flip happens, but our friends — and chivalry — are not dead. Wrench saves Nikki as Yuri comes toward her. They run into the woods with Yuri and Golem on their tails. Two motorists have the misfortune of passing by, so Meemo hops in a van to take care of them. (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”)
  • Nikki and Wrench stumble upon a campsite and use an ax to free their chains. Yuri and Golem have (ahem) acquired some bows and arrows from some hunters. (Yuri also tells Golem that he once knew a Helga who was a big talker). (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”)
  • One of Yuri and Golem’s arrows hits Wrench in the shoulder another hits Nikki in the leg. Wrench throws the ax against a tree, chopping off Yuri’s ear. Golem lunges at Wrench to stab him. This was not a wise move. Nikki and Wrench use their chains to strangle Golem so hard that his head pops off. (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”)
  • Nikki and Wrench hide out in a bowling alley where they meet the mysterious Paul Murrane, who is holding a kitten he calls Ray. He gives them a green Volkswagen Beetle and tells her not to thank him, but to “simply deliver a message when the time comes” to the wicked and tell them “though thou exalt thyself like the eagle, though thou make thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, sayeth the Lord.” She asks Paul Murrane to let the cat have a little beer in a bowl in front of the TV when the Gophers play. (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”)
  • Paul Murrane is not so kind to Yuri, who stumbles in a few minutes later. He gets a vision of Cossacks murdering Russian Jews in the 1700s. (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?”)
  • Sy comes to Emmit’s house, but Varga is there waiting for him and offers him something to eat. Sy denies the food, but does drink the tea. A few hours later, he’ll suddenly slip into a coma. (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?.”)

March, 2011

  • fargo-season-3-episode-4-ewan-mcgregor

    Image via FX

    Sy is still in a coma. Gloria and Winnie have perfected a Gilmore Girls-level double act of fast-talking as they badger Emmit with questions as he leaves Sy’s hospital room. (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?.”)

  • They’re with Emmit when he sees Ray’s old bruised ‘Vette parked where he thought he’d left his car at the hospital garage. But they’ve buggered off by the time he gets to the office and finds it overrun with pictures of two-cent stamps. Sufficiently paranoid, Emmit is offered more papers to sign that Varga’s team promises will give him even more money. He takes two sedatives. (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?.”)
  • Gloria has officially been demoted to deputy from chief and she has signed her divorce papers. So she’s had a pretty long day already when Emmit walks into her station and says “My name’s Emmit Stussy. I want to confess.” (S3E8, “Who Rules the Land of Denial?.”)
  • To cover their tracks and make it look like a serial killing, Meemo begins to randomly murder anyone whose last name is Stussy (which is more people than you may think). Because of this distraction, Gloria is forced to release Emmit. Meemo takes him home. (S3E9, “Aporia.”)
  • Nikki and Wrench hijack Varga’s semi-truck and steal his computer hard drives with his bank account information, threatening to release the information unless he pays them $2 million. (S3E9, “Aporia.”)
  • At the meeting, Varga offers Nikki tea and she refuses. He has Meemo positioned with a sniper to take her out, but Wrench neutralizes him. Varga offers Nikki a job. She refuses. Then she (presumably) sends IRS agent Larue accounting ledgers from Stussy Lots. (S3E9, “Aporia.”)
  • Gloria is about to resign when she gets a call from Larue about the Stussy docs. She’s back on the case. (S3E10, “Somebody to Love.”)
  • Emmit signs even more paperwork for Varga and then tries to run. Varga outsmarts him again and renders him unconscious. (S3E10, “Somebody to Love.”)
  • The widow Ruby has bought out Stussy Lots. (S3E10, “Somebody to Love.”)
  • Varga and his men go to meet Nikki at an abandoned warehouse. As some men wait downstairs, he and others head to the third floor. He’s just about to get off the elevator when he gets a text that the IRS has his information. He rides the elevator down as Wrench kills Meemo and others on the third floor. Nikki kills everyone on the ground floor. As for Varga himself? The elevator doors open to only his trench coat. (S3E10, “Somebody to Love.”)
  • Larue explains how Varga defrauded Stussy Lots and Winnie calls her about the warehouse shooting. They see security photos of Nikki and Varga and Gloria remembers the parolee’s message to “follow the money.”
  • Nikki tells Wrench to keep the money because she’s going after Emmit. She finds him on the side of the road and gives him Paul Murrane’s message as she wields a gun. A state trooper appears at the same time. She and the officer shoot each other and Emmit drives home to reconcile with his wife. (S3E10, “Somebody to Love.”)

2016

  • Emmit and his wife are having a family dinner along with Sy, who is conscious but in a wheel chair. Emmit goes to the kitchen, where he is shot dead by Wrench. (S3E10, “Somebody to Love.”)
  • Gloria is now a DHS agent and arrests Varga at JFK, showing him a photo from the warehouse massacre. He says anything can be fabricated. He also says one of her superiors will be freeing him in five minutes. The clock on the interrogation room ticks down as the screen fades to black. (S3E10, “Somebody to Love.”)
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