I hope I'm not alone in thinking that this episode ratcheted up V.M. Varga's creep factor a thousandfold; his gorging and purging is still making me feel queazy. The episode also made it clear that the final showdown will pit Varga against Sheriff Gloria Burgle: he as the villain who uses technology to trap and kill his prey, she as the justice-bringer who's not afraid of big bad wolves and — for better or worse — cannot operate technology.
While #Fargo's "The Narrow Escape Problem" continued with the season's overall core themes of duality, truth, nihilism, and grappling with the good and evil of technology, there were some episode-specific tidbits from which we can gently nudge more in-depth information. Check out four of them below:
1. The Story Of Peter And The Wolf
[Credit: TownOfWolves on DeviantArt]
The story of Peter and the Wolf set the stage for this episode. Written in 1936, Sergei Prokofiev's Russian symphonic fairytale has gone on to become his most famous work. Let's remember the cast, in the context of Fargo:
- Peter = Gloria
- The Wolf = V.M. Varga
- The Duck = Ray
- The Bird = Emmit
- The Cat = Nikki
- Grandpa = Sy
As the story goes, Peter leaves the garden gate open by accident one day and the duck escapes to go swimming in a nearby pond. There, he meets the bird and they both taunt each other for not being able to neither swim nor fly. Meanwhile, they're both being stalked from the bushes by the cat, but they luckily both escape thanks to a warning from Peter. Grandpa comes out and scolds Peter for being out in the meadow by himself (the dialogue directly appears in the episode as the narrator says, "Suppose a wolf came out of the forest?", "Boys like me are not afraid of wolves").
The wolf then come out of the forrest (just as Varga does when making his way to Emmit's front door) and catches the duck and the cat unawares. Although the cat escapes up a tree, the duck is not so lucky and is swallowed whole. Peter comes out, ready with a rope and, while the bird distracts the wolf, Peter catches him by the tail. Just then, two hunters come out of the woods, intent on shooting the wolf, but Peter convinces them to help him take the wolf to the zoo. At the very end it's noted you can still hear the duck quacking from inside the wolf's stomach.
tl;dr Peter catches the wolf, but not before the wolf eats the duck.
2. Does Billy Bob Thornton's Narration Hint At A Malvo/Varga Connection?
If the narrator's voice sounded familiar, it's because it belongs to one Billy Bob Thornton, who plays the villain Lorne Malvo in Fargo Season 1. At the very end of the episode, Varga is seen lying on the floor, mouthing the narrator's words just as they're spoken. Although they are the words of Grandpa, Billy Bob's the one saying them. Is Varga the Malvo of this season?
However, this is not the first time we've seen a character mouth a narrator's words. In the #CoenBrothers' A Serious Man, we see this happen when the rabbi tells the story of the Goy's Teeth. This same tactic is also used in Fargo Season 1 when Gus's neighbor treats him to the parable of the rich man. Interestingly, in the story, the rich man also says, "I have all this money. I can help." Hmmm, "I can help," where have we heard that before?
3. The Preferred Nomenclature
You Big Lebowski fans might have had a chuckle at this week's Lebowski reference. After Sy tells Emmit that Ray went into the safety deposit box and trashed the ashes of the beloved pooch, this dialogue takes place:
Emmit: "The ridicule of beloved remains!"
Sy: "'Cremains,' is, I think, the preferred nomenclature."
Who else cares about preferred nomenclature? Walter, that's who. If you'll remember back to that bowling alley:
"Dude, 'chinaman' is not the preferred nomenclature. 'Asian-American,' please."
4. Russian Truth: Pravda & Istina
In the short segment in which Yuri and Silent Bob head to the spy truck to deliver a briefcase where Varga is holed up, Yuri narrates a dialogue on the concept of truth in the Russian language. He says there are two words in Russian for truth: pravda and istina. Pravda is man's truth, istina is God's truth. He then speaks of their opposite, nepravda, which means untruth:
"Untruth is the weapon the leader uses, because he knows what they don't: that the truth is whatever he says it is."
For 2010, this part is scarily relevant to today's world of Russian scandals and post-truth. Did the show-creators sneak a cheeky dig at our current situation into this season? I'd say that's the pravda.
What else did you notice in Fargo, "The Narrow Escape Problem"?