“The Law of Inevitability” seems to have a tighter hold on the series’ disjointed narratives, but as the pieces all fall into place one can’t help but feel underwhelmed by the lack of chaos which made the series so watchable in the first place. In the seventh episode, Gloria and Winnie find a deceased Ray Stussy lying in a pool of his own blood. This prompts the two to further investigate his twin brother Emmit Stussy, who has become further embroiled into madness and corruption of criminality. The police force, on the other hand, search for Nikki Swango, deeming her a prime suspect in Ray’s death.
The opening of the episode starts with Emmit’s now abandoned Christmas gifts being unwrapped by Varga and a bird’s eye perspective of police officers Gloria and Winnie searching Ray’s empty home. The two are approached by their senior officers and are, once again, dismissed in their attempts to inculpate Emmit Stussy. Meanwhile, Nikki finds herself arrested and interrogated and, once behind bars, finds that a man (possibly a police officer) is attempting to murder her. The sequence in itself is so poorly conceived that even its “stranger than fiction” narrative can’t absolve it.
That Gloria, who had up until this point been rejected by two different parties from entering the prison chamber and questioning Nikki, somehow managed to find her way inside at the last moment to chase off Nikki’s would-be murder is a blatant logical misappropriation. Of course logic is no virtue in Fargo whose creator stretches that its “true story” status is entirely untrue.
Speaking of untruths, there is another scene that nags and it’s the sequence in which Emmit Stussy and his partner Sy discuss selling their business to a prospective buyer. The scene at the dinner table isn’t especially troublesome (thanks to the interplay between Stuhlbarg, McGregor and the always fascinating Mary McDonnell) but when out-of-town police officer Winnie shows up and Emmit has to play the predictable idiot (stuttering and fumbling his alibis) one can’t help but feel bothered by the show’s sudden shift from tragedy to comic farce. When Emmit, a character already established as goodhearted, sensible and reasonably intelligent, is reduced to a tactless, slack-jawed simpleton, what the show indicates is that it’s no longer interested in his grief or remorse, but his downfall. It’s the same type of moral and falsely intellectual superiority which made Fargo’s potentially masterful first season more inhumanly cynical (a problem the second season wisely avoids).
Thankfully, the strains of the dinner sequence are nullified in the two scenes that follow, a bizarre (and surprisingly moving) sequence in which a distraught Emmit finds solace in Varga’s nursery rhyme (“There Was a Crooked Man”, used with contextual genius; probably should have been the title of the episode) and Michael Stuhlbarg’s Sy breaking down in tears after a long and painful revelation. “The Law of Inevitability” leaves a lot to be desired, the increasingly facile and repetitive “sexism-in-the-workplace” angle with Gloria and her superior (played by Shea Whigham), but its always unpredictable storytelling and striking visual motifs (that amazing superimposed image at the end) demonstrate, if anything, that Fargo still has tricks up its sleeve.